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Nikon D3100


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Initial post: Jun 15, 2012 2:26:18 PM PDT
Ingrid Payne says:
I'm an absolute beginner and would like to know if it is worthwhile getting these accessories or have I chosen the wrong ones? I'd like to take landscapes, especially of the moon over the water and black and white photos of people (non posed). Hope that makes sense.

Nikon MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord - $28.95
Fish Eye Lense Kit which use these (18-55mm, 55-200mm, 50mm) Nikon Lenses includes 0.21X Fish Eye Lens + Wide Angle Lens with Macro + 2X Telephoto lense + multi coated 3pce filter kit (UV-CPL-FLD) - $79.95
PLR Optics +1, +2, +4, +10 Close Up Macro Filter Set - $14.99
PLR Optics High resolution 3pce filter set (UV, Fluorescent and Polariser)

I don't understand the technical lingo and I'm trying to teach myself how to use my camera. Should I get the book D3100 for dummies?

Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 11:20:54 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 15, 2012 11:23:47 PM PDT
EdM says:
If you will use the remote release cord, you'll likely also need a tripod to put the D3100 on. If you're already holding the camera, you don't need a remote release.

I am not familiar with the rest of your items, but the general rule is that you get what you pay for. Typically, some companies will include [or sell separately] items of low cost but high profit for the store. Those things look to be that kind of thing. Plus, you generally get what you pay for, and vice versa.

So, if you put a cheap filter on a good lens, the quality of your photos goes down, because of optical faults of those cheap filters, etc. Anything on a lens will affect the quality of the light transmitted through both the good glass of your good Nikon lens, as well as the cheap/poor glass of those cheap filters. These aberrations can't be fixed in your computer, as a rule.

If you want to experiment with an add-on fish-eye filter, you might try it out, but I never use that stuff on my cameras or lenses. I do on rare occasion add on a moderate cost filter if I am shooting at the beach and it is a bit windy, as something of low cost can be replaced if it is harmed by blowing sand, e.g.

I haven't checked out Nikon D3100 For Dummies, but if you search on Amazon in the books department for that title, you will get search results of not only that book, but others of a somewhat similar nature. Then, you can check out some of the user reviews. This kind of book is really about learning to use your camera, rather than generally on photography, al though different books types do overlap.

You can often find out some stuff, just from the quick start guide from Nikon, as well as following some tutorials that can be found on the internet. If you go to a local bookstore, you may be able to look at a store copy of a book on photography for free, as a way to check out and see what kinds of books you might be interested in. Likewise, at a local library.

Some other basic books to consider are Bryan Peterson's Understanding Photography Field Guide: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera. This is a general book about photography, but not specifically on how a D3100 works. There are also photography field guides from other sources, like National Geographic, e.g.

Other books that I like are Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera which concentrates somewhat on getting the exposure right, as well as The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos. This last concentrates on composition, how to shoot great photographs. Likewise, a search on Amazon will reveal other book options, and you can check out the reader reviews, e.g., to help you decide what to get and when.

Different kinds of books on photography will overlap somewhat, but different people might desire one more than another. This is also why checking out a local library can help you see what is in these or similar books. BTW - From the standpoint of shooting well designed photos and even on exposure to a notable degree, books from back in the film days are still relevant in how to set up shots and deal with apertures, shutter speeds, as well as autoexposure and other more recent topics. Good Luck.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 16, 2012 12:44:06 AM PDT
Les Schmader says:
If you're really a true beginner, it would be best to avoid any of the accessories like you are describing. It takes a very good working knowledge of exposure and depth of field just to get them to work. They'll make things even more confusing if you don't. I have and have used most of those listed.

Aside from the remote release for tripod use and possibly the CPL filter, non of the items would be particularly useful for your landscape or B&W photos.

I'd think a good book on the basics of exposure and a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens would be a lot more beneficial for a beginner. @ the same price.

I don't think there is a better way to understand exposure, depth of field, or photography than from using a "good" tripod, if you want an accessory that will really help you learn.

