Read an Excerpt
Nikon D70 Digital Field Guide
By David D. Busch
John Wiley & SonsISBN: 0-7645-9678-0
Chapter OneExploring the Nikon D70
In This Chapter
On the back
Viewing and playing back images
Activating the onboard flash
Setting white balance
Programmed exposure modes
Semiautomatic and manual exposure modes
If you've taken your first picture or two (or 200!) with your Nikon D70 or Nikon D70s, you're probably eager to learn more about your camera's features and how to use them. The Quick Tour covered just the basics you need to know to get started. This chapter delves a little more deeply into the key features of the camera, what they're for, and how to use them.
I'm going to avoid the deadly trap that most camera manuals fall into when they provide three or four views of a camera (usually front, back, top, and perhaps side or bottom) and label everything willy-nilly without giving you a clue about what each control actually is used for. If you want to know where a specific button is located, you have to search for it in Where's Waldo? fashion amongst a thicket of labels. Then you may have to thumb through the manual to see exactly what the control does.
Although you've probably attempted to learn about your D70's buttons and wheels with the manual's confusing diagrams, this chapter's illustrations are more accessible roadmaps that willhelp you sort through the D70's features and controls much more quickly, especially when you're out in the field taking photos.
This chapter does not cover the D70's menu system. It concentrates on the buttons, dials, and other controls that you can access directly, without visiting menus. Some of the settings discussed in this chapter, such as flash options or white balance, are duplicated in the menus or have additional options available in there.
You can learn more about the D70's menu setup options in Chapter 2.
The front panel of the Nikon D70 is shown in figure 1.1. You can't see all the buttons and controls from a straight-on perspective, so I'll show you separate, three-quarters-view looks at each half of the front panel, which I've color-coded red (the left side of the camera when looking at it head-on) and green (the right side of the camera from this angle). While this illustration shows the D70, the D70s is identical except for the model number plate.
The easiest way to hold the D70 is by wrapping your fingers of your right hand around the hand grip, with the left hand providing support and usually activating most of the controls. However, there are a few controls within the reach of the right hand's digits, as shown in figure 1.2. These controls and features include the following:
* The handgrip: The grip is the housing for the D70's battery, and also serves as a comfortable handhold for your fingers.
* Depth of field preview: This is a small button (see the figure) next to the lens mount. Press and hold the depth of field preview button. The lens stops down to the taking aperture, the view through the finder may dim a little (or a lot), and you can see just how much of the image is in focus.
* Sub-command dial: This is a secondary control dial used to supplement the main command dial on the back of the D70. It's used when two different, related settings can be made, as in manual exposure mode when the shutter speed is set using the main command dial, and the aperture is adjusted using the sub-command dial. Another example of this use is in setting the white balance (which controls how the D70 reacts to illumination sources of different colors, such as daylight and incandescent light). The main command dial flips among the different light-source types, while the sub-command dial fine-tunes those settings. Although you can "swap" the command dials (turning the sub-command dial into the command dial, and vice versa) using the D70's menus, it's best to leave them in their default configuration to start out.
* Front lamp: This front-mounted source of illumination serves three different functions. Under dim lighting conditions that make auto-focusing difficult, this light source can be set to cast a little extra light on your subject to assist the auto-focus system. If you've set your camera to self-timer mode, so that a picture is taken after a short delay (or if you're using the optional remote control in delay mode), the lamp blinks in a pattern as a sort of countdown to the eventual exposure. Finally, this lamp also can send out a little blast of light shortly before a flash exposure, which can serve to close down the pupils of your subjects' eyes, and reduce the demon redeye effect.
Nikon Speedlights as well as the Nikon SC-29 Speedlight cable have their own less-obtrusive focus assist lights that can take over for the one built into the camera.
* Shutter release: Canted atop the handgrip are the shutter-release button and power switch.
The other side of the D70 has a few more controls, as shown in figure 1.3. These include the following:
* Flash multi-button: Nikon has kept the D70's design clean by assigning multiple functions to many buttons, and this flash control is one of them. It serves three different purposes, even though Nikon calls it the Flash Exposure Compensation button. Pressing the button when the built-in electronic flash is in its down/stowed position causes the flash to flip up (as shown in figure 1.4), ready for use. Holding this button while spinning the command dial on the back of the camera changes among flash sync modes, such as red-eye reduction, or slow sync (which combines flash and a regular exposure to lighten backgrounds). Holding this button while spinning the sub-command dial adds or subtracts from the flash exposure, making your flash picture a little lighter or darker, as you prefer.
* Infrared receiver: This is a dark red window (opaque to visible light) that captures a signal from the optional remote control. Because it's on the front of the camera you must use the remote from the front position.
* Lens release: Press and hold this button to unlock the lens so you can rotate the lens to remove it from the camera.
* Focus-mode selector: The autofocus/ manual (AF/M) lever on the camera body can be flipped to set the focus mode for lenses that don't have such a control on the lens barrel, or for manual focus lenses. Figure 1.3 also shows such a control on the 18-70mm kit lens.
* AC Power/AV Connector/USB Connector covers: On the side of the camera, you'll see two rubber covers that protect the D70's primary external connectors. These include the AC power connector, which can operate the camera without batteries (for, say, studio work or time-lapse photography). Just below the AC power connector is an AV plug that can link the D70 to an external monitor for viewing pictures or menus. The bottom-most connector accepts the USB cable, which enables transferring pictures directly from the camera to your computer, and also lets you control the camera's functions using the Nikon Capture software. The Nikon D70s also has a connector for the wired remote control accessory.
The top surface of the D70 has its own set of controls, shown in figure 1.5. In addition, a bird's-eye view provides the best perspective of some of the controls on the lens. I've divided these controls into a pair of bite-sized color-coded pieces, too, with red assigned to the lens controls, and green to the camera-body controls.
