DSLR cameras are becoming more and more popular, and not just among professional photographers. Obviously, those who are booking weddings or senior pictures and doing other kinds of professional photography will need a professional-grade camera with the resolution and customization for settings such as aperture, ISO, and shutter speed.
DSLR stands for Digital Single-Lens Reflex Camera. It’s a concept that has combine the features of a digital camera with the optics of a single-lens reflex camera. These elite cameras replaced SLR cameras in the 2000s, and have far more customization available than traditional point and shoot digital cameras. DLSR cameras also allow for far more creativity than the point and shoot models.
Looking into DSLR cameras can be overwhelming for the amateur photographer than wants to widen their range of possibilities in the photography word. They tend spying on a cell phone for free to be a bit on the pricey side, and can be difficult to learn in the beginning. But once their features and options are mastered they can help even a beginner photographer take amazing photographs that look like they belong on the cover of National Geographic.
A Beginner’s Intro to DLSR Cameras
There are three main settings that enable a photographer to successfully wield their fancy new camera. The shutter speed, ISO setting, and F setting are the big three adjustable settings to remember when using a digital SLR camera.
In simple terms, shutter speed is simply the amount of time the shutter of the camera is open. The longer the shutter is open the more light is going to be let in. A good way to look at this feature of DSLR cameras is that a faster shutter speed (1/500, 1/250, etc.) will provide a better freeze of the camera. Light is let in for a fraction of a second and only the movement occurring within that time frame will be recorded onto the image sensor. It’s important to remember that the measurements are recorded in fractions of a second, so 1/250 is a 250th of a second.
Objects that are in motion can be recorded with a slower shutter speed that allows the shutter to be open longer. These measurements will appear with a single quotation mark next to the number, so 1” or 2” or even 3” is referring to 1, 2, and 3 seconds of the shutter being open. These longer shutter speeds allow the photographer to get creative with “panning” effects, where the image will appear blurred. This adds a cool effect for objects that are in movement, such as a car, running water, or even raindrops. Remember, if an object is moving quickly the shutter speed should be fast – unless a blurry effect is desired then the photographer can go for a longer shutter speed. The key is to practice and get the hang of it.
The ISO setting is the sensitivity of the camera to light. Having a higher ISO can sometimes produce a noisy effect and can be a bit blurry or grainy. A higher ISO will be helpful at dawn or dusk photo moments. ISO is measured with a number, and will range from 24, 100, to 3,200 and 6,400. ISO 100 is a basic setting for a day with regular sunlight. The higher numbers will be letting in more light for darker environments and the photographer can experiment with these settings to get an effect they like.
Also known as aperture, f-ratio, or focal ratio, this third setting can be a little tricky to grasp. But it’s just the length of the field of focus in the photo, or the size of what is focused on. A powerful lens will be able to have a very small depth of focus and can go as low as f/1.4. For the majority of photographers an F-stop of F/2.8 to F/8 to F/16 will have more of the photo in perspective or in focus. For portrait shots or photos of food, flowers, and other close-up objects, sometimes photographers prefer to go for a lower F-setting. Landscape photos require the higher settings when everything needs to be in focus.
The important thing to remember with each of these settings is that they work best when they balance each other out. A slower shutter speed will let the shutter be open longer, which means a lower ISO may provide a more quality photo. The best way to get good with all of these settings is to figure out how they all relate and learn to balance them on the fly in the field.