Nikon® D3400 Fast Start


Nikon® D3400 Fast Start


Lesson Info

Basic Controls: Manual Modes

So let's get into the good stuff, the fun area we can really start having some control of things ourselves. Now the P mode is the program mode, which means it's gonna set shutter speeds, and apertures for you. You will see these shutter speeds and apertures when you look through the view finder. And there's gonna be a line of information on the bottom, the first number on the left is your shutter speeds, the next number is your aperture, the number way off to the right is the number of images you have left on your memory card. And so the program mode is good for general photography, and a couple things that I like about it, in comparison with the full auto mode, which is where that green camera is, is number one the flash does not pop up whenever it's dark. And so even though it may be dark, you need to be the judge of when to use the flash when you use the program mode. And the best way to be a judge if you need flash or not is, is there someone 10 meters, or you know, 10 feet, three ...

meters in front of me? You know, directly in front of me, talking distance in front of me, or are they much, much further away? If they're much, much further away, you're at the soccer or football match, and you're up in the stands and you want to take a picture down on the field, flash isn't gonna help you out. Program mode would be a good mode to use. Now the program mode will also allow you to get into the menu system to make a lot of other different changes with the focusing system, or the image quality, or white balance, or many, many other different modes that you wanna get into. And so I think for somebody who wants to be able to learn how to use this camera, the program mode is kinda the new, easiest mode that you should use, because you can quickly pick the camera up, and shoot photos, and have them automatically come out very nice, but it allows you to get in and control some things yourself. Now the program mode does have a little bit of manual adjustment that you can do. By turning the back dial on the camera, you can go in to what's called flexible program, and change your shutter speeds and apertures. So I'd like to give you a little demo, on my camera, on how that works, so let me go ahead and flip my camera into the P mode for program, and I wanna show you on the back of the camera what's going on. So right now it says a 40th of a second at f/3.8, and I'm gonna point it over here, we got some cameras over here, I'm just gonna hopefully point it in the right direction, so now we're at a hundredth of a second, 5.6, I'll take a photo, and it comes out looking pretty good. So now, if I'm not totally happy with these numbers, if I said, you know what, I would prefer a different set of numbers, I can just turn this dial, and I see that I am auto ISO, and I'm gonna have to change something, so folks, don't look at what I'm doing, nevermind what I'm doing, I am gonna turn off auto ISO so that it allows me to make these changes here. And we'll talk more about that later. So now, as I change the program, you'll see that there's a little asterisk up by the P, and you'll see that my numbers are changing in the back. Now there is a quirk, and I don't know why Nikons do this, but let's just go to the smallest opening possible, 22, okay, can I go any further? 25, 29, 32, okay so now I'm at the smallest one. And so now if I go one more click, it doesn't change, two, three, four, I'm at the very, very end of the dial, but when I come back one, okay it did change that time. It actually didn't do the quirk on these. What happens sometimes if you go too far, and you come back, you'll see right now that it's not doin' anything, and that's because I went to the right too far, so I gotta keep going back to the left, and eventually it'll click in. And if I go to far to the left, it may not, let's see if I go too far. It's a little bit worse on the wide open side, so if I come over here, it doesn't do anything in here. And if you get totally lost, and it totally doesn't work, turn the camera off, turn the camera on, and you should be able to make those changes and adjustments there. And so it's just a little quirk where it kinda gets lost, when it gets too far to the edge. I have no idea why it's so, but just wanted to let you know about it. Alright back on the keynote. So that's the program mode, and so that is your new best automatic mode in my mind, I would avoid all the other auto modes, if you are the type of person that kinda wants to start learning photography, you start to want to pay attention to those shutter speeds and apertures and start having some more control of your own photos. And you will see in the view finder, that little flexible program, the P with the asterisk letting you know that you've made an adjustment that's slightly different than the standard recommendation. Next up is shutter priority and you can turn the dial to the S mode, and turning the back dial of the camera allows you to change to different shutter speeds. Now there's a lot of good reasons why you would want a different shutter speed. You could use a shutter seed of like a thousandth of a second if you have a bird in flight and you want to stop the motion of it, or any sort of athlete or animal that is moving very quickly, you're gonna need a fast shutter speed. Probably a one 500th of a second, or faster. You may wanna use a slower shutter speed, if you wanna show movement of a subject, so these scarves are blowing in the wind, and I used a tripod and a shutter speed of one second, to make it look a little bit different than a standard photograph, and so these can be very fun to shoot with, but you do need to be careful about making sure the camera is not moving during long shutter speeds. So let me give you a little demo on the shutter speeds, 'cause there is a little quirk here I need to tell you about on the camera, so I have my mode dial and S for shutter priority, and let me start changing my numbers to a little bit more common number, and so as I am over here, you can see that my shutter speeds on the left are reading an eighth of a second, and it's a little bit dark in here, so I'm gonna need to go down to some longer shutter speeds