how to use professional camera

Learn How to Shoot With Your First Professional Camera

Nowadays, anyone who wants to step up their shooting skills can easily own a professional camera, but not everyone has the knowledge on how to use it. Well, you have to start somewhere, right? First of all, you need to build a proper understanding of how a professional camera works because it is not as simple as whipping out your phone and clicking away. 

Quite frankly, learning to shoot with a professional camera is not a piece of cake; you’ll be required to know the elements that comprise a good photo and the functions of the camera itself. You need not to worry as you’ll learn everything step by step and in no time, you’ll be a pro at using it. 

What is a DSLR?

Digital Single Lens Reflex, or simply DSLR, is a digital still camera that utilizes a single-lens reflex (SLR). It is digital in the sense that its digitized sensor captures the light that is collected and focused by the lens, then this sensor will save the light components and use it to generate the image.

DSLRs are the most commonly used professional cameras in the market. There is a wide variety of models and lenses to choose from depending on the level of expertise. From entry-level to full-frame cameras, one can always find something that’ll suit his needs.

What you need to know

For your introduction of how to properly operate a camera, here’s a brief rundown of some of the best practices, principles, and elements that every beginner should take note of.

1. Memorizing the buttons and parts of the camera

First things first, you ought to familiarize yourself with the different parts of a camera. As a beginner, you might find each button and label on a DSLR overwhelming as there are too many. Well, you got this. You can study each part and its function whether your camera is Nikon or Canon, so you won’t be fumbling on these buttons when you start taking pictures.

2. Holding your camera

The second thing you need to learn is how to properly hold your camera. A DSLR should always be held with two hands—one on the handgrip, and one underneath the lens to support it. Not only this will provide protection for the camera, but it will stabilize your movement to avoid blurry images. Your elbows should ideally be tucked in close to your torso for extra stability.

how to use a professional camera

3. Understanding the exposure triangle

Any photography enthusiast is aware of this essential concept. The exposure triangle consists of the three fundamental elements that affect the overall exposure of your image. These adjustable variables include the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. You need to learn how these three elements function in order for you to produce great images from the ground up.

    • Aperture

The aperture is the hole found inside the lens where the light passes through. Serving like the pupil of the eye, a wider aperture means more light getting in. It is measured by f/stops; the lower the number gets, the more light comes in. It is important to prioritize this to set up the focus of the image.

You should familiarize yourself with the f/stop scale which ranges from f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, and f/22. The lower the size is, the shallower the depth of field is; while the higher the size is, the deeper the depth of field will be. 

    • Shutter Speed

The shutter serves as the eyelid of the camera. It closes when you click the shutter button and opens up for a certain amount of time which is also known as the shutter speed.  Shutter speed is how fast and how long you want the light to pass through—enabling you to freeze a moment or blur the motion.

The most common shutter speeds are 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/15, 1/8 and there are lots more you can tweak in your camera. The lower the number is, the more motion is recorded on your image. Whereas the higher the number is, the more efficient it will be on freezing the moment.

    • ISO

When the light has passed through the aperture and the shutter speed has limited it, you will need to determine how much of that light you want to be collected. ISO is the measurement used for modifying the amount of light you want to use on that image. 

As you increase the ISO, the higher the exposure will be—resulting in a lesser quality, so you should be mindful of setting up your ISO. DSLRs typically have ISO settings ranging from 100 to 12800.

All of these three work hand in hand to provide you the exposure you want to achieve. You cannot leave out one element, as each has an essential function.

 4. Knowing the rules of composition by heart

Composition is the art of putting your subjects into focus and using various techniques to produce a great photo. These rules guide you to capture breathtaking images. Some of them may be universal and it is advisable to include them in your practice.

Here are some of the most popular composition rules that you should know:

    • Rule of thirds
    • Well-balance
    • Leading lines
    • Proper lighting
    • Symmetry and patterns
    • Viewpoint
    • Background
    • Depth
    • Framing
    • Cropping
    • Color theory
    • Experimenting

5. Learning to look at the Histogram

The histogram is a graphic visualization of how exposed your image is. It shows how evenly exposed the image you have captured through a measurement of the tones of the brightness. The mere appearance of an image on the LCD screen may not be enough to find out how balanced the exposure is, so this tool is valuable for those who are just starting out.

6. Choosing the right shooting mode.

There are four categories to choose from when deciding which shooting mode will work best for you. As someone testing the waters, you ought to identify the difference among all in order to properly use them on whatever purpose you may have.

These shooting modes include the following:

    • P or Programmed Auto/Program Mode

      This mode lets the camera set the shutter speed and aperture on its own. It will not change your current ISO. It’s like having a point-and-shoot camera where everything is already set for you.
    • A / Av or Aperture Priority Mode

      This lets you set your desired aperture while leaving the camera to set its own shutter speed. This will let you customize your depth of field as you can tweak the aperture while the camera is calculating the right exposure needed. When you try to lower the f/stops, you will get a higher shutter speed and vice versa.
    • S / Tv or Shutter Priority Mode

      This mode is the total opposite of the aperture mode. Instead of the aperture, you will be able to modify the shutter speed here. The aperture is up to your camera’s calculations for a balanced exposure.
    • M or Manual Mode

      This is the hardest among all and is used widely by most photographers. This lets you set up everything from scratch—you choose your own aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. While this could be intimidating, it gives you the freedom to explore the possibilities of photography. And this mode will give you the most exceptional output once you have mastered it.

These are just the initial things you have to get acquainted with when learning to use your professional camera. There are still lots of techniques and practices you will learn as you start exploring photography. You can check out this online photography course that’s perfect for beginners to help you out. One thing’s for sure though, trying and practicing will help you get exceptional photos.

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About The Author

Hazel S.

Hazel S.

Hazel is a Communication graduate who writes about e-learning subjects that vary across all fields. She believes in the power of knowledge to achieve triumphs in life—whether careerwise or personal. Currently, she is living with her family and two white cats.