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 Post subject: Reef tank photography
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 2:40 am 
Hi all im new to DSLR's.I just recently got a nikon D40x and for the life of me i cant take any beautifull shots of my saltwater reef.No matter what i do im not happy with the pics.Any suggestions will be apriciated thanks in advance.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:51 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 6:26 am
Posts: 129
Location: Norway, Telemark
Hi benztech, let me be the first to welcome you to the camera labs forum!

If you tell us what kind of equipment you have and what specifically you are doing that you are not satisfied with, along with a couple of example pictures I'm sure we will be able to help you out!

Nikon D700, Nikon F301, Nikon FG and Nikon FM
Nikon 105mm f2.8 VR, Sigma 12-24mm, Nikkor 50mm f1.8 D, Nikkor 50mm f1.4 AI, Sigma 35-70 f2.8-4
Benro C-297 w/Benro KS-2

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 6:02 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 3:32 pm
Posts: 9978
Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
Hi benztech, the D40x should certainly be able to take some great photos. Do you have the mode set to Auto or P and the lens set to A? Then it should all be automatic... As John says though, link to a photo so we can look into it further...

You might also find our video workshops handy at


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 12:23 pm 
I hope he has a polarized filter ... to eliminate the reflection ...that would help dramatically.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 4:03 pm 
I'd echo the comments made above - examples would be helpful. Essentially a fair ISO, tripod, some power from a flashgun and a CPL will be all the equipment you need for great saltwater reef photography. The main hurdles are the glass and lighting; using a CPL and then sticking the lens close to the glass as possible will reduce reflections, and the flashgun will stop motion. If you don't have a flashgun, I'd suggest exploring with tablelamps or a flash-light/torch to add some light. The tripod will help with camera stability and reducing shake.

The problem shouldn't be with the camera - the D40x is more than adequate.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:26 pm 
heres a pic im using 18/55 afs and 55/200 afs non vr lenses both nikon
ive tried different modes and setting just dont look nice to me

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 11:14 pm 
Hi Benztech,

Let me first welcome you to the Camera Labs forum!

I have just taken a look at your pictures and they really don't seem as bad to me. I like them, really :)

Here are the things I've notice and my opinions:

- You use the largest aperture possible. It's very good in order to capture as much light as possible but if you'd want a sharper image and a greater depth of field, try using something like f/8. (I think it's also the 18-55's "sweet-spot")
- You use 1600 ISO which is very high. (Try using a lower ISO (say 200) with longer exposures and this will decrease noise and increase your image quality) You would need to mount the camera on a tripod to get the best results and make sure that there is no movement in the reefs.
- Composition is very important for the shots to capture the viewer's interest and as the 2nd photo is still ok, the 1st would benefit from a crop to isolate the reefs and avoid the outside of the tank.
- If you find the color cast to be slightly off, try experimenting with different white-balance setting.
- I'd also encourage you to try using a polarizing filter on your lens as this will remove possible reflections from the tank's glass.
- I also see your main source of light is the one in the tank and it seems quite harsh. You could try and experiment with additional sources that you'd point from outside the tank. This can help selectively brighten some shadow areas.
- Last thing on my mind ... you could also try using manual focus if you ever find that the automatic one has trouble focusing through the glass.

These are my ideas and opinions ... I hope they can help you! Keep us posted on how it goes:)
Best of Luck

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 10:33 am 
Andy i was thinking about the ISO too, but take a look in ur camera (we got the same one :P) look at that the highest ISO and look at the thumbnail its actualy a shot of an aquerium so i m wondering where either he should use that one or not? i think so because its really bad lightning in those aquariums there is barley any ligh on the outside just inside the tank itself....

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 11:55 am 
Great info guys thanks.Yeah I see that thumbnail thats why I used it lol.
Ill post more pics tonight.Thanks again

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 12:24 pm 
I added a few other pics that I was not too upset with of other things.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:58 pm 
Haha, true Alex, I haven't notice this as I change my ISO through the Fn (Function) Button since I tend to play a lot with it. Hum .... I know what you mean about using 1600 since it's on the picture but I still think that you should try to use the lowest possible ISO a situation will allow you as to avoid noise. If there is no movement in the tank, then why not try a stabilized long exposure and loose the noise.

Benztech, seeing your aquarium, I can see so much potential! It's huge and looks beautiful. :) I'd encourage you to try and experimenting with some of the things I wrote on the post above. I'd be curious to see the outcome.

Do you have a tripod?

P.S. The little chipmunk is really cute. lol

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