10 Tips to Help You get the Most out of Your New DSLR

10 Tips to Help You get the Most out of Your New DSLR

0Comments

A Guest Post by Children and Baby Photographer David Moore from Clearing the Vision.

new-dslr.jpgWith the holiday season now over perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to receive a new DSLR camera as a gift. But once the wrapping paper’s off, you might be wondering where to start.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your new camera, especially if you’re new to DSLRs:

1) Read the Manual

I know it can be dull as dishwater, but reading the manual will really help your confidence and flexibility when using your new camera. Knowing what each feature or button does can get you out of a jam when you need it. And the chances are your new beast does a lot more than you thought it could.

2) Learn the basics of shutter speed, aperture and ISO

One of the greatest strengths of DSLRs is the level of manual control they offer, which helps you craft each image exactly the way you want it. This is powerful, but it can also seem daunting when you’re confronted with a jumble of numbers and icons on the displays.

The only real way to take advantage of this control is to understand the basics of how shutter speed, aperture and ISO effect each other and the shot you’re taking.

There’s a really good overview here.

3) Experiment with switching away from the auto-everything modes

Once you understand the basics of shutter speed, aperture and ISO, you’re free to swim in the deep end of your camera’s capabilities – the creative modes. Leaving the camera in auto-everything (often shown with a green box on the mode selector) will give you passable to good shots, but you’ll never really know in advance what you’ll get because the camera decides on depth of field and shutter speed issues (and ISO on some cameras).

I’d recommend getting comfortable with Aperture Priority mode first. In this mode you control the aperture and the camera will choose a shutter speed to give a properly exposed shot. Choose an appropriate ISO for your lighting conditions (higher for darker), and see what you come up with at different apertures – keeping an eye on the shutter speed to guard against blurring (unless that’s what you’re after).

4) Switch off the on-camera flash

davidmoore1.jpg

On-camera flash tends to be very unflattering, creating a harsh flat light on faces, and ruining the atmospherics of a scene. Cameras these days are getting astonishingly good at shooting in low-light situations, and you’ll get much more satisfying results if you increase the ISO and shoot without the flash.

I’d take a little bit of noise on a warm and inviting shot taken without a flash over a crisp but cold shot taken with one.

5) Try an inexpensive prime lens

If your camera came with a kit lens (one bundled with the camera body), it’s likely a medium zoom lens, that covers a pretty useful range. It’s capable in most situations (especially outdoors), but likely isn’t as good in lower light conditions (because its lowest aperture might be f/4 or above), and the image quality might not be stellar.

Canon, Nikon and Sony each make 50mm prime lenses that are pretty affordable (‘prime’ simply means a lens that shoots at a fixed focal length, rather than a zoom that shoots at a range of lengths, such as 24-70mm). Experimenting with one of these will let you work with a much narrower depth of field, use a faster shutter speed in lower light and might give you better overall image quality than a regular zoom. I was amazed at the images my old Canon Rebel XT could produce with the plastic Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens.

However, be warned: these prime lenses have acted as gateway drugs for many people (myself included) – leading them down the path towards much more expensive and esoteric lenses.

6) Shoot all kinds of different things

When most of us start out with our first DSLR, we don’t know what sort of photographer we are. I knew I was going to take photographs of my daughter, but I was slow in trying other things, which was a mistake.

Landscapes, sports, events, wildlife, still life and street photography all offer their own challenges and rewards. So try all of them (and anything else you can think of) and see what excites you. Even if you discover that you’re not that interested in that particular area, you’ll probably learn something along the way that will enhance your photography skills.

7) Shoot a lot

With film cameras there was a definite cost to you each time you pressed the shutter, but of course one of the joys of digital photography is that each shot is next to free. I’m not advocating ‘spray and pray’ – there should be a thought behind each image – but the more you experiment, the faster you’ll learn.

So have the camera easily available when you’re at home, and bring it along with you even on unpromising errands. And if you can, set aside some blocks of time just to go out and shoot.

