If you’re just starting out in Adobe Lightroom and would like some guidance on how you can use the software to improve your photographs, here’s a free lesson that may be of interest to you. Photography instructor Tim Grey shares his top 10 tips for optimizing photographs in Lightroom.
The talk runs for nearly 2 hours, so you’ll need to carve a chunk out of your day to watch it, but it could be helpful for anyone in need of a primer on some basic tools.
Grey offers a number of techniques that you can include in your image-optimization workflow beyond the basic Develop module, using adjustments to correct the noise, chromatic aberration, and perspective distortions seen in your photos.
In case you’d like to jump around in the video, here’s a “table of contents” with topics and the time at which they appear:
Getting a steady image without using Tripod or lenses with VR (Vibration Reduction) or IS (Image Stabilization) is always a challenge. Even though for a beginner having this accessories came at a reasonable expense. So below are some techniques that surely helps to reduce camera shake.
6 Techniques to Reduce Camera Shake
Here are 6 options for avoiding camera shake and achieving crisp, delicious images no matter the length of the lens, no matter the shutter speed.
1. Elbows In
As often as possible pull your elbows in to your body and exhale completely before depressing the shutter. When you’re working with a wide aperture or low shutter speed (or both), even a breath can introduce shake. Pulling your elbows tight to your body can really help keep you steady. I also press my elbows firmly into my chest for even greater stability.
2. Raise Your Left Shoulder
I am definitely a right eyed photographer, but this tip that I learned from “The Moment It Clicks” by Joe McNally, requires that I shift for a moment to my left eye. What I’m doing here is raising my left shoulder, and bracing my left elbow into my rib-cage (no arrow for this one). For further stability, you can pull your right elbow in to your chest. As always, exhale completely before depressing the shutter to avoid introducing shake.
3. Create a Tripod With Your Knee
You can create your own tripod by resting your elbow on your knee while in a seated position. Again, bring that other elbow in for greater support.
4. Lay Down
These two images illustrate perhaps the most obvious way to avoid shake without a tripod. Lie flat and let the lens sit directly on the ground. The problem with this is that you’re likely to have quite a downward tilt to the lens and unless you’re aiming to photograph the pavement, you probably won’t end up with the shot you’re hoping for. In the first image you’ll notice that I placed my hand flat against the cement and balanced the lens on top of it to give myself some height. In the second image you’ll see that I created a fist with my hand to give myself even greater height.
5. The Machine Gun Hold
This next technique is sometimes referred to as the machine gun hold. I rarely use this technique as I find it awkward and difficult to maintain for more than a second or two. Just because it doesn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t for you. . . give it a try.
6. Cradle It
In this next image you’ll see that I created a sort of cradle for the lens between my shoulder and my wrist. I also stabilized the hold by balancing my elbow on my knee.
Please feel free to share for tips and tricks to avoid camera shake in the comment section below.
If you are a beginner and unsure of how to make the most of your DSLR camera [Canon EOS Rebel T5 Digital SLR Camera is a good choice for beginner] then this article is designed for you. This article will cover enough of the basics to get you in control of your camera from auto to manual mode, and give you the key topics to go back to your manual to read.
Let’s start with the tropics below:
1. Shooting modes
The shooting modes will most likely be found on a dial labelled with ‘auto, Av, Tv, P, M’ and maybe more. Selecting a shooting mode will determine how your camera behaves when you press the shutter, for example, when ‘auto’ is selected, the camera will determine everything to do with the exposure, including the aperture and shutter speed. The other modes, ‘Av, Tv, P, M’, are there to give you control. Different manufacturers use different abbreviations for the shooting modes. Your mode dial may have the letters ‘A, S, P, M’ (instead of Av, Tv, P, M), yet they all function in the same way. Below, I have given each abbreviation for the given mode.
Aperture Priority (Av or A)
Aperture priority can be thought of as a ‘semi-automatic’ shooting mode. When this is selected, you as the photographer set the aperture and the camera will automatically select the shutter speed.
The aperture is the size of the opening in the lens through which light is allowed to pass whenever the shutter is opened – the larger the aperture, the more light passes through.
The aperture is measured in ‘f-stops’ and is usually displayed using an ‘f-number’, e.g. f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6, f/8.0 etc, which is a ratio of focal length over diameter of the opening. Therefore, a larger aperture (a wider opening) has a smaller f-number (e.g. f/2.0) and smaller aperture (a narrower opening) has a larger f-number (e.g. f/22). Reducing the aperture by one whole f-stop, e.g. f/2.0 to f2/8 or f/5.6 to f/8.0, halves the amount of light entering the camera.
Aperture is one of the most important aspects of photography as it directly influences the depth of field – that is, the amount of an image that is in focus. A large depth of field (achieved by using a small aperture (large f-number)) would mean that a large distance within the scene is in focus.
