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to Use the Nikon D50
CONTROLS: FRONT of CAMERA back to top
Focus Mode (the little lever at the bottom of the lens marked AF and M): I set it to AF. This means Auto Focus. M means manual focus. In manual focus you have to twist the focus ring yourself and look for a sharp image in the viewfinder. In manual you also can look for the green dot at the bottom left in the viewfinder. The green dot lights up when you're in focus.
Flash Bolt Button (left side of flash hump, as seen from the rear): This does several things depending on how and when you press it.
1.) If the flash is down, press the flash button and the flash pops up. You need to have a lens attached and the camera turned on.
2a.) If the flash is up, press and hold the flash button and turn the rear dial to change the flash sync mode. You'll see it on the top LCD in the box with the bolt. I explain why you'd want to use which mode below.
2b.) If the flash is too bright or dim (as seen playing back your shots on the LCD) you can change its brightness using flash exposure compensation. If the flash is up, press and hold the flash button and the +/- button to the right of the power/shutter button at the same time. While holding these two buttons down, rotate the rear dial to change the flash exposure compensation. This sets the brightness of the flash. + makes the flash brighter, - makes it dimmer. This setting only changes the brightness of the flash. It leaves the background ambient exposure alone. Set it to - if your subjects are getting washed out. If you run out of flash power beyond 10 to 20 feet then setting it to + can't make the flash any brighter.
If you set flash exposure compensation to anything other than zero you'll see a little "+/- bolt" icon in the finder and on the top LCD.
This sounds difficult, but it's actually very easy. You can do it without taking your eye away from the viewfinder, since all the indications appear there, too!
You won't need to use this very often. That's the beauty of the D50: flash exposures are almost always perfect without needing adjustment.
Select these by holding down the flash button on the left side of the flash hump and spinning the rear dial. Your selection is shown on the top LCD in the box with the bolt.
Normal (blank, which is the default): In Program and A exposure modes, the shutter won't stay open longer than 1/60 second.
In this mode you won't get blur indoors, but you may not get more than a very black background either.
I usually use Normal mode, since if I don't I can get some scary long exposures if I'm not expecting them in the dark.
Red-Eye (eyeball icon): I never use this. It shines an obnoxious light in your subject's eyes for a couple of seconds and then releases the shutter. If I set this mode by accident it bugs the heck out of me, because the camera doesn't go off until several seconds after I've pressed the shutter, but I've set no self timer! It doesn't do much to reduce redeye anyway. Skip this mode.
SLOW (called SLOW on the top LCD): This mode is very useful. It lets the shutter stay open as long as it needs to so dim ambient light can expose properly with flash. Of course if it's dark these exposure times can get long. You can get blur from subject motion and camera shake. In daylight SLOW is the same as NORMAL, since exposure times are short. SLOW unlocks the camera in P and A exposure modes to make exposures as long as it wants to in dim light.
Have a look at most issues of National Geographic and you'll see many indoor shots made in this mode. The background exposes correctly, people may be blurred, and a burst of flash freezes them along with the blurry ghost images.
Normal and SLOW are the same in S and M exposure modes, since you or the camera may select any shutter speed in these modes regardless of flash sync.
In dim light I'd suggest using M to fix the shutter speed around 1/8 or so if you want the ambient light to fill in. Otherwise you either get stuck with 1/60, which leave the backgrounds black, or a very long exposure in other modes that will almost guarantee blurry everything. Play around, it's only digital.
Red-Eye SLOW (eye and SLOW icon): This is the SLOW mode and redeye. I don't use it for the same reason I don't use Redeye.
REAR (called REAR on the top LCD): Normally the flash goes off the instant the shutter opens. With long exposures and blurred ghost images you ordinarily get the ghost streaming out in front of the subject. Think about it: if a car is driving, the flash goers off and freezes it, then the car moves forward. You'll have a ghost image ahead of the car, which usually looks stupid. Select REAR mode to have the flash go off as the shutter closes. Now you'll have motion blurring behind the frozen flash image.
Another reason to select REAR is because the flash goes off at the end of the exposure. People presume photos are made the instant a flash fires, then leave. This wreaks havoc with long exposures. If you use REAR mode with long exposures they'll stay put and not move until the end. Of course you'll also want to select flash lock to eliminate the preflash. Read about flash lock later on my Custom Menus pages.
REAR doesn't do anything with short exposures. REAR also engages SLOW, but SLOW doesn't light up on the LCD. This lack of the SLOW indication is a flaw in the firmware. No big deal. In REAR the D50's exposure setting in Program mode chooses slower shutter speeds and small apertures if you're in daylight.
If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy, feel free to help me write more with a donation. Thanks! Ken.
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