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Customer Discussions > Photography forum

Nikon D5100 help

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Showing 1-25 of 35 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 19, 2012 7:13:36 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 19, 2012 7:25:24 AM PST
got mayo?™ says:
Hello forum.

I just purchased my very first DSLR. The D5100 recently went on sale at a really attactive price( i suppose due to 5200 announcement) and i though $550 was a perfect pricepoint for an entry level unit for our family.

I was wondering if anyone with familiarity with this camera could give me a few tips, as i'm clueless.

I only bought the base kit with the 18-55mm lens, came with a free Nikon bag and i added a 32GB Class 10 SDHC card.

What would be a good lens options for indoor, low light portrait style shots?

Are the 55-200 lens of more benefit to me, or are they only good for outdoor/sports? I am able to get this for $150 as its $100 off but i was unsure if it would provide useful.

Also , if anyone has this camera could share their Manual mode settings and it would be of great help. I have no clue what to tinker with.

I believe it is shooting at ISO 100 now, under what conditions do i raise the ISO level to improve my image quality? What is the top range of ISo that is usable on this camera before it introduces too much noise?

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 7:53:57 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 19, 2012 7:55:52 AM PST
Trader Mike says:
1st get this book-

Nikon D5100: From Snapshots to Great Shots

It will help you much more than I ever could. I think before you get a 2nd lens you should get a flash. I got this one-

Nikon SB-400 AF Speedlight Flash for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

The SB600 is the next one up if money is no object and you don't need the compact size of the SB400. If you're really stuck on getting a new lens, the 55-200 mm lens is good- I have it, but I LOVE my 35mm lens and use it a lot more than the zoom lens-

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

A lot of people recommend the 50mm lens, whick might be better for portraits-

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

But really, get the book 1st as it will help you much more than most people can. Also, check out Ken Rockwell's website. He is a pretty reliable expert on Nikons. He'll tell you the lens you got with your camera is excellent and all you really need right now. He'll also recommend getting the SB400 flash.

You're gonna love this camera. It should last you for years- as long as you don't get sucked into buying the latest and greatest every time Nikon comes out with another awesome camera!

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 1:25:17 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 19, 2012 1:27:51 PM PST
got mayo?™ says:
Thank you for your response Trader Mike. So you think i'd benefit with the stronger flash vs going off the bat with the prime lens? I ask because both are similar in cost in terms of the next upgrade and i likely cannot do both right away.

I really want to capture some great family pics these holidays, so i'll be working mainly indoors.

I'll check out the book and Rockwells site tonight, thank you. We love this thing thus far, i just want to get good and efficient at using it . The sooner i learn, the sooner i can pass down some of the technicalities to the wife. :)

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 2:49:47 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 19, 2012 2:51:18 PM PST
i would suggest getting a flash first as well, but i'd suggest the sb700 (or sb600 if you can find one for a good price, it's discontinued). the reason i'd suggest that over the sb400 is because it has a fully adjustable head so you can bounce the flash off ceilings and walls, creating much larger and more natural light sources. bouncing the flash will give you much more appealing light, which will have dramatic effects on your photos. the sb400 is not a good flash unit for bouncing.

as for lenses it will depend on you and what type of shooting you're going to do. if you want to do full body and group shots, i'd suggest the nikon 35mm 1.8g, as it's shorter focal length will allow more in the frame. if you're going to do more close up portraits, say half body or head shots, i'd recommend the nikon 50mm 1.8g becuase it produces a much superior bokeh. google image search "bokeh" to get an idea what i'm talking about if you're unfamiliar with the term. it's the quality of the out of focus foreground and/or background. another thing you can do to help you choose which lens to buy, take your kit lens, zoom to 35mm, and look at the frame, and then do the same at 50mm.

for M mode and manual shooting, google search "exposure triangle" and read up on that. it will discus shutter, aperture, and iso, the 3 settings that determine your exposure, and how they all affect your image once taken. that will help you learn M mode. and also google "photography composition" and read up on that. composition is how you frame your shots, and honestly has a much bigger impact on your images than a lens will, when you're still a novice.

hope that helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 5:10:02 PM PST
Neo Lee says:
For Nikon, the 35mm f/1.8G should be the much better lens for "indoor, low light portrait style shots." Notice the G after f/1.8, because it has the Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM) which "enables fast, accurate and quiet autofocus."

"I believe it is shooting at ISO 100 now, under what conditions do i raise the ISO level to improve my image quality? What is the top range of ISo that is usable on this camera before it introduces too much noise?"

Watch the shutter speed. You increase ISO to make the shutter speed faster which will help freeze the motion of the subjects and reduce the blur from your hands' movement. For people staying very still, 1/25s will do if the optical stabilization is on to stablize hand vibrations, but I would aim for 1/50s to 1/100s. The general use of thumb is to multiply the focal length by 2. For example, if you're shooting at 50mm, the shutter speed should be 1/100s or quicker (i.e. 1/200s, 1/500s, etc).

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 10:31:25 PM PST
®ichard says:
join flickr or a photography group in your area.

55-200vr is ok, the non-vr 55-200 is useless. Wouldn't throw $50 at that one. For head shots I would use the 50mm 1.8, for more body shots the 35mm 1.8. I use the 35mm 1.8 more.

Posted on Nov 20, 2012 12:23:56 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2012 12:25:04 PM PST
got mayo?™ says:
Great info all, Thank you.

eric, i did this:
"another thing you can do to help you choose which lens to buy, take your kit lens, zoom to 35mm, and look at the frame, and then do the same at 50mm. "

and i think i want the 50mm.

I'm starting to gather after diving into some user reviews that perhaps the 50mm 1.8G prime may be the most versatile? Good enough for group shots (i have 2 kids) and good for portaits if need be? I'd like the one prime that will stay on the camera most of the time. A Glamour shot headshot is not realistically what i will use it for ,but close would be nice :)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 3:03:09 PM PST
the 50mm 1.8g is a great lens, i use it quite often to great effect. i cant recommend that lens enough, it's one of my favorite lenses. good choice, i think you'll be very happy with it. as you learn how to set your own settings, shoot that baby at f1.8 while focusing on the eyes and the magic really happens.

Posted on Nov 20, 2012 11:08:50 PM PST
Michael C says:
Another thing to consider in the lens vs. flash question: are you going to shoot RAW or JPEG most of the time? Using a fast lens with ambient light can yield excellent results but often requires a lot of work in post processing to get the white balance right, especially if there are mixed light sources involved (sunlight through a window plus tungsten overhead lights plus a lamp with a CFL spiral). If you're not interested in learning how to process RAW files and want to go the JPEG route, I think you'll be happier with your results using a good bounce flash with your kit lens than ambient light shots using a 50mm f/1.8.
As for the great holiday shots you want: the flash would probably be better for candids of the family immersed in holiday activities, the fast lens would probably be better for posed shots.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 6:50:16 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2012 6:51:07 AM PST
got mayo?™ says:
Great pov to consider Michael. As i was taking snapshots of my dogs last night i was noting the effect of the scattered light sources in my living room. Hmmn...

Any 3rd party bounce flashes worth the money? SB700 seems a bit steep, but if its the best i could just wait. Think the SB400, despite lacking adjustability provide decent celing bounce by function of the added height and flash intensity alone? 8 ft celings in my home.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 7:18:37 AM PST
no the sb400 isnt good for ceiling bounce as it's head wont rotate upward. vivitar and sunpack make so so flash units, just make sure you're getting one that's for nikon TTL. the ttl is very important, that's basically auto flash mode.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 7:40:03 AM PST
this flash unit gets very good reviews and is well regarded. just be warned, make sure you buy from a vendor that allows returns, off brand equipment is far more prone to failures.
Yongnuo YN-468 II i-TTL Speedlite Flash With LCD Display, for Nikon

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 10:52:07 AM PST
Michael C says:
Of course you could also just change all the light bulbs in your house to match... :-)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 22, 2012 6:55:39 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 22, 2012 6:59:29 AM PST
Trader Mike says:
Head does rotate upward. I have the SB400 and it's great. Read the reviews here on Amazon. 252 5-star reviews and 4 1-star. A diffuser can add even more to it's usefulness. Also- Ken Rockwell recommends it. It's compact size make it versatile in it's own way.....

