Tutorial: Master digital SLR photography

Step-by-step guide to taking the perfect image

Until recently, the prohibitive cost of digital SLR (dSLR) cameras meant that many amateur photographers settled for budget-friendly point-and-click compacts. This is a shame, since dSLRs offer a great deal of manual control over settings such as aperture, shutter speed and white balance, helping you get the best picture in a wide range of conditions.

Today's dSLRs can be divided into two groups: entry-level cameras, and more advanced pro and semi-pro models. The visual similarities hide a huge disparity in features, which is reflected in their pricing.

Entry-level models are far simpler in terms of the controls and features that they offer, making them suitable choices even for fairly inexperienced snappers. But even these can be overwhelming if you've only just taken the jump from point-and-shoot compact to fully featured dSLR.

While all dSLRs will have an automatic mode, settling for this would be a waste. A dSLR's automatic mode will offer greater precision than that of a compact, but you won't be using your new camera to its full potential.

An important difference between the two types of camera is that dSLRs use a separate lens. Companies such as Pentax, Nikon and Canon provide a large stock of compatible lenses, for which the focal length is measured in millimetres.

A typical focal range is 35-55mm. This means the lens can produce an image the same size as a pinhole 35 to 55mm away from the camera sensor. The higher the focal length, the closer a lens can zoom into a subject. Pros will often spend more on lenses than the camera body itself, but an 18-55mm lens will be sufficient for most images.

Follow our step-by-step guide to the modes and manual settings that will help you take the perfect image.

The basics

Step 1: DSLR cameras include a series of complex manual controls, but it's also possible to use them in auto mode. Select AF or full auto mode (the square icon) for automatic settings. Now you can simply point your camera at the subject, press the shutter button and review the image in the viewfinder.

DSLR1360

Step 2: As well as the fully automatic mode, most cameras have a series of pre-defined auto settings for use in different conditions. For example, if you want to take a picture at night or as a close-up, turn the mode dial to the icon for Night Portrait or Close-up, then click the shutter to capture your shot.

DSLR2360

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags slr camerasphotographydigital cameras

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jason Whittaker

PC Advisor (UK)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?