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Category: Best Photographic Equipment to Buy : Digital Cameras and Accessories : Digital Cameras

Photography Question 

My First Digital SLR: How to Start?

I just bought my first digital camera - and first SLR (Canon Digital Rebel). Wow, talk about information overload. Any suggestions how to get to know this camera?

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5/1/2005 5:54:36 PM

Bob Cournoyer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/9/2003
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  I've had the Digital Rebel about 9 months and am just getting to where I can quickly change settings/modes to what would be best for a given situation. Since digital is "free", shoot/upload/check pics. I started on "auto", shot a bunch, uploaded, read each photo's properties - i.e., what the camera chose for aperture/shutter speed/etc./learned from that/deleted pictures.
Then I moved to "program" and did the same thing ... then to "shutter priority", then to "aperture priority" ... blah blah blah. I also I read the small instruction manual numerous times.
It's like anything else - driving a car or frying an egg ... practice and repetition.
Hope this helps or even made sense.

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5/1/2005 7:59:13 PM

Anthony Soares
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/3/2005
LOL I know how you feel. I just made the move from point-and-shoot to SLR. Read your manual again. I have gone through mine several times now. I also picked up a Magic Lantern Guide (model specific). If you're like me and want more creative control, I highly recommend the book, Understanding Exposure by BP instructor Bryan Peterson. It's very informative, as well as easy to read and understand. Hope this helps ... Tony S

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5/1/2005 8:07:40 PM

Cyndee Wanyonyi
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/7/2005
  There is a great It has tutorials on how to use the Canon Rebel(s). It is a wonderful tool!

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5/1/2005 9:45:13 PM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/7/2005
  I just bought my first Digital too on the weekend on Ebay (it has to come from Canada). I got the Rebel XT or in Australia it is called the 350D!

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5/1/2005 10:35:16 PM

Rob Martin
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Dear Sarah:
I'm a newbie at the world of digital SLR. Now going from a P&S camera to a D-SLR is quite a change. I'm gonna be honest with you, it took me at least 2 1/2 weeks to master the camera, not let the camera master me as it was doing. One was to learn was as Robert was describing, shooting in manual mode and then see the info on the picture and see what settings the camera picked for you. In a way is a good way to learn, but don't be dependent on it,. The camera is being the judge and not always will it pick the right settings for the picture. Now I have the successor to the Rebel, I have the Digital Rebel XT (350D), so bear with me as the menus or buttons might be differently located. First thing you need to understand is knowing how to set the right exposure, and the camera's metering system will help you do just that. It is also good to understand the ISO setting. The ISO if you know, determines how sensitive the camera is to light, so the brighter the enviroment is, the lower the ISO should be set, preferably between 100 and 200. The darker the enviroment is, the higher the ISO needs to be, ranges between 400-800 sometimes 1600. Now ISO's ranging higher than 400 will give the image some added grain or noise than it would on smaller ISO ranges. Once you set the right ISO setting, you can go ahead and compose your shot, hold the shutter button half way and on the viewfinder you will see the Exposure Index, which is a series of small vertical stripes forming like a ruler with usually -2 on the far left, -1 on the center left, the exposure index mark on the middle which looks more like an arrow head pointing down, followed by +1 on the center right and finally with a +2 on the far right. Now on the bottom you will see a slightly bigger vertical stripe underneath the Exposure Index. That stripe is called The Exposure Level Mark. Your objective here is to "align the Exposure Level Mark with the Exposure Index Mark (a.k.a The arrowhead on top center). Using the dial wheel on the camera. it should be on the top right corner, you can move it either left or right until the Exposure Level Mark is aligned with the Exposure Index Mark, that will set a correct exposure. Now Keep in mind that turning the dial wheel to set the exposure means you are changing the Shutter speed, so if you have a slow shutter speed, you might be prone to camera shake if you do not use a tripod, you can increase the shutter speed by increasing the ISO, that will give you more sensitivity to light allowing you set the exposure with a higher shutter speed. If you feel lost, just go into the manual and look it up, but the best way to learn is to get out there and shoot 100 pics a day, use different setting, practice changing the ISO and setting the shutter speed, but I hope the information I just gave you helps you out in getting to know how to use the camera better, if you have further questions just remember, all of us are eager to help. good luck

