This little camera's got a lot. Here's how to get the most from it.
6. No Comment
The Image Comment feature seems like a good idea until you try to use it. Entering text through the camera's menu system can be challenging, even for those photographers who are adept at two-thumb text messaging.
A better bet is Nikon Capture software ($100, street), which includes Capture Camera Control. Link your D50 to your computer with the camera's USB cable, and change camera settings, including Image Comments, right from your keyboard. From the utility's Camera menu, choose Edit Image Comment and type in up to 36 characters.
7. ISO Gone Wild
Don't you just hate it when your camera changes your carefully chosen basic settings? Then beware the D50's ISO Auto setting, which automatically boosts the ISO for optimal exposure when your current ISO is too low. The problem: When you think you're shooting at ISO 400, you may not want a grainier ISO 1600 shot. And the ISO Auto alert in the viewfinder and top panel LCD is easy to miss.
You can disable this feature with the Custom Settings option CSM 10. Better, you can spell out under what conditions you find the automatic ISO adjustment acceptable: An additional option in CSM 10 lets you specify the minimum shutter speed before ISO increases.
8. Don't Feel the Noise
Despite the D50's above-average performance at high ISOs, any digital camera will pick up random noise at ISO 800 or above. Noise is even worse with exposures longer than 1 sec, but you can minimize it with the D50's Long Exposure Noise Reduction feature. Activate it from the Shooting Menu by choosing Long Exp NR and switching it ON.
The D50 uses a process called Dark Frame Subtraction. Basically, the camera takes a second, blank frame, and compares it with your original picture; grainy speckles common to both are deemed noise and removed. The viewfinder remains blank during this process, and a blinking message reading "Job nr" appears in the viewfinder and the top panel LCD. Noise reduction can cause a slight loss of detail, and 30-second exposures can stretch to 60-second pauses while the D50 does its stuff.
9. Folder Fodder
By default, the D50 will store its images on your memory card in a folder named 100NCD50. Each folder holds 999 shots, and when one is filled, the D50 will create a new default folder, numbered one higher (e.g., 101NCD50.)
But what if you use the same memory card in several D50s, or you want a different folder for each day of your vacation? You can create folders, rename existing ones, and remove old ones, plus select the folder for new photos. Switching among folders is fast and easy, although creating or renaming them can be a pain.
To create a new one, choose Folders from the Setup menu and scroll down to the New option. The D50's painful text entry screen will appear, and you can usually enter the name of the new folder in a minute or two. Use the same screen to rename a folder. Then, to switch among folders, access the Folders screen again, choose Select Folder, and scroll down to the folder you want to use for subsequent images.
Tip: You can choose to play back a specific folder (or choose All) in the Playback menu under Playback Fldr.
10. Downsize This
For e-mailing or posting shots on the web, the Small Pictures function is a handy way to create byte-saving miniatures. Shrinking a batch of images is a simple, two-step process. Your original images are untouched.
First, access the Select Pictures feature of the Print Set option from the Playback menu. Use the thumbnail images, the multiselector cursor control, and the Enter button to mark the photos you want to shrink. Return to the Playback menu and choose Small Picture. Select Choose Size, and opt for 640x480-, 320x240-,or 160x120-pixel copies. Then transfer the small images to your computer for e-mail or web use.
The D50 highlights shrunken pictures with a gray border during picture review, so you won't mistake them for full-size originals.