Disappointed with Nikon D3200

AbbyJAbbyJ Posts: 10Member
edited April 2014 in D3x00
I bought my new D3200 a couple of days before a holiday, took it along thinking I'd be coming back with some great shots but have been sorely disappointed with the results. I used the auto and auto close up options for all the shots, and used manual focus for some and auto focus for others, using both 18-55 and 55-300 VR lenses. I'm a novice, I have never learned much about photography but have used a dslr before , my previous camera was a Canon Rebel XTi which always took great photos without a lot of effort. A lot of the photos taken with the D3200 are out of focus or just not very sharp, and the few that are in focus are pretty flat and lacking in vibrancy and depth, and distort if I zoom in . I'd read such great reviews for this camera, does it need calibrating or am I just expecting too much from it? I'd like to post some examples but can't see how to?


  • AbbyJAbbyJ Posts: 10Member
    edited April 2014
    Thanks Ironheart. Here are a few that were taken whilst we were away, theses are the good ones mind you, can post the really out of focus ones too if anyone wants to see them..
    And these are some test shots taken today using the auto close up option and 18-55 VR lens.
    Post edited by AbbyJ on
  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 1,090Member
    edited April 2014
    @AbbyJ: The shots you present look fine to me. In regular lighting a D7100 or a D800 will produce almost the same shots. I recommended the D3200 to so many amateur photographers who wanted to move up from P&S so I finally just bought one with a three lens outfit. I had a great prejudice against the 18-55 kit lens but finally thought I NEED THIS LENS AFTER READING one of the threads by one of the real contributors to this NR. He stated very clearly that the 18-55 was a VERY good lens. I also got the highly rated prime 35mm f1.8 lens.

    My personal findings were this: The D3200 is AN AMAZING camera. The D3300 is even better. I NOW use the 18-55VR MOST of the time on that camera. I found that using the camera on P (Program) was far superior. I also shoot a fair amount in A (Aperture) and adjust the depth of field to what I want. I find that the D3200 is default oriented to very shallow (and to me greatly disappointing depth of field). Once I started using a single focus grid (pretty hard to see in some lighting) and making sure the point I wanted in sharp focus was right, then shoot landscape in Aperture and fast stuff in Program I was VERY satisfied with the camera! JUst make sure what you want is focused and that your depth of field is what you want. I USE THE + - key a LOT using this camera. In full daylight normal settings I almost always use 0.7 MINUS. In snow often it is 0.3 PLUS. To me if you don't get a properly saturated photo with excellent color the shot is worthless!

    One shot I notice in particular NOT SHOT THE WAY I WOULD is the last one of the flowers and gardening tool.
    That is NOT the way you saw the scene! On aperture at around f11 (after that diffraction starts to kick in) you'd get a more realistic depth of field. To Me you don't want to FORCE the viewer to look at some spot in the photo
    ( tres bizzare way of thinking to me) but get the whole close up in as near to what you saw as possible. I will even go further down in f stops if needed to get things the way our eyes would see it.
    Post edited by DaveyJ on
  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 1,090Member
    edited April 2014
    I have also shot enough with a Rebel XTi to know that if BOTH cameras are properly used they will both produce very good results. Of the two I would way rather use a D3200 bit that is because i have a lot of Nikkor lens. Walk into a camera store where i go and they would recommend a D3200 over that Rebel model. But when I first got the D 3200 I quickly realized that I need the P feature and A program for landscape shots. IF PHOTOS are coming out flat and lacking in vibrancy I AM CERTAIN you are shooting in a manner that MUST be changed to get results. By the way I shoot this camera EXCLUSIVELY in JPEG fine large and I have been at events with photo pros getting paid to do the same event (like weddings) with bigger cameras and the people who hired the pro photo people were MOST impressed with my D3200 shots AND VIDEO with the D3200 and the 18-55VR lens. The other note that I should throw in is test this camera in a non do or die event until you get so used to what you want and getting that, until you can show up at times when you NEED results and be very happy. I rate the D7100 as one of the finest cameras I have ever used but I use the D3200 way more. Why? lighter, and if properly set up the results are quite amazing.
    Post edited by DaveyJ on
  • AbbyJAbbyJ Posts: 10Member
    Thanks for your response Davey, maybe I was expecting too much then from the auto settings, I just found it very disappointing that some shots that looked Great to me through the viewfinder were pretty poor once on the screen. These ones in particular...
    So in words that a complete novice can understand, what camera settings would you use to get in focus detail shots of animals and birds through an 18-55 or 55-300 lens?
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,288Member
    What expectations did you want out of your shots? If you want close up or macros you'll need a macro lens.
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • AbbyJAbbyJ Posts: 10Member
    I never had a macro lens with my Canon, just a 55 - 200 and got excellent close ups with that.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    You might want to change some of the picture controls such as sharpness and contrast to suit your tastes. Also look at vivid, portrait and landscape presets. Remember for macro there is a minimum focus distance.

