For a person making the switch from using a regular point and shoot camera to a DSLR camera, the transition can be an overwhelming and intimidating experience. This leads to some users to just give up and be content using the auto function of the DSLR, not realizing the full potential these cameras bring if these users knew what DSLRs can do.
That is why we have come up with this handy guide to help users like you make the most of your DSLR and help you discover what you can do with it in ways you never thought about with a camera and hone your skills as a photographer in the process.
Learning and Setting Apertures and Shutter Speeds
One of the most important concepts in DSLR photography, which photographers like Denise Winters would agree, is learning the concept of apertures and shutter speeds. First, let’s learn what they are and each of them can do.
Aperture refers to the size of the opening in the camera lens which determines how much light can pass through. For instance, an aperture of f/2.8 means it is a large aperture that entails much light can pass through it, while an f/16 aperture is smaller in size, with little light can pass through it.
Aperture size indicates how much depth of field an image will have. This means that a small aperture allows the image to show objects located at a great distance to be captured clearly and in focus as in landscape photos. A large aperture on the other hand puts distant objects out of focus while the object located closest to the camera is captured more vividly and in greater detail, as is employed in close up shots.
Shutter speed on the other hand refers to the length of time the shutter stays open to capture a photo. This is something to take in consideration especially if your subject is a fast moving object. For instance, a faster shutter speed value of 1/250 sec allows you to vividly capture a running dog without any blur caused by the movement. Conversely, a slow shutter speed value of 1/15 sec captured blurred movements of the water which can create some artistic shots as well.
Learning about ISO
ISO measures how sensitive to light your camera’s sensor is, especially in relation to how much light is available in the area where you will be taking photos. For instance, outdoor shoots on a sunny day require less sensitivity to light of the sensor, thus needing only low ISO settings. However, low light conditions require greater sensitivity to light. Thus high ISO settings are preferred in this case.
You can either set the ISO settings to auto or you can select which ISO level to use. But as a beginner, it is recommended you leave the ISO settings at auto or choose the settings at 400-800 for outdoors and 1600 and above for indoors. Take note though that higher ISO settings may cause graininess on the photo.
Controlling Metering Settings (If Needed)
Metering refers to the calculation your camera makes for the average exposure, making sure that the photo is properly exposed which means it’s neither too dark nor too bright. Under normal lighting situations, the camera does the work so nothing else is needed to be done on your end, which also makes this control an overlooked one. However, in low light areas, the camera may not be able to do the metering properly. That is why the DSLR has an “exposure composition” control which is the +/- button near the camera shutter, allowing you to increase or decrease the lighting exposure that would be applied on to the image.
Changing the White Balance Settings
White balance refers to how the colors appear in your photos, not just the white. Normally, the camera sets the white balance to auto and while it does the job in some cases, in other situations, it causes unrealistic color tones to appear in your photo. Thus, it is important to adjust your DSLR’s white balance settings beforehand for better results. Fortunately, the white balance settings provide different presets available to suit the lighting condition in the area where you will shoot, ranging from daylight to shade, to fluorescent (for areas mainly lighted by fluorescent lights) and flash, (for instances you will use flash, especially in minimal light) among other settings.
Lastly, always make it a point to read your DSLR’s manual to get you more acquainted with your camera and the controls it offers. Many DSLRs today offer more advanced features than before; discover what features they offer that would help you shoot better photographs.
As you learn more about your DSLR, try to experiment with different settings and setting combinations to get a better grasp of how each element works in achieving overall quality of your photos.