How camera work.
Types of camera.
Also known as a point-and-shoot camera. A compact camera is an inexpensive entry-level camera for the amateur digital photographer.
These cameras are small and lightweight. They usually come with standard, automatic settings.
They are the most user friendly of the camera options. You frame your subject and press the button.
The camera does all the work. It assesses the scene and determines a correct exposure.
Compact cameras have a built-in flash and a zoom lens. They also come with an LCD screen. You can view your scene before pressing the button to take the picture.
Many of these cameras even have some manual functions. These allow you to have more control over your photography.
But these cameras are all about ease of use. They won’t give you control over every camera setting.
Some models also offer the ability to change lenses.
The downside of compact cameras is that they have a very small sensor. It doesn’t allow for great picture quality or printing large images.
Compact cameras are great for the hobbyist starting out. But they are not suitable for professional use.
Digital SLRs are for serious amateurs and professionals alike. These are larger and heavier than compact cameras. Most professional cameras out there are DSLRs, even through bridge cameras and mirrorless are gaining in popularity too.
Their design and function comes from film cameras. The higher-end models have a full-frame sensor. This is also inspired by the traditional 35mm film camera.
Many come with a cropped-sensor. This is cheaper for camera manufacturers to make. And it allows DSLRs to be accessible to a wide variety of consumers.
The lenses are interchangeable on these cameras. How they behave will depend on whether the camera you choose has a cropped sensor or a full-frame sensor.
The lenses for these cameras range in quality. Most manufacturers offer a line for amateur photographers. And then a much more expensive line aimed at professional photographers. An example here is Canon’s L-series.
DSLRs also offer a variety of manual settings and creative controls. You can take images in Automatic mode. But these cameras offer Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Manual mode as well.
They say that mirrorless cameras are the wave of the future. They offer most of the features of a DSLR camera. But they are smaller, lighter, and generally expensive.
The name “mirrorless” is from the lack of an internal mirror that reflects light onto the sensor.
The light that comes in through the lens goes straight to the sensor. This then transmits the information it captures on to the LCD screen.
The new mirrorless cameras are a powerful alternative to the DSLR.
In fact, many professional photographers are switching over to mirrorless cameras. Or they’re using them as an alternative to their usual DSLRs, such as while travelling.
They are versatile, high performance cameras. They will allow you a lot of control over your results.
You can change lenses on these cameras, and they have a ton of features for creative control. Some models offer facial recognition and have focus points in every part of the frame. This is excellent for event or wedding photography.
Most offer high resolution and video, and also WiFi capability. This latter allows you to remotely control your camera. You can use your smart device from a distance.
The new mirrorless cameras are now capable of capturing incredible, high-resolution images. They are comparable to some of the best DSLRs out there at a lower price point.
We’ve definitely seen the abundance and rising popularity of action cameras in the past few years, and it’s not hard to see why. Common action cameras like the GoPro can fit in the palm of your hand, but they’re some of the most durable and versatile types of digital cameras that offer very high-resolution output.
A wide range of accessories like waterproof housing and mounts allow the user to attach action cameras to helmets, bicycles, and even drones, which enable hands-free shooting in different types of situations. This opens up a whole new world of photographic possibilities, as this type of camera allows you to capture impressive wide-angle photos and videos with sound from almost any angle and environment, whether underwater or on top of a mountain.
Types of lens
Wide angle lenses
Any focal length starting from 16mm to 35mm gives a wider view with less distortion. There is no thumb rule to choose lenses as I mentioned above.
You have to consider your style of photography. Accordingly, you can use the greatest potential of any lens. Wide angle lens is a must have lens in professional photographers’ kit.
You can almost cover every branch of photography with wide angle lenses. Many photographers shoot sports, wildlife, landscapes, weddings, architecture and street with this lens.
You get very less distortion and a wide view of a scene. This is the beauty of wide angle lenses. The wider view shows the ambiance and lots of happenings within one image.
The different happenings create a mood and interest in the photos. Synch these happenings in one story and you will create stunning images.
Use of wide angle lens:
To capture the ambiance with wider view; To shoot Landscape, Architecture, Cinematography
What do you see?
With 16mm – 35mm, the field of view is 96° to 54° diagonally.
How to get best out of wide angle lenses?
You have to be close enough to the targeted subject. Wide angle lenses give distortion sometimes. To avoid distortion, you need to frame and re-frame the scene for best composition.
Keep moving around the subject and look for the best angle of view.
Fish eye or ultra wide angle lens
The focal length of these lenses are between 8mm to 16mm. The front glass of the lens bulges out. This bulging shape gives a distortion around the corner of the image.
The distortion is like a curved in the image. Photographers get beautiful panoramic view with fish eye/ultra wide angle lenses.
Use of Fish eye lens/ultra wide angle:
To get panoramic view of landscape, Architecture and under water photography.
What do you see?
You get a field of view close to 180° diagonally with 8mm fish eye lens.
How to get best out of fish eye lens?
Many photographers do not like fish eye or ultra wide angle lens. The distortion or curved in the image is one reason for their dislike. But, there are other photographers who love playing with this lens.
If you want to create stunning images with this lens, you have to study the rule of photography. Practice the rule of leading lines and the rule of shape in photography.
Start playing with the shapes by merging the leading lines. Once you apply these two specific rules, your pictures will carry interest element.
This interest element will tell a story about the images. Your pictures will draw attention every time with great composition.
The focal length of these lenses is fixed. There is no option to zoom in or out. Fixed lenses has only a focus ring.
There are fixed lenses for wide angle of view like 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm. Then there are fixed lenses like 50mm, 85mm to photograph portraits.
Use of fixed/prime lenses:
Street and Portrait photography
What do you see?
With 50mm the angle of view is 39° and 23° is with 85mm diagonally.
How to get best out of fixed/prime lenses?
The lower aperture value is the real beauty of prime lenses. The advantage to use the lower f/stop value makes it a beast among all the lenses.
