Need advice: Photographing and printing directly from the card

ThomasHortonThomasHorton Posts: 323Member
edited December 2014 in D6x0/D7x0/D8x0
I need some advice as this is way out of my comfort zone.

The dog rescue organization I volunteer with is running a "pet picture with Santa" charity event. I am one of the photographers who volunteered to do this. This is way outside what my normal photography experience. Photographing People? But they move!!

I will be shooting with my D800E and from what I have been told, we will be shooting pictures and then taking the SD card out of the camera and plugging it directly into someone's printer and printing off the pictures. The person who will be running this event has done this successfully in past years. We are doing this over three weekends and my weekend is the last weekend so I plan on spending a lot of time watching how the other photographers do this.

But I need some advice on what settings I need to make on my D800E. Honestly, I set my camera up for RAW and do all my PP in light room. I have never shot JPEG with this camera. Can't do RAW this time. So here are some specific questions and if I missed anything I would GREATLY appreciate any advice.

1. I will need to shoot in JPEG (right)?. Do I need to set a size? The D800E burps out 36 megapickles of photo goodness for every shot. Do I need to change any settings to work with a printer? Honestly, I have never printed since getting the D800E and seldom printed with my older DSLRs and I have never printed directly any pictures from the card.

2. White balance. This will be under fluorescent lights so I will be manually setting the camera's WB to fluorescent. I may have the option of using my SB700 flash and that comes with a green filter. If I use the flash with the green filter, I should be able to meter normally right?

3. Lenses. We will be having dogs either held by Santa or standing next to/in front of Santa. I plan on shooting in portrait mode on a tripod. Would an 85mm be good or should I use the 35mm? Not having the luxury of PP I have to get the composition right OOC. I don't have any information yet on the physical layout of where these pictures will be taken but I assume that I will have room for the 85. The question is should I use it?

The organizer has already told me that I am over thinking this and she is probably right. If I remember last year's event, the photographers were using P&S cameras. I only have one P&S and it is a POS. But I want to do a good job and I want to get in some learnin on a different type of photography. Is there anything important that I am missin?

Signed Noob over his head
Post edited by ThomasHorton on
Gear: Camera obscura with an optical device which transmits and refracts light.


  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    I did an event like that once. I ran out of ink before the event and it is good thing that somebody else will be printing.

    I would probably go with the 35mm but take the 85mm just in case the space permits it.

    You can shoot RAW just send it to the CF slot.
    As for jpg I haven't shot jpg either but I'm guessing that the files may take a while to load in the printer and if they are only printing 4x6 you might be able to pull off setting the jpgs to small or medium. I'm not sure on this though.

    For WB that may be tricky but you may want to look into an expo disk. You need to point at the source of light from subject location and do a custom WB. other than that I have been happy with auto WB or set it to florescent like you mentioned.

    For flash you can meter as normal Exposure wise and set the flash to auto or ttl or manual depending on your needs. You can bounce the flash if the room permits or use a modifier. They say it's best to shoot dogs with natural light but I have used flash and made sure it's not direct to their face.
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,185Member
    this is when you need @pistnbrok s advise ;-)
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,260Member
    I don't do much dog photography, but I can imagine getting them to sit still might be hard, so I can't help you with the lens selection.

    You can split the way the camera processes the files, RAW into the CF card and jpgs to the SD card and you can specify the size of the jpgs as noted above. If you want to make it slightly easier, but harder on your battery, you can possibly get a EyeFi card and transfer them wirelessly to a compatible printer maybe. I've never done it myself, but I guess it could work.
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • kenadamskenadams Posts: 222Member
    Honestly, I think the host is right, and you're overthinking this.. on the other hand, you could set a standard here and maybe generate some business(?)

    Could you should tethered and print from the laptop? I'm not thinking of adding post work, by any means, only to reduce the hassle of having to get the card out every time after you take someone's picture to print it.
  • ThomasHortonThomasHorton Posts: 323Member
    At first the deal was that we would be shooting tethered directly to the printer. Then I was told we will be using the cards. I am just a volunteer minion here. I does whats I is told to doos. :)

    In my nooblet mind, I would think sticking in a laptop in the middle would be the best idea, but it ain't my show and evidently the way the host does it worked in the past so it is up to me to learn her way.

