The ABC’s of SLR’s
So you’re thinking about getting an SLR or perhaps you’ve already bit the bullet and just purchased one? For a camera beginner, your first SLR can be a slightly daunting experience. Having just recently purchased a Canon EOS 5D – my second SLR camera thus far – I’ve picked up some basic info that I think every SLR owner should know (or at least pretend to know).
The ISO setting in your new SLR is important because it tells you how sensitive the image sensor is to light. The lower the ISO number, the lower the shutter speed with less sensitivity to light. If you are shooting at night or in dark places, crank up the ISO to increase speed and shorten the time that the lens is open to avoid blur associated with hand movement. However, beware that the higher the ISO, the more grainy (or ‘noisy’) your photo will be, so try and use the lowest ISO that you can get away with.
Shutter speed is the length of time that the camera shutter is open to expose light to the camera sensor. If it is fast, it can capture freeze frame shots, whereas when it is lower it can create the effect of motion blur – the visual effect commonly used to denote speed and movement. Shutter speed can also affect the brightness of the photo, as the less time the shutter is open, the less light will get through to the sensor. So, if you’re shooting in darker conditions, or using an extremely fast shutter speed, you may have to up the ISO to compensate.
The aperture effectively controls the depth of field. The smaller your depth of field, the sharper and more focused the subject, whilst the background will be blurred. A larger depth of field will allow your photo to be sharper throughout the whole image. For action shots, select a lower depth of field in order to capture the speed of the subject against the blurriness of the background. For landscape shots where you want everything to be in focus, use a higher aperture.
If you really want to get familiar with each of these photography settings, you could enrol in a short camera course to bring you up to speed with everything your camera is capable of doing (which is probably a lot more than you think!)
Curtis Jones is a design and photography student who loves travelling, eating and scuba diving, and taking photos with his brand new Canon EOS 5D