Moreover, you get more light with lower aperture value in low light situations. Many photographers face problem in using these lenses at start.
You have to understand a fact. It is not like a zoom lens. Zoom lenses give you the advantage to frame or re-frame the scene without moving.
The focal length is fixed. You have to move around the subject to get the best frame. You can explore the full potential of the prime lenses by applying the compositional rules of photography.
Once you fit your subject with great composition in a scene, your pictures wow the viewers.
As its name suggests, you can zoom in on the subject with these lenses. The focal length starts from 70mm and goes beyond 800mm. There are several piece of lenses stacked back to back in a zoom lens.
That is why, it has the power to magnify the subject. You get the advantage to stand far away from the subject. It brings the distant object more closer.
That is why, there is no bulging or distortion in comparison to ultra wide angle lenses. It is a must have lens for sports, wildlife and portrait photographers.
Telephoto lenses are heavy to carry and more expensive with lower number of aperture.
Use of telephoto lenses:
Wildlife, Sports and Portrait photography
What do you see?
With 200mm the angle of view is near to 10°
How to get best out of telephoto/zoom lenses?
You get longer focal length and narrow angle of view. It means, you can cut the whole wider ambiance around your subject.
The amateur photographers face difficulty to get sharp images with telephoto sometimes. Telephoto lenses have a magnifying effect. You need to have steady hands to work with such magnifying results.
Slightest of the movement in the targeted subject or in your hand causes blur effect in images. These lenses are heavy to hold for longer than usual.
Keep a tripod or monopod handy or use fast shutter speed to avoid blur images. Don’t forget that the angle of view is very narrow with telephoto lenses.
With narrow view, you avoid ambiance and make tight or close up shots. You can show the ambience around your subject.
For that matter, you will have to create good amount of distance between you and your subject.
Macro lens is designed to capture tiny details of the small scene selection. As its name connotes, it helps to see the things at macro level.
Human eye can not see such macro level details in objects. Macro lenses are designed between 50mm to 180mm.
Use of macro lenses:
You can use 50mm or 60mm macro lens for Jewelry, E-commerce, Product and Nature photography.
How to get best out of macro lenses?
Macro lenses are used for product, wildlife and nature photography. The large focal length like 100mm or 105mm is good to photograph flies or insects.
You can enjoy the good amount of distance between you and subject. It helps to photograph the flies and insects without disturbing them.
If you are into product photography, you can have a macro lens below 100mm focal length. Photographers achieve best results of macro lenses with the help of monopod/tripod.
Types of camera filters
LINEAR & CIRCULAR POLARIZING FILTERS
Polarizing filters (aka "polarizers") are perhaps the most important of any filter for landscape photography. They work by reducing the amount of reflected light that passes to your camera's sensor. Similar to polarizing sunglasses, polarizers will make skies appear deeper blue, will reduce glare and reflections off of water and other surfaces, and will reduce the contrast between land and sky.
Note how the sky becomes a much darker blue, and how the foliage/rocks acquire slightly more color saturation. The intensity of the polarizing effect can be varied by slowly rotating your polarizing filter, although no more than 180° of rotation is needed, since beyond this the possible intensities repeat. Use your camera's viewfinder (or rear LCD screen) to view the effect as you rotate the polarizing filter.
Example of a Polarizing Filter Producing an Uneven Sky
The polarizing effect may also increase or decrease substantially depending on the direction your camera is pointed and the position of the sun in the sky. The effect is strongest when your camera is aimed in a direction which is perpendicular to the direction of the sun's incoming light. This means that if the sun is directly overhead, the polarizing effect will be greatest near the horizon in all directions.
However, polarizing filters should be used with caution because they may adversely affect the photo. Polarizers dramatically reduce the amount of light reaching the camera's sensor — often by 2-3 f-stops (1/4 to 1/8 the amount of light). This means that the risk of a blurred handheld image goes up dramatically, and may make some action shots prohibitive.
Additionally, using a polarizer on a wide angle lens can produce an uneven or unrealistic looking sky which visibly darkens. In the example to the left, the sky could be considered unusually uneven and too dark at the top.
Linear vs. Circular Polarizing Filters: The circular polarizing variety is designed so that the camera's metering and autofocus systems can still function. Linear polarizers are much less expensive, but cannot be used with cameras that have through-the-lens (TTL) metering and autofocus — meaning nearly all digital SLR cameras. One could of course forego metering and autofocus, but that is rarely desirable.
NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS
Neutral density (ND) filters uniformly reduce the amount of light reaching the camera's sensor. This is useful when a sufficiently long exposure time is not otherwise attainable within a given range of possible apertures (at the lowest ISO setting).
Situations where ND filters are particularly useful include:
Smoothing water movement in waterfalls, rivers, oceans, etc.
Achieving a shallower depth of field in very bright light
Reducing diffraction (which reduces sharpness) by enabling a larger aperture
Making moving objects less apparent or not visible (such as people or cars)
Introducing blur to convey motion with moving subjects
However, only use ND filters when absolutely necessary because they effectively discard light — which could otherwise be used to enable a shorter shutter speed (to freeze action), a smaller aperture (for depth of field) or a lower ISO setting (to reduce image noise). Additionally, some ND filters can add a very slight color cast to the image.
Generally no more than a few f-stops is need for most waterfall scenarios, so most photographers just keep one or two different ND filter amounts on hand. Extreme light reduction can enable very long exposures even during broad daylight.
GRADUATED NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS
Graduated neutral density (GND) filters restrict the amount of light across an image in a smooth geometric pattern. These are sometimes also called "split filters." Scenes which are ideally suited for GND filters are those with simple lighting geometries, such as the linear blend from dark to light encountered commonly in landscape photography (below).
Prior to digital cameras, GND filters were absolutely essential for capturing dramatically-lit landscapes. With digital cameras one can instead often take two separate exposures and blend these using a linear gradient in photoshop. On the other hand, this technique is not possible for fast moving subject matter or changing light (unless it is a single exposure developed twice from the RAW file format, but this increases image noise). Many also prefer using a GND to see how the final image will look immediately through the viewfinder or rear LCD.
