Getting started with your DSLR

New to DSLR photography? You’ll soon be up and running with these tips…

09 Aug 2016



If you’re looking to take control of your camera, then you really need to understand the shooting modes. You’ll find them on the dial on top of most DSLRs. Each brand has its own way to present the different modes – refer to your manual to see what they are on your camera.

While shooting on automatic will give you some great results, you’ll want to move onto one of the other modes to capture truly inspiring photos.


Program mode

If you have been using your DSLR for a while and feel ready to take the first steps into manual control then program mode is ideal for making the switch.

Program is similar to automatic in that the camera chooses the settings across shutter speed, aperture and ISO, but you can override any of the defaults. Take over the controls when you want to:

  • Adjust the light sensitivity on the image by playing with ISO
  • Override the automatic flash when in low light
  • Adjust the amount of light with shutter speed or aperture settings
  • Change the focus when autofocus keeps fixing on the wrong point


Shutter priority

If you love action shots and motion blur in photos, then you’ll love what you can achieve when you turn the dial to shutter priority. You can select the shutter speed for the camera while the aperture and ISO are automatically adjusted.

The set of numbers are measured in fractions of a second and indicate the number of seconds the shutter stays open – check out your owner’s manual to see your camera’s range.

The smaller the number the faster the shutter reacts and the larger the number the longer it stays open. Playing with the shutter speed is great for capturing action shots, with it you can:

  • Freeze the motion in the image while the background is blurred by decreasing the shutter speed – perfect for sport photos
  • Increase the number of seconds to show motion blur which gives the impression of movement – great for motorsport images

Read more about improving your action photography


Aperture priority

Do you prefer still photography to action? If so you’ll want to set your camera mode to aperture priority. The aperture setting controls the quantity of light reaching the sensor through the iris and determines depth of field, or the area that’s in focus.

Aperture is measured in F-stops and shown with an F followed by a number. The larger the number the larger the depth of field – this means more of the image will be in focus. You’ll want this if you like to take landscape photos.

If you’re into fashion and you want to capture the embroidery details on a jacket but don’t want the rest of the outfit to detract from the focus then set a shallow depth of field. You can achieve this by selecting a smaller f-stop such as f/4.5 or less if your camera allows.


Helpful tips

Now you understand the basics, we’ve put together a short list of tips to help you along the way.

  1. Make sure you read the manual – it really does give you invaluable tips on how to operate your camera
  2. Take your camera with you everywhere – the more photos you take the better you become
  3. Purchase an inexpensive UV filter for your lens – it’s easier to replace a scratched filter than it is to replace a lens
  4. Get yourself a camera bag – it’ll hold your camera, lenses, filters and anything else you might need while out and about
  5. Buy some lens cloths and lens cleaners – you’ll need to clean your lens and a t-shirt simply won’t do

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