Whereas a shallow depth of field (achieved by using a large aperture (small f-number)) would produce an image where only the subject is in sharp focus, but the background is soft and out of focus. This is often used when shooting portraiture or wildlife.
So when using aperture priority, you can get complete control over your depth of field, whilst the camera takes care of the rest.
Shutter Priority (Tv or S)
Similarly to aperture priority, this is another ‘semi-automatic’ shooting mode, here you will control the shutter speed and the camera will take care of the aperture. The shutter speed, measured in seconds (or more often fractions of a second), is the amount of time the shutter stays open when taking a photograph. The longer the shutter stays open, the more light passes through to the sensor to be captured.
You would select a short shutter speed if you wanted to freeze a fast moving subject, such as shooting sports, action or wildlife, for example:
You would use a long shutter speed if you wanted to blur a moving subject, for example water rushing over a waterfall. It is always best to keep the camera on a good tripod to ensure the camera is held steady whilst the shutter is open.
So whilst you worry about what shutter speed you need for a given photograph, the camera will determine the appropriate aperture required to give the correct exposure.
Program mode is almost a halfway house between the semi-automatic modes of aperture/shutter priority and full manual control. In program mode, you are able to set either the aperture or shutter speed, and the camera will maintain the correct exposure by adjusting the other one accordingly, i.e. as you change the aperture, the shutter speed will automatically change, and vice versa. This gives you additional freedom that using either aperture priority or shutter priority cannot give without switching between shooting modes.
ISO is a measure of how sensitive the sensor of your camera is to light. The ISO sensitivity is represented numerically from ISO 100 (low sensitivity) up to ISO 6400 (high sensitivity) and beyond, and controls the amount of light required by the sensor to achieve a given exposure.
At ‘low’ sensitivities, more light is required to achieve a given exposure compared to high sensitivities where less light is required to achieve the same exposure.
Low ISO numbers
For outdoor photography, on a bright sunny day there is a lot of available light that will hit the sensor during an exposure, meaning that the sensor does not need to be very sensitive in order to achieve a correct exposure. Therefore, you could use a low ISO number, such as ISO 100 or 200. This will give you images of the highest quality, with very little grain (or noise).
High ISO numbers
If shooting in low light conditions, such as inside a dark room for example, there is not much light available for your camera sensor. A high ISO number, such as ISO 3200, will increase the sensitivity of the sensor, effectively multiplying the small amount of available light to give you a correctly exposed image. This multiplication effect comes with a side effect of increased noise on the image, which looks like a fine grain, reducing the overall image quality. The noise will be most pronounced in the darker/shadow regions.
Quick Note: You want to keep the ISO as low as possible, as the lower the ISO, the less noise and the higher the quality of the resulting image. Outside on a sunny day, select ISO200 and see how it goes. If it clouds over, maybe select an ISO between 400-800. If you move indoors, consider an ISO of around 1600 or above
3. Completion of the Exposure Triangle
It’s important to note that aperture, shutter speed and ISO are all part of the ‘exposure triangle’. They all control either the amount of light entering the camera (aperture, shutter speed) or the amount of light required by the camera (ISO) for a given exposure.
Therefore, they are all linked, and understanding the relationship between them is crucial to being able to take control of your camera. A change in one of the settings will impact the other two. For example, considering a theoretical exposure of ISO400, f/8.0, 1/10th second. If you wanted to reduce the depth of field, and decided to use an aperture of f/4.0, you would be increasing the size of the aperture by two whole f/stops, therefore increasing the amount of light entering the camera by a factor of 4 (i.e. increasing by a factor of 2, twice). Therefore, to balance the exposure, you could do the following:
Situation 1: Reduce the shutter speed by a factor of 4, i.e. to 1/40th second.
Situation 2: Reduce the ISO by a factor of 4, i.e. to ISO100
Situation 3: A combination of the above, shutter speed by a factor of 2 (to 1/20th second) AND reduce the ISO bv a factor of 2 (to ISO200).
They all have the net effect of reducing the amount of light by a factor of 4, countering the change in aperture. It’s just a case of understanding that they are all linked, and so changing one setting, will cause a change in another.
Using a combination of the semi-automatic shooting modes and auto-ISO would mean you won’t necessarily need to think about adjusting your exposure in such a way initially, however understanding the relationship that ISO or aperture has with shutter speed, and knowing the practical implications is a big step in mastering your DSLR.
When taking a photograph, using any form of automatic exposure calculation (e.g. aperture priority mode, shutter priority mode, auto-ISO etc) the camera always tries to calculate an ‘average’ exposure. It will assess the entire scene, both light and dark areas, and determine the exposure so that all of the tones within the entire image average to 18% grey – called the ‘middle’ grey. This is call metering.