GND filters come in many varieties. The first important setting is how quickly the filter blends from light to dark, which is usually termed "soft edge" or "hard edge" for gradual and more abrupt blends, respectively. These are chosen based on how quickly the light changes across the scene, where a sharp division between dark land and bright sky would necessitate a harder edge GND filter, for example. Alternatively, the blend can instead be radial to either add or remove light fall-off at the lens's edges (vignetting).
Placing the blend should be performed very carefully and usually requires a tripod. The soft edge is generally more flexible and forgiving of misplacement. On the other hand, a soft edge may produce excessive darkening or brightening near where the blend occurs if the scene's light transitions faster than the filter. One should also be aware that vertical objects extending across the blend may appear unrealistically dark
A problem with the soft and hard edge terminology is that it is not standardized from one brand to another. One company's "soft edge" can sometimes be nearly as abrupt a blend as another company's so called "hard edge". It is therefore best to take these on a case by case basis and actually look at the filter itself to judge the blend type. Most manufacturers will show an example of the blend on their own websites.
The second important setting is the differential between how much light is let in at one side of the blend versus the other (the top versus bottom in the examples directly above). This differential is expressed using the same terminology as used for ND filters in the previous section. A "0.6 ND grad" therefore refers to a graduated neutral density filter which lets in 2 f-stops less light (1/4th) at one side of the blend versus the other. Similarly, a 0.9 ND grad lets in 3 f-stops less light (1/8th) at one side. Most landscape photos need no more than a 1-3 f-stop blend.
HAZE & UV FILTERS
Nowadays UV filters are primarily used to protect the front element of a camera lens since they are clear and do not noticably affect the image. With film cameras, UV filters reduce haze and improve contrast by minimizing the amount of ultraviolet (UV) light that reaches the film. The problem with UV light is that it is not visible to the human eye, but is often uniformly distributed on a hazy day; UV therefore adversely affects the camera's exposure by reducing contrast. Fortunately, digital camera sensors are nowhere near as sensitive to UV light as film, therefore UV filtration is no longer necessary.
However, UV filters have the potential to decrease image quality by increasing lens flare, adding a slight color tint or reducing contrast. Multicoated UV filters can dramatically reduce the chance of flare, and keeping your filter very clean minimizes any reduction in image quality (although even invisible micro abrasions will affect sharpness/contrast). High quality UV filters will not introduce any visible color cast.
For digital cameras, it is often debated whether the advantage of a UV filter (protection) outweighs the potential reduction in image quality. For very expensive SLR lenses, the increased protection is often the determining factor, since it is much easier to replace a filter than to replace or repair a lens. However, for less expensive SLR lenses or compact digital cameras protection is much less of a factor — the choice therefore becomes more a matter of personal preference.
Another consideration is that UV filters may increase the resale value of the lens by keeping the front lens element in mint condition. In that sense, a UV filter could also even be deemed to increase image quality (relative to an unfiltered lens) since it can be routinely replaced whenever it is perceived to adversely affect the image.
Dslr Camera buying guide
Basic photography Terms
The best way to understand the aperture definition is to think of it as the pupil of an eye. The wider it gets, the more light it lets in.
Together, the aperture settings, shutter speed, and ISO produce an exposure. The diameter of the aperture size changes, allowing more or less light onto the sensor. This depends on the situation and the scene being photographed.
Creative uses of different aperture sizes and their consequences are tackled in Step 4. Put simply, when talking about light and exposure, wider aperture settings allow more light and narrower ones allow less.
Aperture can be confusing. Some people will say a wide or narrow aperture, but others might say a large aperture. What is the difference? A wide aperture refers to the wide opening in the lens, where f/1.2-f/2.4 is being discussed.
A large aperture refers to the number of f/stop, where f/32 or f/22 is being discussed. A low aperture and wide aperture are the same things – one talks about the size of the number and the other relates to the size of the opening.
Aperture size is measured using something called the f-stop scale. On your digital camera, you’ll see ‘f/’ followed by a number. This f-number denotes how wide the aperture is. The size affects the exposure and depth of field (also tackled below) of the final image.
What may seem confusing is that the lower the number, the wider the aperture. This means that your camera aperture settings will be wide open at a smaller f-stop number, like f/1.4 (maximum aperture).
At higher numbers, like f/16 or f/22, you’ll get a narrow aperture.
Why a low number for a high aperture? The answer is simple and mathematical, but first, you need to know the f-stop scale.
The scale is as follows: f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22.
The most important thing to know about these numbers is this; as the numbers rise, the aperture settings decrease to half its size. Half meaning that it allows 50% less light through the lens.
This is because the numbers come from an equation used to work out the size of the aperture setting from the focal length. You’ll notice, on modern day cameras, that there are aperture settings in-between those listed above.
These are 1/3 stops, so between f/2.8 and f/4 for example, you’ll also get f/3.2 and f/3.5. These are just here to increase the control that you have over your settings.
Now things begin to get a little harder. If you get confused, skip to Step 3 as the most important part has been covered.
For example, say you have a 50mm lens with an aperture setting of f/2. To find the width of the aperture, you divide the 50 by the 2, giving you a diameter of 25mm.
Then take the radius, multiply it by itself (radius squared) and multiply that by pi. The whole equation looks something like this: Area = r²*pi.
Here Are a Few Examples
A 50mm lens at f/2: 50mm/2 = a lens opening 25mm wide. Half of this is 12.5mm and using the equation above (pi * 12.5mm²) we get an area of 490mm².
A 50mm lens at f/2.8: 50mm/2.8 = a lens opening 17.9mm wide. Half of this is 8.95mm and using the equation above (pi * 8.95mm²) we get an area of 251.6mm².
