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Camera Ė The best camera is the one you have with you.
AUTO, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority or Manual - Never shoot in Full Auto. It give you no control at all and you might as well just use your cell phone. Program is a good place to start with when you first get your camera and for everyday shooing. You get more control than most people realize since you pick the ISO and if you use flash or not. That is basic. The camera picks the shutter speed and the aperture. The part that many people donít know is that you can control the shutter speed/aperture combination by rotating the thumb wheel. Need a faster shutter speed? just turn the wheel, need more depth of field? just turn the wheel. Aperture priority is used when you need stop action and shutter priority is used when you want to control the depth of field. Manual is used when you need complete control over everything or you need to override one of the controls to get better control over the exposure. I use it when I am doing a panorama or focus stacking so that all the shots match. The main thing is that you use what you are comfortable using and that gives you results that you are happy with.

JPEG vs RAW Ė Personally I shoot RAW but that has not always been the case. I believed for a while that JPEG worked just fine. After learning a little more I found I was able to get better results by shooting RAW. IS RAW for everyone? No. Everyone does not need the extra bit that you can get by all the Post Processing. Many people shoot family and friends and they are mainly sharing on FaceBook and other social media with the occasional print for Grandmother. If you are shooting professionally you really should be shooting in RAW.
Post Processing Ė Yes everyone needs to do a little bit of it. Even if you shoot JPEG and your camera does most of the heavy lifting you really need to tweak it a little. My wife shoots a Coolpix L120 and it makes pretty good pictures right out of the camera. A few times I have taken one of her good pictures and run it through PhotoShop and ďfixedĒ it for her. It was getting to the point that she was sending me 20 or 30 pictures at the time to fix for her. I finally sat down with her at her computer and showed her how to use ViewNX2. With the controls she has there she can make her good photos so much better. The only ones I get now are the ones she wants a garbage can removed from. Personally I use Bridge to import and review and from there I carry it into Adobe Camera RAW and I do 90% of my corrections there and then on to PhotoShop where I finish up. I save one full size photo for my Zenfolio account and for printing if I need to later and I save a small version for face book and Nikonites. If you donít have any processing software I suggest ViewNX2 to start with. For many that will be all they every need. On the other end is Photoshop which very few of us will ever use all the power it has. I like it because I have been using it for years and the one thing I donít think I could do without is Content Aware Fill. You will find people all have their favorite software and will fight you if you donít agree that it is the best. See my explanation for Camera at the beginning of this post.

To sum this all upÖ Have fun shooting. Donít go out and buy the most expensive camera in the world with 10 lenses before you even find out if you like photography. Start off with a good camera that will last you for a while. Start with the lens that came with it. Shoot it for a good while and get used to it and what it can do BEFORE you go out and buy anything else. If you have to ask people what lens you should buy next then you arenít ready to get a new lens. Once you decide you can then ask people for advice on what wide angle zoom you need. Same with software. Donít start with Photoshop at $800 when ViewNX2 is free and may do all you want. Work with it for a while before you move up. LightRoom and other post processing programs generally have 30 day trials that you can download. Try before you buy.
And lastly lets talk about this forum. We are here to help you ever chance we can but before you ask you really should read your manual. If you canít find the answer there then Google it. Most of the time you can find the answer there. This helps you more than asking here to start with. While you are searching for an answer you will probably find answers to questions you have not asked yet. Many times the answers are more confusing than the question. That is where we come in. One of us has come across the same question and hopefully found the answer. I have spent hours trying to figure out something only to get more confused and someone here give me a simple answer that just makes me understand it. Donít be afraid to ask but please try to find the answer for yourself first. It will help you learn it better.
Now go have fun.
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  1. Don Kuykendall's Avatar
    Correction.

    Shutter priority is used when you need stop action and aperture priority is used when you want to control the depth of field.



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  2. piperbarb's Avatar
    Don,

    Very good. The best advice was the last part, "To sum this all up." That really says it all. Thanks for posting it.
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    Thanks/Like Don Kuykendall, Ijustwant1 Thanks/liked this post
  3. Ijustwant1's Avatar
    Don this is really good and should be read by every new camera user and when a novice first posts they should be given a link to this Blog ! good stuff
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