DSLR Cameras for Parents

With cameras becoming more available, more people are purchasing them for personal use. It is awesome! Not only do more people get to learn about something I love so much but they get to capture priceless moments in their lives. Right now I want to focus on parents who love photographing their kids. I also happen to be one of those people.

DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex. That means that there is a mirror inside the camera that that allows you to look through the viewfinder to see what the final image will look like to the sensor. When you press the trigger the mirror moves (as well as the shutter) to allow light to hit the sensor which captures you’re image. If you have a camera like mine, the Canon 6D, it is a loud clicking sound. That is a simplified description in a nut shell.

As far as the lens, they come in different focal lengths but I’m going to only discuss the basics of the camera body assuming the lens that came with the camera will be used. There are two key components that effect the exposure if an image, the aperture and shutter speed. The aperture is an set of blades that open to create a shape (hexagon, pentagon, etc.) allowing light through. On a camera this will be represented by a number. The most common settings you’ll see are 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, and 22. The smaller the number the more light will be allowed through and the brighter the image will look. The aperture also effects the depth of field. The lower the number, less subject matter will be perfectly in focus.

The shutter speed is the amount of time that light hits the sensor. The longer light is allowed to hit the sensor the brighter the image will be. One of the most common settings are 1/125 of a second. The shutter is most important aspect when capturing motion. If your shutter is open for a second and someone is walking by they will appear to be a blur. So when freezing action the shutter needs to be really fast (1/500 and higher for sports).

The third setting, ISO, is another way to increase the brightness of an image. It comes at a cost though. The more you increase the ISO to increase the exposure the more grain, fuzziness, will be introduced to the picture. ISO starts at 100 and increases as far the camera lets it. More often than not more expensive cameras are capable of increasing the ISO without introducing more grain. Generally it’s best to keep the camera at 100 unless you do not have enough light. 

Canon 6D Top View

Canon 6D Top View

Canon Rebel XS Top View

Canon Rebel XS Top View

Those are the basics and to have full control over your camera you need to use manual mode, denoted by an M. There are other modes on the camera that allow you partial control without overwhelming you. For capturing moving subjects (kids at play) shutter priority is a good choice. The camera will use the appropriate aperture based on the shutter speed you set. When indoors the camera will probably try and use it’s flash.

Aperture priority mode does the opposite of shutter priority (sports mode). You select an aperture manually and the camera will select appropriate shutter. Both of these modes have pros and cons. If you’re uncomfortable using either you can even use fully automatic. The problem with that will be the cameras desire to use its built in flash.

As you can see both cameras have most of the same settings, mostly placed in different places. Taking steps to learning the basics of DSLR cameras will allow anyone to photograph better. Fully automatic mode is only capable of doing so much. I will go into more depth in the future. The best way to learn is to experience. 


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