Many have invested significant money (400-900 euros) in a good camera to which they are giving a fully automatic use, as if it were a compact digital camera.
This happens because at first we want to buy a good camera and we opt for a SLR or an EVIL, but once we have it in our hands it gives us a little respect, so many buttons, so many acronyms and so much technical terminology. So we decided to use it in automatic mode for the first few days with the intention of starting to use it more experienced manually later on, but many never see that moment.
They accommodate to take photos in automatic mode and period. They allow themselves to be drawn to the dark side of the force.
If you identify with the previous paragraph, continue reading the rest of the article. Today we are going to get rid of that fear of our camera. I will tell you how easy it is to use it in manual or semi-manual mode once we have understood how it works. I am going to try to make this article as less technical as possible, since my intention is to simplify it so that we can all give our SLR camera the use it deserves. In addition, I will give you some guidelines to get you started with your camera in the first seven days. For you to enter through the big door and the accompanying force.
Your first reflex camera or EVIL
If you are starting out in digital photography, it is important that the camera is from a range made especially for beginners. Not for that reason the photos are going to be of lower quality, you would be surprised by the great power they have. On the contrary, precisely the fact that it is made for beginners makes the task easier. You can take a look at this link where I recommend the best SLR cameras for beginners and this other one with the cheapest SLRs.
what is your camera
The first step to lose the fear of a SLR or EVIL camera is to know what it is made of. Unlike digital compact cameras, DSLRs and EVILs basically have two parts: body and lens. The body is the camera itself, with all its components except the lens, which is separate and interchangeable.
There is an unlimited variety of lens types for these cameras. If at the time of buying your camera it has come with a lens already included, it will surely be 18-55mm. There are more varieties but the most expanded is that one.
I invite you to visit the following link if you want more information about camera lenses, it will dispel any doubt you have about the objectives.
Your first 7 days with your first DSLR or EVIL camera
Right now you have in your hands the most coveted treasure, your most coveted gift, the dark object of desire that you have longed for so long. You probably feel like Gollum in the Lord of the Rings yelling “my soooooooooooo” and you notice that, as if it were the ring, the power of the camera is capturing you and turning you without restraint to shoot photos everywhere, like this, from the box to your hands and directly to press the fire button, without going through the starting box 😉 .
If you have handled a DSLR or a mirrorless before, great, let yourself be trapped by its power, but if it is your first serious camera, please, before letting yourself be fooled by the power of the ring or go over to the dark side of the force (with your permission I change the saga that suits me better to explain the following), you should read what I am going to tell you next. Really.
I am going to tell you what you can do to make the most of your newly released acquisition. Because you can let yourself be carried away by the dark side of the force or train as a good Jedi. It’s up to you.
Day 1. Read the instruction manual
Oh yeah, how obvious, right? You probably think I should skip this obvious step… Well no.
For the simple reason that more than 90% of people who have their first DSLR in their hands do not read the manual (or at least at first) and I put my hand in the fire for it. It’s just that it’s so tempting to start shooting all at once… all in all, if the automatic modes are there and there are little drawings on the buttons…
Do you know by chance the number of options and settings that a reflex camera has? Do you have a slight idea of the possibilities it presents?
If you don’t read the instruction manual you can shoot a photograph (or many) but you won’t get even 15% of its performance. And then you will have to ask yourself why you wanted such an advanced camera, if a compact one was worth it.
Or you’ll get frustrated because you won’t get the shots you thought you’d get with your brand new camera. Yes or yes, read the manual. With the camera to the side, button by button, option by option. Go through the menu from cover to cover with the manual next to it, reading each of the sections.
This may take a day or two, or even longer, depending on how much time you can spare. But I assure you that if you don’t read it in its entirety, you will have wasted your money. Know your camera to get the most out of it, to be faster when shooting, so as not to get lost in the menu and lose a photo, so as not to despair at the most unexpected moment.
The importance of reading the instruction manual
Day 2. Walk through the different modes, automatic, semi-manual and manual
Learn about the different shooting modes
Your camera has different shooting modes:
Automatic mode: To point the camera and shoot, without major complications.Preset modes: They are modes specially programmed for specific occasions, for example for portraits, landscapes, sports, etc. They are usually represented with a small symbol of a mountain for landscape, a runner for sports, a person for portrait, etc. These modes are each more appropriate for your situation and work better than the generic auto mode.Manual and semi-manual modes: They are the modes that allow us absolute control over the camera. With the automatic (1) and preset (2) modes we can only take normal photos, generally good but nothing impressive. If we want to go a little further and get an excellent, impressive, original and outstanding photo, we would need to take control of our camera and tame it to be able to drive it as we please.
