Instructables
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In this instructable, i'm going to teach you some basics on photography. I will be writing this mainly for digital users, but most things apply to both digital, and film.

Some history

The first camera ever, was the camera obscura. It was the size of a room, and worked like a pin hole camera. Light sensitive paint was put on the opposite wall of the hole, and light would travel through the hole, and expose the paint. The first camera used a far sighted man's glasses lens in the hole.

All cameras have the following things:

Light tight box
Shutter
Aperture
Lens
 
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Step 1: Picking a Camera

Types of Cameras

Point and Shoot (P&S) - This is the type of camera that is often very thin. P&S cameras generally don't have options on them for controlling shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc. They are fully automatic, and usually have a large LCD screen on the back (digital) for taking a picture.

Advanced P&S - This is the kind of camera you will want to start with. They are small, but resemble DSLRs, they may have a flip up flash, handle, etc. But the main reason we want them, is they they take better quality pictures, and you can control the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO (among other things). The reason they are good to start with, is that they can be fully automatic, but you have room to grow as you get better,

SLRs - SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex, if there is a "D" in front of it, than it means a Digital Single Lens Reflex. SLRs are the cameras that professionals use, they are the ones that have interchangeable lenses. There is no LCD screen for viewing the picture before you take it, rather, you use the view finder. The way it works, is that light goes in through the lens, reflects against a few mirrors, and through a prism, so you can see it through the view finder. When you click the shutter button, the first mirror lifts up, and the CCD image sensor, or frame of film is exposed to the light.

Picking the one for you

*Note* Megapixels are not the way to chose a camera. More megapixels does NOT mean a better picture. A larger image sensor does, but while you are at P&S cameras, they are all generally the same. This is more important when you choose a DSLR.

This is based on you getting a Digital Advanced P&S:

Until you get to SLRs, there isn't a lot you need to worry about when purchasing a camera. First, look at the features. The wider the range of shutter speeds available, the better, along with the range of apertures. Look at how much zoom your camera has as well, if you tend to zoom in a lot, go for one with more zoom. Check out what kind of memory card the camera takes, and how much the cards cost. Ideally, you will get a 1gb card. If the camera takes SD cards, you may want more, in case you ever upgrade to a DSLR that uses SD. Lastly, look at aesthetics, and how comfortable you are holding it.

If you are getting a DSLR, I will mention something about the brands to get. I only recommend Nikon and Canon, and to explain this bias to people, I've invented The iPod Analogy. If you look at mp3 players, you'll notice that the iPod is not the most economic player. Other brands provide cameras that may have more features for your money. The catch is that the iPod is compatible everywhere, any feature associated with music is built to work with an iPod, and not as much other brands. Cameras are the same way, you're much more likely to find the lenses and accessories you want if you have a Nikon or a Canon.

Where to buy

Two very common places to buy cameras are:

Best Buy
BH Photo Video

BH often carries their equipment for much lower prices. Make sure to get a warranty for your camera.
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steve84286 months ago

Thanks for this instructable and your time in making it, it is a great help to me to recap some of the stuff i have already read. I like the fact you have kept it short and straight to the point.

Quarku1 year ago
Wow!! This is an informative and useful blogg
http://www.digitphotoinfo.com
nzmark1 year ago
Hi, great advice on how to use my camera properly, I didn't realize there were so many tricks to create better photos. Thanks for the tutorials and inspirational post.

Mark
myheart112 years ago
Hi I have read all of this stuff and i am trying very hard to understand. I know that just practicing wa ith the different speeds and lite settings is the best way to go BUT can you give me some suggestions I have a cannon eos i have a 55- 250 lens and try taking pics at my daughters basket ball game. they come out dark... I know the settings are off can you give me a suggestions to try and fix that
Weissensteinburg (author)  myheart112 years ago
So there are three things you can do to make the pictures come out lighter: decrease the shutter speed, increase the iso and increase the aperture. A flash will also help if you have one. Decreasing the shutter speed won't really work in an environment such as a basketball game where you have running/throwing going on. The slowest you can go without getting much blur is probably 1/150-1/200 and that's still pushing it. Increasing your Iso will give you added noise but is probably worth it. A larger aperture (smaller number) will decrease the depth of field but is also probably worth it. There's no guarantee you can get great photos in a large, dark room like a gym...your camera and lens are limiting factors, but those three adjustments will get you as close as possible.
What model Canon is it?
If I know the model, I can help you out with that sports photo challenge.
cecilemc234 years ago
hi i have Powerhot SX10 its kinda good but i dont know how to use all the feature i m trying to learn. is there any posble to upgradeit like to put a lens on it? thank for the answer
Hello The thing you can do is better its macro capabilities with Vivitar lens, sold by Amazon, You can also get UV and polaroid filters.
Weissensteinburg (author)  cecilemc234 years ago
 The powershot is a point and shoot, so unfortunately, you can not change the lens. It is worth looking into possible filters for it, however.
mastronso3 years ago
Dear Weissensteinburg

I'm sorry, i don't know if anyone already alerted you for this but, the site you provide is not working =/ the Phondeo.

great instructable, it really inspired me to take better photos and had thought me things i didn't know how it works, thank you so much for that =D

continue the great work. thank for your time.

Mastronso

p.s: just another question, you don't talk about the edition (like photoshop), do you use any of these programs? and if you do, wich one do you think is the best for someone who is starting. because i use photoshop, but i don't know how to work with it :/

Weissensteinburg (author)  mastronso3 years ago
Hi. Unfortunately Phodeo isn't around anymore, I'll update the instructable accordingly. It's good to hear you've gotten something out of it, though.

