Advice for new DSLR owners

I had a long chat last night with my friend Annelie in Stockholm, who recently purchased her first digital SLR—a Canon 1000D with an 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. She was frustrated with the results from her first day of shooting. After a bit of questioning, I learned why: she had taken a bunch of photos using settings chosen essentially at random.

I gave her three pieces of advice:
1. Learn the language and basic principles of photography. Learn how ISO, aperture, and shutter speed affect the amount of light collected. Learn how the aperture affects depth-of-field.
2. Learn the capabilities and limitations of your camera and lens. Learn about the main modes of your camera, and start taking photos in aperture priority mode (A on Nikon, Av on Canon).
3. Get a 50mm f/1.4 lens, and start playing with it. Shoot in aperture priority mode, but also start experimenting with manual mode, particularly in low light settings.

My 50mm f/1.4 lens is my favorite lens by far because of the freedom its wide maximum aperture and light weight afford. I often go out with only my 50. I have learned more about photography while using my 50mm f/1.4 lens than with any other lens. I’ve also taken many of my best photos with this lens. It’s so simple and so fun to use.

I’m looking forward to seeing the results of Annelie’s next photo session.

1 comment:

mike said...

I also have a 50mm lens, probably the same as yours. I love shooting on the extra wide apertures especially people. I love the way so much becomes blurry giving all your attention to the subject.