Nikon D40x Tips?

I’m heading to the TT this weekend and will be using my other half’s Nikon camera.

Does anyone have any suggestions for getting the best action and non-action shots with the camera?

As a complete novice, would I be better off just putting it in Auto mode and using it like a point and shoot?

I have a D40 (like the D40x but with less pixels) probably best to use the auto modes to start with if you’re not familiar as it takes some practise to get the manual modes right and you don’t want to muck up too much. Try the sports mode for racing action, if the camera has a long lens use that and try to pan with the bikes as they go by. Also focus on an area of the track before the bikes get there and lock the focus using the half-press on the shutter button, then when the bikes come to that part of the track you’ll be able to finish taking the shot and hey presto the bike will be in focus (hopefully).

If you want to experiment with manual settings try S mode. This is shutter priority, if you set it to a fast shutter speed (1/250 and above) and try a few settings you can see what they do to the pics of the bikes. If you want to try panning (moving the camera with the bike as it goes by and you’re taking the pic) try a slower speed (1/30?) as this will give a nice blurry background. Panning takes some practise though and I’m by no means an expert on this myself!

You are probably best sticking to the auto modes if you aren’t familiar/confident enough to use the other modes - but try the other modes before you go and see if you can figure out what they do/how they work.

I learned to pan by standing on the main road and practicing with cars … no reason why you can’t do the same tomorrow after work …

To start out … stand with your feet a shoulder width apart … anchor your arms/elbows against your body … camera to your face … and pivot at your hip … follow some vehicles as they move past … the aim is to put your focus dot on the car door … and twist your hips at the same speed the vehicle is moving so that your focus dot stays in the same place on the vehicle. The reason for anchoring your arms is that you only want to pan on one axis because the vehicle will only be travelling from left to right - not up and down … if your arms are loose … you’re more likely to jiggle up and down which will result in blurry images.

Now … try doing the above in shutter priority mode … say … 1/25th of a second … trial and error longer or shorter speeds … and that’s pretty much it :slight_smile:

Thanks guys, it’s much appreciated!

in my experience (ahem) there’s a couple of pieces of advice I can give you, only the first is technical :

  1. read the manual. Always always always approach any unfamiliar type of shooting after first reading the manual. In there will be a section about the diffferent methods of focussing - you are looking for the one described (in my Canon manuals) as servo mode where the camera actively tracks the subject. The normal mode is to focus and hold that focus - described above as pre-focussing. Pre-focussing is very difficult and best avoided to be honest. Servo, or the Nikon equivalent, mode is the way to go with it. ‘Sport’ mode on the main dial might even engage this so read the manual to be sure.

  2. take a shed load of batteries as this focussing method drains batteries. Also shed loads of memory cards or a laptop because you will shoot loads and keep only a few. It isn’t easy.

  3. Try not to position yourself where the bike is coming straight at you with any kind of speed - your camera/lens will simply not react fast enough to the speed at which the distance changes.

  4. Think about the sun’s position, ideally it should be behind or above you.

  5. Shooting where the road is dappled by shadows is going cause the camera to screw up the exposures, so try to find somewhere with consistant lighting.

  6. take a plastic bag and an elastic band in case it rains. Your camera will tolerate zero water so please make a hole small enough to stretch over the lens hood, put the camera in it lens first then secure it with the band over the lens.

Blimey, I could go on, but these strike me as a basic guide to shooting something like this.

Thanks again guys, I’ll post some of the results up when I get back :slight_smile: