ask Ja­son

Our res­i­dent Nikon ex­pert Ja­son Par­nell-brookes an­swers your ques­tions and solves your prob­lems. If you’d like Ja­son to come to the res­cue re­gard­ing your Nikon-re­lated ques­tion, email it to mail@npho­tomag.com. Please note that we re­serve the right to edit

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What will you lot come up with next? What­ever it is, we’re al­most pos­i­tive Ja­son has a Nikon-re­lated an­swer for it

I tried shoot­ing mo­tor­sports the other day but the cars look like they’re stand­ing still. What shut­ter speed do I need to con­vey mo­tion when pan­ning? Dave Sim­monds

Ja­son says...shoot­ing at 1/500 sec or faster should give you a good suc­cess rate for keep­ing the cars look­ing sharp, but will also tend to freeze the back­ground and even the wheels. To give re­ally smooth mo­tion blur, I tend to use shut­ter speeds of be­tween 1/60 and 1/125 sec. It’s a real chal­lenge to pan smoothly enough to keep the cars sharp,

so don’t be sur­prised if you take loads of shots and only get a few keep­ers. Try us­ing con­tin­u­ous drive mode and con­tin­u­ous aut­o­fo­cus, en­abling a burst of shots while pan­ning.

My Sigma 120-400mm lens’s aut­o­fo­cus shud­ders and stops when the tem­per­a­ture is around freez­ing. Would I be likely to suf­fer from the same prob­lem if I bought a pricier su­per-tele zoom? Derik Hodg­son

Ja­son says… Sigma’s tech­ni­cal de­part­ment as­sures me that its lenses are tested to -15ºc, and should func­tion per­fectly well at that tem­per­a­ture. As tem­per­a­tures drop, the AF might slow down slightly but def­i­nitely shouldn’t stop al­to­gether. It’s there­fore likely your in­di­vid­ual lens has de­vel­oped a fault. To dis­cuss hav­ing the lens re­paired, you can call Sigma’s ser­vice cen­tre (in the UK, it’s 01707 329999). If you de­cide to re­place the lens, I’d rec­om­mend the re­cently launched Sigma 100400mm Con­tem­po­rary, which gives ex­cel­lent per­for­mance and is rather light­weight. It’s also great value. There’s also an equiv­a­lent Tam­ron lens, fea­tured in this month’s Head to Head, over the page.

I feel sure that my cam­era bat­tery isn’t last­ing as long as it used to. It just doesn’t seem to be long be­fore it needs recharg­ing again! Is there any way I can check up on its per­for­mance? Stu­art Miller

Ja­son says... There are var­i­ous fac­tors that can re­duce bat­tery life, in­clud­ing fre­quent use of the rear LCD screen, shoot­ing long ex­po­sures, us­ing the cam­era’s pop-up flash and op­ti­cal sta­bi­liza­tion in lenses. You’ll also find that bat­tery life shrinks quite a bit in colder weather con­di­tions.

To check your bat­tery, most Nikon DSLRS have a ‘Bat­tery info’ op­tion in their Setup menu. This goes into greater depth than the bat­tery gauge on the cam­era’s rear LCD or top-panel dis­play screen. It’ll tell you the per­cent­age of charge re­main­ing and the num­ber of shots taken since the bat­tery was last charged.

More im­por­tantly to your case, it typ­i­cally in­cludes a

five-level dis­play for your cam­era’s ‘bat­tery age’. This ranges from 0, in­di­cat­ing ‘as-new’ per­for­mance, to 4, which sig­ni­fies that the bat­tery has reached the end of its life and should al­most def­i­nitely be re­placed with a new one.

I took some pho­tos at a wed­ding but there’s a colour shift be­tween shots of large and small groups of peo­ple. How can I avoid this? Jess Wil­liams

Ja­son says... Auto white bal­ance is the usual cul­prit for this. If you’re shoot­ing the large and small groups of peo­ple un­der the same light­ing, I’d sug­gest us­ing the pre­set white bal­ance mode that best suits the con­di­tions, like day­light, cloudy or shade. Bet­ter still, you could in­vest in a grey card like the pop-up Las­to­lite Ezy­bal­ance Card (from about £25/$40) and set a cus­tom white bal­ance man­u­ally for each shot setup. Us­ing a grey card is es­pe­cially use­ful if you’re com­bin­ing nat­u­ral and ar­ti­fi­cial light­ing.

The Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Con­tem­po­rary is laden with fea­tures but only weighs about a kilo­gram. It’s great value at around £699/$699

1/125 sec

1/1000 sec These two shots show the ef­fect of slow­ing your shut­ter speed down from 1/1000 to 1/125 sec

Man­frotto/las­to­lite’s ‘Ezy­bal­ance’ cards are avail­able in 30cm, 50cm and 75cm sizes, each of which folds down to a third of its size for stow­ing away

The Bat­tery info op­tion in the Setup menu gives a clear in­di­ca­tion of the bat­tery’s health and sta­tus , as well as other bits of use­ful in­for­ma­tion

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