8) Shoot RAW

Chances are your DSLR offers you the chance to save your images in RAW or JPG format. JPG images are ‘cooked’ in the camera – adjustments are made to saturation, contrast and other settings to give you a more nearly finished (and smaller) file. RAW files keep everything the sensor captured, and need processing in your computer to get the best out of them.

So it would seem that JPG files are easier to handle, but actually I think the opposite is true. RAW files give you much more leeway to correct mistakes later (especially with exposure and white balance), so even if you didn’t completely nail the image you were after in the camera, you can improve things after the fact. Programs such as Apple Aperture or Adobe Lightroom make it easy to organize and adjust your images (whether they’re RAW or JPG).

There’s more on RAW vs JPG here.

9) Print some images large

Even as the thousands of files pile up on our hard drives, the pleasure of printing images out large is one we digital photographers don’t give ourselves enough.

Seeing an image as a physical object is a special treat, bringing the subject to life in ways that any number of viewings on screen doesn’t.

Even the lowliest DSLR these days is capable of producing excellent prints at large sizes. You can make some as presents, hang them up in your home, get a book custom printed there are lots of ways to bring them into the real world.

davidmoore2.jpg

10) Share your photos

As well as printing them, sharing your images online is another way to give your images an existence after you’ve taken them. Photo sharing websites like Flickr are a great way to find an audience for your work, and also get exposed to a group of people with similar interests and skills. Real-life meetups often start online too, so you might find a like-minded group near you.

Conclusion

The main thing is to enjoy your new camera, and hopefully these tips have given you some pointers. Feel free to share any other tips for new owners of DSLRs below, and if you’re just starting out, welcome aboard.

See more from David Moore at his site – Clearing the Vision.

Read more from our category

Guest Contributor This post was written by a guest contributor to dPS.
Please see their details in the post above.

Become a Contributor: Check out Write for DPS page for details about how YOU can share your photography tips with the DPS community.

Some Older Comments

  • Fletcher Murray April 24, 2012 03:53 am

    If you want to achieve detail in the shadow areas the way to go is High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. The camera shoots three shots, one underexposed, one overexposed and one perfectly exposed and then you can combine the three into one shot. I don't think the filters will assist you in getting what you want although if the angle of the sun is correct the pola will help darken the sky and also remove the glare off of shiny objects in the frame.

  • Rick DeMartile April 23, 2012 03:34 am

    I have a question about sunset/sunrise photography. I just got a set of 3 lens filters, a UV, a Polarize, and a flourecent light filter. my question is which of these filters should i use on shooting a sunrise/sunset. and will this help me get my darker unexposed image in the picture more exposed? the darker areas are really dark and when i adjust iso/aperture/shutter speed to get them exposed the sky is bright white way over exposed. any help would be appreciated. Thank you

  • David Dylan November 12, 2011 08:52 pm

    Hi all,

    I just wanted to ad that I bought a 5D-II a while back and still the 50mm 1.8 is my favourite lens on it. I've all but discarded the 18-55 alltogether. Amazingly, the relatively cheap Tamron 70-300 that once came with the 500D still makes it onto the 5D fairly often. I want L-glass of course but paying off the study loan takes precedence ;-)

    I brought the camera bag along to a work outing and afterwards everybody raved about the great colours, the detail and the 'magical' feel of the pictures (In a forest in fall, btw.... nature helped a little ;-) ) taken mostly with the prime.

    This $100 piece of kit outperforms lenses ten times as expensive at times.

    So thanks again all, and OP, for the tip.

    Greetz.
    DD.

  • Gaurav November 12, 2011 08:26 pm

    Great tips and good discussion in comments. I,m also motivated to buy a prime...!

  • Glen April 18, 2011 11:36 am

    Great article some great tips in here especially the tip about shooting often and with out the flash. And the tip about buying a prime lens.

  • David Dylan March 13, 2011 12:24 pm

    Hi there,

    Well, I took your advice, all who gave it, and got a 50mm prime.

    Here are some results:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/30748540@N06/sets/72157626127497979/

    Greetz.
    DD.