    What focus settings are you using? Single point? Auto? Thanks.
  • AbbyJAbbyJ Posts: 10Member
    I have literally only used the auto and close up options selected on the mode dial, and took some in manual and some in auto focus, I haven't changed any other settings.
  • MikeGunterMikeGunter Posts: 543Member
    Hi all,


    I have a few suggestions I would for you to try and I hope they help.

    The 18-55mm lens is a pretty good lens that has VR stabilization that needs to be 'turned on', and likely is, but be sure that it is on the barrel of the lens. Also, you'll want to hold the camera with really steady technique to get nice steady shots.

    Fully automatic settings usually means that you will make nice pictures a lot times, but miss a lot, too. You can make a lot more keepers if you make your automatic settings your way. And that isn't really very hard.

    Your camera has a couple things I would suggest that you get familiar with and use. One is the shooting modes. PSAM - Program, Shutter, Aperture, and Manual - I use Aperture (generally) and really it's just another way of shooting automatic - I'm setting an f-stop and the camera sets the shutter - I'm paying some attention to the shutter speed so I know that it won't blur the photo. There is some more info on page 53 of your manual, but the idea is that your can really can control of your images with those modes (and do it with automatic control).

    The second part is the auto focus. I tend to use a single control point to auto focus. That cause less confusion when faced with the peacock and you can put the focal point on the head, press and lock the focus recompose and fire the shutter.

  • AbbyJAbbyJ Posts: 10Member
    Thanks Mike for that info. I did have VR on, with the peacock I was using the close up setting on manual focus and focused on the head, so not sure what went wrong there! I will read up on the PSAM modes...it's such a shame I didn't have a chance to practice with the camera before. I've been trawling through the tons of photos I took and have realised that I did get quite a lot of 'good' shots, but no really 'wow' shots, I suppose thats only to be expected using auto shooting.
  • AdeAde Posts: 1,071Member
    edited April 2014
    Hi @AbbyJ

    From the image "EXIF" data on your Flickr stream, the main issue seems to be that your D3200 is selecting shutter speeds which are much too slow for the current zoom setting. As a result you are getting motion blur especially when you are using the long end of that 55-300 zoom.

    I don't know if this is normal behavior for the D3200's Auto mode when VR is enabled. As @MikeGunter suggests will want to get out of Auto mode sooner rather than later.

    There is a "minimum shutter speed" setting for your camera's "Auto ISO" feature but I believe this setting is ignored while in Auto mode.
    Post edited by Ade on
  • MikeGunterMikeGunter Posts: 543Member
    Hi all,


    I didn't see any EXIF data on the photo of the peacock, but at enlargement, it did seem somewhat blurry, what was the ISO, the shutter speed, and focal length? If the shutter speed was to long, it could be camera movement.

    Upping the ISO would help or using a tripod (but then turn off the VR - ironic isn't it?).

    My best,

  • MikeGunterMikeGunter Posts: 543Member
    Hi all,


    @Ade already posted...

    I would, ah suggest that the P, S, A, of the PSAM, modes are a flavor of 'automatic' modes to be enjoyed by all. Aperture to control DOF and Shutter to control motion (simple talk, I know, but...) - and Program is a close, close cousin of Auto.

    Using exposure compensation (to include flash compensation), and one can do a lot 'automatically'.

    My very best,

  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited April 2014
    I bought my new D3200 a couple of days before a holiday, ?
    Just a suggestion - Next time you go on holiday, or any once in life time event. Take a the camera you are familiar with
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • AbbyJAbbyJ Posts: 10Member
    Yes quite right sevencrossing, wish I had!! Mike, no idea what the iso, shutter speed or focal length were as was on auto. Ade, that's what i was getting at, it seems like the Auto settings are a bit off, which is annoying as not being very knowledgeable about photography I went for the D3200 as had read that even in auto modes the images were incredibly crisp. Oh well, looks like I will just have to try and learn something about photography...
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,722Member
    edited April 2014
    MikeGunther and DavyJ are correct. You are going to have to learn a little. With the owner's manual and the camera in your hands read this as a start: http://kenrockwell.com/nikon/d3200/users-guide/index.htm

    My very brief suggestions:

    1. First set the Picture Controls to Vivid. This will give you popping colors. Skin tones may be too red (depending upon the people photographed) and you may want to use Portrait setting for portraits of people so learn how to switch back and forth quickly between the Vivid and the Portrait picture control settings. This will make a big difference.

