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Old 03-25-2011, 04:33 AM   #1
bsmith
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Need some photo junkie help please


My wife and I just purchased a Nikon d3100 on Tuesday and im wanting to know what the best way to take Macro shots with it are. Please realize that I am ignorant to just about every term and situation that would come up in the photo world.

A bit of background here. We had our first child in Aug of this year. About two yeas ago we purchased a Fuji film point and shoot after some research and have been pretty happy with it but the faults of a lower grade camera are become evident when your shooting your kid in all different types of situations. So my wife will be snapping away on Ella (I will too but you know women, photography and kids!) and I would like to get some good shots of my plants and animals (CRS and 183 starlight bristlenose plecs).

I appreciate any input you have and thank you in advance!
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Old 03-25-2011, 04:56 AM   #2
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First you need a lens that can shoot macro or something close to it. Macro shots have very small depth of field, meaning only a small area is in focus and the rest are blurry. To compensate this, you'd want a large f-stop, small aperture. Because of this, you need extra light.

Flash is a solution but best if it's remote, coming off the camera, and from above the tank. Another option is a tripod and hope and pray your fish stands still.
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Old 03-25-2011, 05:01 AM   #3
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Yes, a good macro lens is a must. Then plenty of light to keep things in focus.
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Old 03-25-2011, 05:07 AM   #4
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To be more precise, what settings could I use to extract the best pics from the stock 55-200 lens?
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Old 03-25-2011, 05:10 AM   #5
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you will want to set your camera to aperture priority and go with a larger f-stop. if you look through the viewfinder the f-stop should show up there, or if you are on live-view setting it will show on the lcd screen.
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Old 03-25-2011, 05:11 AM   #6
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Zoom in all the way, and the settings are dependent on your lighting conditions and the type of fish you shoot. A lazy pleco is no problem; a danio, big problem.

Flash? tripod?
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Old 03-25-2011, 05:15 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post
Zoom in all the way, and the settings are dependent on your lighting conditions and the type of fish you shoot. A lazy pleco is no problem; a danio, big problem.

Flash? tripod?

oh yeah, a tripod is almost a must. when you shoot with shutter priority with a slow shutter speed a tripod is the only thing that will let you capture a good shot. i need an external flash myself since the one that comes on mine sucks..
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Old 03-25-2011, 07:44 AM   #8
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Hey bsmith how are you?

Congratulations on the birth of your child and also on the purchase of your camera.

Perhaps this link can help you understand how to use your camera.

Hope it helps
Dan
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:42 AM   #9
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any luck with the pictures? you dont need a tripod necessarily if your shutter speed is high enough. it will help if you have one though.

when i use my telezoom, i set my camera to Manual settings on the dial and adjust the shutter/aperture/ISO accordingly. having a well lit tank will help too
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:00 PM   #10
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i agree with Mistergreen. i have a D70 and i use it everyday. tripod is a must unless you have like, halides. - Dont use your flash, it stresses your fish and the pictures look ugly. I dont know about you other aquarium photographers, but i always have trouble with the auto focus and aquariums, i only use the manual with mine. and yes you kinda got to play with the shutter speed and the aperture settings for a while, it can get very frustrating sometimes. I know what it feels like to want to throw your new and very expensive camera on the ground.
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:53 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Budget aquarist View Post
tripod is a must unless you have like, halides. - Dont use your flash, it stresses your fish and the pictures look ugly. I dont know about you other aquarium photographers, but i always have trouble with the auto focus and aquariums, i only use the manual with mine. and yes you kinda got to play with the shutter speed and the aperture settings for a while, it can get very frustrating sometimes. I know what it feels like to want to throw your new and very expensive camera on the ground.
I'll disagree with you here.

A tripod is only needed if you're shooting with a small aperture ie. f/11 with limited lighting. Tanks with lots of flow and fast moving fish, you'll see nothing but blur doing it this way, even with a tripod .

Flash is your best friend actually when it comes to aquarium photography. The secret is what mistergreen already mentioned ---> using a remotely triggered flash! If you're shooting with the onboard flash unit or a mounted flash, the pics will look "ugly" like you stated. It won't look natural due to the angle of the shadows and possible reflection off the glass. The remote flash must be fired from above the tank to achieve the natural look.

As for autofocus, my lenses stays on AF 99% of the time. I have no trouble with AFing, as long as the aquarium glass is clean and the lights are on. Try shooting perpendicular with the glass pane instead of angled shots. This will yield the best image quality without distortion.

BSMITH - x2 on what mistergreen said. Just keep in mind when you're shooting with flash, it's best to have some sort of diffuser attached to it, otherwise the lighting becomes too direct oftentimes. I use a tripod to mount my flash on for simple adjustments over my tank. It also helps avoid dropping the flash into my open top tank.

If a macro lens is what you're next upgrade will be on, I suggest you get a fast lens - f/2.8!! You can thank me later for the advice.
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:17 PM   #12
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Oh yeah, a trick I use to diffuse an on camera flash is to put a piece of tissue in front of the flash. It works pretty well. Works great for night shoots of your friends too.
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:30 PM   #13
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I should also state that the method I've explained above is mainly for shooting subjects within the tank at closer range shots. If you plan on shooting FTSs, the same technique can be used but instead of a single flash unit, you'd want to use a white rain gutter (running the top length of your tank) for a nicer light dispersion throughout the entire tank. Otherwise you can shoot some decent non-flash FTS shots with a high ISO, fast shutter, and bigger aperture ie. f/2.8-f/4. As long as your tank lights are on and your camera is capable.
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Old 03-26-2011, 05:18 AM   #14
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Wow, lots of info to take in. Thanks for all of the advice.

Dantra-Thank you and thanks for the link, ill have to spend some time looking at the info on that site.

I was hoping that with a camera of this caliber (I know its still an entry DSLR and nothing special all things considered) I would be able to kind of "set it and forget it". I see my ignorance on the subject glaringly now with my hoping that now.

I remember seeing some pretty nifty DIY set ups to take shots of tanks over the years. I guess its not the easiest thing to try to start photographing.

You see the camera was more for the wife. Im pretty sure I have some leverage here with perhaps getting a good macro lens. Other than speedies f/2.8 (can you explain what exactly this is and why its good?) are there any other suggestions for a good lens that can be used for macro pics of plants/animals but also in normal life?

I feel prety helpless here to be honest. I am not used to having such little knowledge about something like this while trying to practice it in real life simultaneously!
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Old 03-26-2011, 05:29 AM   #15
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Just start shooting. It's really the only way to learn. You'll look at the pictures and say, "Why does it look like that?", "How can I make it better?", and so on.
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