ABCs of a DSLR

Total words: 607, Reading time: 6 mins

To use your DSLR in the best possible way and to also understand why are you unable to move out of the Auto mode, there are some basics of the mean machine that many would recommend you to learn. There are a few basic rules and all DSLR’s or maybe all other cameras too work on those principles, the only difference being those cant be changed in a point and shoot. Altering those principles in a DSLR for fine tuning your image gives you immense power and control on how your image would look. I wouldn’t want to build in everything in this post and maybe cover more on each of those below in separate posts later on,

Three primary principles that dictate the image:

1.  Shutter Speed

Is the speed or time duration for which the shutter of the camera sensor, or the camera lid opens to capture the image. It is usually measured in seconds as a ratio. For example 1/60 –> which means the shutter will be open for a period of 1/60th of a second to let camera capture the light it requires to produce an image.

Difficult to control, but primary tool to create intentional blur and shake effects in the image

2. Aperture

Is the opening in the lens that lets light in to capture the image details through to the sensor. This number or arrangement helps control the amount of light that passes through the lens – giving rise to darker or lighter pictures and also giving a control to create the bokeh or the blur effect by providing a very small depth of field (to be covered later on). It is measured as a ratio and called a ‘f’ number for every image. It can go from 1.2 to 22, and upto 36 in some lenses. It is a ratio and hence has be read as inverted, which corresponds as f1.2 being the largest opening and 36 being the smallest opening.

Easiest to control, all cameras have an ‘A’ mode which allows you to dictate the aperture number and gives the camera the liberty to calculate the shutter speed automatically. Most photographers prefer working in this mode.

3. ISO (Sensor Sensitivity)

 This talks about the sensitivity of the imaging sensor. Effectively it lightens the image at the backend and is used primarily for low light photography to avoid blurry pictures. In the worst sense, ISO lightens the picture by replacing the dark pixels in the picture to shades of gray based on the ISO number, right upto complete white. ISO is measure in absolute numbers and starts from ISO 100 being the lowest (can be lower in some) and going upto 50,000 to lighten the image (Leica models can go upto 50k ISO whereas Nikon can stretch upto 25-30K. However, high numbers also bring in considerable noise in the pictures making them look grainy. Best alternative is to use lighting setup and keep the ISO lowest.

Ease of use in low light, but introduces noise in the images.

I will walkthrough each of them in separate blog posts and try to cover them in detail. Also, apart from these 3 main factors there is another adjustment in your cameras which dictate the light captured: Exposure compensation. There is a small (+/-) button on your DSLR and this lightens or darkens the image. It reduces the light in the image by a ‘step’ and is calculated in decimals ranging from (dark) -3 to 0 to +3 (light).

To enable you to understand these modes on your camera, you would need to practical work in each mode and understand how do these affect your pictures. Stay tuned to the tutorials and I will guide you through this process.

Stay blessed and keep clicking..