Basics of Photography: How to Use Your DSLR Camera

To take better pictures, you must first understand how to use your DSLR camera. Knowing how to properly use your camera and its functions can take your photography skills to a new limit. In this self-teach photography course, we will discuss the different parts and functions on DSLR cameras.

What does DSLR stand for?

DSLR cameras are the standard, most popular camera choice by far. They are versatile and offer professional photographs with high image quality. They can also work with an array of interchangeable lenses.

So what is a DSLR camera exactly? DSLR is the abbreviation for Digital Single Lens Reflex. A digital still image camera that uses a single-lens reflex mechanism.

Digital means that the camera operates with a fixed, digital sensor.

Single-lens means the camera uses the same lens for framing, focusing, and taking the photograph.

Reflex refers to a system where a mirror splits or directs the incoming light towards the optical viewfinder. It allows you to see an exact, optical view of the scene.

DSLR Camera Parts

Your DSLR camera is made up of many parts, but there are a few in particular that we want to look at as they are the most important.

Your DSLR Camera Body

The body is the housing for your camera. While it has little effect on the quality of your photos, it does affect things like ease of use and comfort.

Your DSLR Camera Lens

The lens is the eye of the camera. It’s a very complex instrument. Different lenses can provide many different features, so it’s important to know the differences between them.

Certain types of lenses are better for certain situations, so it’s important to know their classifications and differences. The first thing worth noting is the difference between zoom lenses and prime lenses.

Zoom lenses—as you can probably guess—let you zoom in and out. While they have that advantage, they’re generally more expensive, heavier, and larger.

Prime lenses, on the other hand, do not allow you to zoom, but they’re often cheaper, lighter, and smaller. In many cases, prime lenses will provide sharper images than zoom lenses at lower price points.

The next thing you want to understand is the difference between wide-angle, standard, medium, telephoto, and ultra-telephoto lenses. These terms are all based on a lens’ focal length. Focal length is measured in millimeters (mm) and you can think of it like the amount of magnification. A low number is like being zoomed really far out, and a high number really far in.

Your Camera’s Sensor

The sensor is basically the digital equivalent of film, in the sense that—like film—the sensor is exposed to light that comes through the lens and it records that exposure. The exposure is then processed and saved to flash memory (generally an SD or Compact Flash card). The caliber and size of the sensor are also very important, as these things significantly impact the quality of your photos.

Your DSLR Flash Card or Memory Card

The flashcard (often called a memory card) is where you save your images. It’s a component most people don’t think about too much when buying a camera, aside from choosing an amount of storage that suits their needs.

However, memory cards range in read and write speeds as well. Having a slow card can significantly degrade your camera’s performance.

The speed of your flash memory card is important because most cameras nowadays are very fast. You can take many images in rapid succession, but if your card has a slow write speed it can’t keep up.

Your DSLR Camera Battery

Your battery matters in a camera just like any other electronic device. Most DSLRs pack a battery that will last you all-day. DSLRs do not require the use of the LCD screen and you’ll generally take pictures through the viewfinder. The battery will last much longer when the LCD screen is not powered. If you use your LCD screen for taking pictures, your battery might not last you all day.

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Written by : Oak Five Studios

Oak Five Studios was inspired by my own journey through postpartum depression. I want other moms to know you’re not alone. You’re not a bad momma. And with the right support system, we can raise awareness and fight PPD.