Please help me not hate my F31fd

Started May 23, 2008 | Discussions thread
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CliffP
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Please help me not hate my F31fd
May 23, 2008

Let me start by saying this post is in no way meant to start a flamewar, nor is it meant to shoot down the F31fd. The last time I posted a negative comment here about this camera, I got flamed and was accused of trolling - big time.

Also, please try not to answer with "use the search". I honestly tried but simply don't know what to search for.

Anyway, I understand this camera is probably one of the best, if not the best in its class. Still I hate the thing big time because it has ruined too many photo opportunities. Please allow me to elaborate.

One of the reasons I bought this camera was I wanted something to replace my old trusty Nikon Coolpix 995. The Coolpix is a great camera and the pictures it takes are truly of amazing quality - no graininess whatsoever, vibrant colors and just very, very good. But by today's standards its bulky and not something you carry around all the time. Also, it's less than stellar (read: awful) in low-light conditions.

And since I became a first-time father a few years ago, I wanted a camera I can carry around all the time. My daughter is now 4 years old and she does the darnest things, but that means I don't have time to play with a camera's setting before taking a picture. I just want to point-and-shoot, something my Coolpix was great at.

I did a lot of research and everywhere I read the F30 and later the F31fd got raving reviews and was hailed for its low-light capabilities. So I bought one.

Now, almost 3000 photo's later, I truly hate the thing because it has ruined more "Kodak moments" than I care for. I know this is mostly my own fault. I set the camera to Auto most of the time and expect it to take great pictures just like the Coolpix did. But the camera's preference for high ISO modes (ISO 1600 in broad daylight is more rule than exception for this camera) is one thing that ruined a lot of pictures for me. One of the tips I did pick up from the last time I posted here, was to set it to "ISO 400" mode, where it wouldn't go higher than ISO 400. That helped somewhat , but still it sometimes picks ISO values that, in my eyes, are still too high. I don't understand why the camera picks ISO 200 at a cloudless day in the summer at around 2pm on the water. I mean, it just doesn't get any brighter than that. What does it take for this camera to take pictures at ISO 100 or lower?

And I don't think it's that good at all in low-light conditions. Two days ago, I shot about a hundred pictures on an attic which was "dark-ish". It was a small attic with only a few windows. Darker than an average room, but lighter than, say for instance, a museum. Again, I had set the thing to Auto and most pictures were underexposed. And the weird thing was that it looked like the camera was actually varying the intensity of the flash (I'm not sure if the camera can even do that). Sometimes the flash was very dim, other times it was very bright. This was on a freshly charged battery. So most pictures were underexposed, some were just right (but very grainy) and some were actually overexposed due to the flash.

I also think the contrast is poor, it's nothing compared to the pictures I take with the Coolpix.

But the thing that annoys me the most and has ruined the most pictures is its inability to focus properly. Seriously, my camera has tremendous difficulty focusing. When I take pictures, I always depress the button halfway and wait until it gives me focus confirmation before I press the button all the way down. And still, about 1/4 of the pictures it takes are out of focus. And it doesn't matter if I'm trying to take a picture of something 5 feet away or 50 feet away. Again, this is in Auto mode mostly.

Now I understand that everything else - the high ISO preference, the lack of contrast and the underexposure is probably because I simply don't know how to use this camera. Really, I can't stress that enough that I'm not (really) blaming the camera for that. But the inability to focus? I truly have no idea how I can improve that by any setting. Or can I?

I have read the manual a few times already but I guess it's my lack of knowledge on the subject that make me not understand half of what's in there.

And since I realize this is probably the best compact camera, it wouldn't make much sense of getting another camera. This, as they say, is as good as it gets.

So what are your thoughts? Should I get another camera that's closer to my level of expertise (meaning a much simpler camera)? Or do you have any easy tips to improve my pictures? Things to try?

Or is my camera perhaps broken and is there an easy way to check this?

Please, like I said, help me not hate my F31fd...

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