Thursday, April 23, 2009

Camera Woes

I realize this post isn't technically about our family, but I don't have a fancy shmancy website where I can have different pages for different topics, so I guess you get it all in one mish-mashy blog. So... for those of you with any interest in or knowledge of cameras or photography... help! For those of you with no interest in photography, check back later for a new post related to my sweet life in Wisconsin!

I have a relatively nice camera. Relative to my digital point and shoot (Canon Powershot SD1000 ELPH) which was roughly $250 new, it's a nice camera. It's a Nikon D100 and was around $1,200 new. I bought it used, so I didn't pay that much for it. I have heard from many people that it's a really nice camera. I've also joined a couple of D100 Usergroups online and the photographers who use the D100 love it. So, what's my problem?

Here is my problem. Unless the sun is bright and the sky is blue and I'm outside in the best sunlight possible, my pictures just plain stink. They all look as though they were taken through a gray filter... as if it were a dark and cloudy gloomy day. When I take photos inside with the camera, the camera doesn't seem to be capturing enough light. The shutter speed is too slow to capture a clear shot if I adjust it, then the picture is too dark. What I end up with (inside) is blurry, yellow photos. What I end up with outside is cloudy, bluish gray photos. Please see my examples below and note that these photos were all taken outside, with natural light. I've included SOOC (straight out of camera) examples and Post Edit examples where I have used Microsoft Office Picture Manager to brighten the photo, adjust the contrast, and increase the color saturation. I don't have PhotoShop. : ( (You can also see these on my Flickr photostream at

What I've tried...
I have tried adjusting the white balance with some success, but not a lot. It definitely makes a difference, however, the white balance setting I almost always end up using is "shade" and then I STILL have to edit the photo once I have it on the computer.

Here is a sampling of the same photo in the same light with different light balance settings. Often the one that looks the best also looks overexposed. Ugh. I did get some suggestions from fellow D100 users and I'm going to try those out and see if they help! In the meantime, any suggestions are appreciated!

A test of white balance...

I see that the text below the photos is impossible to read, so here is what this one says:

I believe I started by using the “fluorescent light” white balance setting in photo #1, because technically, the light in Gavin’s room is a fluorescent bulb. When that didn’t work, I chose “incandescent light” for #2. Then I think I tried “cloudy” and finally settled on “shade” for the fourth photo here. It was the best I could get. (I may be a little off on the order here, but I know that #4 was shade and that was the one that looked the best) I could have possibly tweaked it a bit more by adjusting the white balance up or down from there, but I had a moving subject who was getting a little weary of having the camera in his face.

P.S. Since I wrote this post, I THINK I have figured it out, thanks to the friendly folks on the Flickr D100 Users Group! I have a bit more testing to do to be sure, but my fellow D100 Users suggested some settings to adjust and by golly, I think we may have got it!!


Dreams and Designs said...

Have you ever tried to adjust the ISO speed? Most cameras have settings like 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600. If yours is on 100 or 200 it might be having trouble getting you enough light. I usually switch to 400 inside, or even 800 in darker settings. I seldom use 1600 because I do feel like it's had a slightly grainer look to the finished product.

Dreams and Designs said...

you could also rent one of the same model from a local camera store and see if it has the same issues. If it does, you would at least know it's not a hardware problem with your camera. Would be an easy way to rule that out.

Erin J said...

Thanks Beth! I do adjust the ISO speed. I typically have had it set at 400, but I've also tried at 800. I do think I was able to solve the problem, but still haven't had a true test. Seems like my automatic white balance isn't quite right, so I have to adjust the white balance for every setting I'm in, but otherwise, the pictures are coming out better. I'll keep playing with it. Good idea on renting the same camera... I hadn't thought of that!

jeanne said...

Well, you have an adorable subject, and you do a great job of editing! Keep taking those pictures. You will value them your whole life. Love your blog! GB :)