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Digital Camera Basics | Aperture | ISO | Shutter Speed | Tips for Beginners



This video provides a broad overview of the three main settings that are important for people who use digital cameras. You can increase the capability of your camera by shooting in manual mode and teaching yourself how to make simple adjustments to your ISO, shutter speed and aperture settings.

Photography with digital cameras has revolutionized the ability of amateur photographers. Using a digital camera in Auto mode will give you good photos, but using a digital camera in manual mode and making adjustments to the settings can give you great photos. If you take the time to learn about three settings then you will increase your capability to take great photos.

ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. The same principles apply as in film photography – the lower the number the less sensitive your camera is to light and the finer the grain.

Higher ISO settings are generally used in darker situations to get faster shutter speeds. For example an indoor sports event when you want to freeze the action in lower light. However the higher the ISO you choose the grainier your photos will be, but will have more light and will not be black.

Most people tend to keep their digital cameras in ‘Auto Mode’ where the camera selects the appropriate ISO setting depending upon the conditions you’re shooting in (it will try to keep it as low as possible) but most cameras also give you the opportunity to select your own ISO also.

When you do override your camera and choose a specific ISO you’ll notice that it impacts the aperture and shutter speed needed for a well exposed shot. For example – if you change your ISO up from 100 to 400 you’ll notice that you can shoot at higher shutter speeds and/or smaller apertures.

The aperture is a small set of blades in the lens that controls how much light will enter the camera. The blades create a octagonal shape that can be widened, or closed down to a small hole. Obviously, if you shoot with the aperture wide open, then more light is allowed into the camera than if the aperture is closed down to only allow a tiny hole of light to enter the camera.

The aperture also controls the depth-of-field. Depth-of-field is how much of the picture is sharp, and how much is blurry. If you want to take a picture of a person and have the background be blurry, you’d use shallow depth of field. If you want to take a picture of a sweeping mountain vista, you’d want to use a small aperture size (high f-stop number) so that the entire scene is in sharp focus.

The shutter quickly rolls over the image sensor (the digital version of film) and allows light to shine onto the imaging sensor for a fraction of a second. The longer the shutter allows light to shine onto the image sensor, the brighter the picture since more light is gathered. A darker picture is produced when the shutter moves very quickly and only allows light to touch the imaging sensor for a tiny fraction of a second. The duration that the shutter allows light onto the image sensor is called the shutter speed, and is measured in fractions of a second. So a shutter speed of 1/2 of a second will allow more light to touch the image sensor and will produce a brighter picture than a shutter speed of 1/200 of a second. So if you’re taking a picture an it is too dark, you could use a slower shutter speed to allow the camera to gather more light.
Example picture of motion blur caused by too slow of a shutter speed.

Just as the aperture affects the exposure as well as the depth-of field, the shutter affects more than just the exposure. The shutter speed is also principally responsible for controlling the amount of blur in a picture. If you think about it, it makes sense that the shutter speed controls how much blur is in the picture.

The most important point is that great photography is dependent mostly upon what lens you choose. Having a lens that has a lower aperture (f setting) has more glass and more capability to allow you to adjust your settings a LOT more. Learn these basics first and then get a good lens like a f 1.4 50mm lens.

See some examples on Amanda Frost’s Instagram site https://www.instagram.com/nonconventional/

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