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Learn How to Use a Digital SLR Camera

DSLR cameras have become a fancy gadget among youths because everyone wants to click photos that stand out. But buying a DSLR camera does not guarantee that your photos will be world-class. You should invest heavily in learning how to use your DSLR camera so that your photos come out exactly as you dream them to be.

You can get the best out of your DSLR camera when you set the settings manually rather than leaving them to default as you do with your smartphone camera. First, you need to understand the basic settings and get used to them. After that, you must understand the shooting modes, ISO, exposure, focusing, frame rate, color balance, and shutter speed. Here is the complete guide to using a DSLR camera like a pro.

What are the Basic Parts of a DSLR Camera?

You need a basic idea about the different parts of a DSLR camera to get started.

DSLR CameraLens: The lens is the most important part of focusing and zooming in. DSLR cameras allow interchangeable lenses starting from ultra-wide lenses to far-reaching lenses.

Screen: The screen is where you view the images in real-time before clicking photos or recording videos. Some DSLR cameras have a touchscreen to navigate menu options and set the required settings.

Basic Buttons: DSLR cameras come with a Menu button to navigate through options and settings. There could be an Info button to check out the different parameters of photos and videos.

Besides, there are basic buttons like On/Off, Delete, Next, Previous, and Ok buttons. But Zoom in and Zoom out buttons are crucial for any photographer. If there is no touchscreen, a scroll wheel must be available.

Viewfinder: Every DSLR camera comes with a viewfinder through which you look at the subjects or scenes in front of you that you want to capture through your DSLR camera. Some people use the screen instead of the viewfinder while shooting.

What are the Important Settings of a DSLR Camera?

Starting from ISO, focus area, and white balance to aperture and shutter speed, there are several settings available on a DSLR camera.

Shutter Speed: The faster the shutter speed, the lower the amount of light in the photo will be. A high shutter speed is suitable when capturing the subject in motion, like in sports.

Aperture: The smaller the aperture, the more the amount of light that the camera will let in. The setting of the aperture affects the depth of field, and hence, aperture is essential for different types of effects like the Bokeh effect.

ISO: The setting of ISO determines the exposure of light on the photo, affecting the digital noise. The lower the ISO, the less will be the light exposure.

Focus: Focus determines how sharp the objects in the photo look. You can let your DSLR do automatic focus, but most photographers prefer manual focus depending on the scene they want to capture. Similarly, you need to select the focus area, which can be a single-point area for still photos, a dynamic area for objects in motion, and an auto area for any circumstance.

White Balance: White balance is the most underrated setting of any DSLR camera. It determines the colors in the photo irrespective of the color of the scene. Various white balance presets are available for your photo or video to get the right color tone.

Besides, selecting the camera mode is extremely important, and we will discuss them in detail.

What are the Simple Steps to Use a DSLR Camera Like a Pro?

You have to follow a proper procedure when shooting with your DSLR camera. Here are the steps that you should execute one by one every time you shoot with your DSLR camera.

1. Pick the Shooting Mode

Every DSLR camera comes with several shooting modes per the photographer’s requirement. Different shooting modes have different default settings, making the photo look stunning. Generally, a DSLR camera comes with a dial for selecting the shooting mode. Basically, there are four modes available – Auto, A(Aperture), S(Shutter), P(Program), and M(Manual).

In Auto mode, every setting is set by the camera, starting from the aperture to the shutter speed. In the A mode, which is a semi-automatic mode, you set the aperture only. Similarly, in S mode, you set the shutter speed only. In the P mode, you can set either the aperture or the shutter speed, and the camera will do the rest. Last but most importantly, the manual mode allows you to set all parameters for the best outcomes.

2. Select ISO Wisely

ISO determines the light sensitivity of the sensor on your camera. ISO 100 is considered low sensitivity, while ISO 6400 is considered high sensitivity. When you are shooting outside, the ISO should be low as there is ample light, and the sensor does not have to be highly sensitive to the available light. When shooting in low light conditions, the ISO has to be high to get the correct exposure of the shoot. At the same time, low ISO means less noise and better image quality.

3. Understand the Triangle Relationship

The three most important parameters are aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. There is a unique relationship among the three parameters that determine the exposure. You can control the light entering by controlling the aperture and the shutter speed. You also have the option to control the amount of light your camera needs by controlling the ISO.

Any change in any one of these parameters will affect the others significantly. The semi-automatic mode is most useful when learning these three parameters’ relationships. Only when you master them should you go for manual mode.

