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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I received this email from one of our members and thought that I'd post it also as others may benefit from it also:

stuckintexas said:
Hey, I am new to this stuff. Just got a D90 today and I am wondering if you know of any good sites/forums for me to learn how to use this camera to its fullest. I am a newb! :p
Not sure how much you're into photography or how much you plan on being into. Considering the fact that you've bought D90, I'm making an assumption that you're going to be using the camera sparingly. ;)

Couple of things to start you off:
  1. Read the manual end-to-end while having the camera in your hand so that you see what is being discussed. I understand that he Nikon manuals may be a little cryptic, but still worth the read.
  2. Try not to use the A setting. You might as well get a point-to-shoot. No pun intended. Start with P (Program mode). This setting sets the A (aperture) & S (shutter) automatically and lets you decide on all of the other options (like flash, metering, etc.)
  3. Understand when to use A and S settings. A lets you control how much light you want to let in to the sensor. It also lets you decide if you can hand-hold the camera and depth of field. The S lets you how long you want to let the light to the sensor.
  4. M - Manual setting: This is more for an advanced photographer who needs to manipulate the exact settings in all categories.
Other references:
  1. I'd recommend that you attend the one-day seminar from Nikon School. I attended it and gave me a better perspective on on how to maximize the usage of the camera. The second seminar is more for a person who intends to manipulate the images in the computer. If you're planning on attending this seminar, I'd recommend that you be there early as there are about 300 attendees and you need to get a seat up front. Use the camera for a while before attending the seminar. This will help you understand what settings are being discussed.
  2. Get the book Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. This will help you understand the intricacies of the settings and how to controls them for getting the picture you envision.
Some reference sites for additional help:
  1. DPReview: Extensive reviews of cameras and lenses.
  2. Nikon: Manufacturer's website for support. D90 Manual Download site.
  3. Ken Rockwell: Site for detailed reviews on cameras and lenses. The D90 User Guide is here too.
  4. Thom Hogan: Another professional's wonderful site for learning. D90 User Guide for purchase.
  5. Luminous Landscape: A wonderful site for learning photography.
  6. D90 Reference
If you plan on getting into editing images on your pc or mac, you may be interested in Adobe Lightroom 2 or Apple Aperture 2 or Nikon Capture NX2. There are some other software that are being used in addition to these, but these are the most popular. I use Adobe Lightroom 2 myself and it's your preference ultimately.

Good Luck and Capture the Moments of Truth! :peace:
 

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Ravi - Great write up.

Stuckintexas -

I have used (and still use) Ken Rockwell's D-80 User's Guide. He has put together an easy-to-read explanation of camera features, which allow you to start out simple, and expand with the camera as your experience level increases.

Adobe Lightroom 2 is another great tools for post production, while not inexpensive...there are ways of getting it at a great price. Students, teachers, etc. And best of all you can try it for free for 30 day on http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshoplightroom/. As with all Adobe post production tools, they work best with RAW images. (<--simplified).

Enjoy your D-90....I'm jealous

Ravi thanks for the other links I will be checking them out too... I've only had my D-80 for about 7 months...still learning myself.

Todd
 

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Thanks Todd! I will try the 30-day trial. I just graduated from the university so I think I can still get it at the student store for a decent price. Any suggestions on lenses? I dont know if the D-80 can use the VR lenses but although they are more expensive, they are what im interested in buying. right now i only have the 18-105mm VR lens by Nikkor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
The D80 can use VR lenses. One of the most popular ones is the 18-200 VR. Since you have the 18-105 you're quite well covered.

With respect to the suggestions, what are you planning on shooting and how often?

Also, with the software, if you just bought the D90, you may get a good discount on the Nikon Capture NX2 along with the package.
 

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Hey StuckinTexas (Jesus),

The V.R. lenses tend to be a bit more important when shooting at longer focal lengths. No need on a short lens. Most of Nikon's auto focus SLR cameras can shoot a "VR" lens. Though the "S" lenses cannot be shot by the D-40,50, and 70. I'm not sure about the D-60, I've never held one.

The Vibration Reduction (VR) is in the lens and only requires power from an auto focus Nikon SLR camera. It also can allow you to shoot several stops faster than without VR.

I personally will not buy another longer focal length Nikkor lens without VR...period. I am currently looking to upgrade my AF-S 55-200 VR for the AF-S 18-200 VR. I hate switching out lenses and missing a shot. Though I would not even think of replacing my non-S 24mmD. Good glass is good glass.

I've been shooting for many years, still have all my film SLR camera's, learning digital and I like it. The 18-105 is a great "main lens". Shoot with it for awhile and see if you feel the need to get closer to what you are shooting. If you do decide to pick up a post production software, you can always zoom-in after the fact. and the D-90 is shooting at what 12.3 megapixels, you shouldn't have any issues. But if you have money burning a hole in your pocket ;) I do like to have the ability to frame "as-shot".

