5 Tips for DSLR/Mirrorless Beginners

High end cameras are more advanced than ever, giving us the tools to capture amazing images. The downside is sometimes these tools take a lot of trial and error to master, which means the possibility of missing out on capturing a once in a lifetime moment. With that in mind, here are five tips that will help you capture stunning images with your DSLR or mirrorless professional camera: 

Select TV mode on the left, and use the knob on the right to change the shutter speed.

Select TV mode on the left, and use the knob on the right to change the shutter speed.

1 - Timing is Everything

How quickly or how slowly you capture an image can make a huge difference in the final product. The faster you take an image (high shutter speed) the less likely you will see motion blur, resulting in an image that will be clear and sharp. However, the faster an image is taken means less time for light to hit the sensor, which could result in the image being too dark. Alternatively, if you want motion blur in your image (to make water appear like smooth glass for example), you will want a slower shutter speed, but be forewarned that taking photos in this manner without a tripod is very difficult. 

On a Canon camera, we recommend shooting in "Time Value (TV)" mode which will allow you to set the shutter speed of the camera, while the camera will automatically control the aperture and ISO settings. Experiment with different shutter speeds to find out which ones work best for the subjects you are shooting. 

The Canon 50mm 1.8 prime lens.

The Canon 50mm 1.8 prime lens.

2 - Try a Prime Lens

Unlike "kit" lenses that allow you to zoom in or out, prime lenses are a set focal length which at times can be very inconvenient. However, prime lenses offer some huge benefits that can drastically change the images you can capture: 

  1. Large apertures let in lots of light, meaning superb photography in dark conditions that would be impossible for other lenses. 
  2. The large aperture also helps with depth of field in your photos, giving your images an artistic look that can turn something ordinary into something extraordinary. 
  3. Although you will lose the ability to zoom in or out, you will learn how to become a problem solver with this limitation. You will figure out ways to make interesting images and although you will be limited in technology you will also grow in ability. 
  4. Prime lenses are also pretty cheap! My favorite prime lens, the Canon 50mm 1.8, is just $130! For the images these lenses can capture they are certainly worth the investment. 

3 - Consider Buying a Flash

In very basic terms, cameras capture light or the lack thereof, so understanding light, how it works, and how it can be manipulated, can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of an image. 

Light is a difficult thing to explain but here is a great video by Syl Arena on light and the benefits of using a flash with your camera: 

4 - Process Your Images

Unlike the days of film where processing your photos meant spending some time in a darkroom, today we have programs like Photoshop and Lightroom to help take good images and make them great in very little amounts of time (unless you've taken hundreds of images haha). Changing things like contrast, highlights, color, and more can completely change the message the image is trying to communicate. 

Here's a great video from Peter McKinnon on the benefits of using Lightroom: 

5 - Be Comfortable, Have Fun! 

When you first get that DSLR or mirrorless camera, things can be very intimidating! You don't want to damage your gear, you're paranoid that people are watching you, and of course you're overwhelmed by the new gear that you're trying to figure out. Unfortunately this intimidation and lack of confidence will show up in your photos! The best way to overcome this is by becoming comfortable with your camera, taking it with you, and not worrying about taking perfect pictures. What many people forget is that the people who take great photos also started out as a newbie that didn't know much, didn't have the best gear, and had to spend countless hours honing their skills to learn how to take amazing images. 

We hope that these 5 tips will help you with your photography! Feel free to leave your favorite tips in the comments and be sure to check back for more news. 

Kris WysongComment