Although the Nikon D3100 is designed for beginners, and learning to use it takes minutes, mastering the art of taking good photos with the device may seem like an impossible feat.
Don’t worry; in this short guide, I’ll teach you the basics of taking good photos with your new Nikon D3100. I’ll also provide some instructions on configuring your camera’s settings to ensure you take awesome images every time.
How to Set Up Your Nikon D3100 to Take Good Photos
If you take your camera out of the box and immediately start snapping photos, you probably won’t get the results you want. You’ll need to make some adjustments before you start building your next photo album.
Choose Your Photos’ Filter
You should first navigate to the shooting menu on your camera’s screen and go to the options offered under the camera icon. Then, go to “Set Picture Control.” You’ll be able to choose from these options:
- Standard. This will take a picture the way you see it. Many photographers consider this setting to be more “natural” than the other options on this list.
- Vivid. This will saturate an image’s color and make brighter colors “pop.”
- Monochrome. This will take your pictures in black and white.
- Portrait. These are for vertical photos, usually of a person.
- Landscape. This allows you to take horizontal shots that encompass a wider range than portraits.
You’re more than welcome to experiment with these settings to see which one you like the most.
Set Your Image Quality
When you take a photo, you want it to upload well to your computer. You’ll have quite a few options when choosing an image quality. However, for the most part, you should stick with “JPEG Fine.” This format essentially compresses the file size without compromising its image quality. It’s also compatible with a range of social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram.
Adjust the ISO Sensitivity Settings
If you’ve never heard of ISO sensitivity, basically, it controls how your camera’s sensors respond to light. On the Nikon D3100 camera, you’ll be able to choose from a range of ISO settings, starting at 100 and ending at 1,600.
As a general rule, the setting that works for you depends on what you’re shooting.
- If you’re taking pictures around your neighborhood at high noon, you’ll probably want to opt for a setting between 100 and 400.
- If you’re capturing your cave-diving expedition, you’ll want a higher number, like between 600 to 1,600. (Keep in mind that even though this will brighten your photos, the quality might not be excellent. In these instances, you might want to turn on the flash or even get an attachment.)
Select the Best Mode
You’ll notice that there will be a small dial with various icons on the top of your Nikon D1300. Those are your camera’s modes, and they work differently depending on what you’re trying to capture.
There are really only two that you need to worry about for everyday use. They include:
- Auto mode. This icon looks like a small camera. It works for most settings.
- No-flash mode. This icon looks like a lightning bolt with a slash through it. Per Nikon D1300’s user manual, this is perfect if you’re in an area that doesn’t allow flash photography.
Again, feel free to experiment with other modes.
Taking Good Photos with Your Nikon D1300 Camera
Now you’re ready to capture your first image. Visualize what you want it to look like. If you’re capturing a portrait, hold the camera vertically. If you’re capturing a wider landscape, hold the camera horizontally.
Now, you can look at your image either through the camera’s screen or through the viewfinder (make sure the viewfinder is clean to avoid picking up spots or marks in photos). Once you’ve found the right angle:
Press the Shutter-Release Button Halfway
This will allow your camera to automatically focus on the photo’s subject. On your screen, if you see a red dot, that means it has focused. If the red dot is blinking, it’s having a hard time auto-focusing. Try taking a few steps back or holding the camera farther away from your body.
If you’re in a dark area, the flash might automatically pop up.
Shoot Your Photo
When you’re ready to capture your image, hold down on the shutter-release button all the way. Wait until the image has appeared on your camera’s screen before doing anything else. Nikon says that if you remove the memory card while the camera is taking the photo, you will probably get poor results.
Of course, this guide only scratches the surface of what makes for a good photo. After you’ve familiarized yourself with these basics, you might consider getting a tripod, which will stabilize your camera and allow you to play with different elevations and angles.
Taking good photos with a Nikon D3100 takes time, patience, and practice. However, by mastering the basics, you’re on your way to taking unforgettable pictures.