Digital SLR cameras have come down in price since their launch and are now available to everyone. Most people will have used a basic camera for snapshots but to get the best results from a digital SLR there are some essential basic tips to follow.
Hold your camera correctly. A common frustration most photographers experience is ‘camera shake’ which results in blurred pictures. Pictures taken in low light are a particular problem. The blurred image is the result of the camera moving during the exposure and this is often because the camera isn’t held correctly.
The camera should be held firmly by the grip in the right hand and elbows should be kept close to the body. The left hand should support the weight of the camera underneath or support the lens.
Keep your camera clean. One of the most common causes of poor quality images is dust and dirt on the lens or sensor of the camera. Use a soft cloth and specialist cleaning fluid to gently wipe the front of the lens on a regular basis. Modern Digital SLR cameras have self-cleaning sensors but if you see smudges or blemishes on a regular basis the sensor may need more rigorous cleaning. Contact the camera manufacturer or an approved local dealer for expert advice.
Experiment with lenses. One of the major advantages of an SLR camera is the ability to change lenses. This opens up more specialist areas of photography such as sport and nature and gives you the ability to change the perspective of pictures for creative effect.
Zoom lenses offer great flexibility and reduce the need to change lenses for different effects.
Take care with focus. A common mistake is to focus on something other than the main subject. This is often down to the photographer relying on a camera’s auto-focus system which is prone to errors. Switching the camera to manual focus mode is the answer and ensures the subject is crystal clear.
Use a tripod. Using a tripod may slow you down but the results it delivers are worth it. A tripod ensures no movement of the camera during exposure and results in crystal clear images.
Using a tripod also makes you consider composition of pictures more carefully and is great for landscape photography. A tripod allows the photographer to frame the picture and wait for the lighting conditions to change to capture the right moment.
Use your camera in the highest quality mode. Memory cards are very cheap to buy and will store hundreds of photographs even if you use your camera at maximum memory storage. Selecting a lower image quality means you will produce inferior quality pictures.
Learn to use built-in flash. In low light conditions a camera will produce poor quality results. Many people are afraid to use flash to light a shot but modern digital SLR cameras do this very well. Many cameras offer a variety of options allowing you to mix flash with natural light and this produces very pleasant results.
Experiment with different subjects. Most of us have favourite subjects for our photography but if you stick to one subject you are missing out. Every area of photography offers different opportunities for creativity. Photographing people can be challenging and rewarding but photographing landscapes and scenery also presents creative challenges.
Use image editing software to enhance your pictures. Taking a photograph is really just the start of the creative process. Using software will not only improve the technical quality of your pictures, it can be used to alter them and create completely new images
Read the camera’s instruction manual. The temptation is always to take the camera out of the box and learn how to use it by trial and error. Most experienced photographers will be able to work their way around any camera but if the instructions are ignored it’s easy to miss out on some of the more advanced features. Digital SLR cameras are sophisticated pieces of technology and each model offers new and exciting ways to improve the photographs they take.