4. Selecting Metering Mode

When you select the auto mode, the camera determines the exposure. But the exposure is generally set to average(metering); hence, when you shoot bright scenes, it turns out to be dark. Similarly, when you shoot a low-lit scene, it turns out to be brighter and does not replicate the scene perfectly. That is where you can set the metering mode to get the best exposure. There are three modes available – average, center-weighted, and spot metering.

In the average mode, the camera weighs the entire scene and sets an average exposure as in auto mode. In center-weighted mode, the camera weighs in 80% of the scene and ignores the corners to determine the exposure for the realistic shoot. Lastly, in spot metering mode, the camera weighs in only a small area of the entire scene as visible through the viewfinder and determines the exposure, and you are likely to get exactly how you see in real life.

5. Select Focus Mode

Several focus modes are available as the photographer wants to focus on different subjects in a scene. The AF-S mode, called the autofocus single mode, is suitable for shooting objects that are fixed in their positions. The AF-C mode, called the autofocus continuous mode, is suitable for shooting objects in motion.

Apart from these, two more focus modes are available – AF, called autofocus mode, and MF, called manual focus mode. You should see through the viewfinder to check the focus points and shift them as per your requirements. You need to study and experiment and select the best focus mode as per the photography you want to achieve.

6. Select White Balance

White balance determines the color tone of your images. When it is set to automatic, there can be unwanted color tones. That is why it is always recommended to select white balance manually. For example, if you are shooting outside on a sunny day, you have to select Daylight mode so that the brightness is controlled properly. Similarly, Cloudy and Shade modes are available to select as per the weather condition and the area you are shooting.

If you are shooting indoors, select Tungsten and Fluorescent modes available. These modes take care of the different unwanted color shades on the image due to indoor lights. Some cameras also come with a Flash mode to add a warm tone to your images.

7. Adjust Exposure

Almost every DSLR camera comes with a “+/-“ button to adjust the exposure. By adjusting the exposure, you can control the brightness of the scene so that you get the desired tone. You are adjusting the average exposure manually. If the scene is coming dark, you have to increase the exposure and vice versa. But you should not increase or decrease heavily because that can lead to noisy and grainy photos.

8. Aperture and Shutter Speed

The higher the aperture, the more light will get into your camera, and the brighter the image. If the scene is too bright, you can lower the aperture and vice versa. The higher the shutter speed, the more light will get into your camera.

If the scene is too bright, you can lower the shutter speed. Use the aperture priority and shutter speed priority modes effectively to get the best outcome. You can use the aperture to control the depth of view, while the shutter speed is useful in controlling the movement of the subjects.

9. Control FPS

Frame per second is a neglected factor because it is set to automatic. Frame per second is essential when you are shooting videos. For cinematic mode, 24 FPS is the best, but for online videos, you should select 30 FPS. When shooting slow-motion video, the frame per second should be higher than 30.

10. Select File Size and Type

Last, you can select the file size so that the image file does not become too large to take up too much space. But it should not be too low because the image quality can be compressed significantly. Ideally speaking, keep the file size high to get the best image quality. Only when you are running out of space, should you lower it.

Similarly, you can select the file type, such as JPEG, for a compressed image. The JPEG file type is ready for printing as it is already processed. But a RAW file type is available where you get the uncompressed image, and you can edit externally for the best outcome.

Digital SLR Camera – FAQs

1. What are the types of digital cameras?

Ans: There are broadly four types of digital cameras available. They are DSLR cameras, point-and-shoot cameras, bridge cameras, and cameras on mobile phones.

2. What are the best DSLR cameras?

Ans: In the current market, the best DSLR cameras are Nikon D3500, Canon EOS 2000D, Canon Mark III, Nikon D850, and Nikon D780.

3. What are the benefits of a DSLR camera?

Ans: A DSLR camera can enhance the quality of photos and videos. They can have interchangeable lenses for different purposes. You can change all settings manually and make your shoots stand apart.

4. What to look out for when buying a DSLR camera?

Ans: You need first to check the megapixel resolution and the camera’s sensor size. Select from Canon and Nikon as they are the best brands. You should check for the lens because you should be able to fit in the latest lens for future-proof. If you are going to shoot a video, watch out for stabilization.


Having a DSLR camera does not guarantee stunning photos and videos. You can only go to a specific limit when you set the automatic mode and default settings. You have to learn how to use your DSLR camera to make the best of it and come out with stunning photos and videos you see from pros across social media platforms.

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