- Why aren't my images sharp?
- How do I get the D30 to focus properly?
- Isn't there another camera coming out soon to
replace the D30?
- Why should I shoot RAW?
- What is your workflow?
- Is the focus on the D30 as good as my Point
and Shoot camera?
- What lenses should I buy?
- What tripod should I buy?
- What settings should I use for flash?
- How is the D30 compared to a
- Is dust on the sensor a problem with the D30?
1. Why aren't my images sharp?
The chances are you are used to digital images from a P&S
(point and shoot) camera. The D30 provides a much smaller
amount of in-camera sharpening than those cameras do. This is
actually a terrific advantage, since there are times you don't want
much sharpening (as for portraits). With a camera that applied
more in-camera sharpening, you'd be stuck (no way to go backwards).
To get your images sharper, use some USM (see here).
2. How do I get the D30 to focus properly?
The D30 has a fine AF system, but if you are used to a
top-of-the-line film SLR you may be disappointed. In
particular, the D30 will hunt in low-light with a poor lens.
The best way to use AF with the D30 is to assign focus to the *
key. This way the shutter will always be available to take a
shot, even multiple shots, without performing any AF. It will
only AF when you press the * key. This is accomplished by
programming Cfn 2 to the 1 setting.
Now you'll get AF lock when you press the * key, which means you
can shift the camera to a point at the same distance to your subject
but that allows for better focusing (more light or a more contrasty
edge) and then recompose and shoot. It also means you can
prefocus for a certain area and fire when ready. Finally,
you'll be able to manually "touch up" anytime you want,
even with the lens in AF position.
The price you pay is to loose the * key for FEL, but since most
of us don't use it for that it's no great loss.
3. Isn't there another
camera coming out soon to replace the D30?
Of course there is. There's always
another camera coming out -- if it's not the D30, then it's another
camera, another computer, another car model; you pick your poison.
It's up to you how long you wait. Be
aware of one thing, however: even after a new camera is announced it
takes up to six months (or more) before you can actually buy the
thing. So if you don't see signs of the new camera you are
hoping for right now, plan on waiting another nine months or more
before you'll be able to get it.
4. Why should I shoot RAW?
A better question might be, why shouldn't
you? But it does fill up the memory buffer sooner (you can
shoot three images RAW faster than 3 images JPG, but after that the
buffer is filled and you need to wait for it to clear, while with
JPG you can get six more images), the files are larger, and (most
importantly) there is a conversion process to deal with in working
with them (see here).
The biggest advantage is your RAW images have
much greater exposure latitude than JPG -- up to twice as much, and
the higher the ISO the more important it is to shoot RAW. You
also have the ability to white balance after the fact, no minor
consideration. If you only shoot 100 ISO outdoors in
sunlight, and you need the speed for sports, then JPG is okay.
Otherwise, you're much better off sticking with RAW.
5. What is your
I use ThumbsPlus (the beta version, which you
can get for free if you are a registered owner of the program, will
natively read RAW files without conversion) to catalog all my
images. I copy the RAW images first from my microdrives onto my disk
and then burn two CDs for each set of images. At that point I have
effectively backed up my images and am free to do what I want (I put
one set away and leave the other out -- someday I need to take that
backup set and move it to my office for safer keeping). ThumbsPlus
catalogs those CDs so I don't need to worry about finding a
particular image later.
I then go through the images with ThumbsPlus and winnow out the ones
I don't want by pressing the delete key (easy in slideshow mode) and
end up with all the images I want. Now I go two different paths --
those images destined for my web (or now, my Kodak Smart Frame) I
process in ThumbsPlus (T+) in the batch process mode. This mode
converts them to 8 bit TIFs and keeps their names properly. I set T+
to whatever global parameters I want to process my RAW images with
(usually auto white, low contrast, high sharpness and color). These
are now saved on the
hard drive with the same names as the RAW images but with a TIF
If the images are destined for printing (I print few but those are
the "chersh" ones, to paraphrase Tracy in "Pat and
Mike") I bring up the TWAIN driver directly in PS and convert
them from there. There I usually set the white balance by hand for
each image and perform a conversion one at a time, unless there is a
set of images which need the same white balance. From here I end up
with 16 bit images directly inside of PS -- the distinction between
the two is somewhat important.
