The Easiest Guide On How To Use A DSLR Camera

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Did you just buy your first DSLR camera and have no idea how to use it? This article has got you covered. We will guide you through the most straightforward way of learning how to use a DSLR camera.

This article assumes that you have no prior knowledge of a DSLR camera’s controls. It is the ultimate guide on how to use a DSLR camera for beginners.

Before we dive in, note that photography is a skill that requires plenty of time to master. Do not get frustrated if you’re not able to get the hang of your device in the first go.

What Is A DSLR Camera?

Let us start with the very basics. DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. It is a camera with an internal mirror and prism system. 

All digital cameras work similarly. They collect light from the object, and a lens focuses the light on the focal point. Then, a digital sensor captures the image formed. This digital sensor saves this light information in the form of an image file that you can later view and edit. 

If you take the lens off a DSLR camera and peep into the lens mount, you will see the mirror sitting at a 45-degree angle. All this mirror does is reflect the light up towards the optical viewfinder.

When you press the shutter button, the mirror flips up inside the camera. It moves out of the way of the sensor. This is the reason why the viewfinder goes dark on pressing the shutter button.

DSLR Camera Controls

For absolute beginners, articles like these are a great start to learning how to use a DSLR camera. But make sure you also refer to your camera’s official manual.

Different camera models have different controls. But a majority of them have all the following.

a. A Mode Dial

The mode dial tells the camera how much control you wish to have over its various settings. To change the mode, all you have to do is rotate the dial.

These dials have a wide variety of presets. The most common of them are “Auto” and “Manual.” The Auto mode is entirely automatic and adjusts the camera settings like the ISO according to the scene. The Manual mode, on the other hand, is when you set your hands on the steering wheel. 

The catch is to understand which mode to use when properly. If you have the best knowledge of what changing the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed can do to your photograph, you are good to go.

Let’s take a look at what the other modes do.

1. The “P” Mode

The Program Automatic mode is just another automatic mode where you have control over only some settings like the ISO, white balance, and exposure compensation.

2. The “A” or “AV” Mode

The Aperture Priority mode lets you have control over the Aperture setting, which is useful for controlling the depth of the field. In this mode, you also have control over ISO, white balance, and exposure. This mode is suitable for landscape photography.

3. The “S,” “T,” or “TV” Mode

The Shutter Priority mode gives you control over the shutter speed, and the camera adjusts the aperture according to the scene. This mode is suitable for clicking long exposure shots and others where you wish to control movement in the scene. 

b. The Exposure Compensation ( /-)

There is either a dial or a button on your camera that lets you control the exposure of your shot.

When you take a photo, the process that the camera undergoes is called ‘exposure.’ The sensor is exposed to light. The exposure button/dial is used to control the light in your image, i.e., how bright or dark it is. 

c. A Control Wheel For Shutter And Aperture

If you decide to shoot in the “A” or the “S” mode, you will need this wheel to control the aperture/shutter speed of your camera.

In some cameras, the same wheel performs both functions, depending upon the shooting mode you’re in. In others, you either have to separate wheels or a button to switch its function.

d. An ISO Button

The ISO button gives you extra control over the exposure of your shot. It helps you to adjust the camera’s sensitivity to light. Using this, you can also control the digital noise in the image. 

e. Focus Ring

The focus ring is present on the lens of the camera. As its name suggests, it is used to achieve focus. It is usually used in the manual mode but all cameras allow it to be used along with presets as well.

f. Focal Length Ring

It is basically the zoom ring. This ring is only present on lenses that have variable focal lengths. Changing the focal length of the lens results in zooming in and out.

How To Use A DSLR Camera?

You must be familiar with the controls of your camera and its functions by now. Let us now take a look at some DSLR tips to get the best out of your camera.

  • Learn how to hold your camera stable. If you struggle with holding it in place, consider investing in a tripod. Here is a buyer guide for the best camera tripods.
  • Make sure you get the horizon at a level while shooting landscapes. 
  • Learn all about The Exposure Triangle. It consists of three main properties, ISO, Exposure, and aperture.
  • Learn about creating perfect compositions. You must know what objects to have in the frame. Also, learn how to take nature’s help in mastering the composition of your shot.
  • Don’t be afraid of experimenting. Try different composition ideas. Play with the lights and movements.
  • Practice a lot. Challenge yourself as hard as you can. Participate in various contests. Make it a habit to carry your camera with you every time you leave the house.

Get Shooting!

We hope that this article helped you to learn how to use a DSLR camera.

If you’re an absolute beginner, it might not be a good idea to invest in a high-end camera right away. Try your hands on a cheaper one first, and then, as you get better, upgrade to a better one. If you haven’t yet bought your camera, here is a buyer guide for the best cheap DSLR cameras to help you.

Get your hands on the best one and get shooting!

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Marco Downs

Marco Downs

Marco Downs is our second founder and he is the creative head of this website. Marco stumbled upon photography only in college when he joined the photography club. His parents could never afford a camera for him as a child and it was in college that he saved up and bought his first camera. He now writes in-depth buyer guides and informational articles to assist the buyers. 
Marco Downs

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