The Basics of a DSLR

You’ve done it! You’ve got yourself a DSLR, If you’re intimidated by all of the buttons, dials and knobs you’ve come to the right place. With this online course I will  teach you as much about photography as I can while making it fun and interactive.


First of all lets look at the hardware we’re dealing with.


One of the first things you’ll notice on your SLR or DSLR camera, is the big lens attached to the front of the camera. This is the first part of the camera that sees the image. Your light travels through the lens and then to the sensor, which is then projected as an image, either to the viewfinder, or the screen… or both.

Your lens should have a small, rotatable ring around it near the end of the camera (at least that’s where it is on mine). This is the focus adjustment. You adjust this to tell your lens how close or far away you want it to focus on. If the focus is not adjusted properly, the image will come out more or less blurry depending on where it is set. Some of the newer lenses come with an autofocus feature, which does a pretty good job of guessing what you’re trying to take a picture of, then focusing on it automatically. If you don’t have one of these, you may just have to focus manually. It takes some time, but after a while you’ll get pretty good at getting the right amount of focus.

Now if you have a zoom lens rather than a fixed lens, somewhere in the middle, there should be a wide ring that wraps around it. This is the zoom adjustment. Adjust this to zoom in or zoom out of your subject, making the camera look closer or farther. Now, this is not the same as moving your camera. Zooming in will only enlarge the image that you already have, whereas moving the camera will make the image larger, plus give you a different perspective of the objects surrounding your subject.

So if you like the perspective you have, don’t move your camera, but if you need something a little different, try either moving your camera, or a mix of both moving and zooming. 

Another thing on zooming: There are two kinds of zooming, “optical zoom” and “digital zoom”. Optical zoom is an actual lens rotating and moving to zoom in on an object, while losing none-at-all to a very minimal amount of quality in the process. Digital zoom is completely digital and has nothing to do with moving a lens. Basically, all it does is crop the image, causing you to lose a lot of quality depending on how much you “zoom”.

I would not recommend using digital zoom at all, unless you have no other option. Pretty much anything that you would need digital zoom for can be done by cropping the image later on a computer. If it is already cropped though, you lose all of the image outside of the crop area, and you don’t have any freedom to fix it if you decide that you need more of the image later. So, digital zoom? Bad.