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Camera Settings for Beginners




30-40 minutes

About the Course

In this course, we will go over the basic camera settings and their functions. Learning how to properly use your camera is a great step to take in your photography journey! After reading this course, I want you to go out and take pictures of items around your home. This is the BEST way to get to know your camera and get more comfortable controlling the settings.


Listen, I know as a beginner photographer manual looks so scary -- but I promise you, once you got it understood of what all the functions do and how they all correspond with each other you will NEVER go back. The best way to learn is from trail and error, now you got to screw up a couple of times until you will learn. Learning and educating yourself on what the functions of each settings do is great, but I encourage you to go and shoot as much as possible. It's the only way to learn and you can only teach yourself so much. 

In this course, I am just going to do a basic overview of all the settings and what they do -- if you want me to go in depth in the future about certain things like white balance, ISO, f/stop, AL SERVIO, etc. please email me with your requests and I will totally make a lesson on that as well.

A feature that is great on all beginner cameras is that it will actually give you a description of what all the settings do, which can be used as a refresher if you ever forget.


Let's Break it Down

Aperture (or commonly referred to as f/stop) is your depth of field -- this is what allows the camera to focus on one singular subject or multiple. As shown in the photo, the lower the aperture the more shallow your depth of field is, and the higher the more in focus it will be. Just as a rule of thumb I like to use is, for example: you are shooting a family of six members and your f/stop is at 2.8 -- it is not going to get everyone in focus, it will only get about 2-3 people in focus. You will want to put your f/stop at 8.0 to get all the subjects in the photo. Always use a higher number than the subjects being photographed. Make sense? The lower you make your aperture the more under exposed your photo will be because it is not letting in enough light, the higher the aperture the more light will come in.

ISO, this means "in search of" in this case your camera is in search of light. This controls how much light you are allowing in and this is the main cause of noise (grain). As soon in the picture it gives you a diagram of what ISO's you should use in certain situations. I do not recommend going over 800 ISO with a beginners camera, most beginner cameras most of the time only go to 3200 or 6400 so having your ISO all the way up to 800 is going to cause a LOT of noise in your images. The only time it is acceptable to go over 800 ISO is when you are using a flash, and flashes are there to help reduce noise in your images. As stated in the image, I would start at 100 ISO and go up if needed, normally, if you are shooting outside in daylight you should never have to go above 200 ISO.

Shutter Speed is the time for which a shutter is open at a given setting.  Shutter speed can be VERY confusing to beginners -- I know I had a hard time fully understanding it. I am going to try my best to thoroughly explain to you how to use shutter speed to achieve sharp images. Normally, when I shoot it is at 4:30pm-5:30pm (shutter speed varies depending on time of day, location, and whether or not you are indoor or outdoors) my shutter speed never leaves 1/300-1/500 unless for a couple of artsy shots where I want a longer exposure. This is where it can get confusing, the bigger the number the shorter exposure you have and the smaller the number the longer the exposure is. If you want crisp and sharp photos use a shutter of 1/500-1/2000, if you want to achieve a motion blur photo (cause those are ALL the rage right now) use a shutter speed of 10"-1/50. 

Exposure is the amount of light that reaches your camera's sensor. I think that exposure is better to explain through an image, which is why I put this amazing guide from Haley Ivers so that you could visually see it to understand it. Your camera will actually tell you if your image is underexposed, perfect, or overexposed if you set it on auto. I would personally put that puppy in auto until you are fully comfortable with all the other settings and then you can play around with your exposure. I always tend to shoot underexposed (not like extremely, but just a tad bit) because I find it easier to edit when I get into that process.

White Balance/Kelvin

White Balance/Kelvin is what sets the temperature of the image, each photographer prefers the preset white balancer over custom Kelvin and some say setting Kelvin is the way to go. There is no right or wrong answer -- it is simply just preference. I prefer to use just plain ole white balance presets for my images. Normally, depending on the weather, I keep my white balance on Daylight or Shade. If you shoot indoors, you may want to consider flash or fluorescent light for your settings.

As shown in the image, you can see the Kelvin scale --- 10,000 is cool and 1,000 is very warm (hot) you simply just need to play around with it if you are wanting to learn how to use Kelvin, but Kelvin is simply not necessary to becoming a professional. Some may disagree, but this is just my opinion. If you learn Kelvin that is fantastic, but for some it is just easier to set it and go and not have to play around with it for a while. 


Image credits: Strobe Tools

Camera Image Format


Your camera will have different image qualities it is able to shoot in. I highly recommend shooting all of your images in RAW format. Why RAW? Well, A RAW file is lossless, meaning it captures uncompressed data from your camera sensor which also means it can be manipulated and edited however you want to your liking. 

Shooting in JPEG compresses your image and actually lowers the quality of your images. For professional photography, I would not recommend shooting in JPEG for the reason that it is not a high quality image and as a photographer you want to provide your clients with the best quality of your image.

Now, after you edit your images in Lightroom you need to convert them to JPEG so that your clients are not able to manipulate your image however they please.

That wraps up my first ever course, I am so excited that you read this and hopefully have learned something! Now get out and go take pictures and practice practice practice until your fingers bleed (jk, don't but you get my point).


Olivia Rodriguez Photography

Olivia Rodriguez Photography

Your Instructor

Any questions about the course? Email me:

Manual Setting

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