So, you got the camera you have been wanting? Now what? If you were like me when I got my first DSLR I thought. “Wow, how will I ever figure out how to operate this thing?” You open your box and grab the instruction manual. Someone should have taken a picture of you because you have the “Deer in the headlights look”.
First I think we need to go over a few words to get you familiar with “camera talk”.
Shutter refers to the mechanical or electronic control that allows light to hit the sensor, and therefore is responsible for the duration of the exposure. A fast shutter speed/higher number stops action and a slow shutter speed/lower number shows motion; slow shutter speeds will show camera shake as well. (I never hand hold my camera below 1/60 of a second)
Aperture refers to the opening through which the light travels before it hits the sensor. A wide aperture/lower number(f2.8 or such) allows more light to enter and creates a blurrier background, while a narrow aperture/higher number lets in less light and produces a sharper background. (F11 or such)
Exposure compensation AKA + or – : Lets you increase or decrease the overall brightness of an image. The camera does this by automatically changing the shutter speed and aperture values.
Exposure value is the absolute brightness of the image.
ISO sensitivity, sometimes just called “ISO”, is a measure of how much light a sensor needs to produce a given exposure. As ISO sensitivity rises less light is needed to produce a given exposure. When you raise your ISO you may notice increased grain in your images know as noise. (You can buy software to help with this but it does not rid the image completely) Higher ISO does allow you to use faster shutter speed for a given amount of light.
For the longest time I shot in Auto. I hope this lesson will get you “Out of Auto” and “Into other modes.” Let’s go over the different modes. The names of these may differ with camera manufactures.
Auto mode– Chooses everything for you. It will even tell the camera to use the pop up flash.
Program mode/P– Your Shutter and Aperture will be set by your camera. This mode will let you change your ISO plus your flash will NOT pop up automatically. This mode gives you a tad bit of control.
Shutter Priority mode (depending on your camera) S or TV– This mode will allow you to change your Shutter, ISO, and White Balance (See Article on White balance). The camera will determine the aperture. You want to use this mode when shooting moving objects. Intended to be used when motion needs to be frozen or intentionally blurred.
Aperture Priority mode/ A or AV– This mode allows you to change your Aperture, ISO, and white balance. The camera will set the shutter speed. Use this mode when shooting portraits. This mode will allow you to vary your depth of field. (Create beautiful bokehs)
Manual mode/M– Don’t be scared to try this. This mode will give you full control over your camera.
One feature I can not live without is the Spot Focus! (You will find this in your menu) This feature allows for situations where you want to be very precise in where you focus upon such as a certain petal on a flower or a person’s eye. You can set this feature when shooting in Program (P), Shutter Priority (Tv), Aperture Priority (Av) or Manual (M) modes.
Keep your camera manual in your bag for quick reference – it’s always helpful, especially when you are learning all about your new camera.