  • fazil February 5, 2011 02:24 am

    good tips!!
    www.lensesNroses.com

  • Cruxado January 31, 2011 11:41 am

    I just got myself a Sony Nex-3, can't wait to use it outdoors. But I must say, with the 12600 ISO I think it'd be ridiculous for me to worry about Low Light pictures... especially when there's the Neat Image plugin for photoshop or the denoisser in Lightroom.

  • Ah'dhu Yoosuf January 24, 2011 03:49 pm

    Thank you for the article and the comments. I've got a Canon 1000D. I have been wanting to get a prime lens but haven't been able to decide. Need some advice. What wud u recommend from the following Canon lenses?
    EF 28mm f/1.8 USM
    EF 35mm f/2.0
    EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
    EF 50mm f/1.8 II
    Thanks

  • David Moore January 22, 2011 04:51 am

    @mr mack - 'Understanding Exposure' by Bryan Peterson is a good book to help get a handle on the ISO, aperture and shutter speed combinations.

  • David Moore January 22, 2011 04:49 am

    Glad there's a lot of love out there for the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8. One thing to bear in mind (that I didn't say in the article) is that on a crop sensor camera (which is most of the DSLR cameras we're using, especially when starting out) that 50mm will act more like an 85mm on a film or full-frame sensor camera. Which is a good length for tight-ish portraits but is a bit long for other uses. Unfortunately there's no prime lens around 30mm that's as inexpensive (which would behave more like a standard 50mm camera on a crop body). Just so it's clear.

  • Trevor Eisenman January 21, 2011 11:37 am

    @ Mr. Mack. Perhaps our Pro Level I Boot Camp would be of help to you to learn more about DSLR? We have had both experienced pros in the industry come, as well as still photographers looking to learn video, etc.

  • MR. MACK January 18, 2011 10:53 am

    I LOVE BEING ABLE TO READ ALL THE ARCTICLES, AND COMMENTS POST ON THIS SITE, BUT I FEEL LIKE I CAN NOT GET THE ISO,EXPOSURE, AND THE SHUTTER SPEED. TO DO LIKE I WOULD LIKE, I GUESS I'M NOT WORKING WELL WITH MY CAMERA AS I WOULD LIKE, I WANT TO BE A BETTER PHOTOGRAPHER IN ALL SITUATIONS, CAN SOMEONE RECOMMEND A WEBSITE, OR BOOKS THAT MIGHT HELP ME TO UNDERSTAND, EXPOSURE, AND APETURES?!

  • Joe January 16, 2011 08:03 am

    @David Dilan

    more than a decade ago, the 50mm "normal" lens was the lens you would get with your camera. Decades of research and improvement have gone into the 50mm lens making for great optics/ image quality. The 50mm was the lens that companies were judged by. Recently, with the flexibility of zoom lenses, i guess it just fell out of favour. also, zoom lenses will not give you consistent image quality at all focal lenghts.

    Another reason to think about buying a prime lens is that it will force you to think about composition and framing allowing you to improve your photography skills at a much faster rate when compared to just using a zoom lens where you can just zoom in and out until you see something you like.

    Here's a better look at the 50mm lens --> http://vothphoto.com/spotlight/articles/forgotten_lens/forgotten-lens.htm

    From what I remember, the 1.8 will allow 8 times more light than your 18-55 kit lens and the 1.4 will allow 16 times more light.

    I'm currently deciding between a canon 50mm 1.8 and 1.4 and a sigma 50mm f/2.8 EX DG (macro which doubles as a portrait lens) for my T2i. Any suggestions? I'm not too pleased with the harsh bokeh from the 1.8 and I heard after a year or so the 1.8 just falls apart, literally!

  • Cheryl A January 15, 2011 04:12 am

    I want to thank all of you for tips.I'm just starting out with my Canon Rebel T2I
    and I enjoy it.Still learning and I keep reading the manual a lot. Will check in
    later to show some of my pic.

