New to Photography (Sony Nex-5NK), tips, tricks, and recommendations requested


Flashlight Enthusiast
Jul 10, 2010
El Paso
I was recently gifted a lightly used Sony Nex-5NK camera from a family member. It is a few years old (give or take another few years to that) so can be considered a bit outdated I believe, if flashlight and computer technology is any indication. This is a big step up for me from any standard point and shoot camera that I have owned though, and have been pleasantly surprised at the picture quality in my limited use with it.

That said, I am very new to cameras, their setups and settings. So far I have used the auto macro setting on it, but found today that I may not be able to get the results that I would prefer depending on the lighting situation with this setting. Short story long (strike that, reverse it), I attempted some in-door photos set by the window mid afternoon so to use natural lighting with standard room lighting (double bulb, 60w). Detail within the photos was much better than my previous cameras, but lighting came out a bit dark. So I come here to ask for tips, tricks and recommendations to the following:

Lighting: Understanding when and how to properly set and adjust ISO, speed and aperature.
Lightboxes: What to look for in either purchasing or making an affordable lightbox (budget would be under $100).
Lenses: I purchased a set of 4 Vivitar Close-Up Macro Lenses for ~$20. They're decent but I imagine there is a better lens out there. Sony has a 30mm f/3.5 macro lens that is just under $300. There was another option I came across, the Oshiro 60mm f/2.8 2:1 macro lens at just under $200, however it now looks to be out of stock on the websites I had found it at.
Backgrounds/Displays: I've seen some various backgrounds (acrylic and other) listed on websites. One thing I do not know how to search properly for is for other types of tabletop displays, possibly outside of a lightbox, such as mats or other materials/designs.

Money is a bit tight right now so I would likely not be purchasing anything further at this time. But I would like to start learning some more if I can for now. :)


Aug 26, 2015
Whistler, BC
Hi moshow9,

I have an alpha 6000 and it's a great camera. I'm can't help with everything but for lenses it's well worth reading around on basic photography equipment and styles to help with lens choices. When you know exactly what you want to do, it'll narrow your options down considerably. Time consuming but well worth it.

As for lighting, google e'xposure triangle' and do some quick reading. Get a hold of the super basic stuff then try it all out. Best way to learn is to do and it's good fun.

I look forward to seeing your pictures :)


Flashlight Enthusiast
Jan 25, 2014
Blue Ridge Mountains, VA
IMO, before you go off spending any money on light boxes, tables or back grounds, check out the local colleges and see if they offer a photography 101 class.

I'd purchase a high quality hand held digital photographic light meter that's a few models removed from their top models. Sekonic, Gossen, and Minolta come to mind. All of the meters named measure both direct as well as reflected light.

The Sony camera you have being a mirror less camera can make it challenging viewing the screen accurately verses what the human eye sees. It's a good camera. I would however not purchase a non Sony lens unless from Zeiss. The others are a crap shoot.


Nov 17, 2008
What do you want to photograph? Small products on displays/stands etc?

I think that the only thing you need to buy now is a tripod. It allows you to use longer shutter speeds (free choice of aperture, no need to set the ISO up) and use your hand(s) to other things than holding the camera steady. Other things like directing the light to the object from desired directions (using e.g. white cardboard/paper as reflector, tabletop lights or flashlights). You can use anything you want and have as a background: walls, cardboard, blankets, T-shirts (iron them well unless you want to use wrinkles as an effect), big furniture etc.

Also, learn to use aperture priority and(/or) manual mode and take photos in raw format (I assume that you got the bundled software, too?). With raw, you don't need to worry much about white balance (color temperature of the light), you can always fix it afterwards. Please note that digital cameras are quite sensitive to color temperature and if you mix different lighting (sun, incan, fluorescent tubes, different kinds of leds), colors in some parts of the photo can easily be biased and it is very hard to correct. It can - of course - be used as an effect, too...

Once you learn, you get a better picture of what you need. Cheap close-up lenses are not a very good solution. If your hobby goes on, I am sure you want to buy something better..

For photographing steady objects on tripod: Set the ISO low (100-200(400)) and use the aperture to control the depth of field (try different settings to see how it works). The shutter speed is set to what ever is needed to get the correct exposure.

Regarding the lightboxes, I bought a 80cm*80cm*80cm foldable lighting box with some backgrounds from ebay and paid some $30+. Ï haven't really used it so I can't comment how good it is, this is just an example that they don't need to be very expensive if you want to explore.


Dec 4, 2007
California Republic
I strongly recommend Tony Northrup's Stunning Digital Photography, specifically the $10 Kindle/online edition, which is 14+ hours of video; it's everything you'd learn in the college course but explained by the friendly next door neighbor in simple and straightforward examples. No technical/academic background needed or assumed, you can share it with a high schooler without issue. Tony and his wife also have a Youtube channel that is overflowing with videos, plus they do a weekly live show where people send in their pictures and portfolios. and they critique and edit them - all these episodes are archived there on the channel as well. The Youtube content is of course all free, do check it out..


Flashlight Enthusiast
Feb 18, 2008
I also wish to reiterate something mentioned above: Don't rush out and spend a bunch of money on gear. Take what you have already and shoot A LOT. I assume you already have a number of flashlights (understatement?) and flashlights are great to use for lighting experiments and photos. No need to spend money on specialized photography lighting at this point.

Also go read A LOT. I enjoy this website:

Far as you indoor shots go, one of my early lessons was realizing that often indoor lighting is dimmer than you think. You can really see the difference if you compare the photo info (ISO, shutter speed, aperture) of a photo taken with typical indoor home lighting vs a photo outside in daylight.

Your camera may be slightly dated but it's PLENTY for where you are right now. Another thing I've learned is that the image quality gains from one year to the next is more incremental than you might think. This biggest difference has been ISO range but yours has plenty.

Anyway, go read and shoot and also post your shots here so people can offer advice if there's something not coming out right. From what I've seen in the photo threads there are some REALLY talented people here!

PS: here is an interactive tutorial of sorts from Canon
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