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D200 Settings

Dirk Ouellette , Jan 18, 2008; 09:57 a.m.

I am a neophyte with a settings question. I have a D200 and my buddy wants me to take some photos of him as he performs tonight. He's a guitarist, and he'll be playing in a pub. The light will be softly lit "pub interior". LOL Are there some general settings that I can start with? I'll be using a Nikkor AF 28mm 1:2.8 lens and my only flash is the on camera one. I hope to take a number of no-flash photos as well as flash photos. I've ordered Thom Hogan's Complete D200 Guide, but don't have it yet. I do have "The Digital Photography Book" by Scott Shelby. Thanks

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Dirk Ouellette , Jan 18, 2008; 10:09 a.m.

BTW, I will be using a tripod. Dirk

Joseph Smith , Jan 18, 2008; 10:14 a.m.

Shoot your images in RAW (NEF) so you can adjust the White Balance during post processing. Set White Balance for the type of light present. Set a high ISO like 400 or 800. Set aperture priority. Set you f stop to f 2.8 and the camera will select the shutter speed. Up the ISO if you need more shutter speed based on the light present. If you use flash, use a SB-600 or SB-800. The on camera flash carries for only a short distance. Read your camera manual on flash use about five times. I would make sure you do NOT set red eye flash synch. You might need slow synch. Make sure you know what happens with each synch setting and pick the one you want.

If you use a SB-600 or SB-800 the setting on the flash wlll probably be TTLBL. You might want to set flash comopensation on the flash of a minus 1.0.

Joe Smith

David King , Jan 18, 2008; 10:22 a.m.

My guess is that the lighting conditions wont change throughout the performance. Start with ISO 800, 1/100, and f2.8 in MANUAL mode. My guess is that you will be underexposing at that point. Depending on movement of the performers, you will have to decide which to sacrifice. With a D200 I would say crank up the ISO to as much at 1600, then bring the shutter down if you still need more exposure. My guess is that you could still get a few decent shots at 1/40. Obviously, the faster the shutter, the higher percentage of great shots you will have.

Shoot in manual mode...any of the priority modes will just confuse the camera (with all the spotlights on stage) and you will take you a while to find the right balance of settings.

Good luck!

Phil Evans , Jan 18, 2008; 10:23 a.m.

Hi Dirk

Firstly set your d200 to iso 1600, no way around that in the situation that you describe. I personally don't even think it is worth experimenting with less.

Second, read how to set a cusom wb, and set it in the club, or as Joseph says use Raw and do it later on your computer.

Thirdly, read about your histogram so you understand it before you go, then use it to see how your shots are exposed. I would shoot in manual for something like this, but others will have different opinions.

forthly, consider a new lens for next time. I don't know how close you can get to the action in this club, but in my experience you need a bit more focal length, and a brighter lens will help too. Even the 50 f1.8 for $100 might be the ticket in a small club.

The d200 is an amazing machine, have fun.

Ronald Moravec , Jan 18, 2008; 10:23 a.m.

Use a low contrast setting if you make JPEGS, better yet Raw so white bal does not need to changed from flash to tung. Auto WB may work. In any case, raw preserves the options. Try it out before you go to be sure you computer will load the files etc. I would probably make raw+large JPEG unless I knew they would be no problems with raw only.

ISO 400. On board flash is good for not too far so stay inside that range. A low shutter speed with flash, i/8 sec, will allow you to pick up some background outside the range, of the flash, but the WB wil be different foreground to background.

Shun Cheung , Jan 18, 2008; 11:19 a.m.

Shoot RAW at ISO 800 or, if necessary, ISO 1600. A tripod will help. You may get some subject movement, so capture many image samples to increase the odds of having a few good ones. I think it is a good idea to take some with flash. The flash frequently kills the mood, but it is good to have some choices.

You might consider taking a few "staged" shots afterwards, in addition to the "live" ones during the actual performance.

Hans Janssen , Jan 18, 2008; 11:35 a.m.

