Sunrise of a new journey

Tushar Kanwar        Print Edition: April 2012

Digital SLRs are cash sinkholes. No sooner you're done stretching your wallet to its seams to afford the digital SLR with its basic kit lens than advice starts pouring in about how you're missing out on the versatility that additional macro/zoom/prime lens and a whole gamut of filters can offer. Well meaning as that advice may be, you can get by and make the most of your new DSLR camera for some time with little or no additional investment. Here's how.

Familiarise Yourself

The call of a new piece of kit is something no gadget lover can resist, so why even try? Go, get out and shoot a couple of dozen frames or more, leaving the camera on Auto mode. Get the distraction of a new gadget out of your system- crucial for you to be able to follow the rest of our tips! And while you're at it, learn how to hold the camera properly- if you're moving up from a small pointand-shoot, the added weight and bulk will mean an adjustment. Cup your left hand under the lens while your right hand is controlling the shutter. This position will help steady the camera and give you sharper photos, especially in lowlight or action shots.

Read the Manual
Yes, you read that right. Surely you'd ask, "But who reads manuals in this day-andage of instant answers on the Internet?" Apart from the mundane stuff you've already figured out in Step 1, like where the shutter release and the mode dial are, your camera manual has a ton of specific details about your particular camera model and what makes it tick. Even if you've used someone else's DSLR in passing, which buttons do what and which settings are hidden in a menu can be sorted out in a jiffy with the manual.

And Now on to the Manual
Once you've shot in Auto mode for a while and brushed through the manual, the only way to take your camera relationship forward is to turn the dial to Manual and get full control of your camera's capabilities. Manual mode gets you thinking of the process of taking a photo, and understanding the effect the shutter speed and aperture and ISO sensitivity have on each shooting scenario. Prepare to spend time with your camera as you understand the minor nuances and changes you need to make in each of these settings to get the results you desire. Resist the temptation of going full-manual-i.e. switching to manual focus well. Let the autofocus system deal with the focusing while you deal with all the other settings-they're complex enough to begin with!

Know Your Camera

It's easy to set sky-high expectations from your new DSLR and be let down by its limitations. Granted, most DSLRs respond and focus faster than the average point-and-shoot, but there's a reason why the cost of DSLRs range from Rs 25,000 to a couple of lakhs for the body alone. Shoot at different lighting levels with different ISO settings, and see how your autofocus responds. This gives you a good indicator of what it can and can't do in the real world, and can make the difference between capturing that Kodak moment and missing it altogether.

Establish a Workflow
It's way too easy to get caught up in the pleasure of shooting without giving a thought to how you process and organise your images after shooting. Start filing them away in folders and with tags to locate them more easily. A new camera often means a huge increase in picture output and you don't want a few months go by and then have the unenviable task of locating one photo among thousands of experiments.

Raw Pleasures
To get the most out of the new camera, consider switching over to RAW format. Not only will it give you uncompressed files, but it'll also give you a lot more flexibility when you're processing the images by allowing you to change a number of shooting settings to find out what works best for you. In the beginning though, it's best to set your camera to capture both in RAW + JPEG mode. That way, you'll have final JPEGs to share/review quickly and RAW files to work with during the learning process. Yes, it will take up more space on your cards and your hard drive, but the tradeoff is worth it.

Buy a Prime

If there is one investment we can recommend that doesn't break the bank, it would be to buy a 50mm, f/1.8 fixed focal length lens, available for around ` 6,000 for either Canon or Nikon bodies. These lens have a maximum aperture of f/1.8 which lets you hand click photos in lower light levels, and the optical quality and depth of field effects make these lens the best value lens money can buy!

Read More
Head over to websites like for tips on how to capture photos in particularly challenging circumstances. Perfect to fix that niggling photo idea you just haven't been able to nail down.

Courtesy:Gadgets and Gizmos

  • Print

A    A   A