MASTER YOUR DSLR

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  • Masterin minutes

    Get to grips with white-balance Use exposure modes with confidence Understand file formats Pick the right metering mode Learn ISO and more!

    IN ASSOCIATION WITH

    your DSLR

    PM MARCH SUPP 01:Layout 1 22/1/09 14:37 Page 1

  • hotography is the greatest hobby on earth. But it can also beone of the most confusing. Not only is the process of picture-taking often suffused with technical jargon, but getting togrips with the very equipment you use to take those shots

    can, for many, be like learning a foreign language. Its for this veryreason that we came up with MasterYour DSLR in Minutes, the firstin a series of free supplements with PhotographyMonthly magazine.As its name suggests, this supplement is all about

    getting to grips with your DSLR. Mastering yourequipment is a crucial step towards taking greatpictures and if you know what feature or functionto set and, most importantly, when to set it, youllnever be caught out.If this supplement has prompted you to pick up

    Photography Monthly for the first time: welcome,we hope you find our efforts informative andentertaining. If youre a regular PM reader:welcome back, I hope youll notice thatweve made some major changes to themagazine, with the emphasis on makingit more practical and inspirational.Id love to hear your comments about

    this supplement, and the new-lookmagazine, so why not email me onroger.payne@archant.co.uk.In the meantime, enjoy this

    supplement, enjoy your photographyand Ill see you next month, when oursecond free supplement will teach youhow to take great shots with yourrecently-mastered DSLR.

    Roger Payne, Editor

    WelcomeP

    Photography Monthly,The Mill, Bearwalden BusinessPark, Wendens Ambo, SaffronWalden, Essex CB11 4GBPhone: 01799 544246 editorial01799 544219 advertising

    EMAIL:pm@photographymonthly.co.uk

    WRITTEN & ILLUSTRATED BYRoger Payne and Julian LassSUBBING Liz WalkerART EDITOR Kevin Reed

    AD DIRECTOR Sam Scott-Smith

    Photography Monthly is published on thesecond Thursday of every month by ArchantSpecialist, The Mill, Bearwalden Business Park,Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4GB. No part ofthis magazine can be used without prior writtenpermission of Archant Specialist. ISSN 1473-4966. Photography Monthly is a Registered TradeMark of Archant Specialist Ltd. Editorial contentdoes not necessarily reflect the views of thepublisher. The publisher accepts noresponsibility for errors contained within thepublication. All advertisements that arepublished in the pages of Photography Monthlymagazine, the creative content of which, in wholeor part, has been written, designed or producedby employees of Archant, remains the copyrightof Archant and may not be reproduced withoutthe written consent of Archant.

    PHOTOGRAPHY MONTHLY 3

    Get the best out of your new DSLR and zoom lens withthis special supplement from Photography Monthly

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  • SET UPYOUR DSLR6

    Heres everything you needto know to get your DSLRready for shooting.

    PICK THE RIGHTFILE FORMAT20

    Possibly one of the biggest head-scratchers for novice DSLR users iswhether to shoot Raw, JPEG or both?We explain the advantages anddisadvantages of each file format, andadvise which is the best option to use.

    ALL YOU NEED TOKNOW ABOUT ISO23

    Sensitivity (ISO) ranges are gettingmore extensive, giving DSLR-usersincreasing versatility. But there arestill factors to consider as you flickthrough the ISO settings. Theyreexplained in detail here.

    WHITE-BALANCEDEMYSTIFIED26

    White-balance affects every pictureyou take with a DSLR. Mostphotographers simply leave it set toAuto, but your camera does offerother options. In this section, wediscuss those options and, crucially,when you should use them.

    4 PHOTOGRAPHY MONTHLY

    CHOOSE THE RIGHTEXPOSURE MODE10

    Before you take any pictures, youll need tochoose an exposure mode. Here wellexplain the various options youll find onyour DSLR, and when to use them.

    Contents

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  • PHOTOGRAPHY MONTHLY 5

    WHICH LENSDO YOU NEED?8

    If youve got a DSLR, youllneed a lens to go with it.All the main focal lengths arecovered in this section.

    GET PERFECTEXPOSURES14

    More sophisticated than everbefore, DSLR metering modeshelp you get cracking exposures.Various metering patterns areavailable on modern DSLRs:find out more about them here.

    FOCUS ONFOCUSING MODES18

    Thanks to autofocus, its very easy toleave your DSLR to its own focusingdevices. But, taking control over thefocus mode reaps picture benefits, asyoull find out in this section.