Now, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that half of 490 is less than 251 – this is because the numbers used are rounded to the nearest decimal point. The area of f/2.8 will still be exactly half of f/2
How Does Aperture Affect Exposure?
Before we talk about anything else, let’s look at the exposure triangle.
The change in aperture size correlates with exposure. The larger the aperture size, the more exposed the photo will be. The best way to demonstrate this is by taking a series of photos and keeping everything constant with the exception of the aperture.
All the images in the slideshow below were taken at ISO 200, 1/400 of a second and without a flash. Only the aperture size changes throughout.
This set of photos was taken before the recent purchase of my f/1.4 so the photos are in the following order: f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22.
How Does Aperture Affect Depth of Field?
Now, the depth of field is a big topic. For now, I shall summarize it by saying that it is all about the distance at which the subject will stay in focus in front of and behind the main point of focus.
In terms of how the depth of field is affected by aperture settings, the wider the aperture setting (f/1.4), the shallower the depth of field. The narrower the aperture size (f/22), the deeper the depth of field.
Before I show you a selection of photos taken at different apertures, take a look at the diagram below. If you don’t understand exactly how this works, it doesn’t matter too much.
For now, it’s important for you to know the effects.
What Are the Uses of Different Apertures?
The first thing to note is that there are no rules when it comes to choosing an aperture. It depends greatly on whether you are going for artistic effect or to accurately balance the light in a scene.
To best make these decisions, it helps to have a good knowledge of traditional uses for the different aperture listed below.
f/1.4 – This is great for low light situations. It also gives a shallow DoF. Best used on shallow subjects or for a bokeh effect.
f/2 – This range has much the same uses, but an f/2 lens can be picked up for a third of the price of an f/1.4 lens.
f/2.8 – Still good for low light situations, but allows for more definition in facial features due to a deeper DoF. Good zoom lenses usually have this as their widest aperture.
f/4 – Autofocus can be temperamental. This is the minimum aperture setting you’d want to use for portraits in decent lighting. You risk the face going out of focus with wider apertures.
f/5.6 – Good for photos of two people but not very good in low light conditions though. Here, use a bounce flash.
f/8 – This is good for large groups as it will ensure that everyone in the frame remains in focus.
f/11 – More often than not, here is where your lens will be at its sharpest. Perfect aperture for portraits.
f/16 – Shooting in the sun requires a small aperture, making this a good ‘go-to’ point for these conditions.
f/22 – Best for landscapes where noticeable detail in the foreground is required.
As I said before, these are only guidelines. Now that you know exactly how the aperture setting will change a photo, you can experiment yourself and have fun with it!
We won’t go into unnecessary detail as to what a shutter speed definition is. But let’s summarise it.
The shutter speed is the exact amount of time or exposure time that your camera records an image for.
It does this through the use of the camera shutter. The camera’s shutter is what allows the light to hit the film plane or digital sensor.
As a general rule of thumb, a shutter speed value under your lenses’ focal length with cause camera shake. For example, a 300 mm lens (without image stabilization) will need a minimum of 1/500th. Similarly, a 50 mm lens will need anything above 1/60th of a second.
Anything slower than this will require a tripod. Or, as most telephoto lenses will have, image stabilization.
More often than not you’ll want to take your photo within a fraction of a second, such as 1/1000th of a second. This will help freeze the movement of the subject. But, this largely depends on the speed of your subject and how close you are to it.
In most situations, slow shutter speed results in blurred images.
Shutter speed photography uses ‘stops’ in the same way as aperture does. But it’s a lot easier to wrap your head around.
Working out half of an exposure is a lot simpler for shutter speed than aperture. Why would you need to know half of an exposure? Well, a stop up is halving the amount of light, and a step down is doubling the amount of light.
Consider this. You are shooting a scene at 1/500th of a second. Changing the shutter speed down to 1/250th of a second will increase the exposure x2. Changing it from 1/500th to 1/1000th will reduce the exposure by half.
Motion Blur: Controlling your shutter speed is a great way to show movement in a still scene. You can create it using a slow shutter speed or panning the camera to follow a subject.
If you are looking to add blur into your image, there are many ways to do so. One way is to use the focal length of a lens to create a selective focus.
Telephoto lenses need a faster shutter speed to capture an image without blur. These lenses pick up and magnify even the slightest movement of the camera. A wide angle lens requires a slower shutter speed as the details in the image are a lot smaller.
This means you can create a blurred image easier with a longer focal length lens.
As a rule of thumb, you can take a sharp, blur-free image by setting the shutter speed to the same as the focal length.
For example, to take a photo at 50 mm in manual mode you would set the shutter speed to 1/60 of a second. There isn’t a 1/50th camera shutter speed available unless you use 1/3 stops.
Any slower and motion blur is likely to occur. It’s worth noting that this rule is only relevant to full frame cameras.
For a crop image sensor, due to its magnifying effect, you would be better off choosing a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second. The rise in number comes from the equivalence factor.
There are always exceptions to the rule. Image stabilization in your lens allows you to get away with slower shutter speeds. As you become more experienced with your digital camera, you’ll gradually improve on vital skills.
These include holding your DSLR cameras in a way that suits you best. Holding your camera with a correct posture will allow you to increase (among other things) your stability if you do this.
Freezing: Freezing your subject requires a fast shutter speed. It occurs when you take a photo at such a high shutter speed (1/500 and above) that there’s no motion blur. I don’t like shooting at these speeds as the images produced tend to appear flat.
The faster the subject is moving, the faster the shutter speed needs to be. For example, a jet plane will require a 1/2000th of a second or higher. A person riding a bike might only need 1/500th of a second.
When shooting a fast moving object, I like to include a small amount of motion. Otherwise, it may as well have been sitting still.
Panning: Panning is where you move your camera to complement a moving subject. It results in an image where the background is blurred but the subject is sharp.
This shot was taken from a sidewalk, panning the camera while using slow shutter speed photography. The sense of movement is obvious because of this technique.
