DSLR Camera Intro – Class 1

Casper College, 2/20/19
Instructor: Karel Mathison

Class 1 Topics

  • Camera Operation
  • ISO Setting
  • Aperture Priority Mode
  • Shutter Priority Mode
  • Camera Cards

Camera Operation

Everything about camera operation came directly from the owner’s manual.

Attaching & Removing a Lens

Line up the lens attachment marks on the camera lens and body. Rotate the lens until it clicks. The click is important because it indicates that the lens is properly seated. To remove the lens, press the lens removal button. This unlocks the lens. Rotate until the lens screws free.

Inserting a Battery

Open the battery door and slide it in so that the contacts on the battery and the camera body are aligned. Close the battery lock and door.

Setting the Camera Mode

Rotate the mode dial until the desired mode is selected. The modes include Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Macro, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Programmed, and several others.

Adjusting Aperture Size or Shutter Speed

Use the mode dial to put the camera in either Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority mode. Turn the command dial to adjust the aperture size or shutter speed depending on the selected mode.

ISO Setting

ISO is a measure of the light sensitivity of the photo sensor. The most common ISO numbers are 100, 200, and 400. Many DSLR cameras can adjust this as high as 25,600 and as low as 80. These numbers are equivalent to the film speed number on analog cameras.

The larger the ISO number, the more light sensitive the sensor. In other words, large ISO numbers are able to capture images in darker settings. Adjusting the ISO setting also allows a different trade-off between aperture size and shutter speed. One notable side effect is that images are grainier at high ISO settings than low ones. Most photos should be taken at 100 or 200. Evening photos may benefit from an ISO setting of 400.

Aperture Priority Mode

When placed in aperture priority mode, the photographer takes direct control over the aperture side and the camera will automatically select a shutter speed that produces a good exposure.

Aperture sizes are measured relative to the focal length of the lens and are expressed only as the denominator of the fraction. For example, at an F-stop of 3.5, the diameter of the aperture will be the focal length divided by 3.5. Fortunately, photographers don’t care about the actual diameter of the aperture. They only care about the measure relative to focal length (i.e., the F-stop). This inverse relationship means that large F-stops correspond to small aperture sizes and vice versa.

Adjusting aperture size changes the depth of field of the photo. It’s an artistic decision whether to keep the background and foreground in focus. Allowing them to blur draws attention to the subject. This is often done in microphotography. When taking a picture of a flower, a blurry background hides distracting elements like leaves and the ground. Another example that I find especially cool is photography in zoos. Animals are kept in fenced or caged enclosures. Using a large aperture to blur the foreground makes the animal enclosure disappear in the photograph making it appear that the animal is in the wild.

Shutter Priority Mode

When placed in shutter priority mode, the photographer is taking control of the shutter speed while allowing the camera to automatically adjust the aperture setting to ensure a good exposure.

Shutter speed becomes important when there is motion in the image. Using a fast shutter speed to take a picture of a racing dog sled will freeze the action. The movement of dogs and sled will not appear to be blurred. Photographers will also sometimes choose to use a slower shutter speed to take images like this in order to create a motion blur that accentuates the speed. On the opposite end of the spectrum, slow shutter speeds are sometimes used when photographing things like water falls. Doing so blurs the motion of the water creating a smooth flowing feel to the water.

Camera Cards

What are all those numbers on a SD Card?

64 GB – This is the amount of storage on the card.

80 MB/s – This is the read speed of the card. When copying files from the disk to your computer, this is the maximum copy speed provided your computer supports it.

SD XC – This designation is repetitive. XC stands for extended capacity. It means that the card is capable of holding between 32 GB and 2 TB. Also available are SC HC, which means high capacity. High capacity cards can hold between 4 and 32 GB. Normal SD cards hold less than 2 GB. Because images, especially high resolution images, can be quite large, you should always opt for XC, provided your camera supports it.

I – The roman numeral I appears next to the SD XC. The back of a SD Card has contacts that connect to the camera. There are two configurations available: Ultra High Speed I and Ultra High Speed II. The numeral indicates which this card supports. If the back of the card contains one row of contacts, it’s UHS-I. If it has two, it supports UHS-II. There’s also a UHS-III. While it has the same contacts as UHS-II, it supports higher data transfer rates.

Circle around 10 – This symbol indicates that this is a class 10 SD card. Class 10 SD cards support write speeds of 10 MB / s. The write speed is important for photographers that are taking sequences of high resolution images or videos. If an image is so large that it can’t be written quickly enough, the camera will slow down and take the sequence more slowly. The video may stop completely. Rarely are these the desired results. There are also class 2, 4, and 6 cards available.

U containing a 1 – This is also a UHS class indicator. It means that if this card is used with a UHS capable camera, the write speed will be 10 MB / s. Class 10 and UHS class 1 cards are usually interoperable. There’s also a UHS class 2. It’s capable of supporting write speeds up to 30 MB / s. This is faster than most photographer’s need. Class 10 and UHS 1 are considered professional grade.

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