    This is why I am glad I am the third shift so I can get plenty of observation and hopfully test time before I am on the spot.

    "on the other hand, you could set a standard here and maybe generate some business(?) "

    Are you nuts?? :)

    If you pardon the pun, you could not pay me to be a professional photographer. :P
    Gear: Camera obscura with an optical device which transmits and refracts light.
  • kenadamskenadams Posts: 222Member
    Well, you know, just because over the last years everything worked out ok with just one little imp with a color palette working inside a wooden box doesn't mean it has to be that way forever.. :-D that's a Terry Pratchett joke...

    I think this could be fun, if you can find an angle that makes it work for you!
  • ThomasHortonThomasHorton Posts: 323Member
    That is a good article, but does not answer my photo question. :)
    Gear: Camera obscura with an optical device which transmits and refracts light.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Rent a polaroid, watch the photos develop :-)

    Seriously, you are way overthinking this. Shoot jpeg normal or small, the 4x6 photoprinter will likely puke on a 36MB file, and at 4x6, nobody will notice. Use your flash for fill with a green gel, and just set the WB to fluorescent. You must think like a P&S grasshopper :-)
  • ThomasHortonThomasHorton Posts: 323Member
    Well that is actually one of the questions I hoped would get answered. Should I shoot normal size JPG or small? I have never shot JPEG before on this camera. I presume these will be 4x6 or 8x10 at the largest.

    Does the JPEG size even matter? Will the printer handle the resizing? I am clueless about printing stuff.

    The host may be thinking that I am worrying too much because she is used to people using P&S cameras. My camera is a little more complicated and I just can't "shoot normally". I just don't want to be unprepared and ruin this event. I worry too much about things like that. :)
    Gear: Camera obscura with an optical device which transmits and refracts light.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    The printer will scale your jpeg to whatever size paper it has loaded. The "size" of the jpeg doesn't refer to the printed size, but rather to the size of the file, and/or the number of pixels. See page 84-88 in the D800 manual. Even a small, basic jpeg is more than enough to print 8x10 at 300dpi. Do you have any idea what printer model it is? That way we can check the specs and you can "optimize" your jpegs for that printer. Or just use small and don't worry about it.
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,260Member
    I think the printer might automatically crop your image to 4x6 or 8x11. I think jpg small or medium might be more than enough quality for that printer.
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Printers don't crop, they resize to fit the picture on whatever size paper you load. Sheesh, I guess folks really don't print anymore. I've got like 5 different printers from 3 different manufactures and they all behave the same way. Note that I am talking about the specific use case of inserting the card into the printer.
  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    I used to print at home but now I just send to the Lab.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,398Moderator
    DX, JPEG Basic, Medium, 35mm lens Auto White balance is what I would start with and see what a print looks like in a test.
    Msmoto, mod
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,185Member
    edited December 2014
    You may also want to tweak the saturation and contrast a bit. P&S ooc jpeg usually have higher levels of these things also up the local contrast settings(Cant remember what nikon calls it).
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • KnockKnockKnockKnock Posts: 398Member
    edited December 2014
    Ah, time to shoot like the rest of the world ;-)

    Got this off of DP Review, so to backup Ironheart, even Small JPG has enough to print a decent 8x10 at 300dpi. Shooting larger will only slow things down.

    L - 7360 x 4912 / 36.2 M
    M - 5520 x 3680 / 20.3 M
    S - 3680 x 2456 / 9.0 M

    I'd set WB manually, shoot a test, check the screen, maybe print that test. Adjust if need be to warm it up or cool it down or +/- tint. JPG. Small. Use the 85mm if you can get far away enough to frame that right. Just my preference, it looks more pro. But the 35mm and closer is fine if you must. Picture Control to Standard.

    I don't think the doggies will like flash, so I'd shoot in Manual, 1/125th sec minimum to catch normal motion, 1/250 if you can, f/4 or higher if you can just to make sure you get enough in focus, then lean on Auto-ISO to take care of exposure let it run up to 12800 at minimum. You need the speed and DoF more than you need low-noise.

    Check the first couple printouts carefully for blown highlights, exposure and contrast. Then adjust exposure compensation for general exposure. If shadows are too deep, turn on ADL, medium. If blacks are still too inky try the Neutral picture control (sometimes the Std baked-in contrast can be too heavy-handed making things too dramatic).