Due to metering when you point the camera to bright white screen and take a photograph the resulting image appears darker. Similarly if you point the camera to much darker scene and take photograph the resulting Image is much brighter.
However, you can control what areas of the scene are being assessed by the camera in order to influence the way in which the exposure is metered.
Generally, there are three metering modes that you can choose from:
Average – The camera will assess the tones across the entire image form corner to corner, and expose the scene to 18% grey from that assessment.
Centre-weighted – The camera weights the exposure reading for the area in the center of the viewfinder that can total up to approximately 80% of the scene, ignoring the extreme corners of the image.
Spot metering – The camera will use a very small area of the scene, typically a small circle in the center of the viewfinder that totals approximately 5% of the viewfinder area. It will make the assessment of dark/light tones in this area and expose the entire scene to 18% grey, from that assessment.
Generally found on a small +/- button near the shutter, this is one of the most useful functions to learn how to use. It allows you to either increase or decrease the cameras default meter reading to account for the actual brightness of a scene.
If a scene contains primarily bright tones and is being rendered too dark, for example, a bright white snow scene (that will typically be reduced to 18% grey by the default metering system), you can apply positive exposure compensation to let the camera know that the scene should be lighter than middle grey.
Conversely, if a scene contains primarily dark tones and is being rendered too light, for example, a dark night scene (that will typically be increased to 18% grey by the default metering system), you can apply negative exposure compensation to let the camera know that the scene should be darker than middle grey.
Regardless of what shooting mode you are using, or what ISO you define, the chances are there will be a subject of your image that you want to have in focus. If that focus is not achieved, the image will not be what you wanted.
Autofocus modes DSLRs come with a range of autofocus modes, however, for simplicity, the two that are most important to understand are AF-S and AF-C
AF-S – autofocus-single: This is best used when taking photos of stationary subjects such as portraits of people, landscapes, buildings etc. When you half-press the shutter, the focus will be acquired and locked on that point for as long as you hold the button down. If you want to change to focus, you need to release the button, recompose and then re-half-press.
AF-C – autofocus-continuous: This is best used when taking photos of action or moving subjects such as sports and wildlife. When you half-press the shutter, focus will be acquired and locked on to a given subject. When that subject moves, the focus will adjust with it, refocusing all of the time until the photograph is taken.
(These modes are not to be confused with the AF/MF switches on the lens, where AF stands for autofocus and MF stands for manual focus. That switch is an override for if you want to manually focus your lens. If you want to make use of the autofocus modes discussed above, ensure the lens is set to AF).
Focus Points Both of those focus modes rely on what are known as focus points. When you look through the viewfinder, you should see a number of squares/dots overlaid across the screen. When you half-press the shutter, you should see one of these squares be highlighted in red. That is the active focus point, and it is that position within the frame that the camera is focusing on. A viewfinder with 9 focus points is shown below:
New DSLRs can come with over 50 focus points and the temptation is to leave it on fully automatic focus point selection, with the thinking that the camera will be able to select the correct focus point. However, only you know what you want to focus on, and there is no better way than ensuring the correct subject is in focus than by using one focus point, and placing that focus point over the subject.
6. File Size/Types
You will have the option to be able to change the size of the images that your camera records, and in which file type. You want to set the file size to the largest possible (whether it is ‘large’ or ‘fine’ or ‘super fine’) to ensure that you are making the most of the mega pixels that you have just invested in.
You will also have the option of choosing whether to record the images as ‘raw’ or ‘jpeg’ file type. A raw file is uncompressed, and so contains a lot of image data that allows for a lot of flexibility during post-processing (i.e. on your computer) but also comes with additional complications such as the need to ‘process’ every file using dedicated editing software and a larger file size. A jpeg is a compressed file type, which is automatically processed by the camera.
7. White Balance
If shooting in jpeg, as recommended above, you will need to make sure you set your white balance before taking a picture. The white balance can significantly impact color tone of your photographs. You may have noticed that sometimes your images have a blueish tone to them or, in others, everything looks very orange. This is to do with the white balance and, whilst you can make some adjustments to the image on your computer, it is much simpler if you get it right up-front.
Different light sources (such as the sun, light bulbs, fluorescent strips etc) emit light of different wavelengths, and therefore colors, which can be described by what is known as color temperature. Light from a candle, or from the sun during sunrise/sunset, is very warm, and contains a lot of red/orange wavelengths; whereas light from a fluorescent strip is much cooler, containing a lot of blue wavelengths. This colored light is reflected off of surfaces, but our brain in clever enough to recognize this and automatically counter the effect, meaning that we still see a white surface as a white surface. However, your camera is not that intelligent, and unless told otherwise, will record the orange or blue tones giving the color cast to your images.
