Monday, 23 May 2011

Quick guide to DSLR

A friend of mine just bought a DSLR! Its great when you have more and more friends having the same passion as you. He just bought a brand new Canon EOS Kiss X4 or more known as the 550D.
"Aiman Naim's new Canon EOS Kiss X4" by Adzrin Mansor. Taken with a LG Optimus One
I still remember a friend, Dahlan reprimanded me for using Auto mode when using a DSLR when we were on our way up the Mt. Gwanak. lol. I couldn't agree more. Manual mode really let the user to control what he wants in the photo. To focus on which subject, to let which range of light visible, which colour mood the user want to convey and so on. Many people want to use this technological wonder but are intimidated by the elaborate settings. It's not like that hard to use it. The only hard thing is getting it right and get a beautiful picture. Know your enemy before a fight. This post is dedicated to the new users of DSLR who might still have doubts to use full manual mode. This is for you.

The key to a beautiful photo is a properly exposed photo, accurately focused, framed to tell the story that the user want to convey to viewers of the photo. Firstly, get the exposure right. The first thing is the shutter speed, which is the time duration of the shutter being opened and closed again. Camera is a visual apparatus so they are simply compared to a human eye. Shutter can be said to be like the human eyelids, but imagine your eyelids are always remain closed. Then you want to take a photo, then you open your eyelids for a duration of time, recording the picture and closing it again, simply said. The shutter speed is measured by seconds, ranging from as fast as 1/2000 seconds to as slow as a few minutes. The changes in speed changes the amount of light entering your image sensor so the longer you keep it open, more light enters the light sensor. A slow shutter speed picture looks like this:
"Playing with Light" by Adzrin Mansor
Shutter speed has a close friend aperture. The aperture is something like the pupils in your eyes, its the hole that is located in the centre of the Iris or the coloured part of the human eye. Well our pupils can dilate and contract according to light conditions, making the hole smaller in bright light and bigger in twilight situations. The camera aperture does practically the same. The aperture opening size is measured in f-stop values, for example F1.4, F2.8, and F22.0. The smaller the value, the larger the opening. The large opening means more light enters the image sensor thus we can use higher shutter speeds with a small f-stop value. For DSLRs, the f-stop values are mainly determined by the lens. The problem with some kit lens is it comes with a large f-stop value and the value just gets bigger when you zoom in. This is not much of a problem for normal shooting but it makes super high shutter speed shooting a disaster. When I mean super high shutter speeds, I mean shooting conditions like capturing a photo of Wayne Rooney kicking a ball frozen in mid air. That's why professional photographers would use a full-frame image sensor (which is large!) with a fixed small f-stop lens. Football fans would notice their white striped black telescopes from afar. Mind you, their equipment worth at least two Yamaha 135LC. Not one, TWO! A small f-stop value also gives the effect of background blur which is probably the most attention grabbing result from a DSLR like the following photo:
"Hedirul Amir and Hatta Aspar picnicking" by Adzrin Mansor
There is a third party in this partnership of exposure which is the ISO. It is the measure of the sensitivity of your image sensor. For example, ISO100 and ISO12800. The larger the value, the more light your image sensor gets. Now more cameras are offering larger and larger ISOs. An accurate value offers the user a properly exposed photo. If the value is too small the picture would be dark and if it is too large the picture will look burnt white. The large value of ISO also introduces grain called picture noise, to your picture. Most new DSLRs have more advanced noise reducing image processors. That's why every DSLR has one, and full-frame DSLRs have two of it. In low light conditions, higher ISO values help us to get more light but beware of noise.
"Ralph and The Girls first mini album" by Adzrin Mansor
Shooting in full manual is the most challenging as light conditions change within minutes. This really tests the user to think and act quickly for a properly exposed photo. Well, these three things are already a mind boggling task but there's more things to consider when shooting in full manual. White balance is the colour mood of the photo. The setting is specially imperative when shooting indoors where we have plain white fluorescent bulb to the yellow tungsten bulb. Setting the white balance can correct the colour mood of your photo. But I like to leave it at one setting, 5000-6500K or the sunlight white balance and when it calls for other colour temperatures, I'll just leave it so that it captures the real colour mood for a more honest picture.

Next thing is manual focus. Leave the lever beside the lens to MF! No AF! I love the AF or auto-focus as it is a great tool to save time focusing but it is a headache when it cant see my subject and focuses on the glass window I am sitting behind or focuses on the background instead of the subject! So while looking into the viewfinder, try to twist the focusing ring on the end of your lens to get the correct focus. A properly exposed, properly focused photo is a good photo. But it needs the judgement and the artistic perspective of a photography enthusiast to get a superb photo. Some would like a photo with art but as a travel photography enthusiast, I want to tell stories with my photos. This is where framing plays it role. I told about it in my previous post I'm Innocent! I Have Been Framed!
and I will put more now. A properly framed photo tells a thousand words. I have succeed if you can understand the situation in the photo without me telling you. These are photos taken during my latest trip to Jeju Island.
"Ucop and Jamilah" by Adzrin Mansor
"Man vs Machine" by Adzrin Mansor
"Ralph = Jason Mraz" by Adzrin Mansor
"Ijan by the beach" by Adzrin Mansor
"Our New Photographer" by Adzrin Mansor
"Seafood" by Adzrin Mansor
"Glass Museum" by Adzrin Mansor
"Waiting to board" by Adzrin Mansor
"Ke Laut" by Adzrin Mansor
"Luqman by the Sea" by Adzrin Mansor
"K-Pop Nasyid Group" by Adzrin Mansor
"Small Bang" by someone I forgot. Sorry mate lol.
"Luqman nak balik" by Adzrin Mansor
For more photos find me in facebook. I hope you can learn a lot from this freak fat kid's post. Have a good time with your DSLRs!

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