In our ongoing review of some of the more popular current and ‘out of date’ digital cameras, we want to help you better harness the creative potential of your DSLR or compact system camera.
Call them camera tips, or call it a user’s guide to your favourite digital camera. The advice below comes from experts who have used the Nikon D3100 and know this DSLR inside and out.
If you have your own Nikon D3100 tips you’d like to share, post them in the comments below – or send them firstname.lastname@example.org. What we want to build is an ever-growing user’s guide of Nikon D3100 tips that come not from a press release or a lab test, but from the photographers who shoot with this DSLR.
We want to inspire you to twist the mode dial and move beyond your favourite settings and functions and get more out of your Nikon D3100 starting today! So without further ado…
Nikon D3100 Tip 1: Find shortcuts
The D3100’s Guide menu is a good introduction to the camera’s capabilities, but it’s only an introduction. Once you get to know the camera, there’s nearly always a quicker way to get the settings you need.
Nikon D3100 Tip 2: Get Sporty
If you shoot in Close-up mode, you’ll find that the built-in flash will often activate automatically but is useless at really close range. A quick way to shoot close-ups without flash is to use Sports mode instead.
Nikon D3100 Tip 3: Settle for less
The D3100 can record full HD (1,920×1,280 pixels) video, but this will fill up most memory cards quickly. However, the intermediate (1,280×720 pixels) setting is more than good enough to play on an iPad, for example.
Nikon D3100 Tip 4: Go back to the start
If you’ve been exploring the camera and got a little lost, there’s a ‘Reset shooting options’ item in the Shooting menu. To completely reset the D3100 to its factory state, use ‘Reset setup options’ in the Setup menu.
Nikon D3100 Tip 5: Hold and twist
The Nikon D3100 doesn’t have an automatic exposure bracketing function, but you can still vary exposures very quickly by holding down the exposure compensation button and rotating the command dial.
Nikon D3100 Tip 6: Using studio flash
Some have asked us: “My Nikon D3100 doesn’t have a PC socket. Can I still use studio flash with it?” Almost any studio flash unit will accept a slave unit that can be triggered by the Nikon D3100’s built-in flash. Use manual mode, set a shutter speed of about 1/60sec and set the aperture using a flash meter. In the Shooting menu, set the flash to manual. Remember to turn down the power to stop the built-in flash interfering with the light from the studio flash units.
Nikon D3100 Tip 7: Shooting at Hi 1 and Hi 2 sensitivity
When shooting at Hi 1 or Hi 2 sensitivity settings on your Nikon D3100, image noise is likely to be clearly noticeable, especially when images are magnified in prints or on screen, as below.
Each time you double your sentivity rating – for instance from ISO 100 to 200, 400 to ISO 800 – you are effectively doubling the shutter speed for any lighting conditions when using the same aperture. This is true throughout the D3100’s ISO range (ISO 100-3200). As you go into the extended range, however, Hi 1 and Hi 2 are roughly equal to ISO 6400 and ISO 12,800, respectively.
However, these ratings are only nominal and not exact. As you can see, you can capture decent images at these settings, but don’t expect to get exhibition-size prints. You’ll find that blown highlights are more likely to occur and dynamic range will be poor. Generally you want to avoid these settings if at all possible, but the Hi 1 and Hi 2 sensitivity settings are great for when you need sufficiently fast shutter speeds for handheld night photography or you want to freeze the action of very fast-moving objects.
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