Most people discover an interest in photography by taking pictures of family and friends with a basic point and shoot camera. Eventually, anyone who is serious about the art starts to explore more advanced equipment and buys a digital SLR camera (DSLR). A digital SLR opens up a different world of photography, and the quality of pictures which it can produce is amazing. While I use the term digital SLR, everything that I am saying also applies to the Micro Four-thirds cameras.
A decade ago, photographers could only dream of the features which modern digital SLRs and mirrorless cameras offer. Sadly, many people upgrading to a modern camera don’t take the time to understand what it can do, and continue taking basic pictures as they did with their point and shoot model. The following tips will guide you to produce more professional looking pictures, and to get the most from your digital SLR or mirrorless camera.
1) Learn about your camera.
Every camera is different, and new models offer unique features which can help you to produce better pictures. Learn about how selecting different apertures and shutter speeds affect each shot you take, and then explore how your camera’s modes and settings work with them. Different manufactures try to add their own unique features to their cameras, and you should understand what these are to get the most from your equipment. If the camera’s instruction manual is poor, buy one of the many independent guides which are available. You should understand and be able to use every mode, function and feature your camera offers.
2) Buy a prime lens.
Being able to switch lenses is one of the main features of a digital SLR. Most come equipped with a short zoom lens when you buy them, and these are fine for everyday use. Prime lenses, or fixed focal length lenses, deliver far better optical performance. As well as producing sharper images, prime lenses generally offer wider apertures which means greater creative flexibility and the ability to shoot in low light conditions. A prime lens is a great investment if you are serious about photography.
3) Shoot in RAW format.
Digital SLRs are able to capture pictures in both JPEG and RAW format. The JPEG format uses less memory space and is fine for everyday use, but professional photographers generally use the more advanced RAW format. Shooting in RAW captures more detail in every image, and gives the photographer far greater flexibility to amend pictures in the digital darkroom. Using RAW isn’t difficult, and the effort to learn it can take you from an amateur to a professional level photographer.
4) Use photo-editing software.
Some people regard the use of photo-editing software as cheating. The creative photographer should be prepared to use every tool available to get the best possible pictures, and photo-editing software offers additional flexibility in the photographic process. Photo-editing software shouldn’t be regarded simply as a fix to correct errors when taking pictures, it can be used to transform good pictures into fantastic ones.
5) Use a tripod.
Attaching your digital SLR to a tripod is an instant way to get sharper pictures with greater depth of field. A tripod also opens up the world of low-light and night photography, and allows you to experiment with slower shutter speeds to capture motion.
6) Use filters.
Some people believe that photographic filters have been replaced by photo-editing software, but there’s still an important place for them in modern photography. Neutral density filters can protect the front of lenses and reduce haze in landscape photographs. A polarizing filter can be used to enhance colour saturation and remove reflections from water. Did you ever wonder how photographers achieve that smooth look on a waterfall, or flowing stream? Neutral density filter and slow shutter speed are the answer. Filters are an important tool for photographers.
These are very simple suggestions and you are urged to consider each of them. Specific questions can be asked in the comments section, below.