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5/3/2005 10:54:11 AM

Patricia A. Cale
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/25/2002
  Sarah: I have been shooting with the Digital Rebel for about 1 1/2 years now and love the camera. After shooting with an Elan II, the Digital Rebel was easy to use. I read the manual when I first got the camera, then took it out set to auto everything to see what it could do. I got some really goods shots with it and figured the metering system was excellent. Now, I usually have the camera set to Aperture Priority (AV) since I am more concerned about DOF than shutter speeds with what I shoot -- mostly nature shots. I have the ISO set to 100 when the camera is on a tripod, but set it to 200 if I'm handholding the camera. It gives me an extra stop. Recently, I added 2 new lenses to my gear, the 17-85mm IS digital lens that only fits on the Digital Rebels (old and new) and the 20D, and the 75-300mm IS lens. These two lenses give me the freedom to shoot anywhere holding the camera. There are times and places I can't use a tripod and the IS lenses are excellent for this type of shooting.

Don't let this camera intimidate you. Get out and shoot the way you normally would. If you're not sure about setting your own exposure settings, use the program modes. You'll get good images in the program modes in good lighting. The only way to really learn your camera is to use it. And read and re-read the manual!! I have read it many times and learn something new each time!

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5/3/2005 12:09:17 PM

Susan Bohanon
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2004
  I bought my Rebel a year and a half ago and I'm still figuring things out. Carry my manual with me everywhere I go. :)

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5/3/2005 12:19:41 PM

Lisa Schurer   I took a 10wk course in beginning photography at the local community college for $100. That way you have an expert that you can actually question in person that can give you non-technical explanations for all those buttons and terms in the manual. You will learn all about your camera specifically and get hands on experience

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5/3/2005 8:00:04 PM

Peter K. Burian
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
  Sarah: You might also want to read one of the very detailed reviews of your camera.

They discuss every feature, every button, etc. and provide a good learning experience.

I recommend this one on a site in England:

Cheers! Peter Burian

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5/4/2005 5:39:42 AM

Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Sarah, you went from information overload to advice overload! ;-)

Lots of people (myself included) have this camera, and we're usually eager to help others enjoy it as much as we do.

There's some good advice above, and I think the best tips are from Bob C. and Pat B. Read the manual, then start off shooting in full auto and the Basic modes. Pay attention to the aperture and shutter speed settings that the camera picked for each shooting situation. As you get more comfortable with the camera, you can work your way up to the Creative modes where you have more control over the settings.

If you ever decide you want to use the full manual mode (M), Rafael gives a good description above of how that mode works.

Good luck, and enjoy!

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5/4/2005 7:37:04 AM

Kerry L. Walker   Well, you could always sell it and but a film camera. LOL

Advice from a film dinosaur.

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5/4/2005 9:21:27 AM

Michael Kettler   Sara, I was just speaking to my grandmother on this very subject. I personally recomend you disregard the manual and find someone that has the camera and is familiar with its functions. It seems manuals are written for those that already have a great understanding of photography and all aspects. I have been shooting and selling for years and I still run across manuals that might as well be written in foreign language. You would be amazed at how many now own cameras like yours and would love to share there knowledge. Good luck!

M. Kettler

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5/4/2005 4:41:34 PM

Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
I have definitely seen my share of poorly-written manuals, manuals intended for experts, and manuals that have been loosely tranlated from foreign languages. The Digital Rebel manual isn't one of them, though. I think it's pretty well-written, and easy to follow.

We're here to help and answer any questions, but I still think the manual is a good place to start. IMHO

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5/5/2005 7:02:11 AM

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