in here, and so it says that I'm at f/11, at ISO 100, and I can change my shutter speeds. And it will automatically change the aperture. I'm not changing the aperture, it's the amount of light that's changing the aperture. And so as the light changes the aperture may change on you. Now, if I wanna set a faster shutter speed, I can set any shutter speed I want. I can go all the way up to one 4000th of a second. But you'll notice, right down here it says subject is too dark, and the numbers are blinking. If you were to be looking in the view finder, you don't get that, notification that the subjects too dark here, but the f/5.6 will be blinking in the view finder, and if you take a photo, the resulting photo, as you can see, is very, very dark. And so let's change this down to something where it doesn't say that the subject is too dark, right there. Let's go ahead and take a photo, and we get a decent result as far as exposure-wise. So do be careful when setting your camera in the shutter priority mode, if something is blinking at you, that means that something is wrong, and you should probably check it out before you take a photo. So be aware of that in the shutter priority mode. Alright, that's shutter priority, next one up is the related mode, the sibling mode you might say, is the aperture priority mode. This is where you set the aperture, and the camera will figure out the shutter speed for you. So let's take a look at an example of this. So if you wanted to shoot with an aperture that gave you lots of depth of field, like f/22 does, you're gonna get everything from the foreground to the background in focus. Now the opposite of this is shallow depth of field, so you have a subject you wanna focus on, but you want everything else kind of out of focus, so that your eyes go to the subject that is most sharply in focus. This is something that's often done in portrait photography. And so in order to work this, you have your camera in the aperture priority mode, and you turn the back dial so let's go ahead and do a little demo with that. I got my camera in the A mode right now, press half way down on the shutter release, and you can see that up here it says A, and so as I change the aperture, by turning the dial in the back, you can see the visual graphic and the number that I'm set at. And if I wanna shoot a picture, let's go all the way down to the smallest opening, well, f/36, that would be an eight second exposure, I don't wanna do an eight second exposure, 'cause I don't wanna waste that much time, but I will do a two second exposure, two seconds, and, it's processing the image, and there's our image, it's a decent exposure. If I go over here to a wider opening aperture, let me try to get a slightly better composition here for this shot. It's a faster shutter speed, and it came out as well. Now in this, if you remember the quirk from the shutter priority mode where we could go in areas that we kinda got ourselves in trouble, and it started blinking at us, we don't have that problem with the aperture priority mode. And that's because there's a limited number of apertures, and there is a much much larger collection of shutter speeds, so I can open this up to the brightest amount, and we're still only at an eighth of a second. And so it is unlikely that you're gonna encounter that problem in the aperture priority mode, which makes it one of my favorite modes for shooting in, when you wanna have a little bit of control, because you could say, I either I want a specific aperture, like I want to shoot at f/8, or you could say, you know what, I wanna shoot at a half second, and I'll just adjust my aperture until I get to a half second over there. And so as long as you keep an eye on the shutter speeds, I think the aperture priority mode is a really good mode, and for anyone who wants to get into photography, and really start playing around, but still have a little bit of backup, little bit of safety that, you know, kinda someones watching to make sure that they get decent exposures, I would spend some time working in the aperture priority mode. I think it's a great learning mode for photography. Alright, next up, final on the list, is M for full manual, and this is where you get to select shutter speeds and apertures yourself. Now, the one disadvantage of a camera at this price point, the entry level, is that it only has one main dial on the back of the camera, and so we're gonna be using that dial to set both shutter speeds and apertures. Now on it's own, it is used for setting the shutter speeds. In order to change the apertures, it is a two finger affair, you have to press down on this aperture button on the top of the camera, while you are turning the back of it, the dial on the back of the camera. And so in general you'll often set shutter speeds first, and then you'll press down on the aperture, and turn the back dial for changing the apertures. This is where you're gonna need to use the light meter, what you will see in the view finder, to making sure that you have a proper exposure. Now there's a couple of good reasons why you might want to use manual exposure. One is if you are in a tricky lighting situation, that the camera would not normally meter very well, and you're gonna wanna go in and get things setup, Maybe do a test shot and try to get, make sure you get everything exactly the way you want it, and so for tricky exposures it's good, it's also good when you want consistent exposures. You're gonna take a series of photos, and you can figure out what the right numbers are, for shutter speeds and apertures, but you want all the photos to be at the same brightness level. And so in order to do that, you're gonna need to use, shutter speeds, apertures and that light meter. Now when it comes to the shutter speeds itself, you'll see the range goes from 4000th of a second, so that's one over 4000, down to 30 full seconds. But when you go beyond it, you're gonna get to something called bulb. So let me explain what bulb is, it's a long time exposure. So when you press down on the shutter release, it's gonna open the shutter unit, and it's gonna stay open as long as your finger is on the button. And then when you release, it's gonna close the second shutter. Now this is generally a bad idea, because