beginner guide dslr

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A Beginner's Guideto

DSLR Photography

H. Lovelyn


So you've finally gotten the DSLR camera you've been hoping for and you feel like a whole new world of photography has opened up for you. I remember when I finally moved up from my compact point and shoot to a DSLR. It was exciting and daunting all at the same time. I bought my camera used from a friend. Even though I'd used an SLR when shooting with film, I was still a bit intimidated by my DSLR. There were so many more knobs and buttons. I wasn't sure what they all did. Before I get into the nitty gritty about using a DSLR camera, my first advice I have for you is to read your manual. I know it's boring as heck and you really don't want to, but to truly know your camera and what it can do you'll need to read the manual. I tried to learn my camera without reading the manual at first and let me tell you, that was a bad idea. When I finally did get around to looking through the manualmonths laterI found out that my camera could do a bunch of things that I had no idea about. If for some reason you don't have your camera manual, you can find the manuals for most cameras online. I'll say it one more and I won't mention it again.



Before you get started you need to understand the language of digital photography. Getting familiar with these words will go a long way when you're learning the ropes from books, websites, and other photographers. Aperture: The opening inside the lens that controls the amount of light that gets into the camera. This is expressed in f-stops. The lower the f-stop the larger the aperture. The higher the f-stop the smaller the aperture. Aperture settings can be used to control the depth of field in your shot. A small aperture (large f-stop number) will give a greater depth of field, meaning that more objects in your picture will be in focus. While a large aperture (small f-stop number) will create a shallow depth of field. This will cause the background of your shot to be out of focus while the subject is in focus. Histogram: A great tool you can use to monitor the exposure on a picture. It appears as a graph

that shows you the light and dark areas in a picture so you can get a truer idea of exposure of the picture than you can get by looking at the photo preview on your camera. ISO: The camera's image sensor's sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO number the more the sensitive the sensor to light. JPEG: A method used by digital cameras to store images. It stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. This is the group that came up with the technique. JPEG is a method for compressing the image and is commonly used for images on the web or that are sent through email. The compression used does distract from some of the images quality. RAW: A method used by digital cameras to store original files. These files are not compressed or processed in any way. Many photographers like taking pictures using these larger files because they get a truer image that they can manipulate later. LCD: (Liquid Crystal Display) It's the screen on the back of your camera that you can see the images on. Megapixel: Equal to one million pixels. It help determine the quality of the picture your camera takes. Most people think the more megapixels the better the image quality. This isn't always true though because image quality is also determined by the size of the sensor. If a camera can take pictures with a lot of megapixels, but the sensor is too small to handle them, you won't get good image quality. Memory Card: This term is used to refer to a device used to store information. They are used in digital cameras to store photo files. Noise: A degradation of the image. This can result naturally from the build-up of electric signals or can occur from having a very fast shutter speed. Usually the higher the ISO you use to take a picture the more noise will also be seen in the picture. Noise gives the image a grainy look. Pixel: The smallest part of the picture. When you look at a computer screen the image is made up of many different dots all put together. Those individual dots are pixels. White Balance: A setting in your camera used to make up for the different colored casts certain types of light can give to an image. Okay, you've got that now right. If you don't quite understand some of these terms, don't worry. I will explain them in more detail later on in the book.

Automatic Camera Setting

When you're not familiar with your camera using automatic settings can really save you. When I first got my DSLR I didn't know how to work it at all and found myself struggling. At the time I just used the automatic settings because I needed to get more comfortable with the camera. Automatic mode allows you to take good pictures while you're still reading the manual and learning the ins and outs of your camera's settings. There are plenty of automatic settings on most cameras for you to experiment with. There are usually settings for sports/action, landscape, portrait, evening, and close-ups. Portrait - Use this setting when photographing people for perfect skin tones Action - Use this setting to stop action without blurriness Landscape - Use this setting pictures of scenery Close-up - Use setting to make small objects fill the frame

Other modes on your camera will give you partial control of the setting. These modes are great when you are ready to control some aspects of the picture, but still let your camera take care of the rest to make sure the picture is still good. For example aperture priority mode lets you control the size of the aperture you're shooting in.

You can set the f-stop and the camera will adjust the other settings for the picture. Another example is shutter priority mode. This allows you to control the speed the shutter opens and the camera controls the rest. I'll explain more about aperture and shutter speed later on. Once you know your camera pretty well you'll be ready to start using manual settings but there may be times when you want to set your camera to automatic even then. Many photographers prefer using the partially manual priority modes to using their camera set at fully manual. These modes are fast and easy to use. You'll find that some situations will require you to use the fully manual mode though to get the results you're looking for.

Understanding Autofocus

You probably use the autofocus (AF) mode all the time, but did you know that your camera has multiple focus modes that perform different functions? There are three focal modes on most DSLR cameras: manual focus, one shot, and continuous. Knowing which type of focus to use will help you get pictures that are sharp and clear. We'll discuss manual focus some other time. I want to concentrate on the two autofocus (AF) modes, but first let's look at how AF works.

How Does It Work?Your digital camera's AF mode is controlled by an array of senors that measure contrast to figure out if the image is in focus. The areas where there is the most contrast are considered the areas with the sharpest focus. While the sensors are measuring contrast they are also measuring distance to help the camera focus. These determinations are all made in fractions of a second. Once the camera makes these decisions tiny motors in the lens adjust to put the subject in focus. Sometimes the camera has difficulty determining what to focus on. A cluster of objects in the shot, motion, or lack of contrast in the photo will cause your camera to start to continuously hunt for a focal point. That's why it's good that there are different focal options on your camera. Let's look at the AF modes you can use.

One-ShotOne-shot or single-shot mode locks your camera in focus on a single object in view. The sensors won't allow the camera to take a picture until the focus is found. This is the only AF option that most compact cameras have. It is usually one of several options on a DSLR camera. When you use this mode you should put your subject in the middle of your viewfinder and allow the camera to focus on it. Once that is done push the shutter button halfway down to lock in the focus. Now you can recompose your picture to have your subject anywhere you want in the frame. This autofocus mode is great for taking pictures of still objects.

ContinuousContinuous mode allows your camera to refocus continuously while you take pictures. The camera does this by trying to predict the movement of the object and focusing according to that prediction. This AF mode is most useful when taking pictures of moving subjects because if you use the oneshot mode for these subjects by the time you take the picture the subject will have moved and will be out of focus.

Third Mode/AutofocusSome cameras actually have a third autofocus mode. This mode allows the camera to choose whether to use one-shot or continuous AF modes. As with other auto-modes on your camera, if you use this mode you run the risk of your camera making the wrong decision and ending up with a badly focused picture. Once you feel more comfortable with your camera. Start using the manual focus mode too. When you use manual you must focus the camera by adjust he ring on the lens.

What is ISO?

What is ISO and why should you care? If you want to improve your photography, understanding basic digital photography terms like ISO is vital. In film photography, ISO refers to film speed. Film comes in speeds like 100, 200, 400, and 1600. Each film speed is used in different lighting situations. The lowest nu