BTW, have you had a chance to play with the HD Video feature yet? That's the one thing that kicks the D-80 backside IMO, though those 2 extra megapixels are nice too.

Enjoy, and check out the links Gravy9 posted, some great info!

Todd

(Did I miss anything Ravi?)

Playing with a D-40
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Excellent coverage, Todd. :p
 

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I do not know what I like to shoot yet...haven't even had the opportunity to shoot in the day time due to my work schedule. I do like shooting close up on my planted tank...problem is my current lense has a minimum focus length that is too far for my tank shooting liking.

I am also into landscapes, wildlife, sunsets, ocean, mountain...pretty much anything. night time long exposure moon, stars would be neat too.

I could probably find use of a up to 300mm lens. also could use a macro lens where i can focus up to 0.1 meters would be very nice.

also thinking of getting a flash to use in commander mode.

i haven't messed with the HD video much. just a little. what i found is that it is not too tough to focus and zoom quickly (its all manual focus). the quality looks very nice on the camera's LCD screen but I cannot confirm watching it on my 55" TV. I do not own the hdmi cable yet but im interested in hooking it up to the tv via this cable. the longest movie you can shoot is 5 minutes and then you have to stop. good for me as i usually do not have the need to record for even a minute or two.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I do not know what I like to shoot yet...haven't even had the opportunity to shoot in the day time due to my work schedule. I do like shooting close up on my planted tank...problem is my current lense has a minimum focus length that is too far for my tank shooting liking.

I am also into landscapes, wildlife, sunsets, ocean, mountain...pretty much anything. night time long exposure moon, stars would be neat too.

I could probably find use of a up to 300mm lens. also could use a macro lens where i can focus up to 0.1 meters would be very nice.

also thinking of getting a flash to use in commander mode.

i haven't messed with the HD video much. just a little. what i found is that it is not too tough to focus and zoom quickly (its all manual focus). the quality looks very nice on the camera's LCD screen but I cannot confirm watching it on my 55" TV. I do not own the hdmi cable yet but im interested in hooking it up to the tv via this cable. the longest movie you can shoot is 5 minutes and then you have to stop. good for me as i usually do not have the need to record for even a minute or two.
When shooting the tank, get used to using a tripod or set it in a table or a chair on a table to bring it to mid-tank height. Don't hand hold the camera, even if it has VR. Get used to using the camera on a tripod or on a stationary object, not just for the tank, but for general shooting of any picture. This is a very good practice and worth investing your time to learn it. You may not notice the blurring in the viewfinder, but when you see the image in its actual size, you'll notice the difference.

I have a Sigma APO DG 70-300mm that I picked up for $150 online. It also has macro capabilities. The motor is a little loud and the focus a bit slow, but for $150, you can't beat it. If you want to spend a bit more, you can get the Nikon 70-300 VR but it doesn't have macro capabilities.

You have most of the areas covered with your 18-105 lens. Use it to get a feel for the pictures and get to understand your camera first. By then, you'll get a better idea on what lens you want to put your money into.

Couple of things to start getting an idea on buying as you move on:
1. UV Filter (even if you don't need it, it will help protect your lens from dust and other stuff)
2. Circular polarizer filter (necessary when shooting in bright daylight to get impressive colors)
3. External flash (go for the SB800 or SB900. I have the SB600 and am not happy with it. It's also Chinese made while the above-mentioned two are Japanese made.
4. Tripod: A good one and you'll swear by it later. Worth putting extra money into it. Do not get the one that looks like the first image. Get the one that looks like the second one and also it should be able to go flat on the ground for you to be able to setup the camera extremely low. Aluminum ones are a bit heavier but cheaper while the Carbon fiber ones are extremely light but expensive. I'm still managing with a portable Aluminum tripod and saving to get a good CF tripod.
5. A wired remote for your camera once it is available as the first option, if you can't find a wired remote, go for a wireless remote. Wired is a must if you want to shoot long exposure star movements at night (exposures of 30 minutes or more).
6. A lens cleaning kit. The lenses are coated and you have to use the right cleaning agent for cleaning it. Also, for the mirror, use the blow brush and be careful to not touch the mirror.

I would also recommend getting a $110 Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens. It is a fixed focus lens and will help you learn about focusing as you have to move back and forth to frame the subject. In addition, it will help you get an understanding on the Depth of Field with different aperture settings, if you're already not knowledgeable in this area.

I'm not much of a video buff, but the HD video capability is interesting.

Good Luck with your learning. Just keep snapping.

regards,
 

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I could probably find use of a up to 300mm lens. also could use a macro lens where i can focus up to 0.1 meters would be very nice.
On macro lens, two obvious choices came to mind: Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF-S VR Micro and Nikon 60mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Micro. Judging from the specification alone, the 105mm is better - it has VR. But I hated the 105 (for its poor autofocus) and returned it. Later I picked up the 60mm and loved it.
 
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