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Canon DSLRs and Lenses 101 (by Bill Ng)

Canon DSLRs and Lenses 101 (by Bill Ng)

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Published by Laven
Basic Photography Principles Explained
Basic Photography Principles Explained

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Published by: Laven on Oct 30, 2008
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03/14/2011

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Canon DSLRs and Lenses 101
Source :Canon Photography Forum
URL :
http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=249006Let's start at the beginning ... the very beginning.There are 4 main "settings" when taking any photo with any camera. Some extremelysimple cameras set most (or in some cases all) of them for you, but your Canon DSLR isa fully functioning SLR that allows you to go as automatic or as manual as you want.The first setting is your
Focal Length.
This refers to the amount of "zoom" or "reach" your lens has. There are two types of lenses with regards to this. "Zoom" lenses ... do just that, they zoom. Your 18-55 is azoom lens. It's focal length at its widest angle of zoom is 18mm. It's focal length at it'sshallowest angle of zoom is 55mm. The other type of lens is a "Prime" lens. Prime lensescome in all different focal lengths but they do not zoom on their own ... you must moveyour body closer-to and farther-away from your subject to change what's in your picture.The second setting is your
ISO.
ISO refers to the sensitivity your camera's digital sensor or film has to light. The higherthe ISO, the more sensitive to light. What this means, is that for a specific amount of light, a higher ISO setting will be properly exposed quicker than a lower ISO setting. ISOon most Prosumer Canon DSLRs moves in 1 full stop incremets. What this means, is thatfor every notch of ISO you move up (100 -> 200, 200 -> 400, 400 -> 800, etc) ... theamount of time your sensor must be exposed will be cut in half. Conversely, if you moveISO down 1 notch and leave all other settings the same, you will double the amount of time the sensor must be exposed. Now, the simple solution is ... set the camera on thehighest ISO setting possible and leave it. However, you must always keep in mind thatthe higher you set your ISO ... the more "grainy" your finished photo will be. Digialcameras increase the sensitivity of the sensor by pumping more power into it. Thisincrease in power creates digital "noise" that can be visibly seen in pictures. On some of the older Canon DSLRs, there is a very noticible difference between ISO 200 and ISO800. Ideally, you want to use the lowest ISO setting you can for any situation. This willproduce the cleanest, smoothest photo.The third setting is your
Shutter Speed.
Shutter speed is the amount of time you expose your sensor to light. You are human,you are not made of stone. Your body will shake as you take a picture. Your subject,whether it be leaves, or stars, or people, or birds will move while you take a picture. Forthis reason, we want to keep the amount of time the shutter is open as short aspossible. The quicker the shutter opens and closes, the less time you have to shake thepicture into blurryness.Shutter speeds on your camera are represented in two ways. For shutter speedsrepresented in seconds ... it will read a number followed by a quote (ex. 1"). For speedsrepresented in fractions of a second, it will show you the denominator of the fraction. Inother words, a shutter time of 1/500th of a second will be represented on the camera as"500" (no quotes). The higher the number (assuming there is no quote), the shorter theamount of time the shutter is open and the less likely you will be to "shake" the picture.It is important to remember that as focal lengths increase, the amount of shaking isexponentially increased. If you've ever looked through a pair of binoculars or a riflescope, you know that it takes a very steady hand to keep the view stable. The same willhold true for a 300mm focal length as compared to a 50mm focal length. There is ageneral rule in photography that says you should always be shooting with a shutterspeed faster than 1 over the focal length. So, if you're shooting a 200mm focal length,your shutter speed should be at least 1/200th of a second or faster. That rule was
 
