Digital SLR Camera Settings Explained – How to use a DSLR camera
Information on how to use a digital SLR camera. DSLR settings including both manual camera settings and auto mode.
If you have just purchased your first DSLR camera or been given one as a gift, you will be looking for some good tips on how to use it. Digital SLRs are not as easy as point and shoot camera’s due to them having many more settings for you to learn how to use. This website serves as a free SLR Photography Guide, helping you to better understand your digital camera’s DSLR settings.
Jump straight to Manual Camera Settings
The first time you try your digital SLR camera, use fully automatic settings.
If you are a beginner to SLR photography, you should simply enjoy using it and get a good feel for how to handle it. The best way to do this is to set it on fully automatic. Look for a symbol on your camera’s mode dial that looks like a rectangle. When your camera is on automatic, all important settings such as ISO, Aperture and exposure are made for you, taking out the guess work.
When your camera is set on automatic, it’s also recommended that your lens is set on automatic focus. That is if it has that option. If your lens has an option for automatic focus you will notice on the side of it letters AF.
Beginner Tip for focusing: Always press your shutter button half way down, then once it focuses correctly press it the rest of the way down. ie focusing and taking the shot is always a two step process.
Six automatic settings you will find on your digital SLR camera:
The following DSLR settings are found on most camera models. However, depending on your camera brand, some may not be available.
- Portrait – DSLR camera settings for portraits. Set your digital camera to portrait mode when your taking photographs of people. Portrait mode will set the image color for skin tone perfectly.
- Landscape – Use this SLR camera setting when your taking photos of landscapes. For example if your photographing beach or mountain sceneries.
- Close Up – Close up mode speaks for itself. For example, when you want to photograph small objects so they fill the whole frame as if to appear larger.
- Sports – Sports mode should be used when you want to photograph a moving object such as a child or dog running.
- Night Portrait – Choose night portrait automatic mode when you want to shoot a person in low light such as night time.
- Flash Off – This mode is useful for times when your not allowed to use a flash. For example, in an art gallery.
Once you have a good feel for your digital SLR camera’s automatic settings, you can start learning how to use manual settings like AV and TV mode. Manual settings give you full control over your photography and the style of images you take. The following links will explain in detail how to use all manual DSLR camera settings.
- What is ISO and how do you use it?
- What is AV mode, f numbers and aperture settings?
- Shutter speed priority and the difference between fast and slow shutter speeds. Shutter speed priority may be represented as a TV setting on your camera.
- Full manual mode – Includes examples and step by step lesson to help you fully understand using your SLR camera in manual mode.
- Can you turn off shutter noise?
- What is mirror lockup and when should you use it?
- RAW CR2 file format. What is it and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
- How to properly focus your SLR camera. DSLR focal points explained and how to use them.
- Exposure compensation tips. How to compensate for overexposed or underexposed photographs?
- How to reset your camera’s factory default settings. Instructions for Nikon D40 and Canon 400D explained.
- What is the difference between A, AV, DEP and A-DEP modes.
- How to use white balance settings
- What is a histogram and how do you read them
- What is EXIF metadata – why is it a useful learning tool and how do you read it.
- How to use metering modes – When to use matrix, pattern, evaluative, center weighted metering, spot and partial metering.
- How to use depth of field preview button (if your camera has this option) what it does and tips for using it.