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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

A Stepping Stone to Understanding Your DSLR


The DSLR camera can be incredibly daunting for the first-time user. Mustering up the courage to turn the dial away from Auto mode and start exploring the full capabilities of the DSLR is an overwhelming experience. This guide will go through explaining the basic features of a DSLR so you can navigate confidently and start creating better photos.
Camera Modes

Usually found at the top of the camera body, a dial displaying the letters S/A/M amongst other symbols would be found. These letters stand for Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual respectfully. This would be found across all brands (the only exception being Canon, where Tv is in place of the S).

Aperture Priority Mode 

This allows the user to control the depth of field of the camera. Basically, it allows you to control how much of the picture is in focus. You know those really amazing shots where a single object is in sharp focus whilst the background is blurred? That was all the work of determining the Aperture. The smaller the number the less that is in focus.

Shutter Priority Mode

This allows the user to determine the amount of time the shutter remains open. This means you can either capture motion OR freeze motion. For example, slowing the shutter speed blurs the motion of water and increasing the shutter speed lets you freeze the drop of water.

Manual Mode 

The user is in charge of determining every setting on the camera. You would progress to this step once you are confident with all the settings on the camera.


ISO determines how sensitive the image sensor is to light. Hence, if you were in a darkened area you would want a higher ISO in order to capture more light. One disadvantage of raising the ISO speed is the amount of noise present in the photo. The higher the ISO speed, the more grains you see hence shooting in daylight with ISO set to 100 would create a better quality photo.

You'll find the ISO option either on a button on the back of your camera or within the MENU options.
White Balance 

White balance adjusts the settings on the camera to find the most correct lighting for the shooting situation. That is, sometimes when you take a photograph the resulting image would have a yellow tint or extra shades that you can't see to the naked eye. White balance options commonly include a cloudy day, shady situation, incandescent lighting and fluorescent lighting.

Similarly to finding the ISO button, the white balance button would either be a WB option or within the menu.

Knowing these settings and knowing how they work is an important first step towards creating great photographs. It's important to experiment and to try different methods to find your rhythm. Fiddle with the settings, observe how one affects the other and with continual practice you'll start seeing amazing photographs created by you.

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