New Nikon D5000

The brand new Nikon D5000 DSLR is now in the PhotoActive Camera Shop.

The camera is due to be released on 1st May, so you could be among the first to own one if you buy now.

The new Nikon D5000


The new Nikon D5000The camera comes complete with the 18-55mm VR Lens Kit lens for £799.99 – why can’t they just say £800 and have done with it?

Anyway, this a great new DSLR camera from Nikon and everything I’ve heard about it so far is very good indeed.

The Nikon D5000 boasts 12.3 million effective pixels, has a very useful 2.7 inch live-view swivel LCD and can take HD movies. It is smaller and lighter than the Nikon D90. Nikon say that the D5000 uses the same CMOS sensor and low-pass filter as the D300 and D90.

Just like the Nikon D90, the D5000 can convert RAW files into JPEGs in the camera while retaining the original file. I think that swivel LCD screen is a real boon.

It’s in the PhotoActive Camera Shop now and you can buy with confidence through Amazon.



Nikon D5000 body only from Jacobs

Nikon D5000 body only from Jacobs

For those of you who would like to buy the Nikon D5000 camera body only, I have found a great deal on the Jacob’s website. The body only price is £719. Nikon D5000 body only from Jacobs

Don’t worry when you see the ‘out of stock’ label on the camera – this is because Nikon will not release the cameras until May 1st


23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS sensor
Effective pixels 12.3
Total pixels 12.9
Mount Nikon F mount (with AF contacts)
Focal length Approx. 1.5 x lens focal length (Nikon DX format)
Type Nikon Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection
AF points 11
AF point selection Yes
Exposure metering -1 to +19 EV
AF modes Single-point AF, dynamic-area AF, auto-area AF, 3D-tracking (11 points) AF
Selected AF point display Can be selected from 11 focus points
Predictive AF Yes
AF lock Focus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (Single-servo AF) or by pressing AE-L/AF-L button
AF assist beam Yes
Manual focus Yes
Metering Range -1 to +19 EV
AE lock Yes
Exposure compensation ±5 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV
AEB 3 frames in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV
ISO speed equiv ISO 200 to 3200 in steps of 1/3 EV
Type Electronically controlled vertical-travel focal-plane shutter
Speed 1/4,000 to 30 s in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV, Bulb, Time (with optional ML-L3 Remote Control)
Release Single-frame, continuous, self-timer, delayed remote, quick-response, quiet
Type TTL white-balance with main image sensor and 420-pixel RGB sensor
Settings Auto, 12 manual modes with fine-tuning; preset manual white balance, white balance bracketing
Personal White balance Yes
Bracketing Yes
Viewfinder Eye-level pentamirror single-lens reflex viewfinder
Coverage Approx. 95% horizontal and 95% vertical
Magnification Approx. 0.78 x
Eyepoint 17.9 mm
Dioptre connection -1.7 to +0.7
Focusing Screen Type B BriteView Clear Matte screen Mark V with focus frame (framing grid can be displayed)
Mirror Quick-return type
Eyepiece Shutter Supplied
Monitor Vari-angle type 2.7 inch
Coverage 100%
Brightness Adjustable
Modes Auto, Portrait, Child, Close-up, Night portrait, Party/indoor, Pet portrait modes: Auto flash with auto pop-up P, S, A, M, Food: Manual pop-up with button release
Hotshoe Standard ISO 518 hot-shoe contact with safety lock
Sync socket Hot Shoe Sync Terminal Adapter AS-15 (optional)
Exposure compensation -3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV
Exposure bracketing 2 or 3 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 1, or 2 EV
Second Curtain sync Yes
External Flash SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, SB-400, SB-80DX, SB-28DX, SB-50DX
Shooting modes Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close up, Night portrait, Night landscape, Party/indoor, Beach/snow, Sunset, Dusk/dawn, Pet portrait, Candlelight, Blossom, Autumn colors, Food, Silhouette, High key, and Low key
Shooting photo effects Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape; storage for up to nine custom Picture Controls
Continuous Shooting 4 fps
4,288 x 2,848 [L], 3,216 x 2,136 [M], 2,144 x 1,424 [S]
Compression 1:4, 1:8, 1:16
Still image type NEF (RAW), JPEG
Simultaneous recording Yes
Sound files Yes
Pict. bridge Yes
Intell. orientation sensor Yes
Histogram Yes
Playback zoom Yes
Image lock Yes
Image erase Selected, By Date, All
Self Timer Can be selected from 2, 5, 10, and 20 s duration
Menu languages Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish
Connection Hi-Speed USB, Type C HDMI connector
PC Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (32-bit Home Basic/Home Premium/ Business/Enterprise/Ultimate) and Windows XP Service Pack 3 (Home Edition/ Professional)
MAC Mac OS X (version 10.3.9, 10.4.11, 10.5.6)
Browsing printing ViewNX
Batteries Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL9a
Battery life Approximately 510 shots 9Single-frame release mode)
AC power supply AC Adapter EH-5a (optional; requires EP-5 power connector)
Lenses Nikon F Mount
Flash SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, SB-400, SB-80DX, SB-28DX, SB-50DX
Remote Control ML-L3
Battery chargers Quick Charger MH-23
Operating environ 0–40°C, Humidity Less than 85%
Dimensions 127 x 104 x 80 mm
Weight (body only) 560g




