This is my first DSLR camera for beginners post. It’s exciting and fun to have a new camera and I want to explore and to share my journey with more and less experienced photographers.
I have been wondering how to start using my own DSLR. Where do I look for help? How do I share the fun stuff as well as the complicated details? I need a ‘DSLR photography for beginners’ book’ and plenty of help.
Did you start with goals or did they develop over time? As I run Dash Kitten I want to take great pictures of the Cat Crew and to ensure the blog looks good across social media. A good picture gets attention so I have to learn basic photography techniques.
I have a Canon EOS 1300D camera, so join me as I discover the best things for a newbie to know and places to learn. (Affiliate Link)
NOTE I am using terminology that might be unfamiliar so I have added definitions* at the bottom of the post.
DSLR for Beginners
Honestly? I was able to work out a lot of what my camera did from the comprehensive (printed) manual. I discovered that my beginner model Canon can do lots of things, including shoot movies. That left me with a big question. One every new camera user must face.
How Do I Make My Camera do all this?
For me, there was a real mental change of gears from reading the manual to actually picking up and operating the camera. Do I have to have to choose from options like aperture* and an ISO* number before I start about taking pictures of Harvey?
Here are my starter tips for the nervous user wanting to learn how to use a digital camera step by step:
- Make taking the lens cap off a habit.
- Learn the right way to support your camera (see the video)
- Get comfortable focusing on something,
- Hear and feel a real shutter click. OK not essential but very satisfying
Avoiding DSLR New User Overwhelm
I had to make a start. I couldn’t avoid using my camera properly forever. The cats were getting tired of being smartphone movie stars, they wanted portraits. I had to do some research and get busy taking pictures.
I typed ‘beginner DSLR Canon’ into YouTube and discovered that there are plenty of tutorials, even if they don’t mention cats very often. Looking at these tutorials has helped me become familiar with the terminology used and learn the basics.
My advice to other new users is to watch a few presentations and see which ones appeal to you. The big advantage with video is you can watch them over and over until the information becomes familiar, and move on if a tutorial isn’t working for you.
The short video above, from a camera course, is useful because it is short and to the point. The presenter shows us how to set up ‘exposure compensation’ on my camera model. Once you pick up your camera and follow through the steps you begin to understand how it works.
TIP Online videos have helped me learn a lot about DSLR cameras and guided me when I decided which direction to take. The next inspiring video will encourage anyone starting out. Watch and enjoy. This guy teaches online too.
What is ISO in DSLR Speak?
In very basic terms, ISO is simply a camera setting that will brighten or darken a photo. As you increase your ISO number, your photos will grow progressively brighter. For that reason, ISO is a good tool to help you capture images in dark environments or be more flexible about your aperture and shutter speed settings.Photography Life
DSLR Camera Modes What Are They?
I decided not to go straight to learning DSLR Manual mode. This setting requires experience and, besides, there are three more ‘modes’ to explore P, Av and Tv. Each has its merits and could be useful, so I want to learn as much as I can.
Program mode is great for newbies
To me, it looks like AUTO mode’s big brother. You can adjust the White Balance* and change the ISO* as well as disabling the flash. It a great way to change a few things in a non-scary way.
Aperture Priority (Av)
You select the aperture and your camera decides which shutter speed will work best for the conditions. Av mode interests me because you use it to get the nice soft background behind a cat you want to photograph.
Shutter Priority (Tv)
In this mode, you can choose the shutter speed and let the camera decide which to aperture to select to give you a good and well exposed shot.
I will leave this for another day!
What Will I Explore First?
My first challenge will be to get the cats used to the camera. It makes a distinctive noise, and we will all need to become familiar with the shutter* sound of my EOS.
I will start by exploring Aperture Priority because the results are exciting and I am starting to see an improvement from the start.
My aim is to take pictures of the Dash Kitten Crew out in the garden, in natural light. The background is busy with greenery but as Av mode lets me explore a fuzzy ‘depth of field*’ it seems a good place to begin.
I will also experiment with ‘exposure compensation’ to see what a difference this makes.
Closing the DSLR Shutter This Week
I will be posting about my discoveries and you will find them under the ‘SmartphoneMovies and DSLR Tips‘ section of the blog every two weeks. Right now I need to check this morning’s photo shoot in the garden. See you next time!
Do you have any favourite DSLR tips or video tutorials you learned from? Let me know in the comments.
*Definitions for New DSLR Camera Users with useful links and no pop-ups when I checked.
- Aperture: Aperture changes how wide the lens’ opening is. Inside the camera, a set of circular blades widens and narrows as the photographer adjusts the aperture. The human eye adjusts to bright light by controlling the size of the pupil. Aperture follows a similar concept in that the opening adjusts to different light, only mechanically, not biologically – Creative Live
- ISO: Is the sensitivity of your sensor to light. The ISO setting you use depends on the amount of light in the scene you are photographing. The more light you have to work with the lower you can set your ISO. As settings go, ISO is one of the key camera menus you need to learn. – ImageMaven
- Shutter: When a camera fires, the shutter opens and fully exposes the camera sensor to the light that has passed through your lens. After the sensor is finished collecting the light, the shutter closes immediately, stopping the light from hitting the sensor – Photography Life
- Modes great for clear in-depth definitions of each mode.
- Exposure Compensation is used to alter the exposure from a value selected by the camera, making photographs brighter or darker. In Nikon modes P, S, and A, (Canon P, Av and Tv) the camera automatically adjusts settings for optimal exposure, but this may not always produce the exposure the photographer intended. Nikon
- White Balance: White balance in digital photography means adjusting colours so that the image looks more natural. Full definition: Photography Life
Depthof Field: DOF for short, refers to how much of an image is in focus, specifically the distance between the nearest and farthest in-focus parts of an image – SLR Lounge