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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that we reserve the right to edit
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
1/1000 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