Long back, we used to have compact cameras which were quite similar to the cameras we now have in smartphones. Those cameras came with a few features and were easy to use. They were considered as powerful cameras because they could capture some excellent images then. With the advent of technologies, better cameras started getting rolled out and, brands started integrating extra features. Presently, as you might know, compact cameras are no more and instead, we have DSLR cameras - much more powerful cameras which are used extensively by many individuals especially professionals. Needless to say, these cameras come with a plethora of features and the majority of the people who use it for the first time can get quite bewildered. For people who yearn to be a professional photographer, it's vital to be acquainted with the options that come with these cameras. Even for those who don't want to be a professional but have bought a DSLR camera out of craze, it's important to learn its features to get the best out of it or else, the money invested will be meaningless. If you are one among them, this blog is for you. This is actually a guide which briefly explains the buttons and features enabling you to have a broader picture of the same and improve your DSLR photography considerably. Let's dive in!
Primarily, you should be aware of the modes in a DSLR camera because that determines how your image should be. These modes can be seen on the dial that normally stands on the top left part of the camera. The abbreviations and tiny pictures represent different modes and they are used for different purposes. Therefore, in order to use them, it's imperative to have a clear understanding of the same. Below you can find a brief explanation of those modes.
Aperture is simply the opening of the lens which allows the light to pass through when the shutter opens. When the aperture is set high, more light will pass through. The Av mode is more like a half-automatic mode since you can set the aperture and the shutter speed will be taken care of by the camera. Talking about the aperture, its measurement is shown as 'f/a number'. For example, f/2.0 or f/4.0. The lower the number is, the larger the opening will be and vice versa. This means f/2.0 will have a larger aperture than f/4.0. As we know, light is important in photography and aperture is considered as a vital aspect. It also determines the depth of field. When the aperture is small (bigger aperture value), the depth of field will be large which means that both the subject and background will be clearly focused. Now coming to lower depth of field, the subject will be fully focused and the background will be blurred. So, if you want a portrait or a wildlife photo, the best bet is to set to a larger aperture (lower aperture number).
As mentioned earlier, in Av mode, we set the aperture while the camera set the shutter speed. In shutter priority mode (Tv or S on the dial) it's straight contrary. You set the shutter speed while the camera takes care of the aperture. The shutter speed determines how long the shutter stays open when taking a snap. More light passes through when the shutter speed is slow. Short shutter speed is apt if you want to capture a moving object. For instance, say you want to take a snap of a flying bird. Then the best way is to set the shutter speed to a shorter time. On the other hand, long shutter speed is apt for long-exposure photography - a way by which the moving object is blurred. It will also require a tripod for such photography so that the camera will be steady until the shutter clicks.
In short, you can specify the speed of the shutter in this mode.
Program mode is almost a mixture of shutter priority mode and aperture priority mode. In this mode, you get the option to set either aperture or the shutter speed and the camera adjust the other one to tweak the exposure. That means, if you set the shutter speed, then the camera will adjust the aperture accordingly and vice versa. In short, you get two options here without having to rotate the dial.
The automatic mode might be one of the most used modes in a DSLR camera because the camera itself set everything automatically. This includes automatically setting the shutter speed, aperture, ISO levels and, flash. Therefore, in this mode, all you need to do is just shoot the picture and the camera will take care of the remaining stuff. In short, the Auto mode is apt for the newbies or for those who are lazy to adjust every setting before the shot (Wink!).
From the name itself you can guess what this mode can do. In Manual mode, you get the full authority of the camera which means, you can set the shutter speed, aperture and, ISO level by yourself. However, it needs a clear understanding of the settings to get the best out of the manual mode. So it's better to master the shutter priority mode and aperture priority before you start trying out the manual mode.
The aforementioned are the main modes in a DSLR Camera. However, you get many more modes on the dial. For example, portrait mode which is represented by a small human head sign. Then there is the macro mode (small flower sign) by which you can capture subjects more closely. Then there is landscape mode (mountain-like sign) to capture beautiful sceneries, sports mode (stickman-like sign) which is suitable to capture moving subjects and the night portrait mode ( a symbol of a tiny portrait with a star) suitable for portrait photography in low light.
ISO determines how sensitive your sensor is to light. In other words, ISO helps to control the amount of light and achieve the right exposure. It's represented in number. For example, ISO 400. This should be set according to light availability. That is, for bright light photography, the best bet is to keep it low or else the image will become grainy. On the other hand, in dim light photography, you can set the ISO to a higher level so that the sensor doubles the available light and helps attain the right exposure. This way you can ensure the photos you take aren't noisy.
The Exposure triangle is simply the network of the aperture, shutter speed and the ISO. According to this, if you tweak one among them, you must adjust the remaining two to get the right exposure level. In other words, they are all interlinked. This is a must to learn if you are serious about photography though it can be a bit hard to do it manually. So, the best way to maintain the triangle is to use both auto-ISO modes and semi-automatic modes like aperture priority or shutter priority.
When in semi-automatic modes, the default meter reading of the DSLR cameras sometimes lessens the dynamic range of the photos since they calculate only the average exposure level. That is, when you capture a photo in bright light, the original scene and the image may vary. This is when exposure compensation comes handy. Normally found as +/- button, this option allows you to tweak the default meter reading of the camera and helps the picture to display the actual brightness of the scene. This means, if an image of a bright scene is shown as dark, then you could enhance the exposure compensation and give the picture the original brightness level. Similarly, if a dark-lit photo is being displayed with unnatural brightness, then you could lower the exposure compensation to make the photo aptly bright.
It doesn't matter what modes you choose, if you don't focus the subject correctly, the photo you take will be in vain. As you might know, your camera will have a focus ring which can be rotated accordingly to focus correctly. If manual focusing seems hards for you, then you can turn on autofocus. Typically, there are two autofocus modes: AF-S and AF-C. The former is Autofocus-single, which is best to focus on stationary subjects like a building, a mountain, etc. The latter is Autofocus-continuous which is best for focusing moving objects. For example, an athlete who is running, a moving car, etc. Automatic focus works when you half-press the shutter button. Therefore, before clicking the picture, make sure you slightly press the shutter button initially and focus the subject correctly.
The above said are the main settings you should be aware of in order to get the best out of your camera. Even after reading all this, you will still be confused but don't worry. Just try and try until you are well-versed with them. It will be a tad difficult initially but once you master all these settings, then DSLR photography will become much easier for you. If you don't own a camera already, it's important that you buy the right one for the best photography. If you don't mind, have a look at the cameras we offer from top brands like Canon camera and Nikon camera. Order right away if you are pleased with the product and we will ensure that it reaches your hands within 24 hours.
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