As the color temperature of different light sources is well known, there are a number of presets built into your camera that help to overcome the different colors of light in different situations – cooling the warm light, and warming the cool light – all in the cause of trying to capture the colors of the scene accurately. The ‘auto’ feature (auto WB or AWB) will attempt to predict the color of the light by detecting the predominant color of the scene and then countering it, however it may not necessarily make a correct decision, leaving you with inaccurate colors. Therefore it is best to set the color balance before you take your image and just to make sure (note: the above image was a raw file giving me a lot of latitude for white balance correction. Jpeg files are not as susceptible to white balance adjustments, meaning the white balance correction needs to be made before the image is taken):
Daylight– To be used on clear sunny days. Bright sunlight, on a clear day is as near to neutral light that we generally get
Cloudy– To be used when shooting on a cloudy day. Adds warm tones to daylight images.
Shade– To be used if shooting in the shade, as shaded areas generally produce cooler, bluer images, so need warming up.
Tungsten– Used for shooting indoors, under incandescent light bulbs, or under street lights, to cool down the yellow tones.
Fluorescent– Compensates for the green/blue tones of fluorescent light strips when shooting indoors.
Flash– the flash will add a cool blue cast to the image, so used to add some warmth.
Quick Note: Avoid auto white balance and set the white balance manually. Generally, you will be able to look up at the sky and see what kind of day it is, and determine the color balance required pretty easily. If you move indoors, just check the lighting that you are shooting under, and again select the appropriate white balance. It will soon become second nature to set it as you take your camera out of the bag.
Before going for underwater photography, it really helps to use your camera indoors, in a dimly lit room. Take some photos with the camera inside the housing, macro mode, flash on. Take photos of some small objects, and see how your photos come out. Test out the range of the camera with macro mode on and off.
Some quick tips for underwater photography
For most photos (within 3-4 feet), you will need the flash on. Make sure your flash is set to “forced flash”, not “auto-flash”. The flash will add color to your shots, otherwise they will look blue.
For most photos, you’ll want to be in macro mode. Learn how to turn macro mode on and off. You need to know the range of your macro mode. For most cameras this range will be 1-2 inches to 2 feet (2.5-5cm to 60cm). Any closer and you can’t take a photo. Further away, you must turn macro mode off. Make sure you are zoomed out (see #4)
Turn your internal flash on if you are within 2-3 feet of a subject. Further than 3 feet, turn the internal flash off. Unless the subject is really interesting and fast (shark, manta ray), I highly suggest getting within 3 feet of the subject and using the flash. Otherwise, your photo will look blue. Use auto-white balance when you are using your internal flash. Don’t use “cloudy” white balance or underwater mode with your flash/strobe, that will result in photos that are reddish-orange. Use auto, aperture priority, or full manual mode, depending on your comfort level with camera settings.
For now, keep your camera zoomed out (the widest setting). The reason why this is so important is because it affects how closely you can focus, especially in macro mode. If you zoom in, you can’t focus as closely to the subject, and that defeats the purpose of macro mode. The better strategy is to get closer to the subject.
Try to get within a few inches of the subject. Try to get very low, at eye-level. Focus at the eyes. Try to get a photo of the subject facing you.
If you are taking photos with the flash off (subjects more than 3 feet away), also known as using ambient light, and you want better color, you must do 1 of two things – either use the underwater mode, or even better, do a manual white balance (custom white balance).
If you leave the flash on, and take a photo of a subject more than 2-3 feet away, don’t be surprised if your photo has back-scatter in it, unless you are shooting in exceptionally clear water. The only way to solve this is to get closer to the subject, and/or purchase an external strobe.
Remember – the closer you are, the better your color, contrast and sharpness will be.
Your housing should have come with a “flash diffuser”, although it might be built into the housing. This diffuser will be placed in front of your internal flash and will soften the light. Make sure you use it.
If you are having problems with the lag time between focusing on a subject and taking a shot, you can try “locking focus” by pressing halfway down on the shutter button, and then fine-tweaking your composition and making sure you keep the camera very still. This works better for non-moving subjects.
You can leave your camera on “auto” mode for now, but if your camera has full manual mode (which you can set the shutter speed and aperture/f-stop independently of each other) – that’s the mode you want to be using.
Think about getting an external strobe, that’s the best way to improve your photos. To use the strobe, you need to be able to control your camera’s aperture, and control the power of the strobe.
Set up your camera, housing, and strobe indoors – and then take some practice shots indoors. Test your settings. Everything will work similarly to how it will work underwater, although indoors focusing will be easier, and your strobe will appear to be more powerful. I’m surprised how many people wait until they get underwater to try out settings.
Last, but not least – concentrate on the following two types of underwater photography shots.