    GET THE MOST FROMBUILT-IN FLASH28

    Most DSLRs feature a built-in flash thattypically offers a variety of different picture-taking options. In some modes, the flash willpop up automatically, on other occasionsyoull have to switch it on yourself. Find outwhat to use, when.

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  • 6 PHOTOGRAPHY MONTHLY

    If you want to keep things simple, set the ISOto Auto. In this mode your DSLR will vary thesensitivity according to the lightingconditions. If youre just shooting one type ofimage, set the ISO manually. See page 23 formore details on which ISO to use.

    Shooting landscapes and portraits?Choose single frame advance. Shootingsport and action? Choose continuousand the camera will continue takingpictures as long as you keep your fingeron the shutter release.

    DSLRs typically offer a range of picturestyles to use. Your camera will feature anumber of preset styles, plus you candefine your own. Straight out of the box,your DSLR is likely to be set to astandard picture style, but you canchange it for instance to make coloursmore vivid, or even black & white. Trytaking pictures with each style to seewhich suits your photography best.

    When you buy a new DSLR, its onlynatural that youll want to get out andstart taking pictures, but take a fewminutes to run through some basic

    checks before you begin and youllenjoy your picture-taking even more.So, in no particular order, make sureyou do the following:

    Setting upyour DSLRSELECT AN ISO SETTING

    SET THE PICTURE STYLE

    CHOOSE A DRIVE MODE

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  • PHOTOGRAPHY MONTHLY 7

    This may sound obvious, but most DSLRs are normally soldwith some power already in the rechargeable battery.Tempting as it may be to stick it in the camera and startshooting, wed advise you to follow the manufacturerscharging instructions most cells typically take two hoursto fully charge as this will prolong the useful life of thebattery. Whenever possible, let the battery fully dischargebefore recharging. Again, this improves battery longevity.

    CHARGE THE BATTERY

    Most DSLRs offer an eyesightadjustment feature on the viewfindereyepiece and, although its mostuseful to photographers who wearglasses, everyone needs to set it upto match their eyesight. Take the lensoff the camera, look through theviewfinder and point the camera at asingle tone a painted wall at homeis ideal. With your eye up to thefinder, turn the eyesight correctionwheel, paying close attention to themarkings in the viewfinder. As youturn it, they should sharpen or blur.Once theyre pin sharp, theviewfinder is set for your eyesight.

    Your DSLR needs a memory card to store images. Wedadvise you buy a 2GB card as the minimum, or go forgreater capacity if finances allow. Memory cards havedifferent write speeds this is the speed at which theinformation is transferred from the sensor to the card.The higher the write speed, the quicker you can takepictures. For most, a 133x card is ample. UDMA cards offera 300x write speed, but youll only see the benefit fromthis if your DSLR is UDMA-compliant.

    You might be side-tracked by your new DSLR, but itsworth uploading your new camera software before you goout and take pictures. Why? If there are any uploadingproblems, its better to know before youve got a card-fullof shots you want to view. Plus, software will often havean update that needs downloading, which will take timedepending on yourinternet connectionspeed. You canleave the updateto download whileyou get to knowyour camera.

    UPLOAD YOUR SOFTWARE

    STORE YOUR IMAGES

    FINE-TUNE THE VIEWFINDER

    The beauty of DSLRs is that you can set them up exactlyas you want. Most cameras feature custom functions,which enable you to change everything from exposureincrements to the functionality of a button or dial. In allhonesty, custom functions are designed more for theadvanced camera user, but theres no harm in seeing whatcontrol you have and revisit them when you get moreDSLR-proficient.

    TRY THE CUSTOM FUNCTIONS

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  • 8 PHOTOGRAPHY MONTHLY

    Theres a bewildering range of lensesavailable, not only from your DSLRmanufacturer, but also fromindependent companies. Nowadays,zoom lenses are the favoured optionamong DSLR users because theyreversatile and well-priced; chances areyoull have a standard zoom (typicallycovering 18-55mm) supplied with yourcamera. These kit lenses are suitablefor a range of subjects and offer decent,if not exceptional, image quality.Unless youre lucky enough to own a

    full-frame DSLR, youll need to bear inmind your cameras magnificationfactor whenever you choose a lens. Thiswill be quoted in your camerasinstruction manual; for instance, a

    Canon EOS 1000D has a magnificationfactor of 1.6x. Essentially, any camerawith a sensor thats smaller than a35mm frame of film will have amagnification or crop factor, due to thesmaller dimensions of the sensor.Multiplying the focal length of any

    lens by the cameras magnificationfac