Site Intro

This site is designed to teach the most basic elements of DSLR photography in the most simple way possible with examples to illustrate. The goal of the site is so that photographers new to DSLR photography from either proper point-and-shoot cameras or cell phone cameras are able to begin to maximize what DSLRs are capable of beyond their full-auto and pre-program modes (which are not covered here).

I am a Canon shooter, but you should choose whatever DSLR you use based on your personal preference. I will reference Canon and Nikon specifically as they are the most widely used, but everything here is applicable to every DSLR on the market today (as well as advanced point-and-shoots and mirrorless cameras that allow these adjustments). Please note! As this is not a "How to Use [X] Camera" site, I cannot possibly cover how to change each of the functions below on your particular camera. This site is best used in conjunction with your instruction manual, so that you can see how to make the adjustments below on your own camera.

Please see the labels right above this text to skip to various aspects of DSLR photography such as ISO, Aperture Priority, Etc. I have lettered these labels in the order that I believe they should be covered (although F. and G. could be switched) - so it's best to start with A. and go down the line.

Thanks for reading!


A Word on Autofocus

There are three focusing options on pretty much all DSLRs:

1. Auto Autofocus
2. Manual Autofocus
3. Manual Focus

Number 1 is the AF default: the camera will automatically focus on what it automatically chooses to focus: push down the shutter button halfway to autofocus.  Depending on your camera, it will communicate to you when your photo is in focus: usually by either flashing one of the sensors in your viewfinder, or something similar.  Check your instruction manual if this is not entirely clear to you.

Number 2 is halfway: the camera will automatically focus for you, but you tell it which specific area of the photo that you want to focus on.  For example, on Canon cameras with a 9-point AF system, you tap the AF selection button and then use either the thumb nubbin or the control dial to choose which AF point you'd like to use. Again, this will vary by camera: if you're not sure about yours, check your instruction manual.  If there's no AF sensor near where you want the focus to be once you've composed your photo, no problem: just put one of the sensors over your subject matter, hold the button down halfway to focus on that object, and then while continuing to hold the button down halfway, recompose your photograph.

Number 3 is easy: for entirely manual focus, flip your lens' switch from "AF" (autofocus) to "MF" (manual focus).  Simply turn your lens' focusing ring, and when the subject matter comes into focus in your viewfinder, you're set to go.  Many lenses made now allow you to use your lens in manual focus even when switched onto AF - check your lens' instruction manual before doing this though.

Don't bother with manual focus unless you have good reason: for example, if you're in a low-light situation photographing something still (like a cityscape) and the camera is having a hard time auto-focusing.  Otherwise, default to one of the autofocus settings.

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