Close-up shots in macro mode, forced flash, auto-white balance, spot-focus, with the subject no more than 5-6 inches away. Aperture priority (AV) mode if available, F8, otherwise program mode.
Scenic coral/reef shots several feet away, macro mode off, flash off, custom white balance, Evaluative (matrix) metering, only in shallow sunny water (25 feet or less). Aperture priority (AV) mode if available at F2.8, otherwise program mode.
This introduction video for DSLR filmmaking is divided into six parts.
Learn how to set up your camera, shoot in daylight and at night.
This tutorial shows you how to get the cinematic film look that
so many people are talking about.
In the fall of 2008 Vincent Laforet was the first one to use the Canon EOS 5D Mark II which was the first digital SLR capable of recording full HD video. The short film he shot mostly at night, called “Reverie”, become popular over night. Something that Canon never intended got more and more in focus of amateur filmmakers all over the world: Shooting films and commercials with a stills camera. It only took a few month and the first accessories were released. Since then a lot has happened and a lot of TV shows like “House MD” or “CSI Miami” used DSLRs on set. Philip Bloom, another pioneer in digital filmmaking, used cameras on the Lucas Film production “Red Tails”. The small body and the great image quality has fascinated international acclaimed cinematographers like Rodney Charters (“24”). In independent cinema those cameras became indispensable.
The Nikon D810 has an ultra-high resolution full frame sensor and a surprisingly affordable price tag for a professional camera. In fact, many well-heeled enthusiasts have scraped up the cash to buy it too. It has no anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor which produces even sharper fine detail. The D810 is a classic DSLR which shows the view through the lens via a mirror (which flips up at the moment of exposure) and an optical viewfinder, and it’s at the centre of a huge range of lenses and other accessories for both amateurs and pros.Canon EOS 7D Mark II
10fps continuous shooting Sophisticated hybrid autofocus Fixed (non-articulating) screen Pricey for an APS-C DSLR
One of the reasons the Nikon D810 is so expensive is its full-frame sensor. Most non-professional DSLRs, though, use smaller APS-C size sensors, which deliver quality that’s almost as good at a much lower cost. This is the sensor size used in the Canon EOS 7D Mark II, which designed for sports, action and wildlife photography where speed and responsiveness are paramount. It’s the first enthusiast DSLR to shoot continuously at 10 frames per second, matching the speed of professional DSLRs like the Canon-1D X and Nikon D4s but at a much lower cost.
Fujifilm X-T1 Digital Camera
Classic controls and handling
Excellent colours and image quality 16Mp not the highest resolution
Lens range still growing
Mirrorless cameras (also called compact system cameras) are really catching on. They take interchangeable lenses, just like DSLRs, but instead of using a mirror and an optical viewfinder they display the image captured ‘live’ on the LCD or, if they have on, in an electronic viewfinder. The Fuji X-T1 is one of our favorites. It looks, feels and handles just like a traditional 35mm film SLR and Fuji’s excellent X-Trans sensor delivers rich, film-like colors and high levels of detail.
Bridge cameras, technically, are ‘compact’ cameras. Actually, they’re not compact at all – this term simply means cameras with fixed, non-interchangeable lenses. The point about bridge cameras is that they have lenses with such a huge zoom range that they can still tackle almost any subject. The downside with most bridge cameras is that they have tiny 1/2.3-inch sensors – but the Panasonic FZ1000 is the exception. It has a much larger 1-inch sensor that delivers a big step up in definition, low light performance and picture quality in general. Other bridge cameras have a longer zoom range, but the FZ1000 delivers the best blend of zoom range and picture quality combined.
Micro Four Thirds sensor
Classic manual controls 12Mp resolution not the highest
The LX100 is a compact camera of a different sort. It’s designed for keen photographers who like all the manual controls and features of a digital SLR or compact system, but need a camera that can slip into a jacket pocket. Usually, this means you have to put up with a small sensor and reduced quality, but Panasonic a way to squeeze a Micro Four Thirds sensor into the LX100 – the same size used in Olympus and Panasonic mirrorless cameras. It also has a great 4x zoom with a fast maximum aperture of f1/7-2.8. This, combined with the big sensor, makes it great for low-light photography and creative shallow depth of field effects. It’s not cheap, but it is brilliant.
If you like the size of the Panasonic LX100 but not the fixed lens, there is an alternative. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is only a little larger, and while it’s barely a ‘pocket’ camera, it is nevertheless amazingly compact – it’s dramatically smaller than any DSLR (and many other compact system cameras) and yet it has interchangeable lenses, a really good electronic viewfinder and looks and feels remarkably like an old OM 35mm SLR. Olympus and Panasonic use Micro Four Thirds sensors in their mirrorless cameras. These sensors are a little smaller than the APS-C sensors in rival cameras, but they don’t give much away in quality and do allow super-compact designs like this.
