DSLR Intro – Class 2

Casper College, 2/27/19
Instructor: Karel Mathison

Class Topics

  • Camera Kit Contents
  • Holding the Camera
  • Program Shooting Mode
  • Manual Shooting Mode
  • Preset (Scene) Shooting Modes
  • Live View vs. View Finder
  • Diopter Adjustment
  • Continuous vs. Single Shot Shuttering
  • Image Stabilization/Vibration Reduction
  • Manual Focus

Camera Kit Contents

The bag should be a special bag specifically designed with dividers to protect the camera and lenses from shock. Karel specifically suggested three options: a traditional camera bag, a camera backpack, and camera dividers that fit an airplane carry on bag.

Items she suggested always be carried with the camera bag include

  • Large microfiber cleaning cloth
  • Lens microfiber cleaning cloth – Microfiber avoids lint.
  • Lenses
  • Hoods – These are specifically designed for the lens and can be placed in an inverted position over the lens to save space in the bag.
  • Camera Cards – At least 2. However, it is important to check the number of images that can be stored to ensure a sufficient amount of space. Add more cards if needed.

Holding the Camera

The goal is to provide a stable platform that minimizes camera shake when a picture is being snapped. Stand with feet separated and the left foot forward. Hold the camera with the left hand under and supporting the lens. The right hand firmly grips the camera hold with a finger on the shutter release. Both elbows are tucked tightly into the sides so that the torso helps to stabilize the arms.

Program Shooting Mode

Program shooting mode allows the camera to do most of the work, but provides greater flexibility than Auto shooting mode where the camera does everything. In program shooting mode, the camera has a set of predefined aperture size-shutter speed combinations to select from. If the photographer changes the ISO setting, a different combination of aperture size-shutter speed settings is available. Thus, the photographer need only select the combination considered best for their picture.

Karel indicated that professional photographers rarely use this mode.

Manual Shooting Mode

Manual shooting mode places complete control in the photographer’s hands. They are responsible for selecting the aperture size, shutter speed and ISO setting. The camera won’t automatically set anything.

Karel indicated that professional photographers occasionally use manual shooting mode. Most frequently they use Aperture Priority mode followed by Shutter Priority mode. This were discussed in last week’s blog.

Preset (Scene) Modes

Setting the type of scene being photographed allows the camera to make intelligent choices about aperture size, shutter speed, and ISO. My camera supports multiple modes including:

  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Child
  • Sports
  • Close Up
  • Night Portrait
  • Lo Key
  • High Key
  • Silhouette
  • Selective Color
  • Miniature Effect
  • Toy Camera Effect
  • Photo Illustration
  • Pop
  • Super Vivid
  • Night Vision

One of Karel’s suggestion is not to take pictures in the modes. Instead, set the camera in the modes to provide a starting point for aperture size, shutter speed, and ISO. Then, switch the camera to Manual, Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority and fine tune the adjustments.

Live View vs. View Finder

Live View presents the image on the camera’s rear screen. The photographer can take the picture directly from live view by pressing the shutter release. By contrast, the photographer holds the camera with their eye to the view finder and presses the shutter release to take the picture.

Taking a picture using Live View presents a camera stability challenge. Holding a several pound camera 12″ to 18″ away from your body without shaking is difficult. As a result, it is generally preferable to use the view finder.

Nonetheless, there are some benefits to Live View that are not available with View Finder. Some cameras (not mine) are equipped with a folding screen for Live View. This allows the camera to be held in different positions. For example, when taking a picture in a crowd, the Live View screen can be angled downward affording the photographer the ability to get above the crowd and, yet, still see the scene being taken.

Another Live View benefit is that the zoom capabilities can be used to zoom on a particular area prior to snapping the picture. This doesn’t zoom the picture being taken. Instead it forces autofocus to ignore parts of the image providing better control over where in the scene the camera is choosing to focus.

Diopter Adjustment

The diopter adjustment is a small knob adjacent to the view finder. Visual acuity differs among people. When looking through the view finder, turn the diopter adjustment to focus the scene on the photographer’s retina. This doesn’t, in any way, alter the photograph the camera is taking. It just allows a more accurate representation through the view finder. The diopter setting doesn’t have any affect on the Live View screen either. It only focuses the view through the view finder.

Single Shot vs. Continuous Shuttering

Behavior of the shutter can be controlled. In single shot mode, one picture is taken with every press of the shutter release. When continuous shuttering, the camera will continue to take pictures as long as the shutter release is held down.

Karel indicated a strong preference for continuous shuttering. She usually takes a burst of the three photographs at a time. Her rationale is that pressing the shutter release can introduce a little camera shake. By the second photograph, that shake is neutralized making for a more stable photograph. She referred to the third image as a safety image just in case there is still a little shake when the second one is snapped. Clearly, the goal is to delete most of these.

Image Stabilization/Vibration Reduction

Image Stabilization and Vibration Reduction are the same thing. Cannon uses the stabilization term; Nikon refers to it as VR. This functionality can be built in two ways. The more common is to use a floating lens structure that the camera adjusts as it senses vibrations. The other is built into the camera body. It adjusts the position of the photo sensor as vibration is detected. These adjustments are opposite the detected shake reducing overall motion, thus creating a more stable image.

When using a tripod, image stabilization should be turned off. The tripod mounted camera already has a stable platform because it’s not hand held any longer. With image stabilization on, a feedback loop can be created that destabilizes the image. This is caused because the small movements made at the direction of the stabilization system create a little motion. The image stabilization system can detect this motion and try to adjust to it creating even more motion. Thus, it’s always advisable to turn off image stabilization or vibration reduction when using a tripod.

Manual Focus

Most of the time autofocus does what is desired. However, there are some situations where turning it off is beneficial. Autofocus attempts to focus the camera every time the shutter release is pressed half way down. If a photographer has the focus set as desired and doesn’t want the camera to refocus every time, switching to manual is the way to go. A good example is when taking a series of pictures of a landscape as lighting conditions change in the twilight hours. The distance to the landscape never changes making it unnecessary to refocus the camera with every shot. In fact, the point in the landscape that’s chosen for the focus may shift if autofocus is allowed to refocus the camera.

Another example that can occur once in a while is caused by the autofocus system itself. It can get into a state where it keeps changing the autofocus point and adjusting. When this happens, you’ll hear the lens adjust focus followed by the lens readjusting focus followed by the lens adjusting focus again, and so on. Flipping the camera to manual focus and taking control is the way to solve this problem.

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