You can see the basic controls found on many zoom lenses in figure 1.6. Not all these controls are found on all lenses, and some of them may be in different positions on different lenses (particularly those not produced by Nikon). The key components are
* Focus ring: This is the ring to turn when manually focusing the lens. If the autofocus/manual switch (AF/M) on the lens or camera is set to Auto, this ring has no effect. Some lenses, such as the kit lens, allow manual override of the camera's autofocus setting, and are marked with an M/A-M switch instead. By convention, turning the ring toward the right (when looking down on the lens from above) increases the focused distance.
* Distance scale: This is a scale that moves in unison with the lens's focus mechanism (whether activated by manually focusing or by the autofocus system) to show approximately the distance at which the lens has been focused. It's a useful indicator for double-checking autofocus, and for roughly setting manual focus.
* Zoom ring: This is the ring turned to change the zoom setting. With many lenses, turning this ring to the right increases the focal length, but you may find that the opposite is true with some lenses (which can be very frustrating!).
* Zoom scale: These markings on the lens show the current focal length set.
* Lens hood alignment guide/bayonet: Used to mount the lens hood for lenses that don't use screw-mount hoods.
Figure 1.7 shows a single focal length, or prime lens, a 105mm Nikkor macro lens used for close-up photography. This particular lens has some features not available on the kit lens, but that are found on some other zoom and non-zoom lenses. Of course, because it doesn't zoom, this lens lacks the zoom ring and zoom scale. Other components include the following:
* Lens thread: Most lenses have a thread on the front for attaching filters and other add-ons. Some also use this thread for attaching a lens hood (you'd screw on the filter first, and then attach the hood to the screw thread on the front of the filter).
* Limit switch: Lenses with an extensive focus range (such as this macro lens) often have a switch that can be used to limit the range used by the autofocus system. For example, if you're not shooting close-up pictures, you can set the lens to seek focus only at more distant settings, which can save a bit of time.
* Aperture ring: The kit lens, as well as many other newer lenses, use the camera's electronics exclusively to set the shooting aperture. These lenses, which include a G suffix in their name, have no aperture ring at all, and are compatible only with cameras that can set the f-stop through a control on the camera. Other lenses maintain compatibility with earlier cameras by including an aperture ring and a pair of aperture readouts (the numbers from f/32 down to f/2.8 in figure 1-7). The second, outermost readout is required by some cameras. These lenses include a D suffix in their name. Both G- and D-type lenses work fine with the Nikon D70 digital camera.
* Aperture lock: When using a D-type lens on the D70, you'll need to set the aperture ring to the smallest f-stop, and then lock it in that position using the aperture lock. Set it once and then forget about it, unless you need to mount the lens on an older camera or you've mounted the lens on an accessory such as a bellows or extension ring.
The top panel has relatively few controls. They include:
* Mode dial: This knurled wheel is turned to change from the various exposure and scene modes, discussed later in this chapter.
* Flash accessory shoe: Mount an external electronic flash unit (Nikon calls them Speedlights), such as the Nikon SB-600 or SB-800, on this slide-in shoe. The multiple electrical contacts shown in the photo are used to trigger the flash and to allow the camera and flash to communicate exposure, distance, zoom setting, and other information. You can also attach other flash units made by Nikon and other vendors, but not all functions may operate.
* Monochrome LCD control panel: This LCD readout provides information about the status of your camera and its settings, including exposure mode, number of pictures remaining, battery status, and many other settings.
* LCD Lamp/Format #1 button: Press this button to backlight the control panel for about 8 seconds when working under illumination that makes it difficult to view the panel's information without a little help. This button also can be used to reformat the D70's digital memory card, if you hold it down simultaneously with the Format #1 button on the back panel (described in the next section).
* Sensor focal plane: Some specialized kinds of close-up photography require knowing exactly where the plane of the camera sensor is located. This marker shows that point, although it represents the plane, not the actual location of the sensor itself, which is placed aft of the lens.
* Metering Mode/Reset #1 button: Press this button while spinning the command dial on the back of the camera to change from matrix to center weighted or spot metering modes (explained later in this chapter). This button also can be used to reset the D70's internal settings to the original factory settings if held down simultaneously with the Reset #2 button (described later in this chapter).
* Exposure compensation button: Hold down this button while spinning the command dial to add or subtract exposure from the basic setting calculated by the D70's autoexposure system.
* Shutter-release button: Partially depress this button to lock in exposure and focus; press it all the way to take the picture. Tapping the shutter release when the camera has turned off the autoexposure and autofocus mechanisms will reactivate both. When a review image is displayed on the back-panel color LCD, tapping this button will remove the image from the display and reactivate the autoexposure and autofocus mechanisms.
* Power switch: Flip this switch to turn the D70 on or off.
On the Back
The back panel of the Nikon D70 is studded with more than a dozen controls, many of which serve more than one function. Where other cameras may force you to access a menu to set image quality, change the camera's sensitivity, or to activate the self-timer, with the D70, just press the appropriate button, turn the command dial, and make the setting you want. I've divided this crowded back panel into four color-coded sections.
The upper-left corner of the back panel includes just two buttons:
* Bracketing (BKT) button: Hold the bracketing button while spinning the main command dial (to select the bracketing function), and the sub-command dial (to choose the type of bracketing to be applied), as described later in this chapter. This button also serves as the Reset #2 button.
* Shooting mode button: Hold this button while spinning the main command dial to choose from single shot, continuous/burst mode, self-timer, or remote-control operation. This button also serves as the Format #2 button.
Excerpted from Nikon D70 Digital Field Guide by David D. Busch Excerpted by permission.
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