if your fingers on the shutter release, the camera is probably moving in some way, and so this would be a good time to employ a cable release of some sort so that you're triggering the camera not directly on the camera but through some sort of cable, so that you're not moving the camera. There is another mode, called the time mode, sometimes indicated by just two dashes, if you look in the view finder. And it's a long time exposure mode as well, but the slight difference is that it's a push to start, and a push to end, and so one press on it opens it up, and then you can let it sit there as long as you want, usually a few minutes for nighttime photography, and then you'll press it again to turn it off. This is also best done with some sort of cable release, or some sort of wireless remote, rather than pressing it on the camera itself. But it is available if you do want to use it, so those are two extra modes that you'll get, and those are only available in manual exposure, you do not get those in the shutter priority mode that we talked about a few minutes ago. So the bulb mode is usually used for nighttime photography, where you wanna leave the shutter open for a longer period of time. So in this case, I was in Rome, and I wanted to get as many car tail lights in the photograph as possible, but there weren't enough cars in 30 seconds, so I left it open for two minutes, using a bulb exposure to get that. Alright, so let's do a little practice with the manual exposure, so let me go ahead and flip my camera over into manual. Turn my camera on, and let's say I wanna get a decent exposure from where the cameras pointed at right now, and I'm gonna stick with ISO 100, and we haven't talked about ISO yet, so I'm just gonna let that be right now, and so I have my shutter speeds that I can change by just turning the dial right here. And let's set a shutter speed of two seconds. I'm on a tripod, so we can shoot at two seconds. And so now I need to figure out the aperture, and you can see down here, there is a light meter, that goes from minus to plus. And so what I'm gonna do now, is I'm gonna press the aperture button on the top of the camera, and you can see that doesn't do anything in itself, but now I can turn the dial on the camera, and I'm changing the aperture, I'm opening it up, and that's not solving my problem. What I need to do, is I need to close it down a little bit, and now you can see as we get closer to zero, this is what the camera believes to be an even exposure, and if I go ahead and take a picture. Two second exposure, we've got to wait a little bit. Let's take a look at it. And we can say, alright, that's pretty good, but it looks a little too bright, and I need to darken this up a little bit. So now I'm gonna change the aperture and I'm gonna go to the minus side, and three clicks right here, let me double check, that would be a full stop darker, which means it's gonna be twice as dark. And we'll go ahead and do a test shot here to see how this looks. And this one is a little bit darker, so let me go back, and I'm gonna play, these images so that you can see. That's another one I took earlier, so here's the brighter one that I thought was a little too bright, and this is one that I thought had a little better color to it. So this is a good example of why I would want to shoot manual, we have kind of an unusual background here in the studio, and I can adjust that exposure exactly where I think it looks good, and if I wanna take another shot with a slightly different composition, and another one, all three of these last images, let me go ahead and play these back here, are gonna have the same brightness value to 'em. They're not changing around. Where as if I had the camera in an automatic mode, those different backgrounds are gonna cause the camera to either change, they're gonna change in light value, and the cameras gonna wanna change some sort of aspect. But in manual I was able to get three photos that were all exactly the same exposure, even though they were composed differently. And so if you wanna get into the real world, the manual world of photography, this is where you're gonna do it, and that's the basics of how you're going to do it. So that is the mode dial on the camera. Now don't feel guilty if you don't use all the modes, I don't know any photographer who uses all the modes on their camera. Chances are that most people are gonna find one, two, or three favorite places that they tend to use. I think for people learning photography, aperture priority is really good. When you get a little more serious, full manual is good. If you're gonna hand the camera off to a friend or somebody who doesn't know how to work the camera, that's where the auto mode or the flash off, version of that full auto is very good. And feel free to play around with the other modes on the camera, just to learn and explore, which can be a lot of fun. But for the most part, I really like the aperture priority mode for this type of camera. Alright, next up, the red button on the top of the camera is how you can shoot video. Now you do have to have the camera in the live view mode and we're gonna talk more about this when we get to the back of the camera. But once you put it in the live view mode, then you can press the record movie mode, and you can start recording movies. And we're gonna talk more about that as we get a little bit deeper into the camera. But that's what that button is doing up on top. Next up is our exposure compensation button, and we were just talking about this in the manual mode. This is how we change apertures, 'cause you can see, there's a little aperture symbol beside it. But on the button itself is a plus minus, which stands for exposure compensation, and what this is for is this allows us to shoot pictures that are a little bit lighter or a little bit darker, than what the camera would think is a normal exposure. And so by pressing that button and turning the dial, we can overexpose, or we can underexpose, and you will see this information, either in the back of the camera or in the view finder itself. This would be the example of what it would say at plus one exposure, which means it's gonna be one stop brighter than average. Or we could go to the minus side, and this is what it would look like at minus two stops of exposure. Now this is something that is used exclusively in the program mode, the shutter priority mode, and the aperture mode. Not something you use in the manual mode, this is the button we are using to change our apertures, in this mode. And so let me give you a quick little demo on this one. What I'm gonna do on this case, is I'm gonna set the camera to aperture priority, not too concerned about where we're gonna set it, but I'm just gonna set it to 5.6, 'cause I wanna let in a fair bit of light in here, and if I shoot, just a standard photo right here, we're gonna get nice evenly lit situation there, but if I wanted to, I could make this much brighter by pressing the plus minus button, and you can see that this display is changing, and down here in yellow, I'm gonna go to plus one, and I'm gonna take a photo, and this picture's gonna be much brighter. I'm gonna do it again, but this time, I'm gonna press this in and go down to minus one, let's go minus two, just to make it dramatic. Minus two, take a photo here, and this one's gonna be really dark, so let me play these back, and so we have minus two, plus one, and normal. And so if you were taking photos in aperture priority, and you wanted something a little bit lighter or a little bit darker, and you didn't wanna go into the manual mode, you can see in yellow, the indicator here as well as in the top here this exposure indicator, it's telling us where we are in comparison with zero, which is normal lighting. And so a great way for just tweaking the brightness levels a little bit if they're not to your liking, and that's exposure compensation. Next up is the info button, and the info button will basically turn on the back of the cameras display so that you can see what's going on. Very handy when you want a nice vivid display when you're not looking through the view finder. Very handy, definitely if you're working off of a tripod. Now there is some controls that you have over this, if you wanna change, when it comes up and when it doesn't, 'cause it's, I think, I believe right now, it's set to come on when you press down on the shutter release, which is a very handy feature, 'cause that kinda lets the camera know that you're starting to use it and will automatically pop up. And if you don't like that blue color, well you can change the color! You can have it black, or you can have it white in the back, so you can change the graphic look of it, by going into the set up menu and looking for the info display format, and you can change. We also have a more graphic look on the bottom, which shows you the dials of the opening of the aperture, which I think is kinda cool. But if you prefer just the straight big numbers, if you prefer nice clear numbers, if you normally wear glasses and it's easier to have that font size a little bit bigger, you can choose those top options. So there's six different ways that that screen may look, and we'll talk more about that as we dive through the menu section in the second half of this class. Alright, there's a bunch of little holes on top, and that is the speaker so that when you're playing your movies back and you wanna hear what's going on, that's where the sound is coming from. Not real important, but over on the left hand side, there's a little indicator where the focal plane mark is, that's where the sensor is on the camera. In some very unusual aspects of photography, you need to know the distance from where your image sensor is, to your subject, and so if you needed to know it, that's where it is on the camera. The hot shoe is where we would mount additional flash units. So let's talk about some of the optional flash units, that you can use on this camera. It does have a built in flash, but it has a limited range and limited capability. The smallest of the Nikon flashes currently on the market is the SB-300, and I'll be honest with you, I don't know that I would recommend it, because your built in flash is almost of the same power, and this is just not gonna offer you much more than you already have right now. The first flash to really take a serious look at would probably be the SB-500, it's gonna give you much more power, it's gonna give you the ability to tilt and bounce the flash so that you can get the light bouncing off the ceiling. It also has a video light, so if you shoot video, it's a little catch light to illuminate subjects that are fairly close to the camera, it's not real powerful, but it can help out a little bit. If you did a lot of flash photography with this camera, the one that I would recommend the highest is probably the SB-700. It's gonna give you additional power, a few extra features, it does have a little diffuser, so it's gonna work better with wide angle lenses. It does not have the video light, but has additional infrared for focusing light, which will help you focus under low lights. And I think it's appropriate for this style and price of camera. The top of the line flash, which I think is a little overkill on this camera, is the SB-5000. But that's what the professionals shooting weddings and events are shooting. It's gonna offer even more power, faster recycling time, and additional special effects modes. And so, it also has a radio trigger, so that you can hook up multiple units at one time. And so if you are looking for something more I would like for either this SB-500, or the SB-700 for this camera.

Class Description

The Nikon D3400 camera is the perfect DSLR if you're looking to move up from taking pictures on your smartphone. This class will give you an in-depth instruction on how to make this transition easily so that you can capture high quality images. John will guide you through the features, menus, and buttons on your camera, giving you the confidence you need to take pictures like a pro. You’ll learn how to:

  • Use the D3400's AF precise focus system, even during high-speed shooting and low-light situations
  • Link your D3400 to your smartphone using Nikon's new Snapbridge system
  • Create time-lapse videos, ultra-smooth slow motion sequences and more
If you've just purchased this camera, or are thinking about buying it, this in-depth class will help everyone from amateurs to professionals love the new NIkon D3400 camera.