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DSLR novice

Discussion in 'Help Team' started by Buccaneerian, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. Craig20264

    Craig20264 Well-Known Member


    The forum is a sparse enough place these days without unhelpful comments. It needs new faces and fresh photographers. Helping others is half the fun. I cringe when I look at my earliest offerings and I like to think the help and advice on here has helped me progress.
    To the OP. I haven't contributed as I know little or nothing about Canon equipment, but you are in capable hands, and don't forget, learning is the fun bit, and it's pretty much free to make mistakes with digital. (Someone will be along shortly to dispute that last comment ;)).
    EightBitTony likes this.
  2. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    Going back to the original query about ISO. I have a photo manual dated 1957 that describes the sensitivity of various emulsions to light. The table has seven columns showing the ratings of various films when exposed to light. The seven columns included one ASA (American Standards Association) ratings and others are the British, German or proprietary standards. Over time the ASA standards became dominant and largely replaced the other six. Finally the International Standards Organisation(ISO) took over the standards and we started using ISO100..ISO800........ISO25,600 etc etc to describe the sensitivity. The numeric value the rating did not change so 200ASA was equivalent to ISO200 at the changeover

    Every now and then somebody asks a question about ancient emulsions and I copy that page of my manual, thoroughly boring all and sundry no doubt.
    EightBitTony likes this.
  3. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    It would doubtless encourage more reading of the manuals if the were not, as they so often are, written by those who designed, built and programmed the camera and written rather more technical language than the average user may be familiar with. This is particularly a problem with camera at the 'entry level' end of the market where one should expect a lack of familiarity with the esoterics of photography in general let alone digital photography.

    Nor is this helped by the increasing tendency to pack only a limited, often inadequate, 'Beginners Guide' in print form and expect the user to plough through a PDF from the software disk or download from the net if they want the more in-depth manual. Ironically this approach seems most common with the low end cameras which are most likely to be purchased by those needing a proper 'How to...' guide.

    IIRC my first car was bought before I had a driving lesson..;):rolleyes:
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  4. MJB

    MJB Well-Known Member

    Not everyone learns in the same way. I'm very much a pick up and play person when presented with a new piece of tech to play with.
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  5. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    I've written more than a dozen user manuals for non-technical users. I always asked managers to select their 3 least tech-savvy members of staff and give them the pre-release copies to read and comment on. I knew I had the manual pitched about right when at least 2 reported that they understood what I'd written. I found that lots of large pictures were especially helpful in getting the point across. Interestingly the same principles apply to written material for training courses.
  6. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I read a camera manual once, in order to answer a question on here, and it was wonderful with a clearly worded and well illustrated introduction on photography basics.
    Unfortunately it was for a camera I'd never heard of and now I cannot remember what it was.

    The difficulty with manuals is bloat. The manual has to describe everything you can configure even though most people will never touch 95% of the possibilities. Also the cameras now have built-in help so maybe clarity in the manual is less important than it was when you needed to know whether Custom Function 21 should have value 0,1 or 2.
    Andrew Flannigan likes this.
  7. SXH

    SXH Well-Known Member

    I sometimes suspect that the major camera companies have majority shareholdings in Oldtimer Cameras and those publishing companies that do 3rd party camera guides...

    When I was writing the documentation for in-house computer systems, I wrote two manuals - a full blown one for the people who would need to use all the options in the system and an idiots guide (actually labeled the 'Management Guide' ;)) so their managers could pretend they knew what was going on. But lots of pictures in each...
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  8. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    I always "forgot" the management guide on the basis that they'd never understand anything that sophisticated. ;)
  9. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    A decent camera to learn on, an instruction book ... so why not just to go out and play with it, and learn from your mistakes?

    With a modern digital camera this won't cost anything but your time and patience. When I was learning how to use my first (basic and second-hand) SLR in the 1970s, both the camera and the Kodachrome I was using were funded from earnings made in school holidays, so I had to master the basics of exposure within the first roll of film because it would be a while before I could afford the next one. But I did buy an old buy a 1950s Ilford photographic manual at a jumble sale... and read parts of it before even loading the first film in the camera.