So, as we saw, ISO is a way to classify your film speed and how sensitive to light the film is. Low ISO numbers mean low light sensitivity. They need a lot of light to expose correctly. High ISO numbers have high light sensitivity, meaning they need less light for exposures.
They are in the range of 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200. There are other films that are outside this range, but they are more specialized.
These increments seem a little strange. But what you will notice is that the numbers are either doubled or halved. This is because moving your ISO setting from ISO 100 to ISO 200 halves the light sensitivity of the film. Moving from ISO 200 to ISO 100 doubles it.
In the world of digital cameras, the same numbers continue to be used. The only differences are that we use digital sensors, not photographic film. And ISOs on DSLRs tend to go way above ISO 3200.
There are also added increments in the above range. 1/3 stops would be found between ISO 400 and 800, for example.
The numbers are recognizable. Lower ISO numbers mean less noise is present meaning higher quality. Higher ISO numbers come with other settings, such as fast shutter speeds. There is a trade-off between the quality of the images and using other necessary settings.
What Does ISO Do?
The ISO of your photography depends on many factors. It comes down to how much light is available, and what you want to capture. We tend to try and shoot with a low ISO on our camera as that gives us the best quality and a smaller amount of noise/grain.
What you are capturing determines the value you should use. If you’re photographing outside in the middle of summer, you should use ISO 100 due to the abundance of light. But if you’re photographing inside, this value might jump to ISO 800, or even higher.
One of the best ways to explain the use of ISO in digital photography is by using the exposure triangle. This triangle helps you to capture the perfect exposure.
Using the three interchangeable areas that control light, you can photograph anything, anywhere.
How Does ISO Affect Exposure?
The camera’s ISO scale is similar to shutter speed in the sense that, when doubled, the exposure is also doubled. They are proportional to one another. A low ISO number will give a low exposure and a high ISO will give a high exposure. It’s much simpler then aperture.
This is much easier to demonstrate using actual photos as you can see in the slideshow below…
The photos are displayed in the following order: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200. The aperture and shutter speed remain constant throughout these photos. Only the ISO is changing so that you can see its effect on a photo.
Which ISO and When?
1. ISO 100-200: Your photos will have the most detail and the best quality. This is great for shooting in daylight because there is no need to boost the ISO any higher. Shooting at 1600 in bright conditions would be a waste. It will result in otherwise avoidable grain.
2. ISO 200-400: For darker conditions, such as in the shade or indoors where it is brightly lit.
3. ISO 400-800: I like to use this range when shooting with a flash indoors. It helps to produce a more even exposure with a detailed background.
4. ISO 800-1600: Event photographers have no choice but to use this range. Live events often happen in low light conditions where you’re not allowed to use flash.
5. ISO 1600-3200: Again, event photographers will use this range for live gigs. You can also use it in extreme low light conditions where using a tripod is not an option. ISO 3200 is the highest I tend to push my camera to because I’m not a fan of digital noise (grain).
6. ISO 3200+: This range is reserved for extra low light conditions and artistic effect. With most cameras, it’s impossible to avoid a grainy result in this range.
For those beginning photography, exposure is key to capturing a great image.
Learning how exposure works will help you to take control of your camera and take better photos. Aperture, shutter speed, ISO are the elements that combine to create an exposure.
As you’ll soon learn, these elements have an effect on more than just the exposure. They also cause alterations in depth of field, motion blur, and digital noise.
Once you understand how each one works, you can start diving into manual mode. This is where you take control back from your camera.
The exposure triangle is a great way to remember the three settings. When combined, they control the amount of light captured from any given scene.
This will help you to understand that changing one setting will necessitate a change in the others. That is if you are photographing the same scene with the same exact lighting conditions.
Read here for all the information you need on the exposure triangle.
Partial Metering Mode: This metering mode collects data from a small circular area in the center of the frame. It covers about 10-15% of the entire scene.
This is useful when your subject is in the center of the frame and you want them to take priority in the exposure calculation.
There’s not a lot of difference between evaluative and partial metering modes.
It all comes down to the conditions you’re shooting in.
Spot Metering Modes: This is like partial metering only the dot in the center is smaller, roughly 5% of the frame.
You can use this for smaller subjects. I use it over partial because I know that any amount of light surrounding the subject won’t be a problem.
This is a more advanced way of working out the good exposure for your camera. This is because it involves metering for such a small area. The rest of the scene may not be correct, leaving that up to you to work out.
Notice that the skin tones are much softer and easier to look at. While this is a good thing, it leaves the rest of the scene rather underexposed.
Be careful when using this mode; it has its uses but you don’t want to end up with all of your photos in this style.
Centre – Weighted Average:This is similar to partial and spot metering, only the area where the metering takes place is much bigger.
DSLR camera manufacturers realised one thing. Most people take photographs in which the subject takes up the center of the image. There needed to be an effective metering system in digital photography for this scenario to give an accurate exposure value.
You’ll notice in the photo below that the background is quite well exposed. But this is at the expense of the skin tone being horribly overexposed and unusable.
This mode can be hard to predict and I don’t like using it.
Average Metering Mode:This works similarly to evaluative metering in photography.The meter reading looks at the light from the whole scene.
But it does so in a very unintelligent way. Not only does it not recognise what’s in the scene, it doesn’t make any changes accordingly.
If there’s a bright sun or a dark shade in a scene, this region will be treated in the same way as the rest of the photo.
This often results in over and underexposed areas in the same image.
This mode isn’t usually found on modern cameras.
Depth of Field
Understanding Depth of Field
What is ‘depth of field’? It’s simple. At its most basic, It’s how much of your scene is in focus. That’s it.
And here’s a more complicated definition. Depth of Field is the distance between the closest objects in focus and the farthest point of focus.
Consider this. You are out photographing a beautiful landscape. And you want to be able to see the whole scene for what it is.
Here, you would use a deep depth of field, as it will keep your foreground and background in focus.
The smaller the depth of field, the smaller the area of focus will be. This focal area can be placed anywhere in your image.
