Nikon D3100 vs D5100

Nikon D3100 vs Nikon D5100

Now that the Nikon D5100 is announced, many first time buyers will be wondering which one to get – the Nikon D3100 or the Nikon D5100. I decided to put together a quick comparison between the two cameras in this “Nikon D3100 vs D5100” article to hopefully make it easier for our readers to decide which DSLR to go with.

Nikon D3100 vs Nikon D5100

The new Nikon D5100 is an update to the existing Nikon D5000 line which was introduced in 2009 as an “upper-entry-level DSLR”. Sitting above the Nikon D3100 camera, the Nikon D5100 comes with more features and a better sensor technology to attract current entry-level DSLR owners that want to upgrade and potential customers that want to invest in a more advanced DSLR. Both DSLRs have the new Expeed II processor from Nikon, which allows faster image and video processing up to 1080p (the previous Expeed processor could not handle more than 720p video).

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How to Clean SLR Camera Lenses

When it comes to cleaning SLR camera lenses, photographers use different methods that work for them. In this article, I will show you my way to clean DSLR camera lenses. I often get emails and comments from our readers, who ask to provide detailed information on this process, so I am including a detailed article along with an accompanying video to thoroughly explain the process. Cleaning lenses is a fairly straightforward process and is almost risk-free, as long as you are using proper tools for the job. If you are impatient and want to see the video where I show the entire process of cleaning a lens, skip all the way down. I hope you find the below article and video useful.

1) Why Clean Camera Lens?

Besides the obvious answer “because it is dirty”, keeping your lenses clean will ensure that you get the best and highest quality results from using your gear. During a Photo Walks that I led a couple of years ago, a novice approached me with a question about his camera. He told me that his images look cloudy and he had no idea why it was happening. I asked if I could take a look at his camera to see if I could find anything wrong with it. As soon as I opened the front lens cap, I knew exactly what the problem was. The front element of the lens was very dirty and had oily fingerprints and other stuff all over the place. I showed him the lens and asked if he knew about the problem. He told me that he had a toddler that likes his camera too much and apparently, that’s how the lens ended up getting all the stuff on it. He did not know how to clean the lens properly and after spending so much money on the camera gear, he was too scared to clean it himself. Gladly, I always carry my cleaning kit with me, so I took a picture before and then another after cleaning the lens. We compared the images and as expected, the first one indeed looked cloudy, while the second one was clear and sharp. This is one example of how dust, dirt and oil can affect your images.

Another important reason to clean your camera lens is keep your images free of particles that might show up in background highlights and other parts of the image. Take a look at my earlier post on “the effect of dust on lens bokeh” – you will see, that dust on the rear element of your lens will show up in your images, especially if you have large specks of dust there.

Dust is a normal part of a photographer’s life. While it is a good idea to prevent dust from landing on your gear, whether you like it or not, you will eventually end up in a dusty environment some day. So, it is not a matter of how, but when. If you see a beautiful sunset on a windy and dusty day, are you not going to take a picture? Some photographers say things like “do not get your gear dirty in first place”, which I consider to be a ridiculous statement. I would never want to miss an opportunity for a good picture, just because I wanted to keep my gear clean. Every time I go to places like Sand Dunes, I know beforehand that it is most likely going to be windy. Take a look at this shot:

Great Sand Dunes #13

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Nikon AE-L / AF-L Button

Nikon D3100 AE-L AF-L Button

Whether you are using an entry-level DSLR like Nikon D3100 or a top of the line DSLR like Nikon D3x, there is a special button on the back of your camera labeled “AE-L / AF-L” that can be quite useful in many situations. After I wrote the Autofocus Modes article, I received several requests from our readers, asking me to explain what the AE-L / AF-L button does, when it should be used and how it can be combined with different autofocus modes. In this article, I will try to go through this button in depth and explain how I personally use it on my cameras.

Nikon D3100 AE-L AF-L Button

1) AutoExposure-Lock / AutoFocus-Lock

The AE-L / AF-L button stands for “AutoExposure-Lock and AutoFocus-Lock” and its primary function is to lock camera exposure and/or focus. What does this exactly mean? If you are using any of the camera modes like Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority or other scene modes, the button could be used to force the camera to use a certain value for shutter speed, aperture, ISO and white balance. Since in any of the automatic modes the camera uses its metering sensor to determine the optimal exposure, instead of having your camera re-evaluate the light every time you recompose, you could lock the exposure to a value you are comfortable with – hence the term “AutoExposure-Lock”. There are many cases where using this feature is very helpful. One example is when you photograph panoramas. It is extremely important to use exactly the same exposure from frame to frame in panoramic photography. If one exposure differs from another, it is practically impossible for panoramic software to stitch images together in a consistent, continuous form. Another good example is if you are photographing a subject with a constantly changing background and you want to expose the subject exactly the same way from shot to shot. Basically, any time consistency of exposure is required and you do not want to switch to a full manual mode, the AE-L button can be very useful.

