While you might have already set up your security cameras, did you know that the night…
As you are reading this, I assume you got your first DSLR in hand. I congratulate you on this happy time. But let me remind you that getting your first DSLR you entered the vast realm of photographic knowledge and possibilities.
You are bound to feel overwhelmed. You might feel lost as it is hard to decide from where to begin. If this is your case then you’ve come to the right place and I am here to help you.
Have a Close look at the Camera Body
The first step of learning is the tool in your hand, your DSLR. When you had your first look at your DSLR camera body, you must have noticed that there are many buttons on this device. Seeing so many buttons may feel intimidating but once you get to know those, they are your great friends.
Know The Buttons
Knowing the buttons is a part of knowing your camera. This may sound tedious, as the first thing that may come to your mind is the thick manual that came with your camera.
But I am not here just to press the manual against your face. I aim to give you an introduction to your camera. And to make it easy for you using my years of experience in teaching Photography. In this write up I assume you have nearly zero prior about DSLRs and Photography.
Before coming to a DSLR, I assume you had been photographing using your phone. Let’s mark the differences between a phone camera and a DSLR for your better understanding.
Learn the Names and Full Names
Let’s start with the name, DSLR, Digital Single Lens Reflex. The first part, Digital implies that it uses a digital sensor to capture the image. The next 2 parts say, it uses a single lens to focus and to capture the image. And the last, Reflex part relates to the mirror with reflexive movement at the center of the camera body which enables us to see through the lens using Optical Viewfinder. Another thing you may have noticed that the lens is not fixed and can be changed with a button press and lens twist. This opens another plethora of possibilities.
The Optical viewfinder is the window above the LCD screen of your camera. We primarily use this to see and frame the photos before pressing the shutter which is quite new for new ones like you. There is another way of shooting photos using a DSLR, which is using the screen AKA LiveView. This view mode may seem familiar as it is much like how you shoot on your phone, What You See Is What You Get.
Switch between Modes
Along with the buttons what might have caught your attention is that dial on the top side of your camera. It is called the Mode Dial. As the name suggests it changes the camera mode. Quite the way you might have changed the modes on your phone camera by swiping or tapping. More on it later.
Grip, Flash and the Shutter Button
Now the button you must know to take a photo using your DSLR is the Shutter Button. It is located on the top of the left side of your camera. When you hold your camera using the grip your index finger will naturally land on it. Though it looks like one there are 2 buttons in it with 2 functions. The camera focuses when this button is half-pressed, & takes a photo when fully pressed. The flash button might also have caught your eyes & as you might have guessed it brings up the flash.
Another one or two dials you may find on your camera called electronic dials. These are to change a few parameters depending on the mode your camera is on. Let’s get back to the modes. Here I am referring to the Mode dial of Canon DSLRs.
Knowing the Modes in Detail
The first mode is the Auto Mode(Green). It operates quite like your phone in photo mode(With auto setting). The Camera has full control over the exposure and color of the photo(Full Auto), You are just there to click the photo with your desired view. Another easy one is the No Flash mode. It is the same as the Auto Mode except you tell your camera to fire no flash. Much Like shooting with a phone with the flash set to off.
There are some modes with self-explanatory icons on the dial like Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports, etc. These modes are preset with settings optimized for that type of shooting. So, in such situations, you can quickly change to that mode and leave the settings to the camera.
Now we will enter the zones of manual control. First comes the Program Mode, the one depicted with P on the Mode Dial. This one lets you control ISO settings(The lower the better, Higher settings induces noise), EV(Exposure Value), White Balance, metering mode (full/center/spot), flash on/off, and also which focus point to use. These are the basic controls and directly affect the look of a photo. The camera decides the shutter speed and Aperture which are some serious settings and requires a long time to master. Regardless of what many may say, mastery of P Mode is enough to shoot photos the way you like when you count the Program Shift, there remain very few demands.
Then comes the single priority modes like AV (Aperture Priority), TV (Time/Shutter Priority). As the names suggest these modes control Aperture and Time/Shutter respectively. But before using this you have to understand what these settings do. Aperture controls the depth of field aka from which distance to which is in focus. A lower number means less range of distance in focus and means more. And the Tv Mode sets for how long the shutter will remain open. In other words how long may the camera take to take the photo. It directly affects motion in the photo. Simply said, if you are photographing a fast-moving subject you better use a higher setting/shutter speed to get a clear shot of it. And you can use a relatively low setting or a slower shutter speed for a not moving or a slow-moving subject. And while using these modes the camera takes care of the other settings if you have not specified any. What other thing you can change you ask? All the settings that you had control over in the P Mode are at your disposal.
Then comes the M Mode, the Manual Mode. It means all the settings are in your hand & the camera will just take the photo. Here the Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, and all the other settings can be changed individually. Let me clarify that Full Manual Mode does not include manual focus, manual White Balance, etc these are your choices.
Now I’ll tell you an easy way to get the photos according to your desire in P Mode. I told you about the EV, there is a button on your camera with half white & half black with +/-. If pressing this button & rotating the E dial will tell your camera how much light you would like in your photos. And changing the white balance Will tell the camera what color temperature you wish. Combine these two & you are good to go.
Now, you have got more than enough acquaintance with your camera. Start with it, and keep up the practice. It would take you time to get a good control over all things, but certainly, more and more practice would lead you to gain perfection. You may become a great photographer someday, who knows ! Wish you a happy journey.