Download a trial of DxO 5 and shoot in RAW, develop thes files with DxO 5 and a lot of noise is gone. It is better to expose exactly than underexpose and correct it in the converter. I use the 2500 iso setting often for concerts. Camera on A and your display on 4 color histograms and check them often in the beginning, spot metering and use the right spot to measure the distance(also light) on the face do not use only the central spot and recompose. Watch out that your shuttertime doesn't become too high, but with 28mm isn't that a reral problem. Lower your isoos when it is possible When you come under 1600 go to auto iso

Bruce Margolis , Jan 18, 2008; 01:09 p.m.

ISO 800-1600 is probably in the ballpark but if the house lights are on, you might be able to cut back to ISO 400. That will reduce some of the noise.

Since you have a tripod, consider picking up a cable release at a local photo shop. That will help minimize camera shake.

Michael Christensen , Jan 18, 2008; 02:31 p.m.

There is no one setting to accomplish this. You choose your ISO based upon the size of grain you want and light available, and yes you want some grain to add a little realism to the shot; second, you have limited yourself with only one lens (why?) ... consider a simple 50mm 1.4 lens to gather the most light possible; or rent a 70-200 2.8 zoom. The D200 does marginal in low light .. and the farther from the stage you are, unless you have a point source of light .. your focus may hunt a bit.

The D200 is a good tool for a variety of lighting situations. But the menus can be a bit cumbersome .. and Thom Hogan's book is a great beginning (have it .. printed out it is 732 pages).. reading it just before the shoot will probably cause you to consider too many variables ... keep it simple.

You most important consideration should be ISO selection .. good answers above. Use "single focus control point -- anything else and your camera will get confused with other action in the crowd ..

If you are using stage lighting, colored lights on the performers .. no matter how you balance light you will not get perfect skin tones; don't worry about it ... you should attempt to adjust your white balance, but depending on the effect you desire that may or may not be important .. avoid setting the camera to pump up the color (you can do that post-processing). While RAW settings will give you greater control, I would not hesitate to shoot jpg.fine .. or simply rely on auto-white balance .. there are probably too many different light sources used in bar-room stage lighting .. if this really concerns you .. talk to the owner and do a pre-shoot with a no-name band for fun and see what you like.

Thom Hogan uses Bank A for default settings; Bank B for normal shooting; Bank C for flash work; and Bank D for action. (Page 413 of his book)

His settings are a good starting point; you will find you want to change things for your personal preferences after some time with the camera. I estimated there are some 120 settings you choose by doing so (see why I tend to stick to default setting!)

Do you have a fax number? I can fax the chart to you (my email mchristensen@ci.collinsville.il.us). I'll be at work in 2 hours.

But seriously, Thom's guidance is a step in the right direction; not perfect simply because we all have different needs .. and we like to use our cameras with personal setting that appeal to us .. Nikon tried to make it easy by having certain default settings .. generic settings that allow you to worry about being a photographer .. and as you get to understand how and why the camera does things .. perhaps you will want to tweak the settings for your own preferences.

BTW, the D200 Magic Lantern Guide .. is almost Thom Hogan's book! Although Thom gives much better explanations .. Like most of us, we read it for general knowledge/understanding .. and selectively forget what we don't need to know ...

Suggest you "make a plan" .. you know the duration of the event, therefore, you can shoot this with a variety of techniques and you should not be afraid to experiment ..

Whatever you do, keep one of the "banks" set to the camera defaults; and know how to use the "2-button reset" .. the QUAL and the EXPOSURE COMPENSATION BUTTON (look for the Green Dots, hold both for 2 seconds) .. because when you get stuck in a program and things are happening around you, and you feel the pressure of losing shots because you can not understand why this dumb computer doesn't do what you want it too .. well, don't fret .. just reset and shoot.

Another thing .. on the front of the camera .. The FOCUS MODE SELECTOR .. I would use "S" .. again this limits the camera doing the thinking and smart-technology works best in optimum lighting.


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