  • Ellen Grasso January 14, 2011 02:41 pm

    I agree with Jen, reading the manual, while boring, really helps to understand your camera. I make sure to download the electronic version for my camera and view it on my computer while reviewing the features for the camera. Much easier than fumbling with the book in one hand and the camera in the other. While I've had my Nikon d50 for years, I've just basically been using the automatic features, so after reading this article, I am going to look at my Nikon with a fresh eye and venture into trying to use the manual features. Thanks.

  • Anoop January 14, 2011 11:16 am

    You're right !!! the 50mm prime lens is an addiction. The extra large aperture really brings out the subject in low lights and even though the blurred lights are not exactly round, the blur is excellent still !!
    Still not bored taking pictures with that one.

    cheers,
    Anoop

  • John Schickler January 14, 2011 12:45 am

    I have that combo you mentioned (Canon Rebel XT could produce with the plastic Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens) and it is amazing what you can do with it. If have some great bird shots (On tripod, focus pre-set on plane with feeder, and remote shutter (Zap-Shot for the Canon). You can really freeze a hummingbird's wings with this combo. I used the 50 prime on my XSi to get great shots of the meteor showers last August. Wide open aand at about 20 seconds seemed to be the best combo, then shoot over and over until a meteor or two passed by while the shutter is open. I also use the 50 shooting amateur hockey (in a poorly lighted arena) to capture action and the cropped enlargements are decent. It could encourage me to consider a 100 prime to get closer to the action Canon 50 at about $100 was a great deal.
    The lens is light and allows you to shoot "fast" in lower light conditions.

  • David Dylan January 13, 2011 09:59 pm

    @MM Thanks for the info. I find that the image stabilisation helps, especially since I have a mild disability that sometimes means my hands shake slightly. The 18-55 (also Canon) performs very well for me on my EOS 500D although it is, also, not really good for low light. Other than that I have a Tamron 70-300 and the Canon 55-250 EF-S.

    Quite happy with all of them. But need more, obviously. :-)

  • Mandeno Moments January 13, 2011 09:13 pm

    @ David Dylan

    You're welcome. I've just read an Amateur Photographer review of the Canon EF-S 17-85mm (with stabilisation) and they said it was excellent, but it's not a good lens for low light.

    There are a few 17-50mm f2.8 lenses available (f2.8 at 17mm & 50mm), I'd recommend getting one with stabilisation.

    The 50mm f1.8 is a very good portrait lens for your models.

  • Walt Lindblom January 13, 2011 07:50 pm

    @ David Dylan

    All lenses are sharpest when they are 1-2 stops from either wide open or full shut down. The 50 1.8 will reach optimum sharpness by f2.8. Your 18-55 is probably an f3.5 - f5.6 lens. To match the same view as the 500mm prime, the 18-55 is going to be at f5.6, wide open. To get to good sharpness, you have to stop down to f8 or 11. Try to get shallow depth of field with that! The 50mm prime is an excellent portrait lens for a DX sensor camera and great in low light. It gives you enough stand-off distance from your subject to not make them uncomfortable but still lets you work with them. The ability to control depth of field is key i nthis situation. I know photographers that are using the 50mm 1.8 lens to shoot volleyball and gymnastics, where flashes are not allowed. Combined with a newer camera that gets good results with high ISOs, the 50mm 1.8 prime allows you to use shutter speeds that have a hope of freezing action.

  • Adrian January 13, 2011 06:47 pm

    Good advice for all new photographers. Especially the part about reading the manual.

  • Gene January 13, 2011 06:26 pm

    David,

    from an old teacher and photo teacher. It is hard to communicate with someone who doesn't speak your language and I speak photography. So, some language first and then on to photography.

    Gene

  • David Dylan January 13, 2011 05:59 pm

    @ Mandeno Moments: Thanks, yeah, it helps. So, for what usage would it best replace the 18-55? Given the price, I'm tempted, but I have to bear in mind that most pictures I'll take are outdoors of people being active, although now that I hacve a few volunteers I am getting into photographing models as well.

