The Beginner’s Guide to DSLR Photography: Choosing and Using Your Camera
DSLR camera. Does the sound of it make you squirm a little with intimidation? I was the same way. DSLRs were for fancy people. For photographers (as in: “this is what I do for a living” photographers). And while there is some truth to this statement, I realized that DSLR photography can be accessible for all skill levels with a little bit of tinkering, time, and effort. Granted, magazine-quality photography may take a bit more effort, but that was never my goal. And if that’s your goal, frankly, you’re probably not in the right place. I won’t claim to be an expert, but I will claim to be a regular Jo(sephine) that figured it out with some pretty helpful resources. So if you’re ready to amp up your photography with quality photos, sit back, take a read, and prepare to learn!
The first question is: Why in the world would you want a DSLR when a smartphone can take good pictures. The answer lies in the photo comparison below.
The first picture is a photo taken with my Samsung phone, while the second was taken with my Canon Rebel on Auto, and the third was taken on the Canon on Manual Mode. Notice the difference? The DSLR camera pictures are lighter, brighter, and crisper (especially in manual mode). While the phone picture is nice, I assume you’re here because you want photos that are a little more than nice. DSLR cameras give you more control over your shots and are specifically designed to take beautiful photos.
Choosing a Camera
Ahhh, the age-old debate: Nikon vs. Canon. If you’re looking to invest in a DSLR, odds are you’re probably choosing between a Nikon or a Canon. I did an extensive amount of research before I decided and to be honest, both cameras will give you beautiful shots and odds are good that if it’s your first DSLR, you’re probably not going to notice a difference. There were a few deciding factors that led me to choose my Canon Rebel T5:
- Canons in general are more inexpensive (with comparable quality), though this may vary depending on when the newest camera is released
- A few comparisons I read stated that Canons are more comfortable to hold and easier to use when shooting
- I knew a few other bloggers who had recommended the Canon Rebel line
Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but I can tell you that I love my Canon Rebel.
I got mine from Amazon (the most inexpensive place I could find it) and it came with an accessory kit, including a tripod, filters, a wide angle lens, and a few other odds and ends. The Nikon equivalent would be the Nikon D3300.
Using Your Camera
First of all, the manual is your best friend. As a “figure-it-out-yourself” kind of girl, that was hard for me to swallow, but DSLRs are far too complicated to go it alone.
If you’ve never used a DSLR before, start in auto mode. The camera will pick your settings for exposure, shutter speed, and aperture for you. It’s a great way to get familiar with your new piece of equipment and a good transition from a point-and-shoot or phone camera to DSLR.
Start in auto mode, but don’t stay there. If you stay in auto, you essentially just shelled out the big bucks for a point and shoot camera. The beauty of buying a more expensive camera is that you have complete control over your photography. And as cool as it is that the camera will choose options for you, there’s no substitute to picking them yourself.
If you’re planning on using your camera for product photography, make sure to check out 10 Product Photography Tips from Professional Photographers for some helpful and practical tips.
Need a reminder of what all of the photography terms mean? Grab the photography cheat sheet.
Enter your email to grab this free photography guide.