You can use it to put the background, the middle ground or the foreground in focus. The choice is yours.
A small aperture such as f/1.2 can put the eyes in focus, but keep the nose and ears blurry.
Using the same f/stop, you can focus on the nose, which will blur the eyes.
Large aperture = Small f-stop = Shallow (small) depth of field
Small aperture = Large f-stop = Deep (large) depth of field
Does Distance Affect Depth of Field Photography?
Yes it does. Your Depth of Field photography also changes with distance. While photographing a close subject, your depth of field is smaller or narrower.
Moving farther away from a subject will make your depth of field photography wider. Moving closer to your subject will make it shallower.
The background and the foreground effectively become closer. This is when compared to the distance between you and the subject.
There is one instance where your depth of field can be manipulated. That is by using a tilt and shift lens. By playing around with the ’tilt’ of a lens, you can place an entire scene in focus when using a wide aperture.
Shallow Depth of Field Photography
A shallow depth of field comes from using a large aperture. Anything between f/1.4 and f/4 will give you a shallow depth of field photography.
This is a great way to separate your foreground from its background. The background might be uninteresting, distracting attention from your subject.
You can even use depth of field photography to single out a point of interest. This is especially helpful in an otherwise busy scene.
Medium Depth of Field Photography
With an aperture setting of f/5.6, you create images of a medium depth of field.
Here, you can make out the detail of the whole body as well as some of the background.
Where there is a ‘depth‘ to the photo, it’s important to consider the aperture setting before taking the photo. This makes the scene feel more realistic and life-like.
You’ll want to keep as much of the subject in focus as possible.
Deep Depth of Field Photography
You can create a deep or wide depth of field using a smaller aperture. Anything between f/8 and f/22 would be giving you a wide DoF.
This is how you would capture a scene where both the foreground and background are interesting.
Perfect for landscapes and city scenes.
When Should I Use Deep Depth of Field?
Consider the following two photographs. The first capture was with a wide depth of field using a wide or larger aperture, such as f/16. As you can see everything is in focus.
Both the foreground and the background have the same amount of focus, and thus, attention. The photographer wants to show you the entirety of the scene. It’s all interesting.
The mountain in the background gives a great focal point. And the crack in the foreground gives you a leading line. It all comes together.
When Should I Use a Shallow Depth of Field?
The second image is very different. Here the photographer used a shallow depth of field, using a shallow aperture such as f/1.8. Only the foreground is in focus.
This choice is down to the photographer. They obviously wanted to push the focus on the flowers in the foreground.
The background is still there. It gives a presence to the scene as you can still get a sense of where you took the image.
The blurry background doesn’t distract attention from the foreground.
Increase Depth of Field Photography
To increase your depth of field, you have three options.
You can narrow your aperture by increasing the f-number or f-stop (f/5.6 -> f/16). By moving away from your subject, you increase your depth of field. You can also do this by shortening the focal length of your lens.
Decrease Depth of Field Photography
To decrease your depth of field, you have three options.
You can widen your aperture by decreasing the f-stop (f/16 -> f/5.6). By moving closer to your subject, you decrease your depth of field. You can also do this by lenthening the focal length of your lens.
White balance is something I wish I’d learned more about much sooner than I did. I look back on some photos now and wonder what I was thinking.
The white balance changes the color cast of the entire photo. It is responsible for the overall warmth. It can determine whether your photo appears blue or orange, cold or warm.
Auto white balance doesn’t tend to do a particularly good job, particularly with tungsten light. The sooner you learn about this basic photography idea, the more accurate your photos will look.
Have you ever wondered what the ‘mm’ on your lens actually means? Or why people use longer focal lengths for portraits?
It’s all discussed in this tutorial. The focal length affects more than just the ‘zoom’. It also influences the perspective.
I cover which focal length you would want to use in different situations. As well as their possible side effects.
The histogram shows you a mathematical review of an exposure after the photo has been taken. It essentially tells you how evenly exposed a photo is.
LCD screens aren’t very good at showing you this information through their display of the image. This is because they are affected by the ambient lighting conditions you’re in and the brightness of the screen itself.
That’s why the histogram is such a powerful tool to utilize in beginning photography correctly.
Rule of Thirds
This is probably the first compositional rule that any beginner photographer comes across. And that’s for a very good reason: it’s simple and it works.
The basic premise is that you divide your camera’s frame into thirds. By planting key objects on these lines, the composition of the image works better.
This is a tool that consistently works, but it is easy to overuse it. If you’ve not learned much about photography yet, it’s a great way of dramatically improving your photos.
It will help to make them more interesting.
The exposure triangle helps us understand more about light. In photography, it is all mathematical behind the scenes.
Haven’t you ever wondered why the numbers seem strange, and increment in an even stranger way?
Apertures rise from f/1.4 to f/2.8 and go all the way to f/22. Shutter speeds could be 1/125, or 1/250 and all the way to 1/4000 (if you’re lucky).
Same goes for the ISO where it jumps from 100 to 200 and keeps going to 3200.
ISO is your camera’s sensitivity to light, with a typical range of 100-1600. Some cameras can go as low as 50 or 64, and reach as high as 12,600, but these are found in very expensive camera bodies.
Basically, the lower the ISO number, the less light is hitting your sensor.
More light is needed at the lower ranges to get a good exposure, meaning more light for the higher ranges. The lower the number, the better the resolution and quality of your resulting images.
Higher ISO numbers allow you to photograph in low light conditions, yet these settings bring more grain.
DSLRs can cope well with high ISO numbers as their sensors, processors and large pixel sizes are able to cope with the digital noise. However, as a rule, use an ISO with a value as low as possible.
For shooting in a sunny day, ISO’s 100-200 are perfect. If you head indoors, you may find that you will need to use ISO’s 800-1600.
The aperture is the hole inside your lens, which acts as the ‘iris’ similar to your eyes. A wide or low-number aperture, such as f.2/8 will have a very small focal length.
