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DSLR For Dummies – Part 1

First off, we definitely don’t think you’re a dummy! But, maybe you’ve had your eye on a DSLR for a while now, and you just can’t seem to make the full commitment to purchasing one. Or perhaps you’ve already bought a DSLR but haven’t had time to learn how to use it. We get it!

Having a DSLR is no fun if you feel totally overwhelmed and don’t know where to start! So to help you learn the basics, we’ve put together a DSLR For Dummies guide. We’re hoping to make things nice and simple so that you can master the terms and skills you need to get great photos with your DSLR (without all the hassle)!



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Photo by Erin


Let’s start from the beginning – why would you want a DSLR over a regular compact, or point & shoot camera? There are several reasons:

  • Great depth of field. Don’t be put off by the technical-sounding term, it simply means that a DSLR gives you the opportunity to take photos with everything in focus, or with beautiful blurred backgrounds. In the photography world, the blurred background technique is known as Bokeh, a Japanese expression. Of course, it’s not just either or, there’s a whole spectrum of possibility when it comes to depth of field in photos taken with a DSLR.
  • Flexibility and creativity. There’s a great deal of choice when it comes to lenses available for a DSLR, giving you a much wider creative scope. Most DSLRs come with a kit lens that is typically 18-55mm – a good all-rounder. Budget permitting you can add any number of lenses to your kit to get different results. Some typical lenses are telephoto, zoom, wide angle, fish eye, and prime (also called fixed focal-length). If you were to splurge on one lens to get your kit started, go for a 50mm fixed focal length with a minimum f1.8 aperture. Without getting too technical, the aperture is the hole that lets the light into your camera. A small aperture number (like 1.8) actually denotes a large aperture hole. This lens will give you fantastic depth of field, plus it’s perfect for portraits and family shots. Another great lens for beginners is an 18-250mm lens. It allows for wide angle photos, but you can also zoom in close to the subject without changing lenses. Great for keeping things simple!
  • Better photos in low light, without a flash. Due to the large sensor of the DSLR you’ll get better photos with less light – provided that your model is not a squirming 2-year old!
  • White Balance allows for true-to-life colors. The white balance is great for correcting color before taking a photo so that the resulting image is more life-like. The white balance presets will help you avoid overly yellow, green, or blue-tinted photos.
  • Easier photo editing. DSLR cameras have the option of shooting in two different formats, namely JPG or RAW. The RAW format uses more space on your memory card and your hard drive, but because it does not compress any of the data as a JPG does, you have more flexibility when it comes to editing. A great feature for cropping or printing your photos!

As you can see there’s a plethora of benefits that come along with upgrading from an everyday compact camera to a DSLR. So with that said, we’ll let you digest all the reasons you should get a DSLR, and we’ll be back in the next few days with another DSLR For Dummies guide to help you get out of the fallback Auto Mode!

Read Part 2 >>

This post also appears on Look What Mom Found.

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