Wondering how to use your brand new DSLR? Lesson One
How the Camera Works: A Basic Starter Tutorial
So, you bought yourself a DSLR and now you don't know how to use it? This seems to be happening a lot these days. And, since most of my friends are asking to barter wine for lessons, I figured I'd share some basic information to help you get started.
Let's start with the basics.
Yes, you have to learn the vocab to read this. If not, you're going to get lost really quickly. Plus, I'm a trained teacher. Consider yourself lucky that you dont have homework!
Now, these are the basics. We'll build on these, but this is what you need to understand this tutorial - we'll worry about the other terms as needed.
DSLR: Digital Single Lens Reflex. The camera that you're looking at in the diagrams below. Any guesses as to why it's called that? To be honest, you don't need to know that. For the over-achievers out there, though, I'll explain visually. Basically, it's exactly what's happening on the left. Just imagine that the "film" is now a digital file, since we're talking about DSLRs, not SLRs.
Shutter: Imagine a curtain that opens to allow the light (which is your image) to pass through and imprint on your film (which is actually a digital file).
Shutter Speed: Contrary to what it sounds like, shutter speed does not mean "the speed of your shutter." It is how LONG your shutter stays open. That means that the longer your shutter is open, the more light that passes through and visa versa.
Aperture/f-stop: Your aperture is part of your lens also affects the amount of light coming into your camera. Check out the diagram below. As you can see, the lowest f-stop is the widest, which means that the most amount of light is allowed into the lens; the highest number (in this case f/22), allows the least amount of light into the camera. The aperture also controls depth of field.
Depth of Field (DOF): Depth of field is controlled by your aperture.
Great DOF: The entire image (foreground, middle ground, background, and subject) is in focus. Often used for landscapes. Your f-stop will be a HIGH number (f/16-22), which means the LEAST amount of light will be entering the camera.
Notice how the entire background is in the focus here. While in this case, this image is a portrait, the background is of equal importance because it tells part of the story.
Shallow DOF: One portion of the image (foreground, middle ground, OR background) is in focus, while the other portion is blurry. Often used for portraits. Your f-stop will be a LOW number (f/1.4-5.6), which means the MOST amount of light will be entering the camera.
Below, you'll notice that the heads of those closest to the camera are out of focus. This allows the focus to be on the subject.
ISO/ASA/Film Speed: Yes, digital cameras still have "film speed" and, yes, it's super important to know how to use it. Basically, your ISO (which is what it's most commonly called) affects your lighting needs.
Exposure: Exposure is the combination of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed to determine the amount of light entering the camera.
Main Command Wheel: Allows you to select different commands; also used to control aperture and shutter speed.
White Balance: I'm not going to go into this during this "class" because it's a whole big issue. Just know you're going to see it and might not know what it is and that's ok for right now. You'll learn it.
There are a variety of camera modes on today's DSLR. Some are fully automatic, some are semi-automatic, and some are fully manual. Knowing how to use them is the difference in a high five from your buddy and wanting to toss the thing across the room.
We'll get into these later this week and you'll be shooting like a pro in no time! Stay tuned...
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