Beginner's guide to camera settings pt1

Getting to grips with anything new can seem daunting at the start and the sheer amount of functions on a modern digital camera (DSLR) can be off-putting to a beginner. It’s important to remember, though, that every one of those settings represents a choice – an opportunity to improve the quality of the images you capture – and that getting to know and understand them can help you get the images you want with a lot less trouble.

If you have a particular scene or image in mind, the things you consider before starting out will likely have a way to be adjusted via the settings. In this 2 part piece, we explain what the functions of the 5 main settings are and how they can be used to alter your images.

Auto

This is the place where most people begin. Auto mode basically makes the above mentioned choices for you. Using the available light and focus, it chooses settings to highlight whatever it is focused on. Although this in no way stops you getting great pictures and there is no shame in using it, there is no way to guarantee that the settings provided will be the absolute best for the occasion.

Relying on auto mode leaves you susceptible to problems such as blurring and over-exposure. These issues occur because the camera can only guess at what the photographer is trying to capture and inevitably, when the surroundings are not perfect for the shot, the camera can misinterpret where the focus should be and often focusing on the background and blurring out the intended subject.

Scene

This setting lets you tell your camera what you are taking a picture of. Is it a landscape, a portrait, a close-up or a sports shot?

These instant scene settings will be the same or similar to those that an experienced photographer would use for the corresponding scene, and will adjust a combination of individual settings together to achieve the right effect.

The individual settings include things like shutter speed, aperture and ISO, which control natural and artificial light as well as the lens size and the length of the exposure to create the best combination of settings for the type of image selected.

Next time we explain the individual functions that the above items are comprised of, perhaps to help create a unique shot or simply to tweak one of the scene settings to your taste.want to learn more? Click here to read part 2 of the Beginners Guide to Camera settings series .