Category Archives: Tutorials

DSLR Shoulder Mount: Why & When to Use a Rig to make professional video

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.

Different types of dslr lenses and their uses

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.

Picture-of-Angle-of-View-Graph

Ultra Wide

Ultra Wide angle lenses photography

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.

Wide Angle

wide-angle-landscape

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

normal photography

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.

Telephoto

telephoto-lens-photography

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.

Superzoom

superzoom photography

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.

Macro

macro lenses photography

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.

DSLR – TOP, FRONT and BACK all buttons and settings explained

A DSLR camera looks much more complex than the majority of cameras. Most of the beginners are often afraid of touching certain buttons as they think that it may mess up the default settings. The whole point of a DSLR camera to give all buttons is for the user to set everything according to their requirements.

Below you will find images of a popular camera, the Canon EOS 70D. What’s great is that once you understand the functions of one camera you can apply the same knowledge to other models of other brands. If you’ve never owned, or seen a DSLR then this is honestly all you need to know! Don’t be scared to jump into this “complicated” DSLR world, we all started without any knowledge and if you really want to take pictures then learning will be easy.

Front of a DSLR Body

dslr body front view

  1. Shutter Button– The most important button of all! Almost no lag at all between pressing on it and capturing a photograph. To auto focus or see the settings, you can also press it half-way.
  2. Focus Assist Beam– Helps with illuminating the subject in low light situations.
  3. Lens Mount Indicator– Most DSLR cameras accept two types of lenses (EF-S and EF at Canon,DX and FX at Nikon). In our image, the red dot marks the spot for your EF lines, while the white one is where you would start putting on your EF-S lens.
  4. Flash– The built-in flash that always jumps out in Automatic shooting mode.
  5. Flash Button– In manual modes, the use of a flash is up to you. Press this button to make it jump out!
  6. Lens Removal– The button you need to hold in order to take off a lens
  7. Lens Contacts– This is how your lens communicates with the camera; aperture, auto focus and lots of other settings.
  8. Mirror– There’s a reason why the mirror is hidden inside, it’s crucial for transferring the light up into the pentaprism. Try not to get any dust inside of your body when swapping between lenses.

Most of the time, you will “use” the front of your body for changing lenses. The real deal starts behind it, with all those buttons and dials.

Back of a DSLR Body

Back of a DSLR Body

Luckily for all of us, most of these buttons are pretty self-explanatory.

1. Menu – Why make it complicated; it shows you the main menu of your camera. Functions, controls, flash control; you can change it all in there.

2. Info – Displays information depending on what you are looking at in your camera (information of a photograph and so on).

3. Dioptre Adjustment – A great adjustment for those of you who have problems with vision.

4. Movie/Live View Mode – Switch between the Live View and Movie mode with one single click. Use the start/stop button to record movies.

5. AF-ON – Whilst holding the button, your camera will not re-auto focus or adjust the settings again; it will use whatever you had prior to holding it.

6. Zoom in/Exposure Lock – Allows you to keep the exposure metering you just did, and to zoom in on any photograph.

7. Zoom out/Focus Point – If you want to manually select your focus point (or groups) then you would use this button. Oh, it also zooms out your shots.

8. Memory Card Slot – Either SDHC or CF. Some more expensive DSLR cameras also offer 2 slots!

9. Set/Main Wheel – The Set button is for accepting any changes, while the main wheel is for navigating in the menu, selecting different values etc.

10. Trash Icon – Deletes the image you are currently previewing (for deleting multiple shots at once you have to use a function in the menu)

11. Playback – What’s the point of a digital camera if you can’t see what you just photographed? Use the playback button (and zoom in/out to see multiple shots).

12. LCD Screen – A few years ago, a screen was just a screen. Now we have different resolutions, different sizes and even articulating ones (move them around). Most common features here are a 3.0″ LCD screen with over 920,00 dots, more than great for many of us.

Again, cheaper/more expensive cameras may offer more or less options, or even something totally new. That’s why there is a manual for every camera, make sure to read it! Not all of it in the same day of course, it would be extremely boring with so many expressions you’ve never heard of. Learning can be fun, but you also need to know when to stop and actually use what you’ve been reading!

Top of a DSLR Body

Top of a DSLR Body

1. Mode Dial – Switch between different modes. Make sure to read my camera shooting modes article!

2. Top Buttons – Commonly found on more professional models, these buttons make our lives much easier! Change the white balance, select the ISO speed and so on. Each has two different values that you can control with two different dials on the body.

3. Main Dial – Used for changing the shutter speed, aperture and all other values

4. Top LCD Screen – Another exclusive feature for semi-pro and higher models, a top LCD screen will allow you to see your settings immediately. Cheaper cameras tend to do that on the LCD screen, or only in the viewfinder.

5. Hot-shoe – Attach your flash, wireless triggers and other devices here!

6. Power switch – Simple switch to turn on/off the camera.

Side of a DSLR Body

Side of a DSLR Body

1. Viewfinder – One of the major differences between DSLRs and P&S cameras is the quality of the viewfinder. Because the light is reflected up with the help of a mirror, you’re looking at the world at the speed of light! Not to mention it’s much brighter and has lots of information about your settings inside of it.

2. Devices – Usually two slots for different types of cables or attachments. HDMI and USB are a must, while latest cameras also feature a microphone input for better audio quality!

And that’s pretty much it, a simple explanation with a couple of images about DSLR buttons. Once you actually get the camera in your hands you’ll slowly get the feel for all of this, and in just a couple of weeks you won’t even have to look at what you’re pressing anymore!