The D3300 is Nikon’s entry-level digital SLR, so it would be easy to write it off as a novice camera for beginners. Don’t. Its control layout is optimised for photography newcomers, true, but all the manual controls of a serious DSLR are still there in the menus and interactive on-screen interface, and inside the D3300 is one of the best APS-C sensors on the market, regardless of price. Nikon’s 24-megapixel CMOS sensor has no anti-aliasing filter, so it delivers some of the finest detail you’ll see outside of the professional full-frame camera market. The D3300 might look simple, but it’s a terrific camera to learn and grow with, and it’s excellent value for money.
But despite all this talk of sensor size, image quality and high-end features, there are times when the most important thing is a camera cheap enough to buy, small enough to carry and versatile enough for what you want it to do. The Panasonic TZ70 (ZS50 is the US) is the perfect example. It’s a pocket-size ‘travel camera’ with a massive 30x zoom range so that you can photograph a cramped and crowded souk one minute and distant minaret the next. The small sensor restricts the maximum image quality, but the results are perfectly good enough for sharing and printing and the TZ70 even has a viewfinder for times when there’s too much glare to use the LCD.
Rugged, go-anywhere capability
GPS built in
Good but not great picture quality
Some rivals are ‘crushproof’ too
If you like your vacations to be a little more adventurous, or if you just like to spend time in the sea not the city, a waterproof compact camera might be a better choice. The Canon PowerShot D30 is our favorite because it’s waterproof to a depth of 25m – that’s really deep for any camera not in a professional waterproof housing. It’s shockproof too, withstanding drops from heights of up to 2m, freezeproof (down to -10 centigrade) and dustproof. Why get a regular point-and-shoot compact when you can pay just a little more and get one that can stand anything you can throw at it? The D30 even has GPS built in, so your pictures have their location embedded within them.
Finally, if what you really want is just to get the best little camera possible for the smallest amount of money, we reckon you can’t do better than the Sony W800. If you want to be picky you can criticise almost everything about modest little point-and-shoot cameras like this, from the small sensor and adequate-but-no-more image quality to the plastic build and simple controls – but the W800 camera take perfectly good snapshots without requiring any technical know-how and manages to look like a classy bit of kit despite its bargain price. It even has a 5x zoom and a standard HD video mode, and weighing just 109g, it’ll slip straight into a shirt or trouser pocket.
10 best tips to learn about DSLR photography are listed below. Bear in mind that these are only suggestions and observations. Many photographers may disagree with them and DSLR photography is an art with many different photographers taking many different approaches.
1. ISO, the single most important technical thing to know for a DSLR photographer is ISO which technically stands for the International Organization for Standardization and in the old days of film it had to do with film speed. But without getting very technical here, if you are shooting in the dark or a poorly lit room or at night, you can dramatically improve your photos by bumping up your ISO setting. Most digital cameras these days go to 1600.
When you see those blurry shaky photos that people take at night without a flash what is going on here is that the camera lens is being opened on an automatic setting too long to avoid the movement of your hand which produces the blur. By increasing your ISO setting you will be able to shorten the amount of time the lens is open and thus get a less blurry photo due to the ever so slight movement that naturally takes place in your hand when you shoot. Experiment around with your ISO setting and make sure that you understand that it will make a world of difference to the photos you are shooting in low light situations by increasing it.
2. When dealing with low light situations that are still blurry at high ISO settings, find something to brace the camera on. You can set it on a table, chair, bar, etc. You can hold it tight against a light or telephone pole or wall. You can lay on the ground and set it there. Find something for stability. This will dramatically improve your ability to steady the camera in a low light situation.
3. Don’t cheap out on a tripod. Cheap tripods will inevitably break and further, they won’t work right, won’t get your camera at the right angle, will shake in the wind when it’s blowing, etc. Spend some extra money and buy a good tripod or you will regret it. It should have a ball head and for everyday use be somewhat light and hopefully fit in your back pack. You may want a more sturdy industrious larger tripod for the car, but a basic smaller one for a backpack of good quality is money well spent. Manfrotto Compact Tripod (Black) is a good example to look for.
4. It’s all about the lens. The difference in shots using better lenses is dramatic. With Canon their L Series lenses are amazing – you will not go wrong with any Canon L Series lens. Whether zoom telephoto, macro, wide angle, prime (fixed focal length), all will make dramatically different photos come out of your camera. See our article. Experiment with lenses and make sure that a fair portion of your camera budget is dedicated to at least one if not two quality lenses.
5. Join Flickr. Flickr is almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world. Something happens when you start sharing your artistic photographs with the rest of the world. It’s hard to say why or how it happens but it gives you a tremendous amount of emotional support and genuine satisfaction to see like minded camera geeks sharing their work and appreciating yours.