    By the 3rd shot printout, you should be able to lock it in w/o much adjustment. (Dark doggies might need + exposure comp.) Set focus to somewhere between Santa's eyes and doggy's eyes, maybe Santa's knee.

    Don't overthink the quality. Shooting small will give those 9MP really good data, 4 pixels worth of data for each pixel. So noise will be virtually non-existant even if you have to run up to ISO 6400 and you can probably shoot ISO 12800 w/o normal people even noticing. It's just the Internet photo hobbyists who really pixel peep. The ink of the printer will run and absorb into the paper more than any noise would be visible.

    Sounds like a fun gig. Relax and enjoy yourself. No, I have no experience with doggy shoots, just a long-time JPG shooter, imagining out of my rear end. I do think it takes more effort to shoot JPG, but it's a good skill-set to understand just how the Nikon Artists build their image profiles.

    p.s. I'd turn OFF the AF-assist light as well to not spook the doggies.
    Post edited by KnockKnock on
    D7100, D60, 35mm f/1.8 DX, 50mm f/1.4, 18-105mm DX, 18-55mm VR II, Sony RX-100 ii
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 2,410Member
    edited December 2014
    Easy just shoot large jpeg basic either fx or dx and set sharpness to at least +7 as all nikons come out the factory set soft in jpeg ( will not affect your RAW) You will need to adjust your exposure to match the printer output or the pics could be a bit dark/light .... We find what we send for printing needs to be lighter than you would be happy with on the computer screen. and a zoom lens for different size dogs so you can keep your distance.
    Post edited by Pistnbroke on
  • NikonMickNikonMick Posts: 41Member
    Hi Thom.

    In my opinion any of our recent-ish Nikon cameras are really excellent straight out of the box and straight off the card, more-or-less.

    Except for the first shot in my Flicker stream of a DF next to an FT-3 (IXUS-80), all of my FlickerPix are taken with a Nikon D3100 (DX), jpeg/large/fine, and only ever printed at a photolab and straight off the SD card, ie, no post-processing.

    A number have been printed at 20"X30" (50cmX75cm) with excellent results, so shooting at jpeg/fine would be "jes foine" I reckon.

  • ThomasHortonThomasHorton Posts: 323Member
    As a follow up, I thought I would document my photo experience and explain what I did right and what, evidently, I did wrong.

    This “pet with Santa” photography event was very much out of my comfort range. I don’t normally take pictures of things that move. Macro and landscapes are more my style. I tend to be a very slow photographer. It is not uncommon for me to take 5-10 minutes setting up one shot and on a good day I may average 5-10 photographs per hour of shooting. I am definitely not a “spray and pray” type of shooter. :)

    But for this event, shooting fast and often was required. Yikes! I would not only have to worry about posing people (cooperative) but dogs (uncooperative).. all the while keeping up a steady flow of customers. Double Yikes!! As if I needed any more reasons why I would never ever want to be a professional photographer. The stress during the shoot clearly moves this away from an enjoyable hobby. But I volunteered for it and need to stop whining about it.

    In observing the previous week’s photographers, they all used Point and Shoot cameras. My initial task was to turn my D800E into a P&S. So it was back to the manual!

    I made the following changes, which I will list here in case anyone else finds themselves in my situation. Especially if they wish to avoid a big mistake I made in the settings.

    - Primary slot to CF and the secondary to SD. Normally I have the SD for overflow, but in this instance I wanted each image to be stored on both cards.
    - RAW to the primary card (CD) and JPEG to the secondary card (SD)
    - Image quality to Fine JPEG. This was a mistake. Evidently, the way I set this up, this overrides the other menu functions. What I told the camera to do is save fine JPEG to both primary and secondary card. Stupid camera, doing what I tell it to do.
    - Image size to medium. There is no need to send a full size D800 image to a printer for a 4x6 inch print. I probably could have used an image size of small, but I played it safe with medium.
    - Image area to FX. The D800 has the ability to force crop the image. I am starting out building my lens kit so I had a choice of three lenses. 35mm, 85mm, 180mm. The 35 on FX was way too wide. I chose the 85 as it is traditionally a good portrait FL. There simply not enough working room to even consider the 180.
    - Set WB to auto 2, Picture control to Portrait (I am shooting portraits after all), and colour space to sRGB.