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Black and white or colour photography?

Black and white photographs in Photo Challenge

It is always good to see some black and white photographs in the Photo Challenge, and here are three really interesting monochrome images.


Ken has taken the March theme BRIDGES, and, as usual, has come up with a novel interpretation. Is it the bridge of an old violin? I don’t know, but it has certainly made a good monochrome subject.

I suspect he has upped the contrast quite a lot, and this treatment suits the subject well. He has kept the picture absolutely simple by shooting thought the violin strings and square-on to the bridge. This simplicity has reached the point where photographs appears almost as an abstract design.

Ken's entry for the - photoactive photo challenge BRIDGES

Ken's entry for the - photoactive photo challenge BRIDGES


The composition in this picture is almost ‘text book’. The framing is just about perfect and the whole effect is very pleasing indeed. I really feel as though I might be able to climb the steps over that rickety bridge.

I did feel, however, that there was a ‘flatness’ about the picture, and while there are certainly deep blacks and pure whites, the wooden posts have a strange greyness that seemed a bit odd.

This might be because it was converted from colour to monochrome black and white, but it does let down an otherwise very fine photograph. Even so, I have to confess this very nearly made it to my top favourites. Great stuff Stephanie.

One of Stephanie's entries for the - photoactive photo challenge BRIDGES

One of Stephanie's entries for the - PhotoActive photo challenge BRIDGES


Peter has photographed the funicular railway in Bridgnorth, Shropshire.

I like the way he has chosen to crop right in to just a section of the bridge and the railway carriage. This has worked very well.

Once again, the contrast has been upped by quite a considerable degree – partly because of the strong, directional sun light. This has lost a lot of detail in the shadows. If this was what Peter was trying to achieve he has succeeded very well.

But with this subject, I’m left with the feeling that I would like to see what the colours were like. I feel as if I am missing something.

Choosing between shooting in colour or black and white is not always simple. It can be highly subjective. With digital cameras it is easy to take colour images and then convert them into black and white. But beware, not all subjects are ideal black and white subjects and the choice is not always straightforward.

Peterm's enty for the - photoactive photo challenge BRIDGES

Peterm's enty for the - photoactive photo challenge BRIDGES

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Rainbows and timing in photographs


Two more great photographs from last month’s Photo Challenge…


A natural bridge in the rocks is the subject of this powerful back-lit shot from Phil. There is sufficient light reflecting back onto the rocks to illuminate some detail and this has certainly added to the overall impact of the picture.

I think Phil went just a little astray when he cropped this image so tightly – especially along the bottom edge. This tight crop has left the long driftwood branch almost resting on this bottom edge and that makes for an uncomfortable composition.

There were two things that might have been done:

1 – Leave the branch where it was and allow more foreground beneath it.
2 – Get rid of the branch all together

I think I might have opted to get rid of it. It is not particularly attractive and it is detracting too much from the main power of the photograph – the bridge itself.

The burnt-out flare on the water has actually added something to the appeal of the image, although I’m sure there are lots who would disagree.