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 5:27:26 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2012 5:48:03 AM PST
got mayo?™ says:
Saw the youtbe vids, it does rotate. I think for an amateur user like myself this will be both useful and not too large that it will get in the way.

I noticed this week that I get a ton of pictures with my 5100 on a single charge...that is when I' m nor predominantly using the flash :p

I like the idea that using a dedicated flash unit will save me some juice and allow me more pictures on a single charge.

If only I can find a sale on the SB400 this weekend or cyber Monday ....

By the way, I finally got a chance to watch the Nikon School DVD that came with my 5100 and it was very useful for the wife and myself to get acclimated to this powerful and versatile device. Things like acknowledging the rule of thirds in framing, manipulating the shutter to add just the right amount of blur in a motion shot, and when to use select scene and effect modes has really gone a long ways in our ventures into photography. We've already taken some really excellent indoor and outdoor pics we are really proud of this week.

Thanks all for the insight. I've come to the conclusion I will need the SB400 flash first and that a 50mm 1.8g lens will be a future purchase, as we try to master our use of the kit lens. I also came to terms that a 55-250mm is a must buy for me, there were instances already that we wanted some shots we didn't quite have the range for. My daughter is in Pop Warner and my wife coaches, so I'll have a on of uses for it next fall.

I knew this hobby was expensive, I just had no idea how quickly I'd get sucked into the the upgrades :p

Posted on Nov 25, 2012 6:58:45 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 25, 2012 6:59:24 AM PST
Trader Mike says:
Don't forget about the most important item (IMHO)-

Nikon D5100: From Snapshots to Great Shots

I think you'll find Rob Sylvan is an awesome, very knowledgeable teacher.....

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 6:00:51 PM PST
Mike Scott says:
I agree 100% with this post. I have an almost identical setup. I use the SB600 but everything else is the same. The Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens is a great value which you won't regret. I'd get it before the 55-200 which is also a very good lens. The 35mm will work well with shooting indoor photos of the kids in low light.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 6:15:04 PM PST
I have SB 400 and it does rotate upwards but not sideways.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2012 8:25:51 AM PST
my mistake, i appologize, i should have read up more on the sb400 before commenting.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 5:56:35 AM PST
A. T. Miller says:
The SB400 is an awesome flash, and it does bounce up. It's a hobby for me, but the "Pros" don't like it because it does not have any type of manual settings.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 6:43:53 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2012 6:44:41 AM PST
EdM says:
> but the "Pros" don't like it because it does not have any type of manual settings.

How silly. All gear decisions involve compromise. The SB400 is fine for short ranges and horizontal images. However, the instant you take a vertical or portrait style photo, the SB400 is unable to bounce off the ceiling, e.g. IMO, most who shoot Nikon with Nikon flash do not do manual settings, but instead rely on Nikon's iTTL system.

There are even books and DVDs that teach about the CLS, e.g. The Nikon Creative Lighting System: Using the SB-600, SB-700, SB-800, SB-900, SB-910, and R1C1 Flashes


As you like it, that's fine, but that doesn't mean that what works best for you is automatically best for all.

Posted on Dec 11, 2012 5:10:44 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 11, 2012 5:16:11 PM PST
got mayo?™ says:
Just following up with you folk.