Lens that you need to buy to do brilliant photography

Here in this article we are focusing on a number of typical situations that kit-lens-toting photographers often find themselves in. For each example, we’ve highlighted some of the factors that should be considered when trying to find the right lens for the job. While these are factors which are relevant whatever camera and lens system you’re using, in each case we’ve also highlighted a couple of lenses that would be a good choice for specific set-ups without blowing the budget.

If you want an all-day / travel lens

dslr holiday photography

When you’re on holiday or traveling, you probably don’t want to be lugging several lenses and cameras around with you – unless you’re the most dedicated of photographers, that is. It’s often the same if you’re trying to enjoy a day with the family and don’t want to spend all day changing lenses and moaning about your back.

As such, a good all-day or travel lens would be one that was easy enough to carry around, but still offered you the freedom to capture shots from landscapes to portraits, and zoom in on distant objects. For Micro Four Thirds shooters, that could be something like the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140 mm f/3.5-5.6, or the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200 mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II if a DX Nikon is your DSLR or choice.

If you want to do street photography

dslr-street-photography-documentary

Street photography can be done with almost any lens, though a 300 mm F2.8 might raise a few eyebrows from your subjects. However, a focal range of around 35-50 mm is often seen as the ideal for capturing the moment in urban areas.

Unless you want all of your subjects looking directly at the camera, you’d probably be best served by something discrete. It’s also important that street photography lenses feature a fast maximum aperture for lower-light situations. This means that something like the Fuji XF 23 mm f1.4 R Lens would be a great selection. The Sigma 35 mm F1.4 DG HSM has also been very well received by many DSLR street shooters.

If you want to photograph your kids running around in the garden

dslr kids running and playing

Many people shell out for a DSLR or mirrorless interchangeable lens camera when they have a child, but by the time that child starts running around, the kit lens struggles to keep up, both in terms of aperture and focal range. This is especially true if you’re trying to photograph the kids running around in the garden or on the sports field.

This means you need something with a bit more reach, but probably without the bulk and weight that a professional lens would bring. A zoom lens will allow you to keep your shots framed as you want while your subject moves around in front of you. So, if you feel you just need some added reach, the EF-S 55-250 mm f/4-5.6 IS II could get you closer to the action. But if you want a bit more speed (and to be the best equipped parent at the game), there’s the Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L USM.

If you want to take landscape photographs

dslr rocks landscape photo

While the kit lenses which come with most cameras are surprisingly good at the wide angle end, you could find that they don’t quite go far enough for some of the landscape images you try to take. So, unless you’re able to keep moving backwards, you’re going to need a new lens.

Focal length is key here, and you’ll only get some landscapes if you’ve got an ultra wide angle lens. You could go for either a prime or a zoom, but most people in this situation are probably going to be best-served by a zoom. A lens like the AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED could be good for APS-C Nikon shooters, while the Olympus 9-18 mm f/4-5.6 ZUIKO would do the job on Micro Four Thirds cameras.

If want a lens which will make you improve as a photographer

photographer-makes-good

After a while you might find that you’ve simply outgrown your kit lens. You suddenly find that it’s stifling your creative ambitions and preventing you from taking the photos that you want, even if they are within its focal length reach.

This is the ideal time to get yourself a fast prime lens, and the good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to do it. Getting something like a Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35 mm f/1.8G or the Sony E 50 mm f/1.8 OSS will mean you can play around with shallower depths of field, and shoot naturally in conditions that would have otherwise required a flash. Because they are primes, it also means you need to zoom with your feet, which will in turn probably mean you spend more time thinking about how you compose shots. Never a bad thing.

What is DSLR and how it works?

What is DSLR?

A digital single-lens reflex camera commonly known as DSLR is a digital camera that uses mirrors to direct light from the lens to the viewfinder, which is a hole on the back of the camera that you look through to see what you are taking a picture of.

DSLRs largely replaced film-based SLRs during the 2000s, and despite the rising popularity of mirrorless system cameras in the early 2010s, DSLRs remained the most common type of interchangeable lens camera in use.

Explaining how does a DSLR works.

The following image of an SLR cross section (image courtesy of Wikipedia):

SLR-Cross-Section
SLR-Cross-Section
  1. Lens
  2. Reflex mirror
  3. Shutter
  4. Image sensor
  5. Matte focusing screen
  6. Condenser lens
  7. Pentaprism
  8. Eyepiece/Viewfinder

When you look through the viewfinder on the back of the camera, whatever you see is exactly what you are going to get in the photograph. The scene that you are taking a picture of passes through the lens in a form of light into a reflex mirror (#2) that sits at a 45 degree angle inside the camera chamber, which then forwards the light vertically to an optical element called a “pentaprism” (#7). The pentaprism then converts the vertical light to horizontal by redirecting the light through two separate mirrors, right into the viewfinder (#8).

When you take a picture, the reflex mirror (#2) swings upwards, blocking the vertical pathway and letting the light directly through. Then, the shutter (#3) opens up and the light reaches the image sensor (#4). The shutter (#3) remains open for as long as needed for the image sensor (#4) to record the image, then the shutter (#3) closes and the reflex mirror (#2) drops back to the 45 degree angle to continue redirecting the light into the viewfinder.

Obviously, the process doesn’t stop there. Next, a lot of complicated image processing happens on the camera. The camera processor takes the information from the image sensor, converts it into an appropriate format and writes it into a memory card. The whole process takes very little time and some professional DSLRs can do this 11 times in one second!

The above is a very simple way to explain how DSLR cameras work.

To read a lot more about DSLRs, check out at Wikipedia.

 

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