    I think the 18-55 is still best for that, combined with the 55-250 as I simply can't swap lenses in a forest in the middle of a lot of action. So, the jack of all trades probably still serves me best there.

    But I've run into a few situations, indoors, where low light and inability to flash was an issue, so I'm guessing that would be a good one for the specialist. :-)

    A *little* more of the technical side of things would have landfed ok, by the way, but your answer is clear. And I did ask for simplicity. :-)

    Thanks.

  • Mandeno Moments January 13, 2011 04:39 pm

    @ David Dylan

    Imagine that you're asked to design a car that will do three things:
    1) travel at very high speed on the highway and handle well at that speed
    2) travel off road and cross deep rivers
    3) carry 12 people

    It is impossible to make a vehicle that will do all those things very well. If you compromise it is possible to make a vehicle that will do those three things adequately.

    Now imagine that you're asked to design a vehicle that will travel at very high speed on the highway and handle well at that speed. It's easy to make a car that will do this very well.

    Your 18-55mm lens tries to be three things:
    1) wide angle lens
    2) normal/standard lens
    3) telephoto lens

    It can do those three things adequately but it cannot do them very well.

    The 50mm tries to do one thing: be a 50mm lens. It does it very well. The result is more sharpness and fine detail than you will get from a 18-55mm lens, and that leads to pictures that have a bit of magic: they look more life-like and give you more of a sense of "being there".

    A zoom lens is a jack of all trades and master of none. A prime (non-zoom) is a master of one trade, and that trade is producing pictures with wonderful qualities that are impossible to describe with words.

    I hope that answers your question.

  • Azuz January 13, 2011 04:34 pm

    I just shipped my very 1st DSLR online.. I am so new to such professionalism.. but I thought it's the right time to such step... I loved ur tips.. I am sharing it on facebook .. this site reallyyyy ROCKS!! (Y)(Y)(Y)

  • David Dylan January 13, 2011 03:09 pm

    Nice article. But I miss the one bit of info that is on the edge of my understanding, mainly because I always sucked a physics: other than the obvious, the f/1.8, what is the advantage of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 over, say, my 18-55mm zoom?

    I mean, what does it do better because of its fixed focal length? (In baby-talk, please. I'm not a native speaker, and not the type to know all the jargon even in my own language, I'm a typical "knowing with the hands" type.)

    Thanks!

    @Sally: If you are on a tight budget, I'd forego the 70-300, although I thoroughly enjoyed mine last summer in France, where there were a lot of close-up things, and a lot of far-off things that wanted to be in my pictures. The 55-250 EFS that Canon makes might be just inside your budget, though, and is a lot more versatile in day-to-day use.

  • ratkellar January 13, 2011 02:58 pm

    For beginners, at leasts, I suggest the following process: Read the manual, shoot a lot; then read the manual again. While not a DSLR, my Canon S96 thinks too much for any camera and I'm still trying to reach a peaceful resolution with it so it will do what I want it to (instead of what it was programmed to do). The P mode acts much differently than my older, lower megapixel DSLR.

  • Corrina January 13, 2011 02:48 pm

    RE: Watermarks/Copywrite

    Do you have to add the watermark to each image or is there a feature on the camera that does it? I ask because I have a copy write section on my camera settings (Canon 60D) which I have filled in, however, nothing shows up on my photo's advanced info. Any ideas or am I totally off base in what I thought this was for.

  • Matthew Little January 11, 2011 09:41 am

    I got my first DSLR for christmas, a Canon 550D with a 50mm 1.8 ii and the 18-135mm IS lens. The first thing i did was read the manual front to back and since then i have not even looked at the Auto setting. I'm having alot of fun with the 50mm prime chasing my 2 year old son round the house and i feel very confident using manual settings.