    I suspect that the complexity of modern DSLRs is what makes them attractive to many first-time purchasers who have grown up with all types of electronic software-dependant tech devices, but this complexity becomes a hindrance when the camera is also the one the purchaser is learning on. So we need to reduce the complexity of the camera if it is to be used as a learning tool. Without getting too technical, I would suggest setting the ISO at 200 until you understand it, leaving the exposure meter on its default setting (probably whole frame average, or whatever Canon call this), and the autofocus setting too. Until you understand what these different settings do, use the 18-55 kit lens, and try various aperture and shutter speed combinations to see the results. This reduces the complexities to only two variables - lens aperture and shutter speed. Looking at what the instruction book says about lens apertures and shutter speeds may be useful too. One you have spent the time needed to understand what these do, you can go back to the instruction manual and investigate ISO, exposure meter and autofocus settings.

    One of the other forum members (above) mentioned local evening classes. I suggested this to a lady I worked with a few years ago, who purchased a Canon 'bundle' like yours, having never used anything but a mobile telephone before. She had made the mistake of thinking the camera would always get the results she wanted on its fully auto 'program' settings, but quickly found out this was not the case. She used to ask me how I had taken some of the images I had on my PC at work as my desktop or screen saver, and when my answer was always 'manual exposure' she decided to try the evening class. She said it was ideal for her, and found it very helpful.

    Re. instruction manuals - these are written by people who already know how to use the product... which is why there are often so many alternative guide books or web sites available.
    In the past I too have had to help write user manual for complex accounting, stock control and manufacturing software (on IBM 'mid-range' systems), and been personally involved in training users. I always believed that if the manual could not be understood it was always the fault of its authors, and not the users. This last point is ignored by too many DSLR manufacturers.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  10. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    Who said they're not. More importantly, different people learn in different ways and taking part in a _community_ is surely one of the best ways to learn? Or in fact, doing lots of things including trying and taking part in a community.
  11. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    Have they said they are? More concerned about the wi-fi and the GPS.
  12. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I forget the starting point but someone coming from a phone wouldn't know you don't need either.
  13. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    My mobile telephone does not have GPS or wi-fi and is only switched on when I want to use it ... I want to minimise the risk of messrs Putin, Trump and May (or burglars) knowing where I am at all times.
  14. MJB

    MJB Well-Known Member

  15. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    After today I have a great deal of sympathy with the OP it IS a steep learning curve to commission a new modern camera. I took delivery of a new camera this afternoon and I have not yet identified all the functions I want and know exist.
    Roger Hicks and EightBitTony like this.
  16. gw8izr

    gw8izr Active Member

    If you come from an era where things like film speed, shutter speed and the interaction between depth of field and aperture etc are already ingrained into your mind then as you know its a matter of working out the controls and menu options. I cant help but feel that as technology advances away from its historical links with film some of the terms will change and maybe future new adopters will learn a whole new set of terms describing the functions.
  17. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

    Well there are load of videos online that can give guidance using the Canon 200D.

    For game park photography you will probably have the 75-300mm on the camera most of the time.

    Now on the 200D a 33mm is roughly equal to normal human view. so a 300mm is just over 10x zoom.

    But you can get abit closer because you have 26MP to play with on the computer.

    Let say going for 10x8" print which only needs 7.2MP at 300ppi to get a good clean image printed.

    So you could do a 3x crop of a 26MP and still get good print at 10x8"

    If you want to freeze the action of wildlife then you need to aim for high shutter speeds which may require high ISO.

    Most modern dSLR can give good image upto 1000ISO.

    Again there are videos online to show you the balance between shutter speed, f stop and ISO for good exposure.

    One thing you will need to set up on the camera for wildlife is the AF, you don't want it lock on background but the animal.

    You can usually set the AF to centre spot :)
  18. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Yes Emily. Just the thing to take on Safari.
    Craig20264 likes this.
  19. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Odd. Thought I had deleted that one yesterday.
  20. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Chester,

    If you can find it. And if you already understand the jargon. And if you can remember how on earth a computer programmer describes a comparatively simple function, often in two or three different ways in two or three different places.

    To the OP: I'd recommend an interative approach. Play with the camera. When you get stuck, or think you may need more information, try to find the part of the manual that is supposed to be helpful. When you get stuck, or think you may need more information, pick up the camera again.

    Start out with one lens and auto-everything. Change lenses, or try to take more control, only when you feel the need.



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