Posted on Jun 16, 2012 2:13:20 AM PDT
Ingrid Payne says:
Thank you Ed and Les for your advice. I think I'll get the tripod, the 50mm f/1.8 prime lense and check out the library. I've really only used instant cameras before (you know, point and click), so I hope this isn't a silly question, does it mean that the 2 lenses mentioned below that the camera with are no good? I've checked Nikon's site and it says that there are 2 different ones (2002 & 2011) - are these prime lenses or is a prime lense something different?
AF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 G VR Lens
AF-S 55-200mm f4-5.6 VR DX G IF-ED Lens

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 16, 2012 2:31:23 AM PDT
"Fish Eye Lense Kit which use these (18-55mm, 55-200mm, 50mm) Nikon Lenses includes 0.21X Fish Eye Lens + Wide Angle Lens with Macro + 2X Telephoto lense"

These are cheap "add-on" lenses that screw onto the end of a real lens. They are mostly intended for video cameras and other camera which don't have interchangable lenses. Avoid.

"+ multi coated 3pce filter kit (UV-CPL-FLD) - $79.95"

First, non-brand name filters are a complete gamble in terms of quality. Generic filters are more likely to degrade image quality than to help. Second, you do not even need an 'FLD' fluorescent light filter with a DSLR because the camera will have white balance control. The only purpose for a UV filter on a DSLR is to "protect" the lens but it doesn't pay to stick any old piece of glass on the end of a finely engineered lens.

"PLR Optics High resolution 3pce filter set (UV, Fluorescent and Polariser)"

Another set of mostly unnecessary filters of dubious quality. I would highly recommend avoiding these "kits" and just looking for individual brand name accessories when you have a specific need.

I might suggest looking JUST for a circular polarizing filter for your landscapes. They can be used to make skies appear a deeper blue, suppress reflections on surfaces like water and to make vegetation appear more colorful (by getting rid of reflections). Stick to a brand name filter like Hoya (their Pro series is the better quality).

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 16, 2012 9:15:27 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 16, 2012 9:35:32 AM PDT
EdM says:
A prime lens is one that has a single focal length [does not "zoom"], like 50mm: Nikon 50mm f/1.8G AF-S NIKKOR Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

This lens is a good lens for your camera, for moderate telephoto, low light [due to the f1.8 max aperture - like how big a pipe is, that lets light through], and also pretty good for portraits on a D3100.

The 2 lenses you mention are consumer grade zoom lenses [thus not prime - prime and zoom are "opposites"]. They are quite good for ordinary use, and for the price. If you are able to step up a bit in price, I'd suggest the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras rather than the 55-200. Sometimes there are deals available with discounts when you purchase a DSLR on the same ticket, from the same retailer, that can save you $100 or more. Different telephoto lenses can sometimes be chosen, and the 55-200 and sometimes 70-300 can be chosen in such a deal.

I really like the 70-300, but note that this is for the VR version. There is also a cheap 70-300 lens that gives much worse results, Image Quality {IQ} wise. Going out to 300 mm provides more reach or telephoto effect to shoot distant scenes. Still, the 55-200 is a fine lens if budget needs dictate a lower price.

You can check out the Amazon user reviews of these lenses for what some users think about the lenses. You can also check out what Nikon Guru Thom Hogan says about this lens:

http://www.bythom.com/70300vrlens.htm

I own the VR version of this lens, having traded up from the previous 70-300 ED lens, and this is one of my most used zoom lenses for ordinary telephoto shooting. I also own a similar pro lens which is even better and costs > $2k in the latest version. [Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lens For Nikon Digital SLR Cameras That lens is even better, but it's also larger and heavy to carry around, as well as costly. I often prefer the 70-300 for ordinary shooting, as it's almost as good [IQ wise] up to 200mm, and a lot lighter/easy to carry. [Getting what you pay for ...]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 16, 2012 12:08:41 PM PDT
Les Schmader says:
Adding the 50mm f/1.8 prime lens to the 2 lenses you have will give you the nearly perfect kit for a beginner. It fits neatly between the 2 kit lenses and gives you a good basis for comparison.

Every photography book will refer to a "fast prime" and you will have a very good comparison to help you recognize the depth of field at a specific focal length.

The prime lens forces you to see, think and compose at a single focal length. Then you can concentrate on the important things like depth of field and metering. You'll probably find it particlularly useful as you progress through black and white.

I suggested the 50mm prime primarily as a learning tool. Having one just makes it so much easier to understand the comments and explanations when learning photography.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 8, 2012 9:46:21 AM PDT
Excellent advice. Thank you for posting.
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Discussion in:  Nikon forum
Participants:  5
Total posts:  8
Initial post:  Jun 15, 2012
Latest post:  Aug 8, 2012

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