DSLR Basics - Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO Explained (in Simple Terms!)

7:00 am

I recently purchased my first DSLR Camera (actually, DSLM - mirrorless - but that's another post!) excited to put into action all the projects I had been putting off until it's arrival only to find that upon opening the box, I had no idea how to operate all the new setting options available to me, let alone take a quality photo. 

Here's what I've learnt along the way, in (hopefully) the simplest of terms.

aka Blur Control

Also known as 'F-Stop' (which makes more sense seeing as it shows up as f2.4, f5.6, f22 etc.) 
The lower the number - the more light the lense lets in - the more blur in your background.
The higher the number - the sharper your background is. This is referred to as 'Depth of Field'.

Images like this, helped my understanding. Source.

Shutter Speed
aka Motion Control

The longer the shutter is open when capturing an image, the longer the light is let in during your shot. A slow shutter speed can be used to create those long light trails of traffic at night. A fast shutter speed can capture the exact moment your feet leave the ground during a jump.

During long shutter shots, your camera is capturing everything it sees through the lense for the entire duration so for lengthy shots, you'll want to use a tripod to avoid shake from your arms.
aka Exposure Control

A higher ISO helps create more light in your shot than may be naturally available in a dim shooting environment. The higher the ISO however, the grainier your images will become. 

Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO
How they work together to create the perfect shot

For each setting you may have realised they all mention light and using all three settings in conjunction with one another is how you achieve the perfect shot, however you may like that to look.

Initially, I found it hard to understand how these all corresponded to one another until, I saw the below image and everything clicked. It all made sense. Source.

This balance is a fine one, one I am still yet to master in a quick flick of the settings. (I certainly don't envy Wedding Photographers!)

DSLRs also offer semi-automatic settings that can eliminate the thought of 1 or two of the above settings, leaving you to focus on either what you know, or what is most important to you for a particular shot. It can be a great way to start off when getting to know your settings but I suggest getting to know all of them and what they mean so that you can keep an eye on what automatic settings your camera is choosing in specific situations.

Canon offer a fantastic Virtual Camera which I highly suggest giving a go when learning to play around with settings. Simply click the link above.

I hope I have managed to explain these settings in a simple way and perhaps, helped you on your way to exploring your camera past 'Auto'. 

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