Tips for Shooting Dynamic Close-Ups with Your Nikon D5300

By Julie Adair King

The Nikon D5300 is an extremely versatile camera and it provides you with all the tools you need for shooting dynamic close-ups. For great close-up shots, try the following techniques:

  • Check your lens manual to find out its minimum close-focusing distance. How “up close and personal” you can get to your subject depends on your lens, not on the camera body.

  • Take control over depth of field by setting the camera mode to A (aperture-priority autoexposure) mode. Whether you want a shallow, medium, or extreme depth of field depends on the point of your photo. In classic nature photography, for example, the artistic tradition is a very shallow depth of field, and requires an open aperture (low f-stop value).

    If you want the viewer to be able to clearly see all details throughout the frame—for example, you’re shooting a product shot for a sales catalog—you need to go in the other direction, stopping down the aperture as far as possible.

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  • Remember that depth of field decreases when you zoom in or move closer to your subject. Go back to that product shot: If you need depth of field beyond what you can achieve with the aperture setting, you may need to back away, zoom out, or both. (You can always crop your image to show just the parts of the subject that you want to feature.)

  • When shooting flowers and other nature scenes outdoors, pay attention to shutter speed, too. Even a slight breeze may cause your subject to move, causing blurring at slow shutter speeds.

  • Use flash for better outdoor lighting. A tiny bit of flash typically improves close-ups when the sun is the primary light source. Again, though, keep in mind that the maximum shutter speed possible when you use the built-in flash is 1/200 second. So in very bright light, you may need to use a high f-stop setting to avoid overexposing the picture. You can also adjust the flash output.

  • When shooting indoors, try not to use flash as the primary light source. Because you’re shooting at close range, the light from your flash may be too harsh even at a low Flash Compensation setting. If flash is inevitable, turn on as many room lights as possible to reduce the flash power that’s needed—even a shop light from a hardware store can do in a pinch.

  • To get really close to your subject, invest in a macro lens or a set of diopters. A true macro lens, which enables you to get really, really close to your subjects, is an expensive proposition; prices range from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars. If you enjoy capturing the tiny details in life, though, it’s worth the investment.

    Nikon has a great guide to its macro lenses—officially titled Micro-Nikkor Lenses—at its website, if you’re ready to start shopping.

    For a less expensive way to go, you can spend about $40 for a set of diopters, which are sort of like reading glasses that you screw onto your existing lens. Diopters come in several strengths—+1, +2, +4, and so on—with a higher number indicating a greater magnifying power.

    The downside of using a diopter, sadly, is that it typically produces images that are very soft around the edges, a problem that doesn’t occur with a good macro lens.

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