Jason fields more of your camera queries, plus recommends an old-school film camera…
Most shots from my D750 and Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 lens seem to be overexposed. How can I cure this?
Simon Lambert, via email Jason says...
Some lenses do tend to over/underexpose a little, and it can vary from one sample of any given lens to another. If you’re finding it a consistent problem, it’s worth dialling in exposure compensation when using the lens and leaving the setting in place unless you need to change it for specific shots.
If you’re finding that your D750 is consistently over/underexposing regardless of the lens, you can alter the ‘b6’ option in the custom settings menu, to fine-tune the exposure values for each metering method (Matrix, Spot, Centreweighted). You can apply compensation in 1/6 EV steps between +1 and -1 EV.
Nikon’s Active D-Lighting is also worth using to maintain exposures with good highlight and lowlight detail. In PASM modes, Active D-Lighting is available from the Shooting menu, with various strengths from Low to Extra High. There’s also an ‘Auto’ setting that works well, reacting to different scenes as you shoot.
How can I get sharp shots inside a cathedral when flash photography and tripods are prohibited?
Eric Taylor, via email Jason says…
Optical image stabilization is an enormous help in capturing consistently sharp handheld images indoors. Recent Nikon DSLRs also perform well at high ISO settings, maintaining remarkably low-noise image quality up to around ISO6400 and even higher. If you don’t have time to adjust the ISO setting on a shot-by-shot basis, use the Auto ISO function instead, and set your preferred maximum value.
For shooting cathedrals and other building interiors with wide-angle lenses, another bonus is that you can expect to get sharp shots at slow shutter speeds. For example, using a 10mm focal length on a DX format body (or 15mm with an FX camera) you can still get sharp shots with shutter speeds as slow as 1/15 sec, even without stabilization, which often isn’t available in wide-angle lenses anyway. Check your images for sharpness after each shot on the camera’s LCD screen, and reshoot if necessary.
I’ve got a D3300, but am struggling to get good wildlife photos with my Sigma 70-300mm lens. Do I need a different lens or am I just not doing it right? Kelly Belcher, via email Jason says...
It’s hard to say without seeing your images, but the Sigma 70300mm lens isn’t exactly a top performer. Compared with wide-angle shooting described in the previous Q&A, optical image stabilization can be even more vital in avoiding blurred images from camerashake when using a telephoto lens. It’s therefore surprising that Sigma stopped making its stabilized 70-300mm telephoto zoom a few years ago, but still markets its even older editions of the lens.
As well as lacking stabilization, older Sigma 70-300mm lenses have sluggish autofocus systems that can struggle to track moving subjects in wildlife photography. I’d suggest upgrading to the Nikon AF-S VR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (£450/$500) or, if that’s too pricey for your budget, the Tamron SP AF 70-300 f/4-5.6 Di VC USD (£300/$450). Both of these lenses are sharper than the Sigma, have relatively fast ring-type ultrasonic autofocus systems, and feature optical stabilization.
I have a D5300 and would like a macro lens for shooting extreme close-ups, but can’t afford one yet. Is there a good alternative? Gary Gudgin, via email Jason says…
You can’t beat having the right tool for the job and, if you can’t currently afford a new macro lens, consider buying one secondhand. I’d go for the Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8, good used examples of which cost around £170/$200. Ensure you buy the updated ‘A272NII’ version, which adds a built-in autofocus motor, launched in February 2008. The older edition won’t autofocus on your D5300. That said, manual focusing is often preferred for macro photography anyway.
If a secondhand lens is too expensive, the next best solution is to buy a set of extension tubes, which physically extend the distance between the camera body and a regular lens, to give a shorter minimum focus distance. You’d need Nikondedicated extension tubes that enable autofocus and exposure info to be communicated between camera and lens.
A little exposure compensation and Active D-Lighting can deliver a much better balance of brightness and contrast Good Exposure
Using optical stabilization and boosting ISO can enable sharp handheld shots indoors
The AF-S VR version of Nikon’s 70-300mm lens outperforms the new ‘AF-P’ editions and is our budget telephoto zoom of choice for shooting wildlife
A set of Kenko extension tubes will set you back around £120/$125