Digital single-lens reflex cameras – or DSLRs, as they are widely known – are capable of adapting to any shooting conditions to get a good image, and are quite versatile in doing so. Moreover, DSLRs give the added advantage of interchangeable lenses, giving them the ability to shoot close macro images as well as long-distance images with ease. With entry-level DSLRs available in India at around Rs. 24,000 from companies such as Nikon, Canon and Sony, people are more inclined towards buying DSLRs rather than normal point-and-shoot cameras.
Choose the right lens
Most of the entry level cameras today come bundled with 18-55mm zoom lenses. People usually think that if they spend slightly more for a higher-end model, they will get better photographs. This is a common misconception as most of the basic DSLRs come with 14-18 megapixel crop sensors, which are quite sufficient for getting non-pixelated images of sizes up to 14”*10” (A4). Higher megapixel sensors are useful only if you are shooting images for big posters (27”*40”), to avoid pixelation. An extra macro or zoom lens, on other hand, will help you take a variety of different photographs with ease.
There is no dearth of lens options available in the market
Read the user manual
If you are a first time user of DSLR, then the user manual is good place to start so that you can avoid unwanted hassles if you know your way around the camera.
Hold the camera properly
Holding the camera either with one hand or diagonally is a complete no-no. DSLRs are meant to be held with both hands, with the camera’s handgrip in the right hand, and the left hand cradling the body and the lens. Also, putting one of your feet forward about half a pace and towards the side provides more stability to the body.
Use manual modes
If you intend to use the auto mode every time you plan to take a picture, it is a complete waste of the money you invested in buying the DSLR (you could have, instead, bought a point-and-shoot and saved around 15k). Do not be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them (Batman quote - “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”) Also, it is not necessary to use only the manual mode - try using modes such as aperture priority (Av) and shutter priority (Tv)
Auto - the bane of the DSLR
Get Sharp Pictures
Not checking pictures after clicking - Sometimes, you will find that pictures which looked fine when you clicked them on the DSLR LCD look blurry on big screens. One way to avoid this is to zoom in the pictures in the LCD screen to 100%. If your pictures are blurry after clicking, you can try the same compositions by using a fast shutter speed and reducing the camera shake.
Balance the camera
Using a telephoto lens of 2-135mm, 70-200mm or anything bigger causes the camera to dip down towards the front. In such situations, using a tripod is ideal, instead of hand support.
Get a tripod to balance the camera
Shutter speed-Aperture interrelation
Not understanding the concept of exposure - Shutter speed and aperture are inversely proportionally related to each other. Higher aperture requires a slow shutter speed to maintain correct exposure and vice versa.
Increasing the ISO
Even though entry-level cameras allow ISO settings to be increased till 800, anything above 200 ISO will create a lot of noise in the picture and spoil the image. Using the optimal settings of ISO 100, up to a maximum of ISO 200, is recommended.
Don’t push the ISO beyond 200 unless you know you need it
Avoid the flare
Amateurs usually face this issue even with the right settings. A flare is caused by non-image-forming light that bounces inside the lens, reducing contrast and sharpness. Changing the angle of shooting or using a lens hood are the easiest ways for tackling flares. Check out the correct way to use a lens hood if you feel you’re out of your depth here.
The 3Cs (Check, Charge, Clean)
Last, but the most important - Not following the 3Cs
a) Check: Check whether or not the memory card is present in the camera before you are ready to shoot.
b) Charge: Remember to charge the battery regularly, and do not leave it in the battery compartment when the camera is not in use for extended periods.
c) Clean: remember to clean your camera equipment, to keep it free from dust, moisture and fungus.
This article was first published in September 2016 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit's articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit e-magazine app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit's previous issues here.