Philn's fantastic BRIDGE entry for the March Photo Challenge
Philn’s fantastic BRIDGE entry for the March Photo Challenge


A knockout picture that deserves praise.

The ability to make the most of your opportunities should be ingrained into every photographer, and Lynne has captured the moment well. I particularly like the rich colours of the red bridge against the rainbow and that dark sky.

Once again, though, cropping and timing could have lifted this into something very special indeed.

That bus bottom left should have been allowed to disappear before pressing the shutter, and the lamppost on the right should have been cropped off. This could have been done at the time of taking the picture, not afterwards.

In fact, I think – had it been possible – I might have zoomed in a little more to cut out some of the distracting foreground.

Concentrate on what catches your eye, Lynne, and your pictures will always gain more impact.

Lynne's rainbow bridge entry for the Photo Challenge

Lynne's rainbow bridge entry for the Photo Challenge

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Colour saturation in photographs

These two photographs really caught my eye – I like them both very much – but for very different reason. They were entered in the March PhotoActive Forum Photo Challenge – Bridges.

The reasons I did not choose them for among my top favourites are, again, almost entirely different.

Let’s take Ian’s cracking picture of the market beneath the bridges in Newcastle on Tyne.

Ian has observed this shot very well. He has deliberately pulled together the complicated elements of the bridges and the colourful market – and with considerable success. This has created a picture that invites the viewer to dive into the composition and explore. There’s a lot to see and it is all very rewarding.

So why didn’t it reach my top six?

Mostly because I felt the colours lacked vibrancy and saturation. The original image seems a little dead, and this detracted from what should have been a really colourful scene.

In my edited picture I have not cropped – although the far right of the image might benefit from having a little shaved off.

I have simply brushed over the lower half of the picture with a large brush on the dodge tool set at 15% opacity to lighted the highlights. I have also increased the colour saturation by just 8% and sharpened the image with the unsharp mask by 40%.

This has added the vibrancy the picture lacked and brought it to life.

Ian's PhotoActive Forum Photo Challenge BRIDGE entry before adjustment

Ian's PhotoActive Forum Photo Challenge BRIDGE entry before adjustment

Ian's PhotoActive Forum Photo Challenge BRIDGE entry AFTER adjustment

Ian's PhotoActive Forum Photo Challenge BRIDGE entry AFTER adjustment

Cathy’s dramatic shot from beneath the concrete bridge smacks the viewer straight between the eyes. It is a fantastic picture – very well done Cathy.

While I felt Ian’s picture benefited from a little help in post production, I got the feeling that Cathy’s amazing picture was just a little over processed. In the sky at either side of the bridge I can see the lightening of tone where the concrete structure has been dodged.

Now, I appreciate that the overall effect was to make me take a second – and even a third – look at this picture, and, that being the case, it can be said that it has achieved what Cathy set out to do. But it just made me a little uncomfortable and gave me the impression that it might have been a bit over the top.

It doesn’t stop me being impressed, just makes me a little cautious.

Keep ‘em coming Cathy – excellent!

Cathy's fantasic Bridge picture

Cathy's fantastic Bridge picture

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March Photo Challenge Poll winners

Here are the results of the March PhotoActive Forum Photo Challenge Poll. The subject was BRIDGES. Congratulations to the winners, especially forum member Davidc who polled 41% of the votes for his twilit bridge picture. Well done everyone.

FIRST with 41% of votes
Photo B
by Davidc

Nikon D80 with the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G DX VR lens
1.3sec exposure at f11  ISO 100.

David used a Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod and  Manfrotto 486 Ball Head – he tells me that he was using this for the first time on my recommendation to I hope he likes it.

Well, you certainly liked this one and it came out on top of the poll by quite a margin.
Well done, David. I think David must have got his feet nice and muddy taking this one so I hope he wiped his feet when he got back home.

Timing is just about spot on for this type of picture taken at dusk or dawn. Too early and the sky is washed out, too late and the sky loses all its colour. Often this ideal time last no more than a few minutes – ten if you are lucky.

David has kept his composition absolutely simple and this has heightened the visual appeal of the scene. Full marks for that.