This means that wherever you place your focus, only a small part of the subject will appear clear.
A narrow aperture, such as f/16 will place the entire scene in focus, as it has a large focal area. Landscape photographers are more likely to use a narrow aperture if they want to show the foreground and background as clear and sharp.
The lower the f-stop, the more light is allowed to enter your lens, and therefore, hitting your sensor.
To keep my ISO value down, to retain quality, I shoot live musicians with a wide aperture. This gives me more usable light.
A high f-stop number gives me less light to play with, which tends to mean that a longer exposure is needed. To create images with a bokeh background, you would use a wide aperture.
Your shutter speed can be thought of as the amount of time your camera’s shutter stays open. The longer it stays open, the more light enters your scene and therefore your image.
These numbers are shown in fractions of a second, where 1/250 of a second is a typical value.
Your shutter speed has an effect on the sharpness of your subject. Lower shutter speeds let in more light, but also allow more blur from your subjects, especially if moving.
A faster shutter speed lets in less light, but gives you a sharper image as the subject is ‘frozen’.
Without a tripod, I wouldn’t recommend a setting below 1/100th of a second, unless you are taking advantage of a creative motion blur.
A shutter speed chart is another great way to remember what shutter speeds are best for each situation.
Combining the Settings
Well, the numbers do have a pattern and they are chosen so. Look at aperture for example, and see if you can spot it. A typical range would be f/1.4, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/16 and f/22. The numbers almost double every time.
For the ones that don’t (f/4 and f/22), they are usually the previous two numbers added together (or thereabouts).
The same goes for ISO, where the numbers double each time. 100 goes to 200, then 400, 800, 1600 and finally 3200. Shutter speed follows suit with 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000.
Each of these numbers is one stop. They either add or subtract one stop’s worth of light from your image. The reason we show them in a triangle is that they all work together.
For example, you have a correct lighting scene at ISO 100, shutter speed at 1/125 and an aperture of f/16. But what happens when the sun disappears behind a cloud?
The scene just got two stops darker.
This means you need to add two more stops of light into your settings for a correct exposure.
You could add it using ISO, changing it from 100 to 400 (100 -> 200 -> 400). Here, you compromise the resolution and quality of your image. A higher ISO brings grain and digital noise.
Your shutter speed could change two stops from 1/125 to 1/30 (1/125 -> 1/60 -> 1/30). In doing this, you will have a high level of camera shake in your image. we can’t change them without compromising the image.
In this case, we would change the aperture from f/16 to f/8 (f/16 -> f/11 -> f/8).
Visual weight differs in size or weight as we know it. It’s all about what we’re drawn to when we look at a photo.
When you understand visual weight, you’ll start to understand how people look at photos and how you can position certain elements in a frame to direct the viewer’s attention to where you want them to look.
It’s not so much a tool or a rule, but an understanding.
If you take photos of people, you’re taking photos with eye lines. It’s important to understand the effect that eye lines have on how we view a photo.
Eye-lines are the direction your subject’s eyes are pointed in. The negative space in front of the subject’s face is known as ‘lead room‘.
These have the ability to focus our attention on a particular part of the photo. They also produce tension and other photographic elements.
Although they’re not physical lines, they can be used as such to produce different elements. These will help make triangles and vertical lines.
Balance in a photo affects how we feel when we look at it. An unbalanced photo can make us feel uneasy, whereas a balanced photo will make us feel more relaxed.
It really doesn’t matter whether you choose to make the photo balanced or unbalanced. But you should understand why you’ve chosen one or the other.
Both affect your photos in different ways.
Again, it’s one of those situations where the more you know, the easier it will be to produce the desired effect.
It’s important to understand exposure. But, if you can’t get to grips with basic composition, you’ll struggle to take really good photos.
I’m not saying that you have to follow every compositional rule. But it helps to learn these rules so they can help guide you in taking better photos.
Rule of Thirds
This is probably the first compositional rule that any photographer comes across and for a very good reason: it’s simple and it works.
The basic premise is that you divide your camera’s frame into thirds and plant key objects along these lines to make the composition work better. This often works really well and, if you’ve not learnt much about photography yet, is a great way of dramatically improving your photos, making them more interesting.
The idea is that the viewer gets to see more than just the subject; they are encouraged to freely explore the photo themselves.
There are many more basic elements of composition to study but this is a great starting point for trying out and getting to grips with composition.
Visual weight is different to size or weight as we know it and is largely down to elements such as human eyes and writing within a photo.
With an understanding of visual weight, you’ll start to understand how people look at photos and how you can position certain elements in a frame to direct the viewers attention. It’s not so much a tool or rule but an understanding.
Balance in a photo affects how we feel when we look at it: an unbalanced photo can make us feel uneasy; a balanced photo will make us feel more relaxed.
It really doesn’t matter whether you choose to make the photo balanced or unbalanced but you should understand why you’ve chosen to do so and have reasons to justify this choice. Again, it’s one of those situations where, the more you know, the easier it will be to produce the desired effect.
If you take photos of people, you’re taking photos with eye lines; it’s important to understand the affect that these have on how we view photos.
Seeing as you’re following every tutorial I’ve provided in this guide, you will have a good understanding of visual weight already, so you should understand the power of having a face (and eyes) in a photo.
Still, there’s much more to it than that.
Eye-lines have the ability to focus our attention on another part of the photo, as well as producing tension and other photographic elements. Although they’re not physical lines, they can be used as such to produce different elements like triangles and vertical lines.
Speaking of triangles, lets have a look at them.
Triangles exist in almost everything we see in one way or another, it’s just a case of distinguishing them and knowing what to do with them.
Triangles make great compositional tools as they’re easy to make and manipulate, and are remarkably common. They provide a a great way to combine different compositional techniques, such as lines and paths, used to create a more interesting photograph. The best thing about triangles is their ability to make a photo feel stable or unstable.
