Getting to know your camera

Getting to know your camera

I have had my Sony compact digital camera for three years and then eventually bought my  Nikon D3100 SLR Camera. Using the Sony compact digital camera for a few years has made me lazy when selecting pictures. I knew that I could just take so many shots that when I got home I could just delete what I didn’t want. The only thing that made me get great photos was that my natural photographic instinct was previously tuned by the Pentax K1000 back in the days where 35mm film allowed you to take 24 photos or 36 if you were lucky.

Using the Nikon D3100 I had to get used to not relying on the screen and using my eye to take photos. By relying on the view finder you get a clearer picture of what the shot is going to be like. It was hard at first not to just look at the screen but I find taking the picture more natural.

To get to know the camera further I looked into what the f-stop stands for. The F-stop is the fraction of light it allows into the camera. It starts from f 1.4 with f 5.6 being half way and then F/22. However the Nikon D3100 has many more f stops as you can see below.

Manual SLR
1.4    2.0    2.8    4    5.6    8    11    16    22

Nikon D3100 Digital SLR
3.5   4   4.5  5   5.6   6.3   7.1  8  9   10   11   13  14  16  18  20  22

With there being more f-stops this gives you more flexibility when taking pictures to allow the right amount of light to enter the camera. Golden rule is the bigger the f stop number the less light will be used to expose your film. As the f stop goes higher the aperture has to get slower as the camera and lense need to work together to let in less light.

The above image is provided by Google images with the following explanation:

The f/numbers represent the aperture size or aperture opening.  The bigger f/number gives the smaller aperture opening.  Thus from this sequence of numbers f/1.0 gives biggest aperture size and f/22 gives the smallest aperture.

On the left side of the chart there is a column of numbers that represent shutter speeds.  It tells how long the light will go through the aperture.  They are 1 sec, 1/2 sec, 1/4 sec, 1/8 sec, 1/15 sec, 1/30 sec, 1/60 sec, 1/125 sec, 1/250 sec, 1/500 sec. Although the numbers are getting bigger from top to bottom, in fact the time is getting shorter.  Thus the 1/8 sec is longer than 1/15 sec, but 1/250 is shorter than 1/125 sec.

The relationship between the aperture and f stops is vital in taking pictures as if one of the settings is out you might not get the picture you wanted. However there are options on the D3100 camera that allow me to change the aperture and f stop so you go against the rule the graph table shows above. Changing the settings can allow the photographer to gain a more personal taste to their photos or even create effects used in advertising.

The photo of the London Olympics 2012 shows the setting of F stop 5.3 and shutter speed 1/125 and ISO 2000. It was taken with a Sigma Telephoto lense set at 110mm. The range of the lense is 18mm – 200mm. But this was difficult to get a great shot. To get the best shot I used the aperture priority mode first then set the camera to manual and made adjustments to my taste as originally the photo would of been darker.

The next photo is still the London 2012 Olympics but of the boxing. I was lucky that due to people not turning up for their free seats I was able to get to the front row. I had terrible trouble trying to find the right setting on the camera as the light was different to that of the weight lifting. Plus the camera wanted to allow for the darkness that was coming from the non lit areas. Luckily with a telephoto lense set at 165mm with a f stop 6 and aperture 1/320 and ISO 3200 I was able to capture the tone of the boxer and minimise blur. The boxers are very fast when fighting.

Its clear you can see the relation from the examples I have given and as I continue onto the projects for my degree course I will be experimenting more with Apertures, F stops, and ISO’s.


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