What might I have done to change things? Well I would not have changed much, but I might have tried adding some off-camera flash into that foreground. Just an experiment, but a flash out of shot from the right facing towards the camera to backlight a little of that muddy shore just might have been effective. In any case, I might have tried it after I had got everything else  wanted.

Mind you, I might have ended up to my knees in mud.

Photo B by Davidc

FIRST - Photo B by Davidc

SECOND with 21% of votes
Photo D
by Russell

 I just love the simplicity of this picture, and yet the image compels the eye because the subject is so unusual. It is another really good example of ‘if it aint bloke don’t fix it’. There was absolutely no need to do anything more with this scene other than frame in carefully and press the button. Nothing clever, no tricks.

The real trick here is in spotting the visual possibilities – and that’s just what Russell has done.

I hope this location is easy for you to get to Russell, because it is a subject that could be photographed to great effect at different times of the day and in different weather conditions. Super picture.

Photo D by Russell

SECOND - Photo D by Russell

THIRD with 18% of votes
Photo C
by franmachado
Olympus E-500
1sec f22 ISO100
This, to my mind, deserves the highest praise. Fran has chosen her shooting angle with great care. She has filled her foreground to perfection with the moss green rocks and the deep browns beneath the surface of the water. The light is spot on, slightly backlighting the bridge and picking out the stonework without drawing all the attention to the arches.
The composition leads the eye right into the picture and across the bridge.
I find the whole effect very pleasing to look at and can appreciate how much care has been taken. The exposure of 1 second is perfect, and has created just the right amount of flow in the water.
I would have preferred a slightly wider crop as I feel this is a little tight. The only other thing is that small twig across the right corner – but come one, we are now getting very picky about an excellent landscape.
Excellent picture and beautifully photographed.
Photo C by fran

THIRD - Photo C by franmachado

FOURTH 10% of votes
Photo E
by Steve McGregor

I couldn’t stop looking at this when I first saw it on the forum. Once again – notice just how simply it has been done – yet the subject matter is hugely complicated once you start to look more closely.

Symmetrical pictures don’t always work well. This one does. Even the figures are balanced. I think the black and white treatment has worked well and does suit the subject. Particularly because the sidelight is so effective and this has enhanced the shape of the central subject – St. Paul’s.

The picture has been spotted, considered and executed very well indeed.

Photo E by Steve McGregor

FOURTH - Photo E by Steve McGregor

FIFTH with 8% of votes
by Cathy

Canon 30D

This picture has a great deal going for it. I particularly like the way Cathy has just partially hidden the glare of the direct sun behind the structure of the bridge. This has helped give a pleasant degree of flare without going the whole hog and blasting out the image with too much flare out.

With an exposure of 1/800sec f11, Cathy has created a good silhouette effect, but she could happily have stopped down to f16 and used a shutter speed 1/400th sec. This just might have created an even sharper ‘star’ effect with the flare of the sun… and still with no chance of camera shake.

The low shooting angle has added a degree of soaring vitality to the composition which I like very much. I like less, the stance of the man leaning over the bridge, and some small adjustments here might have paid off; assuming he was a ‘tame’ model of course.

If his eye line had been directed back to the right of the picture (no need to move him, just ask him to turn his head) I think this might have balanced the whole effect. I suspect he knew Cathy was taking the picture because she must have been fairly close and the light is directly behind the man.

Anyway, a smashing shot Cathy.

Photo A by Cathy

FIFTH - Photo A by Cathy

SIXTH with 3% of votes
by Maria

Now I suspect that – judging my the small number of votes this picture received – you were all a bit surprised that I chose it as one of my favourites.

Okay, point taken, but now look again. Maria – being modest – will probably just say she saw it and snapped it. Hmm, maybe. But the very fact that she noticed the possibilities of a photograph among the simple geometric straight lines and angles of this unprepossessing modern bridge structure shows that Maria is seeing very well indeed.

She certainly attracted my eye with those lines and angles and the way they seem to react to each other. The white fencing at the bottom of the picture works well – although in theory it should not because it should pull the eye downwards.

Put all this lot together, add a blue sky, frame it carefully, and the finished result is, to me, really interesting.

