Digital SLR Photography Guide

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DSLR Camera Settings

Here you will find information on how to use your DSLR camera settings, including manual and auto modes. It is also useful for those with mirrorless CSC cameras (Compact System Cameras) or point and shoots where you are able to adjust and manipulate settings such as aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

If you have just purchased your first DSLR camera, you will be looking for some good tips on how to use it. Digital SLRs are great, however they also have many more settings to learn. Listed below are a selection of our best tips helping you to better understand your DSLR camera settings.

Manual DSLR Camera Settings

iso camera settings

What is ISO
- Learn what ISO is on your digital camera and how to use it.
aperture camera settings

What is AV / A Priority Mode - Read about f numbers and aperture settings.
shutter speed settings

Shutter Speed Priority - Learn the difference between fast and slow shutter speeds and how to set them. Shutter speed priority may be represented as a TV setting on your camera.
beach landscape photographed with manual camera settings

Full Manual Mode - Includes examples and step by step lesson to help you fully understand using your DSLR camera in manual mode.
night photo taken on high ISO

ISO Camera Settings - Learn how to choose the correct ISO camera settings for every time of the day and all situations.
focal point example

How to Properly Focus Your DSLR Camera - Learn how to focus your camera properly. DSLR focal points explained and how to use them.
nature image

Exposure Tips for Nature Photography - Basic DSLR techniques that changed my photography ten fold.
example of landscape focused to infinity

How to Focus to Infinity - Focusing to infinity is a technique that's important for landscape photography. Learn what this term means.
example image with partial metering

Partial Metering - Read when you should set your camera to partial metering, as well as the advantages.
spot metering

Spot Metering - When to use spot metering with example images.
exposure compensation example

Exposure Compensation - Learn how to use exposure compensation on your DSLR camera and why it is useful. Easy tip to compensate for overexposed or underexposed photographs.
raw image format example

RAW / CR2 File Format - Raw (CR2 for Nikon) is the file format of professional photographers for good reasons. Read why you also should be shooting in RAW.
white balance camera setting

White Balance Camera Settings - Useful advice for choosing correct white balance settings.
example of metering mode

How to Use Metering Modes - When to use matrix, pattern, evaluative, center weighted metering, spot and partial metering.

more photography tips and tutorials

Advice for Beginners

The first time you try your digital SLR camera, use fully automatic settings.

If you are a beginner to SLR photography, you should simply enjoy using it and get a good feel for how to handle it. DSLR settingsThe best way to do this is to set it on fully automatic. Look for a symbol on your camera's mode dial that looks like a rectangle. When your camera is on automatic, all important settings such as ISO, Aperture and exposure are made for you, taking out the guess work.

When your camera is set on automatic, it's also recommended that your lens is set on automatic focus. That is if it has that option. If your lens has an option for automatic focus you will notice on the side of it letters AF.

Beginner Tip for focusing: Always press your shutter button half way down, then once it focuses correctly press it the rest of the way down. ie focusing and taking the shot is always a two step process.

Six automatic settings you will find on your digital SLR camera:

The following DSLR settings are found on most camera models. However, depending on your camera brand, some may not be available.

  • DSLR settings for portraitsPortrait - DSLR camera settings for portraits. Set your digital camera to portrait mode when your taking photographs of people. Portrait mode will set the image color for skin tone perfectly.

  • DLSR setting for landscape Landscape - Use this SLR camera setting when your taking photos of landscapes. For example if your photographing beach or mountain sceneries.

  • close up camera setting Close Up - Close up mode speaks for itself. For example, when you want to photograph small objects so they fill the whole frame as if to appear larger.

  • sports camera setting Sports - Sports mode should be used when you want to photograph a moving object such as a child or dog running.

  • night portrait camera setting Night Portrait - Choose night portrait automatic mode when you want to shoot a person in low light such as night time.

  • flash off camera setting Flash Off - This mode is useful for times when your not allowed to use a flash. For example, in an art gallery.

Other General Camera Settings Explained

  1. Can you turn off shutter noise?

  2. How to reset your camera to factory default settings.

  3. What is the difference between A, AV, DEP and A-DEP modes.

  4. What is a histogram and how do you read them

  5. What is EXIF metadata - why is it a useful learning tool and how do you read it.

  6. How to use depth of field preview button (if your camera has this option) what it does and tips for using it.

DSLR Settings Specifically for Nikon Cameras

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   - ISO camera settings
   - Shutter speed
   - AV mode
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