Photography basics with your DSLR camera

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If you are new to photography, a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera can be very overwhelming.  But if you take the time to learn the functions of the buttons on the top, the side, and the back of your camera, you will eventually master your camera along with the controls.  It does not matter if you are using Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, or Sony, practice, and experiment with your settings and your confidence will grow.

Basic knowledge of your camera

Some DSLR cameras have both a viewfinder and an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screen.  They will have a Shutter Button, or also called an Exposure Button that is used to take the photograph.  Most will have a Hot Shoe on the top middle of the camera.  It is used for adding an external flash.  The term single lens refers to the fact that the lenses are interchangeable.  The Reflex aspect refers to when the photograph is taken, the mirror opens up, the light passes through it, and reaches the camera’s sensor.

Let’s start with some most commonly-used controls.  Some of those will include:

  • Power switch
  • Shutter button
  • Exposure compensation-aperture button
  • Mode dial
  • Command dial
  • Video start-stop button (depends on your camera model)

The mode dial, command dial, and the shutter button will be the most important and commonly used functions.

Your camera will have less commonly-used used functions on the side of your camera.  Those can include:

  • Flash button
  • Function button
  • Lens release button
  • Drive mode button

The back of your camera will be the center of your attention during and after you take your shot.  Some of the commonly-used controls on the back of the camera will include:

  • Menu button
  • Diopter Adjustment
  • Info button
  • Autofocus/ Auto exposure lock
  • Image playback button
  • i button
  • OK button
  • Multi selector
  • Delete button

Choose your format

The image format is another consideration as you experiment.  The JPEG or JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group), TIFF, and, GIF, and PNG formats are the most commonly used.

JPG is the standard image format for containing high-quality image data with lossless compression.  The unique compression maintains reasonable image quality that allows images to be widely used on the internet, PCs, and mobile devices without using up a lot of storage space.

You may also want to consider shooting RAW.  A raw image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of the digital camera.  RAW files do not lose quality but they are much larger and take up more storage space.  But RAW files are very useful if you want to use image processing software to improve image quality.

Protect your investment

Before you head out or transporting your camera, you need to get some important gear.  A camera bag is a must.  This bag will not only hold your DSLR camera, but it can also hold additional lenses, memory cards, and extra batteries.  The bag will also protect your camera during transport.

This is the basics of a DSLR camera.  There will be more detailed information on each setting to follow.

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