    Next up is a flash gun for better indoor shots. This is my first post here, nice blog with some great articles :)

  • EvaPhotoGraphics January 9, 2011 08:17 am

    To remark on #10:

    I always try to add watermarks on my images (I do not want anyone using my images without asking). I always thought that was smart (what I was told when I first started putting any of my art online). Anyone can right-click or ctrl+print-screen and save the file. I know that watermarks only go so far, but anyone who knows how to, and will take the time to doctor it out should be perfectly capable of producing their own images, so it seems unlikely. Do you disagree?

  • Mandeno Moments January 8, 2011 05:42 pm

    Re point 4, "Switch off the on-camera flash".

    I agree with the author and with Chuck. On-camera flash is good for fill flash, eg lightening shadows around eyes, under noses, and under chins on a sunny day. Not the best option, but a good option. Otherwise on-camera flash is pretty much useless.

    This shot linked to below taken with on-camera flash, using a Ricoh GX100 in the middle of a cloudless day (the worst possible time for photos). It's not a great portrait, but the flash has given nice catch lights in the eyes and without it the photo would have been hideous due to deep, dark shadows. The family like this photo and that's the main thing: when a 21-month-old chooses to pose for 33 seconds you take the opportunity!
    http://mandenomoments.com/ruth-burge/efb23a31

    My caption for another photo in the same series says
    Photographing a small child is like photographing a natural disaster: you have to seize your opportunity and shoot as rapidly as possible for as long as possible. When I saw this scene I started shooting and got five shots in the 33 seconds that elapsed before Ruth moved off. Three of those shots are shown here.

  • fortunato_uno January 8, 2011 03:57 pm

    @ Chuck.
    The post is titled, 10 tips to get the most out of your new dslr. All these points were/are just about the best thing a new user could do to make the camera function. To say that they should just put the camera on P and shoot away teaches them nothing about the camera. The skills of comp, light, flash, and others are things you learn after you get comfortable with the basic skills in the use of the camera. Would you have your teen child just jump in the car (while running and in gear) and say just push the peddle on the right? No, more then likely you'd teach them about controlling the car (before they even sit in the seat).
    @David, These are sound tips. I hope many will learn from. Thanks for a good set of basics.

  • Beverly Everson January 8, 2011 03:30 pm

    Very good suggestions! I leave my camera with the 100-400mm lens sitting on my dining room table all the time. It's a pain to move it back and forth when we eat but my bird feeder is just outside the dining room window. Without the camera there and ready to pick up, I'd miss some great photo ops! I love my inexpensive 50mm 1.8 lens. My other prime is a 24mm and it's a great landscape lens.

  • Ruben January 8, 2011 02:53 pm

    This is me trying point number 10. Sharing the photos in my project 365.

    Some of the others I have tried, I think the next step will be to try another Lens, any suggestions? I have a Canon 500D and I am using it with the default 18-55mm.

    Thanykou.

    http://1year365fotos.blogspot.com/

  • Adam January 8, 2011 01:30 am

    I've been using a Rebel XT kit and 18-135 lens for about 3 years now. This Christmas, I finally got the 50mm 1.8. It's amazing how great this lens is for indoor shooting with low light. I agree that it's a gateway lens as I'm already looking for some more fast lenses. :)

  • David Moore January 7, 2011 09:36 pm

    @Mandeno Moments - yep, sorry that I was unclear about the construction of the EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. And I agree, it's a belter of a lens.

  • Mandeno Moments January 7, 2011 08:52 pm

    Point 5 says "the plastic Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens".

    I'd like to clarify this and say that it has a plastic body and mount. The lenses are glass.

    I have one of these and it is an excellent lens, ideal for portraits on a camera with an APS-C sensor because it's equivalent to an 80mm lens on a 35mm camera and you can throw backgrounds out of focus. It's Canon's cheapest lens and you get a lot of bang for your buck (around US$100).

    There are three limitations with the lens, but don't let these put you off buying it unless these things are really important to you:

    1) the autofocus motor is slower than that on many modern lenses, so it's not a great lens for action
    2) the five blade iris (aperture) doesn't give the best bokeh (out of focus areas have a more pleasant appearance when the iris has more blades)
    3) it's not easy to use with manual focus

    If you want to experiment with primes and/or you want a budget portrait/short telephoto lens for an APS-C camera this lens is hard to beat and it has great optics.