16 bit images contain a lot more colorspace information (by a factor
of 2, to be exact) but the downside is they are both much larger
images and PS cannot process them in many of the ways it can process
8 bit images. I balance levels for the images (either web or print)
and then I usually convert the 16 bit to 8 bit at that point.
I then sharpen the images using USM and perform my various
retouching enhancements, crop for the particular output I want, and
save for web if that's
where they are going, or print. If print I'll need to save the
images to disk unless I want to repeat my steps again, so I do that.
The details of how I work with the images are covered under Photoshop for Beginners.
6. Is the focus on the
D30 as good as my Point and Shoot camera?
First of all, a P&S camera is absolutely no
match when it comes to AF speeds compared to a quality DSLR like the
D30. I have assigned focus to the * key (which is what Canon
recommends and most pros use) and as a result I've gotten quick and
accurate AF in nearly any conditions, even low light with poor
I came to the D30 from the Nikon 990, and the AF is so lightning
fast and accurate that it's amazing. I would not worry about this
issue one whit.
7. What lenses should I buy?
8. What tripod should I
There are some terrific tripods out there. It
mostly comes down to how much you want to pay and what is important
If weight is critical (such as for hiking) nothing beats any of the
nice carbon fiber tripods. They are rock sturdy and featherlight --
but you pay a
premium. It's hard to get a good one for less than $300 (and that
usually does not include a tripod head). I don't own one, but if I
were going to spend the money I'd get a Gitzo (probably the 341).
If you don't mind a little extra weight (and we're not talking
massive here -- just a pound or two more) the Bogen 3021/3221
(chrome and black versions) cannot be beat for best buy. Dollar for
dollar no other model can compete with them. You can usually pick
one up for around $100 if I remember right (it's been a while since
I've bought a tripod -- I have to admit I'm not a big fan of
using them, ending up doing a lot of handholding even with scenics).
For either you'll need a head, and I'd definitely recommend getting
a ball head. You can pay a fortune for a top-of-the line model
(around $500) but you can pick up a decent one for around $50.
9. What settings should I
use for flash?
Set the D30 for manual, shutter speed 1/200,
and whatever f-stop you want. Then, using the excellent ETTL
of the 420/550 flash series, you'll be just fine (although you might
want to bump the flash exposure up +1 EV if you'd like.
Some people report dark looking flash shots
when shooting with the D30, but that usually can be corrected by
doing levels adjustment in
PS. Rarely is a flash shot (or any shot, for that matter) so
underexposed it can't be fixed -- the same cannot be said for
Shooting in any other mode (aperture or speed
priority, or full P mode) produces much more haphazard results with
10. How is the D30
compared to a (1D/Fuji/Nikon/Honda)?
The D30 is still the best DSLR (digital SLR)
camera out there, bar none. The 1D might be better built, but
has its own set of problems (dust, banding, expense, battery).
No camera produces better images, and no camera is as cost
Will this change? Of course -- it had better.
After all, we don't want to be using the same computers we're
currently using five years from now. But at this writing
(2002) I still can't think of another camera I'd recommend.
(Update: it looks like the Digital Rebel is the camera to beat in
this price range as of 2004. Can use the same lenses, has the
sensor of the D60, the fast focus of higher end cameras... it's hard
to quibble with it right now for the digital SLR of choice).
11. Is dust on the sensor a
problem with the D30?
I live in the desert (Northern Nevada, to be
exact) and have shot a lot of images in very sandy conditions.
Indeed, some of my Zion photographs
(like the ones shot in the Coral Pink Sand Dunes) were taken with me
changing lenses with dust blowing in my eyes. The bottom line is
I've had the camera for over a year and not noticed any dust yet.
There are several things to note: one, the CMOS sensor does seem
less sensitive to dust than a CCD based one (perhaps due to static
on the chip). Two, the D30 has what appears to many to be a dust
shield in front of the sensor, further
helping the situation. Finally, it is user cleanable (unlike the 1D
there is a documented mode and procedure to clean the sensor that
many have reported doing successfully).
I would not be concerned at all about dust or dirt with the D30,
unlike any other DSLR that's currently available.