Did I make a mistake buying a D5100 to get started with photography?
So I decided to start photography. My aim is simple: take photos of my future travels around the world. I want to take good photos.
Well, I made the mistake of buying the gears before even learning about it. I bought a Nikon D5100 camera, and I think it's not good but maybe it's just my skills.
So here it goes my questions:
- Where can I learn about gear? Things like a lens, protection and cleaning stuff...
- Is the Nikon D5100 a good camera? The lens is "18-55mm"
- What are the good software for editing photos and where to learn how to use them?
Also any estimates of how much time this should take?
The D5100 is an excellent camera. Once you learn to use it's capabilities fully you will be very pleased with the results. The 18-55 mm lens is OK to start. You will probably want to graduate to a better quality (and much more expensive) lens in due course but to start with the 18-55mm is good.
"Also any estimates of how much time this should take?" The rest of your life, if you're lucky. That's not an insult -- if you're lucky enough to fall in love with the medium, you'll never stop learning.
@StanRogers Yeah, I'm aware of that, and I'm a creative (though doing Front-End Web Development). But here I'm talking about the minimal time to grasp the basics and get your first shot.
Mind blowingly good images have been done with much worse cameras. My favorite images for my own work were done with my D3100 - a step *down* from that camera.
@rfusca - Step down in numbers but I did prefer the D3100. It is much easier to work with than the D5100.
The only criticism I have for the D5100 is that as a male with large hands it can be tiring to hold the body because the form factor is so small. The solution is to either get a special 3-point palm grip strap doo-dad or just stick a longer lens (he he) on the front and support the weight with two hands. **Seriously though,** if you're a beginner that is "more camera" than you'll need for a long time.
I suspect you are trying to treat photography the way you would approach computer programming (your stock overflow profile indicates that you are a fairly advanced contributor on that site). I myself started out my DSLR journey with the Canon 550D + 18-55mm kit lens combo (rough equivalents of their Nikon counterparts that you possess). The lens is quite common, and covers the range of most Point & Shoot cameras.
Overall, you have a fairly advanced model without any limitations on the kind of images you can take. I started out shooting in the Auto and pre-programmed modes for the first couple of months before switching to the semi automatic modes (Aperture\Shutter priority modes)
Some points to make you feel good about your camera:
- Definitely not a starter model, and very good value for money
- Has a swivel screen that most DSLRs lack - this makes it quite handy for shooting from awkward angles. Plus very useful when shooting video.
- Nikon has quite a bunch of lenses, plus a very big used lens market (Nikon has stuck with its lens interface unlike Canon that upgraded in the 80s). This might however not be that valid outside of the USA and other developed markets.
Coming to your specific questions, I would recommend 3 books to get you started on your journey:
- Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson - Explains the basic concepts like exposure, shutter speed, aperture etc
- The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby - A how-to book with gear recommendations, useful to learn shortcuts (4 parts in all with the first one covering the basic recipes). Alternatively, you can get a book specific to your camera.
- Photographer's Eye by Michael Freeman - Not an immediate read as it is more about visualization. Photographer's Mind by the same author is along similar lines and delves into the thought process behind image making.
As for gear:
- Flash: You might eventually want to get an external flash (with bounce capability) if you end up doing a lot of shooting indoors, and this will significantly reduce the image quality limitations imposed by high ISO requirements indoors. Nikon is supposed to have an advantage over Canon in this regard.
- Lenses: Once you get hold of the basics, you will get to understand the limitations of the kit lens (focal length range, aperture)
For software, you can start out with free software like Picasa for photo management and basic editing, and GIMP or Paint.NET for advanced editing. Adobe Lightroom is one of the most popular paid options, and there's always Photoshop if you want to do more.
Last but not the least, check out this site for a bunch of useful questions that will help you along, and keep shooting as practice is the best form of learning.
P.S. Some questions that will be of use:
- What blogs should I be following if I am learning photography?
- What are the first few photography books someone should read?
- Any good tutorials for learning how to post-process images? - Addresses your question on software
- What are the first few steps a beginner should take in post processing?
- What is a good two lens "starter kit"?
I recommend www.improvephotography.com he has many "tutorials" and tips all explained in a way that is very easy for beginners to understand.