  • Sue Daigle January 7, 2011 07:58 pm

    Read the manual??? That must be what that book thingie that came in the box with my camera! (Only kidding, I was pretty sure it was a book...)

  • John Kim January 7, 2011 06:41 pm

    This article brings me back to when I first started taking photos with my DSLR. Great tips for newbies.

  • Kim January 7, 2011 06:03 pm

    Excellent round-up David. I would add two things that are great for all new camera owners:

    1. Subscribe to the Digital Photography School blog. Work through the posts under 'Most Popular". You can really learn a lot there.
    2. Download Picasa from Google. It's free, helps your organize your photos easily, and has some very nice editing capabilities for those without the mone or patience for Photoshop.

    The world is a more beautiful place when you're a photographer. Happy shooting!

  • chuck January 7, 2011 05:09 pm

    I totally disagree! This way you get a nerdy techno-photo-jerk who knows about tech stuff but cannot see the picture (s)he's taking.

    I'd say - set your camera to P and go bloody shoot. Then read a book on composition (like The Visual Story - the very best book on the subject IMO). Then read a book on light (e.g. Light: Science and Magic). Only then start digging into ISO/aperture/exposure (e.g. The Practical Zone System).

    As for the bult-in flash, I'm with Ken Rockwell, who's simple rule is: NEVER use it indoors, ALWAYS use outdoors when there's sunlight.

    And would you please stop that 'prime' crap! It's been 30+ years since the first zoom, it's okay to ditch the prime.

  • ScottC January 7, 2011 03:59 pm

    Definitely agree with turning off the built-in flash. When I first started with a DSLR, everything I read stated "ISO 100". It became so ingrained that it was much too long before something else triggered me to start trying higher ISO settings. Experiment with the camera, each model's in-camera noise reduction capabilities are different, shoot in RAW, and a use a good post processing program.

    ISO 1600, not the greatest photo overall but not too noisy considering the higher ISO setting:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5287963104/

  • Sally January 7, 2011 03:39 pm

    thats so true about prime 50 f/1.8 as gateway drug.. regarding the low price and good picture brought by the 50, wanting more really got me addicted.. i just bought a 50 last november 2010. and by december, i started wanting to buy more lenses.. i even looked in ebay.. there were good deals of low prices (even on brand new ones).. i almost bought a telephoto lens but i thought jumping from the kit of 55mm to a 75-300 might be a big leap for me & i may not be using it that often. so i later thought of the 18-200, 27-???, 17-55, 15-85... oh.. when can i get a new lens in exchange of my kit 55? and would the best lens be considering the price esp. that i'm unemployed college graduate? glad i didnt buy that 75-300. i may not be this rational for luxury..

  • Jen at Cabin Fever January 7, 2011 03:38 pm

    I love how the first tip is reading the manual. How many people do you think really do that? I bet not many... including myself. And I totally agree with shooting in RAW. While the files are much larger and take up so much more space you end up with much higher quality photos than JPEGs.

    NEK Photography Blog

    One Word. One Photo. Everyday.

  • Roekest January 7, 2011 03:03 pm

    For those who only have an on-camera, pop-up flash I suggest going into the menu and finding out how to manually adjust the flash burst of the pop-up. Doing this will allow you to somewhat control the intensity of the pop-up, getting cleaner pictures in the end. I experimented with this AFTER buying my speedlight and I was pretty amazed that some shots looked very similar using both methods. While manually adjusting the flash intensity of a pop-up is not the ultimate goal to good photography, it's a great way for amateurs to get a handle on how flash works and it gives them the ability to control their flash until they upgrade to a speedlight.

  • Rodney Maraist January 7, 2011 02:55 pm

    Thanks for the great article. I have taken some very disappointing shots when the flash went off. Also the suggestion about using RAW was very helpful. I frequently need to touch up my photos and this makes it much easier. This will definitely be saved to my favorites. You have been a great help.htt