6. Know your rights. Nowhere are rights more misunderstood than with photographers today. Can you take photos of strangers on the street. Yes. Can you take photos of buildings from the street even after security guards tell you not to? Yes. Can you shoot into an open door from the street into a bar? Yes. Know your rights and stick up for them. This not only helps you but it helps other photographers. For a great primer on your rights as a photographer check out Bert Krage’s excellent .pdf called “The Photographer’s Right”
7. Shoot in RAW and then learn how to do the production necessary with your photo processing app to do the minor modifications necessary to make your photo the best that it can be. Raw files take up a lot of space on your hard drive. But being able to make modifications to the exposure, contrast and temperature before really processing the photo makes a huge difference.
8. Photoshop. Almost every digital photo can be improved by editing it. Simple things like bumping contrast, altering saturation, sharpness, selective color, etc. all can make a world of difference. Buy Photoshop or go for free software like Google’s Picasa, it does do a lot of the basics nicely.
9. Take lots and lots and lots of photos when you shoot. Feel free to throw out the vast majority of the shots you shoot. When you see something you like to shoot, shoot 6 shots of the exact same thing. Some will be bad and you can pick the very best one and throw out the rest.
10. Change your perspective. Whenever you think you have your shot framed and captured take your shot and consider different perspectives. Can you get down on the ground (or simply set your camera on the ground and shoot from there standing up) and get a better perspective. Look up. Is there someplace higher you can get. What about closer, further back. Turn around. What’s behind you? Are you missing something great? Look everywhere at once. Keep your eyes open for different ways to take the same shot. Tilt the camera, take a vertical, a horizontal, a diagonal. Crop out the sky. Crop out all of the land but a thin small strip at the bottom. Play with your perspective on a shot and take several different versions of the same thing.
And finally, have fun. Digital photography is a great hobby and can be loads of fun but make sure that you don’t get so serious about it that it stops being fun for you. DSLR photography can be a career option for you if you take much seriously.
Since DSLR video cameras are incredibly light and not very ergonomically friendly for handheld work, using them without some type of stabilization system can render many of your shots unusable do to unpleasant camera shake. This camera shake draws audiences’ attention to the camera, which breaks the 4th wall and the illusion of reality, which as a director, you’re trying so hard to create. You wanted gentle movements that had a sort of “feather” quality to them and you’re not going to achieve that look by holding the camera in your hands while shooting. If you hold a DSLR camera in your hands it’s going to pick up the jitters from your morning coffee, your heartbeat and the movement of your breathing. These little machines are remarkable, but they are incredibly sensitive to movement.
Older, heavier video or film cameras had a weight to them that helped stabilize hand-held work. However, even those older and heavier cameras were generally mounted on the camera operator’s shoulder to help further stabilize the shot.
A shoulder mount is a dynamic piece of equipment that moves with the camera operator. It’s not static like a tripod and it allows you, the filmmaker, the flexibility of movement, which can really help increase efficiency during production.
Some filmmakers, and some audience members for that matter, don’t like the hand-held look – and that’s fine. They claim it makes them dizzy and nauseous. Fair enough. But some incredible films are being shot using this style of movement so we shouldn’t reject it as a legitimate shooting style. Essentially, a shoulder-mounted camera helps filmmakers create a sort of visual metaphor for something happening in the narrative of the film.
The LCD Timer can be set anywhere from 1 second to 99 hours, 59 minutes, 59 seconds. The buttons can be operated with a single thumb. The LCD panel can be illuminated. The remote has a stylish and ergonomic design. This timer remote cord allows the camera shutter to be released from a distance and prevents the camera from shaking
Two-stage release button: Halfway pressing for auto-focus, complete pressing for taking pictures.
Power source: Two AAA-type batteries (2XAAA Batteries not included)
Battery life: Approximately two months of continuous shooting with a delay of 5 min, an exposure time of 4 min 56 s, and an interval of 5 min.
Canon (Replacement for RS-60E3) EOS Digital Rebel Digital Rebel (aka 300D) Rebel T1i (aka 500D) Rebel XT (aka 350D) Rebel XTi (aka 400D Rebel XS (aka 1000D & Kiss F) Rebel XSi (aka 450D & Kiss X2) EOS Kiss/New Kiss/Kiss 7/Kiss III Rebel 2000, Rebel G, Rebel G II, Rebel T1, Rebel T2, Rebel T2i ELAN 7, ELAN 7E, ELAN 7N, ELAN II, ELAN IIE, IX LITE PowerShot G10/G11
Pentax (Replacement for CS-205) K10D/K110D/K100D/K20D/K200D/KM *ist D/DS/DS2/DL/DL2/K10 MZ-6, MZ-L, ZX-L
DSLR Lenses are generally categorized by their focal range or specific function if they’re a specialist lens. Below we’ve taken a look at a few of the most common types of lens, thought about the characteristics their images are said to have, and considered how they can be used.