The majority of your photos will have three distinguishable points of interest, it’s just a case of identifying these and linking them together in a way that makes sense.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we should really look at what a single point does to a photo; there’s actually much more to it than meets the eye.
When you’re working with a single point of interest in a photo, you’re looking at one of the most basic forms of composition available; quite a common occurrence. It pays to know what to do with it.
A single point can provide interest to an otherwise plain photo. They’re usually fairly small and contrasting to the rest of the image. A photo doesn’t need to have any points of interest to be successful though, just have a look at the most expensive photo in the world as an example.
When a frame is divided by a single, dominant line, this line is usually a horizon; they’re fairly common in outdoor photography, particularly landscapes.
If the photo is of nothing particularly interesting, this line will become the dominant part of the photo due to the way in which it separates the frame. Exactly where you place the horizon can have a huge affect on the image – which part of the photo is the most interesting and how do you want to make your viewer feel with the divide?
Dynamic tension is a way of using the energy and movement available in the frame to draw the viewer’s eyes out of the picture in contrasting directions.
We’ve already looked at a variety of different lines that you can use in a photo to make it more interesting. Dynamic tension takes these lines and adds varying degrees of contrast between them, making them much more interesting.
The simplest and most obvious photo that I have that demonstrated dynamic tension in is the one below – the lines move outwards from the center of the photo to the edges.
This is where composition can start to get a little more advanced but tends to lead to more interesting photography.
Take the knowledge that you’ve already learned and use it to create photos with more depth.
Speaking of depth, here are some useful tutorials to produce depth in your photos.
It’s another page like this with links to relevant articles but, if you have the time and want to learn more, it’s really worth checking out.
When we take a photo with our cameras, we are turning a 3D image into just 2D. This can cause problems when trying to demonstrate the depth in a scene. This has advantages and disadvantages, depending on what you’re trying to convey with your photo but, ultimately, holds you back when you’re trying to add depth to a photo.
Frame Within a Frame
Frames are a great photographic element that can be use to lead the viewers eyes into the frame, focusing them on a particular point. Frames provide a sense of repetition, depth and a path for the eyes to explore.
A photo of a scene with a foreground feature makes for a much more interesting build up to the main part of a photo and can, in some cases, carry equal weight to the rest of the photo.
A lot of you may not realize but, unless you spend about $2000 on your camera, you’re more than likely to be shooting on a crop sensor.
This means that your sensor is much smaller than professional SLR cameras, essentially cropping your image. The crop factor has a range of effects on your photos.
It creates a narrower viewing angle and will influence your lens purchases in the future. For those beginner photographers, research what lenses will help your field of photography first.
Hyperfocal distance is the closest focusing distance where elements in your composition at ‘infinity’ are acceptably sharp. Infinity is the most extreme distance your lens can focus to.
If you want to focus on an element in the foreground and keep your background in focus, you need to know how to calculate the hyperfocal distance. It is different for every lens focal length.
You might ask, “Isn’t stopping down my lens to its narrowest aperture going to make everything in focus?” Not necessarily. A narrow aperture will give you more depth of field. But it will not always produce and image which is acceptably sharp in the background.
There are more variables in the physics of focusing lens optics that come into play.
Calculating Hyperfocal Distance
Focusing on an object closer to your camera will give you less depth of field at any aperture setting. Focusing on an object which is further from your camera will give you more depth of field.
Finding the sweet spot with any aperture setting is what we are looking for.
When you have your lens set at its hyperfocal distance you will achieve the maximum depth of field in your photo. This distance calculation is based on three main variables:
Your lens focal length;
Your camera’s sensor size;
Your aperture setting.
At any lens’s hyperfocal distance everything from half the distance you are focused at to infinity will be acceptably sharp.
Let’s say you are using a 35mm lens with your aperture set to f11 on a full frame camera. With the focus set at 6 meters, everything from 3 meters to infinity will be acceptably sharp.
Six meters is your hyperfocal distance.
The amount of detail that the camera can capture is called the resolution, and it is measured in pixels. The more pixels a camera has, the more detail it can capture and the larger pictures can be without becoming blurry or "grainy."
256x256 - Found on very cheap cameras, this resolution is so low that the picture quality is almost always unacceptable. This is 65,000 total pixels.
640x480 - This is the low end on most "real" cameras. This resolution is ideal for e-mailing pictures or posting pictures on a Web site.
1216x912 - This is a "megapixel" image size -- 1,109,000 total pixels -- good for printing pictures.
1600x1200 - With almost 2 million total pixels, this is "high resolution." You can print a 4x5 inch print taken at this resolution with the same quality that you would get from a photo lab.
2240x1680 - Found on 4 megapixel cameras -- the current standard -- this allows even larger printed photos, with good quality for prints up to 16x20 inches.
4064x2704 - A top-of-the-line digital camera with 11.1 megapixels takes pictures at this resolution. At this setting, you can create 13.5x9 inch prints with no loss of picture quality.
High-end consumer cameras can capture over 12 million pixels. Some professional cameras support over 16 million pixels, or 20 million pixels for large-format cameras. For comparison, Hewlett Packard estimates that the quality of 35mm film is about 20 million pixels [ref].
This term refers to the size of an image, usually in reference to a photo from a digital camera or camera phone.
A megapixel means one million pixels. The resolution of digital cameras and camera phones is often measured in megapixels. For example, a 12-megapixel camera can produce images with 12 million total pixels.
Since pixels are usually square and form a grid, a 1-megapixel camera will produce an image roughly 1200 pixels wide by 900 pixels high.
A high number of megapixels matters most when zooming in or cropping a photo. For example, some phones let users "zoom in" without losing quality, without an optical zoom lens. They do this by simply cropping an 8-megapixel photo from the center of the original 23-megapixel image captured by the camera (for example.)
Photos with more megapixels are larger in file size, and therefore can take longer to transfer or send, and take up more storage space.
Most cameras and camera phones have an option to take photos at lower resolution (smaller), if desired. This may useful for saving storage space.