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07-02-2013, 12:07 PM   #1
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My first dslr, first impressions and in need of a couple of advices

Hi, after a lot of time wanting a dslr i finally got one: a pentax k-30. It arrived yesterday and i am playing with it since then, after a couple of almost complete black shots and thinking something was wrong i learned the importance of light (i was setting a high shutter speed and low iso with low indoor lights).
With the body i bought a d fa 100mm f2.8 wr, a mini tripod and a fa 100 -300mm f4-7 (or something like that, a silver one that should arrive anyday now), i bought them from japan (i compare the prices and they have great prices, if somebody is interested this is the link to their page: Japanese Second Hand Used Camera Lenses Specialized Shop , i paid 495 for the 100mm f2.8 wr shipped and it's almost like new, and 118 for the other one with a hood and a filter that goes for 17 in ebay so it might not be that bad).
Even though i have no experience the camera feels great, looks great, just great construction, but the menu can be a little overwelming (i never though something could come with a 300 page manual), dont get me wrong, i actually like this, discovering new things, learning the purpose of every button,etc
After reading photography articles about this and that i thought that i was going to be able to take great pictures from day one, men i was wrong! I have been all morning trying to take a decent picture of my dart frogs and i can´t.
That brings me to the problem, in two weeks i'm going to the Amazonas rainforest, were almost all the pictures will be taken under the trees with little light. i didn't had enough money to get a flash, and after larning how important is good light i am little worried, (today i made a flash diffuser for my pop up flash,)
next week i have final exams so i wont have time to practice, i am only going to be 3 days in the amazonas so i dont want to lose too many pictures for not knowing the correct setting or something like that. (there will be many amazing looking insects).
any kind of advice is welcome. (like: should i use the diffuser and if i do should i compensate something, can i use the hood and the pop up flash diffuser togheter, should i use manual mode, tav, etc) i will be mainly shooting macro.
Thanks

Greetings from Perú

The flower was taken with the homeade flash diffuser, the pop up flash set to -1, iso 200, f8. with the 100mm f2.8 macro wr, Shooted on raw, processed with raw therapee (i used the "auto" option, i am learning how to use it)

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Last edited by carlosodze; 07-02-2013 at 12:12 PM.
07-02-2013, 12:35 PM   #2
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Hey, welcome! Yes, DSLRs need some time for the users to learn. Good shot you posted there, nice and sharp. But the problem with onboard flash is that it makes image look "flat" because its all direct light. I also doubt the flash is very effective in macro situations, it might miss the subject.

But you have a tripod! That is good news. Now you can have long exposures. Just set up the photo, put the camera into Av mode, set the aperture you want, then choose a relatively low ISO, and let the camera choose a shutter speed. A long exposure should gather a lot of light, even in low light conditions. The only problem is if the camera or the subject is shaken. You should use the 2 sec timer or a remote control to fire off a long exposure, so the button press doesn't shake the frame.
You can also bring with you a little piece of hard metal wire and put it around the stem of a flower and bury it on the other end, so that the flower won't move much during the exposure (just make sure the wire can't be seen in the photo). This way you can defeat a slow breeze.

Another workaround is buying a powerful LED hand held flashlight. They are pretty small, but strong, so you can even do "light painting". The only problem with them is that they have coloured light and it might clash with ambient light. In those cases you can make the photo black and white or sepia.

But the photo you posted is a great start. Just remember to either take the manual with you, or download a pdf version and put it on your phone/computer.
Oh and remember, bigger F-number=bigger Depth of Field, but also = darker photo. It is not uncommon in macro situations to use f16 and f22.
07-02-2013, 01:24 PM   #3
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Welcome to Pentax Forums and congratulations on your wonderful start with dSLRs!
07-02-2013, 02:53 PM   #4
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Light is not a problem shooting stationary objects when you have a tripod. If you are a complete beginner to dslr:
-Shoot in Av mode
-Use the 2 second timer
-Set aperture to f16
-Place on tripod

If you are taking photos in a dark green forest, the chances are that your pictures will turn out to be too bright as the camera tries to compensate. You may need to use about -2/3 exposure compensation. If that sounds like gobbledy gook, then buy this book:
Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera (Updated Edition): Bryan Peterson: 9780817463007: Amazon.com: Books

If I were you I would take a point and shoot camera also as 2 weeks may not be enough time to learn a dslr

07-03-2013, 07:25 AM - 1 Like   #5
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THe best flash diffuser I've come up with for the onboard flash is a cash register receipt. Make sure the printed side goes out, away from the flash, it's heat sensitive. Fold it into a small "envelope" and slip it over the flash unit with only one layer of paper over the flash. It works great and you can carry a dozen in a shirt pocket and never know it. I get stores to give me a 6 inch strip now and then unprinted, their store name is usually printed at the top so I know which side goes out.

Na Horuk - I've used mine with macro, (both K-x and K30) it usually does ok but I like my hot shoe flash a lot better. but it does work a foot away pretty well when I use my 135mm Lentar and some extension tubes. I haven't tried it with the 50mm, that shoots only about 4 inches away, guess I need to give that a try and see if ti will actually work that close. For that I usually use a folded envelope or plain white paper as a reflector. Or a white business card...

For using it in a rainforest, I'm sure a tripod will come in handy in a lot of cases, but quite often you won't have time to set it up. Birds and other wildlife won't sit there while you set up for a shot. Since you'll be under a pretty thick canopy, I'd say try a few test shots at ISO 400 then ISO 800 and see what works. High ISO with the K30 works pretty well, but I find that in low light situations in the woods around here it gets noisy pretty quick. So I always try to keep it at ISO 400 or lower if possible. I know you said mostly macro, but I'd be willing to bet once you see the place you'll be after everything that moves...

For macro, I use a 135mm M42 lens and extansion tubes, and a 50mm with extension tubes, usually with a hot shoe flash that has variable power settings. That usually eliminates the need for a diffuser, but the receipt works nicely when I do need one same as with the onboard. I usually shoot at ISO 100 or 200, f11 to f16 and occasionally f22, and 1/180 shutter speed. I have the camera set to the Bright mode, and I shoot all manual, and a couple of the individual settings, contrast and saturation have been tweaked a bit but I can't remember exactly what. I almost never use a tripod, but sometimes I do attach a mini tripod and use it as a handle. I can set my hand on the ground or on a knee and hold the camera by the mini tripod, and it helps with stability for shots where I don't have time to set up a full tripod, which is most of the time...I normally use the one that came with the K-x kit but I have a couple, different styles, and both work equally well.

In most cases I lean in and out to get focus rather than trying to use the focus ring. I set the lens to infinity focus, which seems to get me a little larger field of view and maybe a little more depth of field. It also gets me just a little further away, and if I change it to its closest focus, I can tell a little difference in size in the pictures on the computer.

The main thing is going to be lots of practice...
07-03-2013, 08:17 AM   #6
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I have regularly heard from a pro wildlife photographer I hang out with that the biggest mistake beginner birders do is have too low ISO. You need all the shutter speed you can get and high-ISO is your friend.

The cheapest macro is a reversed manual focus 50mm, or a Canon close-up filter:

Canon 58mm 500D Close-up Lens 2822A001 B&H Photo Video
07-03-2013, 07:24 PM   #7
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Original Poster
Great, thanks to all, that was the type of advices i was looking for, i will take everything into consideration, you really help me a lot.
I will take a look at the book.
Thanks again!


Carlos
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