    On the site (Petco) of the shoot, I was facing lighting from two sources. Plate glass windows and fluorescent lights. Awesome. But it was what it was. The use of strobes was not permitted and would not work well with excitable dogs and cats. I was considering bringing in some constant lights but I had a hard enough time with a tripod with the crowd. This meant that I had to bump up the ISO quite a bit higher than I normally shoot. I need to go back and check the EXIF but I think I was shooting 800-1600. Which in retrospect the D800 can handle and it was perfectly good for the 4x6 prints. Even at that ISO, I was shooting at f/1.8.

    One thing I did not realize was that once the Petco got crowded, I lost most of the natural light coming from the glass windows and that most of the light were the dim fluorescent lights. It was what it was. I was shooting off a tripod, but did not want to get slower than 1/200th of a second in order to not only get sharp shots of moving uncooperative dogs but also to minimize the flickering of the lights.

    I honestly don’t know if I should have bumped the ISO to 3200 and closed down a bit. The reason was that the DoF was not what I wanted. Things were great when Santa was holding a small dog, but when I was shooting the larger dogs, which were sitting in front of Santa, the focus was not as sharp as I wanted. Coming from a macro and landscape background, I get obsessed with sharpness. In looking at the 4x6 prints, the pictures were sharp enough.

    The bottom line is that the customers were happy with the photographs. In the end, that is really all that matters.

    This was a learning experience for me and a good stretch way out of my comfort zone. Not completely sure I want to continue this. Taking picture of stuff that does not move is a lot more comfortable.
    I did learn more about the D800E. All those chapters I skimmed because I only shoot RAW gave me a lot better understanding on how versatile these new-fangled cameras are.

    I do have one question: Would there have been any advantage (DOF) if I shot using the 35mm and forcing a crop (DX, 5:4, or 1.2)?

    Anyway, enough rambling. It was a fun experience, as long as fun is defined as stressful, uncomfortable, and frustrating, for worthy charity.

    I just needed to keep in mind that the final product was going to be a 4x6 print. You can get away with a lot with a print that small. :) I wonder if a quality P&S would have given me the DoF I wanted.
    Gear: Camera obscura with an optical device which transmits and refracts light.
  • KnockKnockKnockKnock Posts: 398Member
    Thanks for posting the learning points and your experience. This whole thing, from doing it to reporting back takes guts!

    I don't think shooting 35mm and forcing a crop would have changed your DoF issues, assuming you stayed with similar apertures. That is, ironically, one of the downsides of FX. But not really, in that your light-gathering capabilities compensate. You probably could have bumped ISO to 12800 and stopped down further for more DoF, but I understand why you might resist.

    I'm mostly an Aperture-priority shooter and just watch the shutter speed to keep it hand holdably fast. So when a bird, fox, or seal jumps into my viewfinder, I totally forget about minimum motion shutter speed. Headslap. It's just outside my usual, so I resist shooting fast shutter speeds. For 75% of my wildlife shots, the first one I fire is too slow and I get subject blur. If I have time to review it, I can recover, but as is often the case with fast-moving subjects, the moment is lost. Sigh. It's a tough craft for perfectionists.
    D7100, D60, 35mm f/1.8 DX, 50mm f/1.4, 18-105mm DX, 18-55mm VR II, Sony RX-100 ii
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    All else being equal, shooting DX with a 50mm is comparable to FX @ 75, except the DoF is 1.5x greater
    This effect is even more pronounced on a P&S with a smaller sensor. Or you could have stopped down to f/2.8 or f/4 as at 4x6 you have a lot of latitude on ISO. Sounds like you had fun though!
  • JCTibuJCTibu Posts: 44Member
    @ThomasHorton thanks for sharing your experience!

    Honestly.. i think that it is easier to shot dogs than babies... at least Dogs will watch you if you do anything to caught their attention.... lol...

    I can see that day was not easy for you... and sadly normal people who pay for the pictures don't think on anything related to the situation (most of the times) as you did... but as you said... the key word is "comfort zone"...
    Nikon D750 - Sigma 24-105mm f4 - Nikon 50mm 1.8g - Nikon 55-300mm - SB700 -SB400
  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    photographing my dogs has been easier than my babies and both are not easy to photograph.

    Glad you tried and if you ever want to do something like that consider a monopod or a monopod with a foot especially if a tripod takes up too much space.
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