What they are: Ultra Wide angle lenses have a focal length of around less than 24 mm (in 35 mm-format), this means they can take in a wider scene than is typical, though they’re not only about getting all of a subject into a shot. Rectilinear ultra wides help keep straight lines, just that, while fisheyes will reproduce buildings with curved walls.
Image characteristics: Because of the wide field of view, shots with ultra wide angle lenses typically feature a large depth of field. Images tend to pull in subjects that are close, and push away more distant ones making them appear further apart. Perspective distortion of ultra wides can give falling-building-syndrome (where vertical lines converge) but this can be corrected in post-processing, or minimized with good technique.
What they are used for: While often seen as a specialist lens, ultra wide angles can be used in a number of ways. Typical uses include landscape, architecture and interior photography. Even the distortion can be used creatively, especially when using fisheye lenses.
What they are: Typically covering a focal length between 24 mm and 35 mm, Wide Angle lenses are available as primes or zooms and come with either variable or fixed maximum aperture. Offering a wide field of view, they often also boast close minimum focusing distances.
Image characteristics: Wide angle photographs can magnify the perceived distance between subjects in the foreground and background. Wide angles suffer less distortion than their ultra wide counterparts, but you still get an exaggeration of lines and curves which can be used artistically.
What they are used for: Many people only reach for a wide angle lens when trying to get the whole of a subject in frame, whether that’s a building, a large group of people or a landscape. However, while those are perfectly good uses of one, they can also be used for interesting portraits where you want to place a subject in a situation. Just be careful not to distort faces unflatteringly by shooting too close.
Standard / Normal
What the are: The kit lens your DSLR or interchangeable lens mirrorless camera came with is probably an example of a standard zoom lens, covering a focal range of around 35-70 mm. Ones with better optics and faster maximum apertures are also available. Many photographers consider a 50 mm prime (in 35-mm-format) as a normal lens, as it’s said to reproduce an image with a angle of view which feels “natural” and similar to what you see with your eyes – even thought this isn’t technically true.
Image characteristics: Standard zoom lenses and normal primes sit between wide angles and telephotos in terms of image characteristics and are much more like you see with the human eye. Normal prime lenses tend to have faster maximum apertures which can allow for a shallow depth of field and lower light shooting.
What they are used for: As their name would suggest, normal or standard lenses are versatile lenses which can be used for almost all sorts of photography whether street, documentary, landscape, or portrait. Because normal prime lenses tend to feature faster maximum apertures, they allow you to shoot with a shallower depth of field and in lower light.
What they are: Telephoto lenses are those with a focal length in excess of 70 mm, though many people would argue that “true” telephoto lenses are ones which exceed 135 mm. They focus on a much narrower field of view than other lenses, which means they are good for focusing in on specific details or distant subjects. They are generally larger and heavier than equally specified wider lenses.
Image characteristics: Because they have a narrower angle of view, telephoto lenses bring far away subjects closer. They can also have the effect of compressing the sense of distance in a scene and making objects appear closer together. A narrow depth of field means that a subject can be in focus with a blurred background and foreground.
What they are used for: In addition to being used to photograph subjects you can’t (or don’t want to) get close to – like sports or wildlife – telephoto lenses can be used for shooting portraits and even landscapes where their normalization of relative size can be used to give a sense of scale.
What they are: Superzooms are do-it-all lenses which cover focal lengths from wide to telephoto. They can be good for uses in situations where you can’t or don’t want to be changing lenses and they normally change in length as you zoom.
Image characteristics: Because compromises have had to be made producing a do-it-all lens, superzooms do not have the same image quality of more dedicated lenses and often have slower and variable maximum apertures.
What they are used for: Offering a one-lens package, superzooms come into their own if you can’t (or don’t want to) change lenses. This could be when in situations where it wouldn’t be safe to switch lenses, or when travelling – you don’t necessarily want to be weighed down by five lenses when on holiday with the family.
What they are: One of the more specialist DSLR lenses, marco lenses are technically those which are capable of reproduction ratios greater than 1:1. However, the term is frequently used to refer to any lens which can be used for extreme close-up photography. Macro lenses typically have focal lengths somewhere between 40-200 mm.
Image characteristics: Macro lenses normally have excellent image sharpness, though it’s worth noting that when working at close distances they also have a tiny depth of field. You can often end up with a shot of an insect where only a fraction of it is in focus.
What they are used for: Though normally used for close-up photography (at which they excel), macro lenses can also be great for portraits thanks to their typical sharpness and focal lengths.