Automatic modes are fine for an emergency. But that’s it.
The difference between automatic and manual modes is like leaving a plane running on autopilot or piloting it manually.
If you have an SLR it is to go beyond the automatic mode. To use the manual and semi-manual modes of the camera it is necessary to first understand some basic concepts that are very simple but that make a huge difference when taking a photo.
Learn about Programmable Mode, Aperture Priority Mode, Speed Priority Mode, and Manual Mode and when to use it. To do this, read this article with your camera in hand, try them and little by little you will discover which one best suits your style of photography or which one to use at all times. For now, you just need to get to know them and at least shoot a few times with each one to see the differences.
Day 3. Practice with the triangle of light
When you try the semi-manual modes or the manual mode, you will see that some photos come out too dark, others too bright or burnt.
To achieve a correct exposure you must learn to master the well-known exposure triangle: aperture, speed, ISO. Only when you know how each of these parameters work, how they influence photography and how they relate to each other, will you achieve a correct exposure with manual mode.
Read this article by Mario and you will become a magician of light 😉 Don’t despair, this cannot be achieved in a day or two, theory can, but you will have to practice it for many more days and weeks until you master light in your photographs. Knowing this will help you not get discouraged.
Day 4. Play with focus and depth of field
One of the aspects that you most wanted to achieve with your camera was surely getting a part of the photo in focus and another not. This is a very visual and obvious effect at first glance, which is why it is one of the first things you set out to achieve with your SLR.
To do this, put your camera in aperture priority mode and open the diaphragm to the maximum, then take the same picture by closing the diaphragm. You can also do several tests focusing on the foreground and then the background to observe the different effects.
Be careful, do not expect miracles with the kit lens, they do not usually have a very wide aperture, although enough for you to learn to handle this concept called depth of field. More wisdom on the subject at the link.
play with the opening
Day 5. Experiment with shutter speed
If on the previous day you practiced with the depth of field, today you have to practice with the shutter speed.
This parameter will be the one that allows you to freeze the movement, as when photographing a falling drop of water, or transmit movement, capture it, as with the trails of light drawn by cars on a night road.
Shooting at slow speeds also allows you to achieve the silky effect of water, or amazing creative effects like these.
capture the motion
These last two days will also help you practice the exposure triangle and strengthen concepts 😉
Day 6. Learn about the different light measurement modes
In addition to the exposure triangle, you should know that to achieve correct exposure there is another parameter that can have a great influence. And it is the way in which light is measured.
Reading through the instruction manual you came across terms like evaluative metering, spot metering, or center-weighted metering. Well, go back to this point and take the same photo by varying the metering mode.
Do several tests, with different lighting situations and check the different results.
Day 7. Learn to hold your camera… and go out to discover the world with your SLR
Although it may seem that anyone knows how to hold a camera, it is not something so easy or so instinctive. Holding your camera properly can mean the difference between a shaky photo or a perfect photo. There are many other factors to obtain sharp photos, but it will be useless to control them all if your camera shakes just at the moment of shooting due to not holding it well or not having the right posture.
Do not miss this article that explains all the details to learn how to hold a reflex camera correctly. You also have an infographic where you will see how to hold the camera in a very graphic way.
Holding the camera well is essential Come out!
You are ready, you have the basic training to let your strength flood your photographs. You know your camera, the basic principles. It’s time for you to go out and shoot and learn to compose, to get excited and excited, to enjoy and have fun doing one of the things you like most in the world: photography.
If before you can go out you have some time left over, you are also interested in reading this article about things you should do when you have your camera and this other one in which I tell you some lessons that I would have loved for you to share with me before I started in this world, I wish I had been told all these things before!
And to go even deeper, I leave you with our mega guide to learn photography. A must that you cannot miss.
Than? That you still have a couple of minutes left? Well, then I would really appreciate it if you would share this article on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. It is possible that some of your contacts will benefit and you will make me a little happier. Thank you! May the force be with you (and the more than 1000 articles that you have at your disposal on the blog too).