Ask Ja­son

Ja­son fields more of your cam­era queries, plus rec­om­mends an old-school film cam­era…

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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

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