accepted decades ago, back when all 35mm cameras shot film. Your Canon D30/D60/300D/350D/400D/10D/20D/30D has a "crop factor", you've probably seen that termaround. The sensor on your camera is smaller than a 35mm film negative .... as such,your sensor is only exposed to a smaller portion of the image that comes through thelens than a 35mm film negative would be using the same lens. The cameras mentionedabove have a crop factor of 1.6. For the record, a Canon 1D has a crop factor of 1.3 andthe Canons 1DS and 5D have no crop factor (their sensor is the same size as a 35mmfilm negative).You should always be shooting with a shutter speed faster than 1 over your focal lengthtimes your crop factor. So, if you were using a 200mm focal length as indicated on thelens you were using at the time ... you'd want to use a shutter speed of at least 1/320thof a second assuming a 1.6 crop factor (200 * 1.6 = 320).In general, when handholding the camera (as opposed to it being supported by non-human means like a tripod or table), try not to go below 1/60th of a second if possible,regardless of focal length. Sometimes its not possible to use faster shutter speedsbecause there isn't enough light ... but don't expect a perfectly sharp picture if youhandheld a shot for 1/10th of a second and you've had a 20oz Coca-Cola in the lasthour. Also, know that there are many reasons to want a slower shutter speed ..."freezing" action isn't always desired.The fourth setting is your
Aperture.
So far we've controlled how sensitive our camera is to light, we've controlled how longwe expose our sensor to the light, the aperture controls the AMOUNT of light we exposeto the sensor. The aperture itself is something like a door that sits inside the lens. Thinkof a space station door from a cheap sci-fi flick ... round, and it opens from the middle ina circular pattern outward. The amount of light an aperature allows through to thecamera body is noted by a number called an "F stop". The smaller the number, the more"open" the door. The higher the number, the smaller the door is and the less light weallow through.When we refer to an image being taken wide open, we're talking about the aperture andreferencing the fact that the aperture was at it's largest opening (lowest F number) whenthe photo was taken. Obviously, it's always nice to have a lens that allows as much lightto get to the sensor as possible. This lets us use a faster shutter speed since we won'thave to expose the sensor for as much time. It might also let us use a lower ISO settingsince with more light, the sensor won't need to be as sensitive in order for us to get anacceptable shutter speed. For this reason, the maximum amount of light a lens will passthrough itself is represented on the lens itself.There are two types of lenses with regards to maximum aperture. There are ConstantAperture lenses ... which is, as you change the focal length (zoom) of the lens ... themaximum aperture remains constant. The Canon 70-200mm F4 lens is a zoom lens thatis able to achieve F/4 regardless of whether you are at the 70mm focal length, the200mm focal length, or anywhere in between.The other type of lens (regarding apertures) changes its maximum aperture setting asthe focal length changes. The standard kit lens, the Canon 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 is one of these lenses. At 18mm, the lowest F/value that lens is able to achieve is F/3.5 ... at55mm, the lowest F/value that lens is able to achieve is F/5.6 (less light). The reasonsbehind the change in the amount of available light has to do with the internal contructionof the lens, the size of the lens, and the ultimately, the cost of the lens.So of course, the ideal situation here is that you leave your lens "wide open" all of thetime to allow the maximum amount of light through to keep the shutter speeds as fastas possible (reduce likelyhood of shake) and to keep the ISO setting as low as possible.There are two problems with that.
 
The first problem is simple. Lenses do not always perform at their best when wide open.Many aspects of image quality are affected, but each individual lens is different in howwell it performs at it's different aperture settings. It is highly recommended that afteryou have some time behind the camera, after you understand exposure and the manydifferent ways with which to set it ... you spend a little bit of time evaluating each of your lenses at different F/stops to determine the image quality difference between eachstop.The second problem is the Depth of field. Now, this is a big one. If you're head's alreadyhurting from everything you've read so far. Stop now, take a breather, bookmark thispage, come back later.You still here?Okay. Depth of Field refers the distance in front of and behind your focus point (theexact point of focus you locked onto) that is also in focus. There are 4 things that affectyour depth of field.The first is the size of your sensor or film. This is easy because unless you buy adifferent camera, you can't physically change this. With all other things being EXACTLYthe same, a 35mm film camera and a large format view camera will have very differentdepth of fields.The second factor is your distance from subject. This is easy to see. Go look through aphoto album. Find a picture you took of some sort of scenery. Maybe a mountain thatwas far away, or a city from atop a high perch ... whatever. Assuming it's a good picture(not blurry all over and incorrectly exposed) I'll wager a good amount of money thatthere are hundreds of yards worth of trees/grass/buildings that are in focus and can berecognized. Now find a really close-up picture you've taken of someone's face .... no, Imean really close-up .... you'll notice that objects even a few feet behind your subjectare out of focus to the point where you probably can't even identify them. Here's anexample:

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