Friday, November 7, 2008

Getting Started

Why buy a dSLR you ask? Digital SLRs provide the high quality photos that [film] SLRs provided long ago with the capability to instantly review images and have them on your computer easily without having to develop and scan film. dSLRs are still a bit behind the superb quality that film has, but with newer full-frame cameras like the Nikon D3, D700, Canon 5d mk II, 1D mk III - film-like quality is almost attainable.

dSLRs provide several advantages over standard point and shoots.

  • Complete control over your camera. The ability to set shutter speed, ISO, aperture, and color balance. This insures that you get the best image possible [technically speaking]
  • Higher FPS [frames per second]. Love to make flip books? Take action shots? Here's where FPS is handy.
  • High quality images. A common misconception is that the more megapixels the camera has, the better quality the image will be. In fact, it is the sensor that determines the image quality. Megapixels simply determine the pixel density. dSLRs use larger sensors than standard P&S [point and shoot] cameras yielding greater quality images.
  • Interchangeable lenses. I have a different lens for every occasion. The fisheye for ultrawides and fun, a zoom for a nice walk-around lens. My 85mm f/1.4D for portraits. Each lens plays its part as a brush does for a painter.

Once you decide to get your dSLR there are a few things to know.

There are four modes that you should typically shoot in. P, A/Av, S, and M. These stand for Program, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, and Manual respectively.

Beginners, please skip the AUTO mode of consumer dSLRS and feel free to set your camera straight to P. The camera will adjust everything but the ISO.

Aperture priority is where you set the aperture and ISO and the camera will automatically adjust the shutter speed.

Shutter priority is just the opposite. You set the shutter speed and ISO and the aperture is automatically chosen for you.

Manual mode is where all three variables are set manually and the exposure is completely in your hands.


There are traditionally three types of metering: Matrix, Center-weighted, and Spot.

Matrix metering pulls information from the whole scenes and attempts to expose the image according to the entire scene.

Center-weighted metering exposes the image for the central area of the image.

Spot metering will meter for the center of the frame and nothing else.

White Balance

Auto white balance may be a good place to start. Advanced users can venture into shooting a grey-card to preset white balance or tweaking the white balance through menus. One last alternative that I highly prefer is setting white balance on the Kelvin scale.

The Kelvin goes from 2,500K - 10,000K (2,500 being cooler and 10,000 warmer) Tungsten lighting tends to be around 2,800K. Fluorescent 4,000K, and Daylight 5,700K.

That's all for me for tonight. Until next time!

1 comment:

peter said...

haha. i didnt really read this.
i forgot about your blog
ok. back to schoolwork -.-