    2. Find how to set your exposure compensation and set it to -0.3. This will deepen your colors.

    3. Get out of AUTO and into Program Mode. Later you will want to move to A Mode, S Mode and Manual.

    4. As soon as you can read up on Depth of Field and F-stop (also known as aperture). You need to know how to adjust the F-stop (aperture) with the camera in A Mode to be able to select your depth of field (how much of the image is in focus).

    5. When confronted with needing to freeze a moving subject you will want to use S mode and learn what shutter speed to select to stop the subject's movement.

    6. Finally, when you get to the level of sophistication where you want to set up a studio in your home and sue monolights, softboxes, etc, you will want to learn to use Manual mode.

    You could also play with the Guide mode and see if that helps you. But it is best to learn to intelligently make your own decisions about what you want your camera to do for you to create the image you see in your head as you look at the subject.
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    As other have said, stop using Auto and start using A or P
    In AUTO ISO Try
    increase the shutter speed by 2 clicks and do NOT set any maximum ISO
    In A, if you are not too sure what aperture to set, try F8 if there is a reasonable amount of light about
    In poor light set it wide open
    Do not "try" anything on anything important
    just take lot of photographs close to home and examine them on your computer the same day

  • safyresafyre Posts: 113Member
    Well as others have said, your camera is only as good as the person behind it. There's no shortcuts when it comes to getting great pictures and if you plan on keeping with it, you're going to need to catch up on some of the basics. Anyways, my suggestions are as follows, if you don't plan on shooting raw, set your picture control settings to Vivid if you want more saturation and popping color. Set it to neutral if you want something that's more true to life like photos of people. Stop going with full auto (you can start with P mode, which is program auto first. Switch to single point autofocus so you can actually choose the focus point instead of having the camera guess. Understand the basics of getting non-blurry photo; since you have a DX camera, follow this formula, shutter speed = 1 / 1.5XFocal Length. Basically, if you're shooting at 100mm, your shutter speed should be atleast 1/150th; if your shooting at 200mm, your shutter speed should be atleast 1/300th. How can you increase your shutter speed? By increasing your aperture, or ISO. Learn how exposure is determined and how Shutter speed, Aperture and ISO are related. Practice on test subjects until you feel comfortable using it for something more important next time.
  • AbbyJAbbyJ Posts: 10Member
    Ok ok I get it, auto sucks, I will learn to take proper photos!! Thank you all for the input, much appreciated!
  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    The 18-55 is actually decently capable of macroish photos. Not true macro but pretty close focusing. I am on my phone but the pictures look decent to me...but I can't see the exif info to tell what settings and things you were using. I think the peacock pictures aren't too bad. They look just as good as my d5000 with my 300 f4.
    D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 2,444Member
    Looked through whats here and no one has said to up the sharpness to 9 ..they all come out the factory soft .that is your main problem ..Never Never Never use auto that is for idiots ..Use A mode auto iso 100-6400 and always shoot at f5.6/F8 unless you are after a depth of field effect. any xx to 300mm lens is going to be a bit soft after about 150mm thats life.
  • AbbyJAbbyJ Posts: 10Member
    tcole, they are 'ok', just not very sharp. Pistnbroke, thanks very much for that info, will try those setting today. I can't see how to adjust sharpness or colour settings though?
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,722Member
    edited April 2014
    Go to Picture Control in the Menu, then set to Vivid, then push the multi-selector button on the right and it will take you to a submenu for picture controls, go to sharpening, push the muli-selector button on the right and go up to 6, 7, 8 or 9. Now your photos will be much sharper. You can make these sub-menu adjustments to any of the Picture Control settings.
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,398Moderator
    Looking at the images…shooting at 200mm and using 1/125 sec….and wide open, on your original image of the fourth bird from the top….

    Use a faster shutter speed, up your ISO to 1600 if necessary, stop a zoom down one stop, and if you really want to learn how to shoot photos…… find a subject, then vary all the parameters…shutter speed from 1/60 sec up to 1/1000, aperture wide open to about three stops down, ISO from baseline to highest listed native ISO…….about a hundred shots…..

    Then, examine in your post processing and decide what you think works…. almost every good photographer I know has done it this way…. we shoot thousands of images to learn. And the process does not stop…. at least for me I am learning all the time.
    Msmoto, mod
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