Photo F by Maria

SIXTH - Photo F by Maria

More on cropping photographs

Good cropping can make or break a photograph. Although it can never make a poor photograph good, it can transform a picture that already has potential, but lacks impact, into one with real visual appeal.

In my last post I pointed out the dangers of over-cropping. This time we have the opposite effect.

Take Gordon’s photograph, for instance. This was another entry for the March PhotoActive Photo Challenge. I liked this picture the moment I saw it. There is an honesty about this photograph that really appeals to me. There are no gimmicks here at all, just good, sound photography.

Gordon has seen his subject; the bridge – which was, after all, the theme for the Challenge – and he has seen a colourful foreground. By getting down really low (low and dirty as Maria might say) he has pulled the two together beautifully.

The strong sidelight has given form and texture to both the flowers and the bridge structure.

I think the only mistake Gordon made was in choosing the wide format instead of the upright format.

Landscape format has included some very distracting elements which have diluted the impact of the whole image. The houses on the left hand side of the picture are particularly distracting and lend little to the narrative of the image.

By cropping to an upright format and framing carefully so that the trees create depth-inducing layers, the picture takes on a totally different level of impact and appeal.

There is a lot more about recognising and using these ‘layers’ in my DVD Light and Composition

Remember- this cropping should really be done with careful framing at the time you take your photographs, not afterwards.

So I suppose the lesson is – less is often more , but don’t overdo it.

Gordon's entry for the PhotoActive Photo Challenge before the crop

Gordon's entry for the PhotoActive Photo Challenge before the crop

Gordon's entry for the PhotoActive Photo Challenge AFTER the crop

Gordon's entry for the PhotoActive Photo Challenge AFTER the crop

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Cropping your photographs

These are two of the entries to the PhotoActive Forum Monthly Challenge that I really liked very much indeed. So why did I not choose them among my favourites?

The month’s theme was BRIDGES.

I liked the picture by andyp of the stone bridge arches so much I very nearly chose it anyway – despite its uncomfortable crop. This is what let it down in my eyes. It is a beautifully observed composition. The subtle colours are a delight, and the soft directional light is has a wonderful feeling of depth. I feel as though I might paddle a boat right under those arches.

But the picture is just cropped too tightly at the bottom of the frame. The bottom of the arches at either side are literally resting on the bottom of the picture. Now, while I am always explaining to my students the importance of cropping to increase the impact of a picture, over-cropping can detract from that impact just as easily. Such a shame in this case because the picture is superb.

The second picture – from Sudds – shows real promise. This shot has great atmosphere. It is telling a narrative story and it avoids the obvious. All this I like a great deal. But that crop just fails to bring out the best of the picture. I can certainly understand why Sudds chose a wide format. That’s fine, but firstly the crop must be straight (see level horizons) and it must not be too drastic.

The scene needs to breathe just a little. A perfect example is the lamp posts at the top of the frame. They are touching the edge of the picture. I think Sudds would have been better to leave them in completely.

For me this photograph conjures up the romance of border crossings, and thoughts of sleepy-eyed travel at dawn. All that from a simple picture of a few cars at a toll booth on a bridge.

Very well done both of you.

Remember – the theme for the April Photo Challenge is RUST – it is open to entries now and there are lots of opportunities for great pictures

Bridges by PhotoActive Forum member Andyp

Bridges by PhotoActive Forum member Andyp

Bridges by PhotoActive Forum member Suds

Bridges by PhotoActive Forum member Suds

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PhotoActive Quiz – Light and Composition

The response from my first photography quiz was really encouraging, so here’s another one.

Ten questions which all photograhers should be able to answer, although if you have watched my DVD Light and Composition, you will find it a doddle.

All these subjects are covered in depth on the DVD

You can download a certificate if you get more than 75% correct answers… bet you can hardly wait!

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March Photo Challenge Poll now open

The standard of the PhotoActive Forum Photo Challenge was tremendous. I had such a difficult job choosing my top three favourite photographs that in the end I chose SIX!

Now it’s over to you to chose your top favourites from these six in a PhotoActive Forum Poll.

The poll will be open until April 11 – so get yourself over there right now, see some great pictures of BRIDGES and  and cast your vote