Author Topic: Quick tips for a DSLR newbie  (Read 1907 times)

Oscar's dad

  • Cheers!
Quick tips for a DSLR newbie
« on: October 27, 2008, 10:07:21 am »
I have just purchased from Amazon a Sony DSLR-A200K digital SLR, it should arrive tomorrow.

About 20 years ago I had a film SLR but sold it, something I have always regretted.  I have forgotten any SLR skills I had.  I am now a happy snapper and only use a camera phone (currently a Sony Ericsson K810i with on board CyberShot camera).  Camera phones have got increasingly good over the years and been just fine for my happy snapping.  Purchasing the Sony was an impulse purchase but the Amazon user reviews seem to rate the camera as a good entry level DSLR and the price was reasonable.

Now, I could read a book and probably will when time allows.  But to get me started, what would be your top 3 DSLR tips?

Re: Quick tips for a DSLR newbie
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2008, 10:27:33 am »
I recon:
 - leave it in Manual mode for a while
 - play with the different ISO settings
 - use RAW format (I dont know what Sony call it) and play with the pics on your PC
 - review pics on your PC, not the little screen on the camera so you can see them properly

tonycollinet

  • No Longer a western province of Númenor
Re: Quick tips for a DSLR newbie
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2008, 10:40:10 am »
Possibly the opposite regarding auto / manual ( ;D ) - leave in Auto for a while, and focus on composition.

Some links on composition
Rules of photo composition
  Digital Photography Composition Tips

   Photography: The Rules Of Composition (Technology: Digital Cameras: User's Guide)



See also

   Digital Cameras: User's Guide - advice videos on  Digital Cameras: User's Guide


Seconded - comment re iso - one of the real benefits of the digital camera is being able to change the iso setting shot to shot. Find out what iso settings still give you good (not too noisy) images.

I would leave raw till later when you have the basics right - but it is the way to get ultimate quality out of the camera.

Try to get good images (compositionally) in camera, without relying on later editing - but expect to need *some* ediiting (often sharpening/contrast adjustments) for most images.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: Quick tips for a DSLR newbie
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2008, 10:43:32 am »
I'd agree with leaving RAW alone for a little while. I left it for a few months, then once I knew where the dials where and what (some of) the buttons did, I switched to RAW.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: Quick tips for a DSLR newbie
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2008, 10:50:45 am »
I think I'd tend towards tonyc's advice there.  Leave it in Auto (not Programme) mode until you have your eye in again with the composition, then begin to experiment further with manual settings.

Otherwise, I'd go with Mike on:

Use RAW if you can (it's the only drawback to my camera :( )

Don't bother reviewing pix on the tiny screen.  Wait & process them on your PC.  It'll give you an idea what your most common errors are, as well as allow you to spend some time experimenting with adjustments to try to get a good image from something a bit rough.  Good practice.

And - extra one for free - don't worry about kit.  It's easy to buy the magazines and think that you need a ton of gear, including the new camera that comes out about two weeks after your own.  But with a body and a basic zoom, you have everything you need for the vast majority of situations.  Get out there and do it!




Oh - last one, based on my experiences.  When you move, try not to lose your charger :-[
Getting there...

Regulator

  • Got a thing for rubber...
Re: Quick tips for a DSLR newbie
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2008, 04:43:27 pm »
Oh - last one, based on my experiences.  When you move, try not to lose your charger :-[

Oh - and don't leave the camera specific USB cable around.  Your other half will 'tidy it away' and then forget where they've put it...  >:(
Quote from: clarion
I completely agree with Reg.

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: Quick tips for a DSLR newbie
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2008, 04:49:04 pm »
Fortunately I got round that one (not partner, but probably me tidying) by having card ports on my PC. :)
Getting there...

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Quick tips for a DSLR newbie
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2008, 05:03:03 pm »
Card ports and USB card readers obviate the need for a cable.
Thankfully the Canon cable has a standard mini-USB plug and there are several suitable cables around the house.

Biggsy

  • A bodge too far
  • Twit @iceblinker
    • My stuff on eBay
Re: Quick tips for a DSLR newbie
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2008, 06:05:28 pm »
But to get me started, what would be your top 3 DSLR tips?

The following mostly applies to film SLRs as well, so you will already know, but perhaps will have forgotten, this basic stuff:

1.  Support most of the weight with your left hand via the lens, especially with bigger lenses.

2.  If you do fancy a semi-auto mode, use Av (Aperture Priority) for most things.  You select the aperture, the camera sets the shutter speed.  The smaller the F number, the larger the aperture and the shallower the depth of field and the faster shutter speed the camera will select.  For optimum lens performance (typically), use F8 when dof and shutter speed is not critical.  Dial in some +/- EV Compensation if the first attempt is too light or dark - the camera will then tweak the shutter speed.

3.  Keep an eye on the shutter speed to ensure it doesn't get too slow when hand-holding.  Rule of thumb for limit to avoid camera shake: 1/50 sec at 50mm focal length, 1/100 sec for 100mm and so on.  You can break this rule, but try not to when you can avoid it by using another aperture or ISO setting instead that will enable a faster shutter speed.

As far as using the camera goes, the only major things that are different from film is being able to alter the ISO at any time (in the middle of a roll of film, as it were) and the ability to view your pics straight away.
●●●  My eBay items  ●●●  Twitter  ●●●

Oscar's dad

  • Cheers!
Re: Quick tips for a DSLR newbie
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2008, 08:27:29 am »
Thanks for all the tips, very useful. 

The camera turned up on Tuesday and seems to be fantastic though so far I have only taken photos round the house of the cats etc as I have been busy with work.  The manual is well written so I have begun to read through it and learnt a lot already.

RainOrShine

Re: Quick tips for a DSLR newbie
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2008, 01:02:49 pm »
Oh - last one, based on my experiences.  When you move, try not to lose your charger :-[

Oh - and don't leave the camera specific USB cable around.  Your other half will 'tidy it away' and then forget where they've put it...  >:(
Or your small children will fill one end with plasticine, which seems to be a good electrical insulator... >:( ::-)

Re: Quick tips for a DSLR newbie
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2008, 01:10:24 pm »
On image stabilisation (which your camera has) it may be worth remembering that this works to reduce any camera shake, at a shutter speed where this would normally occur, but IS will not stop blur in a moving subject at the same shutter speed (if too low).   :)
"an inordinate fondness for beetles"

iakobski

Re: Quick tips for a DSLR newbie
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2008, 09:29:17 am »
To answer the OP, I'll go out on a bit of a limb here: he's obviously got experience of composition, etc, so my top tip would be:

Set aside a whole afternoon and work through all the settings on the camera, taking photos for every combination methodically and view the results critically. This is the power of digital - it would be prohibitively expensive to do this with film, but doing and seeing is far more instructive than reading a book.

For example: set aperture priority, choose a nearby subject and take pictures for all the aperture settings, compare the results. What changes from picture to picture and by how much? Do the same for a far subject. Do the same with the zoom set to the shortest and the longest settings (use the same subject and move closer/further to get the same frame).

Then, when you are out and are looking for a particular effect you know how to get it, or you know just how much more grainy your image will be if you switch to iso 3200, etc.