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Nikon D5100 DSLR Announcement

Nikon D5100

On April 5, 2011, Nikon launched the Nikon D5100 DSLR, an expected replacement for the Nikon D5000 that was introduced first in April of 2009. As a upper-entry-level DSLR, the Nikon D5100 stands above entry-level Nikon D3100 and below the semi-professional Nikon D90 and D7000 cameras. The changes from Nikon D5000 are significant – not only does the D5100 get the much improved 16.2 MP sensor from the excellent Nikon D7000, but it also comes with a side-articulated 3 inch swivel LCD with 920,000 pixels (the Nikon D5000 had a bottom-articulated 2.7 inch swivel LCD with only 230,000 pixels), full 1080p HD video recording and a completely redesigned camera body.

Nikon D5100

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Nikon D3100 Review

Nikon D3100

This long overdue review of the Nikon D3100 is based on my 30 day experience with the camera. I get plenty of comments and emails from our readers asking about the D3100 and whether they should buy it over the older Nikon D3000 and Nikon D5000 cameras, so I decided to post a review of the camera with some sample images and comparisons with other Nikon DSLRs to hopefully make it easier for our readers to make the right choice. Please note that the sample images provided below are “test” shots that have not been heavily modified in post-processing.

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Nikon D7000 Review

Nikon D7000

This long overdue review of the Nikon D7000 is based on my 3+ month experience with multiple samples of the camera. Due to my busy schedule and a very high demand on the D7000, I was not able to obtain a copy earlier to test. I actually thought it was a good thing to wait, because I did not want to get one from the initial production (which seemed to be rushed, resulting in lots of bad samples out there). Ever since the Nikon D7000 was released, I have been getting many questions from current and potential buyers, asking about backfocus issues, overexposed images, bad video quality, autofocus problems, image quality at low and high ISOs and hot pixels. For this review, I made a note to myself to test the camera against each of the listed potential problems and report on my findings.

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DSLR Autofocus Modes Explained

Single-Point AF-Area Mode

Most modern digital SLR cameras are equipped with advanced autofocus systems that are often hard to understand. Whether you are shooting with an entry-level or professional DSLR, knowing how to use autofocus system effectively is essential to get sharp images. A badly-focused, blurry image can ruin a photograph and you cannot repair it in post-processing. Some professionals often end up converting their images to black and white, to hide their focusing problems. If you learn how to focus correctly, you do not have to resort to such measures and you can deliver much better results to your clients and family. Simply put, accurate focus translates to sharper images and that is something everyone is looking for in photographs today. I know some photographers will argue with me on this, saying that sometimes image blur yields a “creative” look, but it is one thing when you do it on purpose and another, when you consistently mess up just because you don’t know how to focus well with your camera. Once you learn how to properly focus with your camera, you can then decide whether you want to blur something on purpose.

Blue Heron in Flight

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Nikon Commander Mode

Instead of creating another post, I updated the “How to get the best out of your pop-up flash” article to include plenty of information and a new video on Nikon’s Commander Mode on semi-pro and pro-level Nikon camera bodies. Information on how to set up the built-in pop-up camera flash to be a commander, as well as configuring Nikon speedlights (SB-600, SB-700, SB-800 and SB-900) is also included.

Here is the video on how to use the commander mode + flash communication basics:

Our next upcoming article + video is going to be about Nikon speedlights and how to use them in various configurations indoors. Stay tuned!

Nikon D7000 vs D90

Nikon D7000

Ever since Nikon released the new Nikon D7000, I have been getting a lot of emails from people who are asking if they should go with the D7000 or with the older Nikon D90 that has been dropping in price. To make it easier for our readers, I decided to post a quick comparison between the two in this “Nikon D7000 vs D90” article.

Nikon D7000

The new Nikon D7000 is a new generation DSLR that sits between D90 and D300s, which can be classified as an “semi-professional DSLR”. It features a brand new sensor from Nikon, which has been specifically engineered for the Nikon D7000 and possibly other upcoming cameras. The Nikon D7000 is the second camera announced this year by Nikon with the new Expeed II processor, allowing faster image and video processing up to 1080p (the previous Expeed processor could not handle more than 720p video).

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Nikon vs Canon vs Sony

Sample 1

I have been getting a lot of questions from our readers about whether they should pick a particular camera from Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax or some other manufacturer. These inquiries are only increasing over time, so I decided to post an article on what I think about different camera systems and why you should go with a particular brand versus others. Many of the questions are something like “should I go for Nikon D5000 or Canon 1000D” or similar, with readers asking me to tell them why I would recommend or pick a certain brand/type of a camera over another. When it comes to the question of Nikon vs Canon vs Sony, there are lots of heated debates over the Internet, so I wanted to share my personal thought on this subject matter as well.

As you know, I have been mainly writing about Nikon – simply because pretty much all of my gear is from Nikon and it is the system of choice for me. Why don’t I shoot Canon or Sony? Is Nikon superior than these brands? No, not really. Read on to understand why.

Sample 5

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