I'm getting a good hang of the camera and shot our Christmas cards with the kids last week. It has been a gratifying investment thus far. I've captured some amazing portraits of my wife and daughter

I picked up a 65" Ravelli tripod, which i must say is pretty nice and sturdy compared to the plastic Polaroid cheapo my brother lent me. Also picked up the Amazon Basics wireless trigger and we've been taking some nice group shots with myself included today and the combo is going to come in real handy for the Xmas party we are hosting on Friday.

I have about a week before its 30days on my purchase and Best Buy will honor the $100 off the 55-200mm VR. With some certificates i have gathered up, it will be a cheap pickup....but i could always use them towards a prime too.

Does anyone have an idea of the optics quality in this lens? Is it any better in the low range than the kit lens is at 50-55mm?
Will the 75-85 range be great for portraits? I've seen mention of people doing well with portraits with it.

The 50mm 1.8g is sold out everywhere, so my next viable choice is the 35mm 1.8G DX.

Posted on Dec 11, 2012 9:32:50 PM PST
Michael C says:
At 55mm and f/5.6 the Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR [Vibration Reduction] Nikkor Zoom Lens clearly outperforms both the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX Nikkor Zoom Lens and the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens. Even at f/4 the 55-200 is sharper than either of the 18-55mm lenses at f/5.6.

But the question you need to ask is how useful a lens with that focal length and narrow aperture would be for the photos you want to take. For indoors portraits there is no substitute for a fast lens. Both the kit lens you own and the 55-200 are more suited for daylight use. Depending on where you live, it may be several months before you spend much time taking pictures outdoors. Even on a crop body the 35mm f/1.8 will be a little too wide for for tight facial portraits. Use your kit lens at 35mm and move in close enough for a head shot and you'll see. It will be good for full body shots in portrait orientation and small groups in landscape orientation.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 12, 2012 4:43:32 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 12, 2012 4:50:50 AM PST
got mayo?™ says:
Thanks for your response. I'm glad to hear about its sharpness on the low end . Since the 50mm 1.8G is backordered, i thought perhaps say at 55m the VR Zoom lens would be an improvement in those type of shots, at lest in flash use indoors and outdoors shots. Thing is, i can get it for $150 this week and i have $65 in Rewards cash , making it a really cheap pickup. My daughter cheers pop warner so the zoom will come in handy when shooting at them from the sidelines or bleachers.

I do get what you are saying about the light situation and now understand the early suggestions for a stronger flash out the gate over anythng else. I'm not getting the results i want indoors with the Xmas tree lights etc with the built-in flash. I think def need to pick up a bounce flash of some sorts before friday, i'm coming to terms that at least indoors it is holding back the potential of even the kit lens. These cameras need all the light they can get.

I do find at 35mm it is too wide for up close face portrait without moving too far in on the subject, but i feel perhaps it is a lens i may use more often for everything else indoor and out( wife 2 kids and 2 dogs) and we entertain family a lot over our place year round, so multiple subjects in one frame will be more common use me thinks.

I starting to understand there is no lens that can do it all within reason :/
I may find the need for several of these primes as time goes by.

Posted on Dec 12, 2012 4:59:14 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 12, 2012 5:25:06 AM PST
got mayo?™ says:
Anyone think this would be decent interim solution for at least bounce use for my indoor flash issues? With a diffuser?

Its cheapo, but its i-TTL and could buy me time to save up for a SB600 or SB700.

Opteka EF-710 DG Super i-TTL Autofocus Dedicated Flash for Nikon D7000, D5100, D5000, D3200, D3100, D3000, D800, D700, D300s, D300, D3X and D3S Digital SLR Cameras

My wife wants a groupshot in this party were there will be a dozen plus people pouring out of the frame likely at 35mm (or below ) from about 15-17ft (as far as i can move tripod back) and i need to get some much needed light in that shot.You can imagine there is lots of Xmas lights in this room and its mainly accent lighting.
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Discussion in:  Photography forum
Participants:  13
Total posts:  35
Initial post:  Nov 19, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 23, 2012

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