Tired of getting images that are blurry, or shots that always end up “nakapikit” when you gun for “candid?” Let this comprehensive guide show you how to make the most of your digital camera so you can take kiddie photos like a pro.
Know your camera First off, read your camera’s manual. Investing time to read it thoroughly and learning how to access the different manual settings help enormously in producing better pictures. Keeping your camera on automatic mode will do for a lot of situations; however, manual mode provides more control and flexibility. Here are some basic lighting controls and concepts common to most cameras.
Exposure Simply put, exposure is the amount of light the camera sensor captures. This is the part of the camera responsible for converting light into a digital image. In your camera function menu, exposure is often represented by an “0+/-” icon. A value higher than 0 (e.g. +¹⁄3, +1, etc.) lets more light in, while a value less than 0 (e.g. -¹⁄3, -1, etc.) lets less light in. After taking a test shot, adjust your Exposure Value (EV) to +1 if the result is too dark, or to -1 if the result is too bright.
ISO The lower your ISO settings (e.g. ISO 100), the less sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light; the higher the ISO value (e.g. ISO 800), the more sensitive it is. Use a higher ISO value in low-light situations and a lower ISO for bright or sunny environments. In your camera’s functions menu, simply look for the option “ISO,” and adjust the value from 80 to 400 (or higher, depending on your camera model).
NOTE: One of the drawbacks of using a high ISO, however, is that tiny random colored pixels, a.k.a. “noise,” is introduced into the image, making the image look speckled or “dusty.”
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Aperture and Shutter Speed Think of your camera as a dark, enclosed room, with light emanating from a door the only source of light. The size of that door is your aperture, and how long it is open, is your shutter speed.
Aperture size is specified by f-number. A lower f-number (e.g. f/2.8) indicates a bigger opening, while a bigger f-number (f/8) indicates a smaller opening. Use the smallest possible aperture (i.e. the highest f-number) to create sharper images.
Shutter speed is how long your sensor is exposed to light and is measured in seconds. A shutter speed of ¹⁄5th lets in more light than ¹⁄500th of a second. Typically, a camera will use a fast shutter speed (¹⁄250th of a second) for bright environments and ¹⁄15th for dimly-lit scenes or at nighttime. Slow shutter speeds create blur that give the illusion of speed or movement, while fast shutter speeds freeze action. You can adjust your shutter speed in your camera’s Shutter Priority Mode.