Photoshop is definitely the best program to use, it's always been my favorite. As for working with it, I taught myself how to use it by looking up how to do specific tasks. There are tons of great tutorials out there. For anything abstract or that I otherwise can't find online, I would ask a friend. Slowly you build up a knowledge of what works for what.
OK, thank you again for the tutorial, it helped a lot =D

and about the photoshop, I'm starting to do somethings in there with the help of youtube. i was asking that thinking that you had one or two tutorials about that. but i will keep looking. thank you again

cheers,
Mattc353 years ago
Thank you so much. Your article inspired me so much to learn more about photography.
mikelucas4 years ago
Very cool article. Very well done. For what it's worth, I found great videos on www.purephoto.com. I am a former member of photographymentor.com which has been acquired by this purephoto.com site and they have done a pretty good job!
hunnynspice4 years ago
great instructable!!!
did y'all know that the links that are on the last page of it, don't go anywhere?? just wondering.... have a good one!!
Weissensteinburg (author)  hunnynspice4 years ago
 Thanks for pointing that out. Phodeo is no longer running, but the link to nikon cafe still works.
talonsblade4 years ago
is your website still working?
Weissensteinburg (author)  talonsblade4 years ago
I have a different one now, its more focused on the work that I do shooting school productions though.
hi there thanks for sharing. just wanted to let you know that your website has a broken link =(
Weissensteinburg (author)  triggersnappy5 years ago
Thanks, which one in particular?
mas97795 years ago
your a great photographer. im surprised to see such good photos with digital, i always considered digital to be lesser than film but this changes my mind.
dgamer5 years ago
This is an excellent dslr. i just bought 1 from here http://www.squidoo.com/cheap_nikon_cameras very economical and robust camera.
listoman5 years ago
I found this quite interesting...I found that even though im told I am very creative in my work...i notice that its the same basic picture as a lot that ive looked at and not even remember.... This guide is very informative and covered all the basics with some tips.
Its a nice quick lesson ,Thank you
tinyelefant5 years ago
awesome photography guide, once I get my camera I'll use this a lot. thx :) Also you might see me on phodeo.
Good job W'burg, I've never seen this before, I'll have to have a poke around your site some time soon...
Thanks =]

I'm out of commission right now...my camera broke and Nikon has it now...
I'm still up and running surprisingly despite the last few weeks, however there's not much going on here for a few weeks and the valleys a bit smoggy ruining the best few hours of photography so I'm just working on stop motion...

pah, nikon, I was always for canon, granted the little olympus is a great stand in for some stuff, 3200ISO with minimal grain is impressive...

What happened anyway? Our 10D has never had a break down and my mates nikon seems infallible, you must be fairly hard on it...
I'm not sure, something with the mirror. When I took a picture, the mirror stayed up, I got "Err" (weird for nikons, normally there's an error number), and then when I hit the shutter again, the mirror flapped down, up, and down again. Never taking a photo. But it was covered under the warranty, and I just checked...they've already shipped it back.
Our tech cameras do that occasionally, but when you switch the off button it goes to sensor cleaning then it's fine again, one thing I'm jealous of, I don't have magic sensor cleaning, granted its one less thing to go wrong... I'm working on some ideas at the moment, you got me thinking about it when I was out for a smoke, now I just have to play the waiting game with the light, also the clouds shifting out of the way a bit... Any tips for getting a good white balance in extremely strange lighting, around dusk I've been seeing loads of purple and orange at the same time and the camera has trouble understanding it, I've had a little luck with sampling images but it's still a nuisance for some stuff...
Either get a grey card and set it yourself...or shoot in RAW
I'll give setting it myself a go, tried testing on card etc. Maybe RAW would be less effort...
If you have a camera that shoots raw and photoshop (or light room, or aperture, etc), it's definitely going to be easier.
Aye, just reminding me that I need a bigger memory card too but I suppose it's the best bet, they're close to home though...
Memory cards are pretty cheap these days.
I know, it's jsut a case of getting them... One upside to the tech course I'm doing is that I have access to lots of handy bits and pieces like a big shooting area for still life and a proper portrait setup aswell...
hojop255 years ago
i love photography, i have done since i was like 7, and the nikon d-40 is my favourite camera :D
Simply. Amazing.<br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://zovi.deviantart.com/">My friend Nell</a> is an amazing photographer, and she imspired me to start myself. I wanna get in some experience before college (plenty of time, I'm only just turning 14 this November) because I don't think Western Hills supports a Photography class.<br/><br/>I'm unseasoned, so I wanna know what I should look for in a camera (advanced point-and-shoot, I reckon), some ideal brand names, and possibly a cost quote?<br/><br/>BTW: Nice photos, and happy snapping!<br/><br/>~ Will has spoken. Er, typed.<br/>
Weissensteinburg (author)  Aburame Shino6 years ago
Thanks!

When you're looking for an advanced point and shoot, brand doesn't matter as much, because you won't need brand specific accessories to carry over if you upgrade. I would just look for a brand that is familiar...Nikon, Canon, FujiFilm, and Olympus are all good. Price-wise you're looking at anywhere from $200-$400.

What to look for:

  • Optical zoom over digital zoom
  • As manual as possible (it will be auto, too. But you want the option of manual)
  • A good view finder
Just read reviews online, and see what people think about the camera you're looking at. Good luck!
Mm. I'll also get Nell's opinion on it, but 200 dollazz? Demms. I'm lucky it's gunna be my birthday! Of course, knowing my grandmother, she'll more'n likely give me a good 50 dollars to cut down.
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