Settings and Lenses

April 15th, 2017
Hello, I'm not new to photography but I am to my camera.
I have a Nikon D90 that I haven't had a year yet. I haven't been focused on photography since having it so I haven't had the chance to fully understand the camera. I now find myself back to being addicted to being behind the camera with not a full understanding and slightly frustrating myself that I cant seem to find the correct settings.
I'm mainly focused on animal portraits. Most animals I take photos of I have a bond with and will stay still for me or pose, even so, no matter what setting, I can't seem to get it to have the correct clarity, focus or it seems as if I wasn't holding the camera stable. I know this can all be fixed with editing but I don't really like editing my photos too much because I like the realism of what the photo should be.
I have an 18-105mm lens on my camera and if I'm honest, I haven't the foggiest when it comes to lens' so I wouldn't know if I am using the wrong or right one for the type of photos I take.
Can anyone help me find a setting or maybe even recommend a lens that may be better with animal portraits?
April 15th, 2017
@raggleroo Hello Rachel - I'm not really sure what you perceive your problem to be - I've taken a look at the 8 images you've posted so far and they all seem to be well exposed and sharp with the exception of the Griffin Vulture where the point of focus is on his nostrils rather than his eyes. I'd say carry on as you are but perhaps pay a little more attention to composition.
April 15th, 2017
Your ISO seems to always be set at 1250.. I would try taking that down. also using a F/stop near 12. Might make the difference your looking for.
April 15th, 2017
One of the things I do sometimes is using the camera in Auto, turning the info display on, and seeing how the camera would take the shot. Then flicking back over to Shutter/Apeture priority/Manual and then setting up similarly and then changing only one variable at a time to see how things work. I did a few sessions with friends who didnt understand a lot of the controls on their cameras and walked them through what things did (Very different to what they are called) - I also have downloaded all of these cheat sheets for those days you just cant work out what you're doing wrong. -

Best of luck!
April 16th, 2017
For those animal portraits, I'd try a wider aperture, and thus get that ISO down as low as you can. The D90 does not handle ISO's above 800 very well at all, and even 800 is really pushing it. You lose color depth (colors will tend to blur together) and the Dynamic Range drops quickly, so you'll get noise in the shadows if you try to boost them for detail.

You might try setting AUTO ISO for a minimum of 100, maximum of 800, and keep the aperture as wide as possible. That way you'll force the camera to use its best range. You might run into trouble with a slow shutter with the pets that might move, but work within the best range of the camera and I think you'll get much better results.
April 17th, 2017
@frankhymus Thanks Frank. I started with a D90 and have often been frustrated when I've used it and compared the photos to those taken with my D610. Crop versus Full Frame, I know, and a huge age difference as well, but this is helpful to know re what the D90 can handle and why sometimes I've felt the colors weren't sharp. It's useful to have a crop sensor for getting more out of my longer telephoto.
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