Thursday, May 12, 2011

Your Questions Answered, Part 3

Yay! More questions!!! Today I'm going to talk about photography stuff.

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e) said: If I were going to go to an SLR type camera, where to begin researching and what lens would be best for the first add on?

April said: I have tons of questions about photography, but can you explain shutter speed and how to change it? I'd love to be able to snap nighttime pics, but I'm not sure how to go about it the right way. I have a Nikon D40 camera.

Hmm... well... I bought my first "big" camera (which was actually a Point-n-shoot but a very nice one) without really researching to death. I did my homework and found out that Nikon and Canon are really the two big camera manufacturers. Yes, there is Olympus and Pentax and Sony but really, Nikon and Canon are the industry standard for the best sensors, the best electronics, the best color management, etc. The other brands are all great too, but Nikon and Canon just have the best total package. Or so I've read and been told.

That said, the VERY FIRST thing I would ask you is this: do you already have any equipment that you could use with a new DSLR? Like, a film SLR that would have lenses that are compatible with a DSLR? (You'd need to ask at a camera store to know for sure). If you do, stick with that same brand. You will end up saving a lot of money that way, because you already have some equipment. Of course, you always have the option of selling your old equipment and using the money toward whatever you purchase.

Also, if you have a very close friend or family member who would be willing to let you share their lenses, again, stick with the same brand for the money-saving angle.

If you are starting fresh, I would say, go with Nikon or Canon. And I would suggest, if possible, buy your camera from a local camera shop (probably one that's a mom-n-pop type store, not a chain.) They will have really knowledgeable staff and their customers will be seasoned photographers. They can give you information about classes and local groups to get you going in the right direction. There is a WEALTH of knowledge out there and it can easily suck up your free time.

I am a testament to that.

When you purchase a DSLR, one thing I really want to emphasize, is that it's all about control. If you keep your camera on full auto (the green square), you might as well have a point-n-shoot and save yourself a few hundred dollars. Not that the green square is bad, but you are not using a DSLR to its full potential if you are not using the "creative modes" - Program (P), Shutter Priority (Tv), Aperture Priority (Av), and Manual (M). Maybe you would like to buy your camera, in hopes of one day learning those modes. That's great! And you'll have a great tool in your hands to teach you. But if you're not ready or don't have time, I'd say: wait. Because technology is changing on the fly and if you buy a camera today but don't learn how to use it until next year, you could be saving your money until you're ready to learn and buy a better camera when the time is right.

A DSLR is all about control because you get to have full control of the photo process: how sharp the photo is, how bright the photo is, whether the photo shows a sharp background or blurred out background, etc. A point-n-shoot takes most of the decisions away from you and it thinks for you. It decides if there needs to be a flash, what should be in focus, and even the colors of the photo. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, because some people don't have the time, energy, or desire to do photo editing.

Specifically, about nighttime pictures (or any pictures with low lighting, like lights-out-birthday-candles pictures or jack-o-lantern pictures, for instance) you will have the best luck using a tripod. Basically, the shutter needs to stay open a long time to catch the photo because the light is so low. It's nearly impossible to hand-hold a camera steadily enough to catch a nighttime photo without blur. You can lean yourself against a wall or prop your camera on a ledge or something like that if you don't have a tripod handy. Another suggestion is to set your shutter to have a late release or use the timer mode. Sometimes, even the shake from your finger pushing the button will cause visible shake in the picture. For low light pictures, I have an option on my camera to set it to a 2-second delay, and that's what I use. Also, (this goes for both DSLR's and p-n-s cameras) set your ISO as high as it will go. Older cameras will have more noise but newer cameras have better technology and the noise isn't as bad. (Noise is the pixely colors that show up in photos taken in low light). The high ISO will allow you to have the fastest shutter speed possible. Thirdly, make sure your subjects stay as still as possible in order to avoid motion blur.

To change shutter speed, you'll need to be in Tv mode, and you can use your dial to change the shutter speed; the camera will find an appropriate aperture to work with the shutter speed you use. If your photo is too dark or bright, you can also adjust your ISO while keeping your ss at a constant number. (Clear as mud?)

I hope some of those answers clear up some questions for y'all. Or maybe I just confused you. I never can tell! hee hee

More questions answered later!

Texan Mama


Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

Well, I AM easily confused.

But I blame that on age...

Don't know why, google has shortened me to "ellen," but they have...

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...


jennaseverythingblog said...

I bought my DSLR about a year ago (Feb. of 2010) and went with a nikon D5000, cheaper than the D90, and I LOVE it. It's completely transformed my photography from something I did merely to capture memories into more of an art. Great post!

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

The D5000 is an excellent camera! It's new technology (newer than the D90) so it can do lots of incredible things. Glad to hear you're happy with your purchase!!