5 Photography Tips For Digital SLR Photography Beginners

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This is one of the first shots I got with my original Canon Rebel

If you are just starting out in Digital SLR photography, this one’s for you!

It’s hard for those of us who write about photography and are familiar with digital SLR cameras to put ourselves in an absolute beginner’s shoes. It’s been awhile since we were there where you are. And for that reason, we take some things for granted that just seem natural to us.

So, in an attempt to think back to the day I got my first Canon Rebel, here are some things that, while normal for me now, were totally foreign at the time.

Digital SLR Photography Beginner’s Tips:

  1. digital slr photography beginner
    Patience is a virtue for digital slr photography beginners

    Read the Manual – This is not meant to be funny or demeaning. Some new camera owners will page through the manual step-by-step, but most of us are so anxious to start taking pictures, we never actually get this done. The manual contains the answers to all the questions, even the ones you don’t know enough to ask. Camera makers take pains to explain every facet of the camera in that manual, so spend some time with it.

  2. Set the Picture Size and Quality – This setting is in the Menu. Nearly every digital SLR has a dedicated button that says “Menu”. Use it to find the area where you can set the size and quality of your photos. Set it to the largest and finest setting. (If you don’t know what RAW is, don’t use that one yet.) Do not make the mistake of setting your camera to a small photo format so you can continue to take pictures on the same storage card for a year. The simplest reason to take pictures at high quality is that you could get some good photos that you would want to decorate the walls of your house or office, and they will have to be high quality in order to get large prints.
  3. Set the mode dial to either P or Auto – These dial settings will let the camera make all the important decisions about choosing the right aperture and shutter speed. Then, as you read through the manual and test how the other features and mode settings work, you can learn and change which dial settings you prefer to use. But using the Automatic camera settings will help you to get the most consistently good images without knowing what an aperture or shutter speed is. (But definitely learn these things because that is how you will really improve the quality of your photos.)
  4. Get a large storage card (or two) – Back in the day, cameras came with a token storage card – one that would allow you to take a few pictures at a good quality and size setting. Now, new cameras require that you buy a storage card separately. Get a good quality card with at least 8GB of storage capacity (32GB is even better). You surely don’t want to be a some important event and run out of space on your camera.
  5. Have Patience – You will not learn everything about digital SLR photography in one afternoon or even one month. So stay calm and stay with it. Also, have patience with each individual picture. Look at the view finder with a critical eye to see if the shot can be improved somehow. Do this, and you will improve the number of “keepers” you get right away.

Bonus Tip – Take tons of shots. They cost nothing. The second or third shot, even if it is exactly the same, may be sharper than the first one or be better in some other way. Just keep shooting. You can always delete identical shots after you have examined them on the computer.

And if you take more blurry shots than you think should be normal, read this article about “The number one reason for blurry shots.”

Also, if you have not already taken advantage of the free e-book, fill in your email address on the right side of the page and download it. It has some excellent hints for improving your photos without spending another dime. And they also qualify as photography tips for digital SLR photography beginners.


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  • Andy

    Hi, when I was reading your article on tips for beginners I initially thought it must have been written 15 years ago. I didn’t think we could buy 8-32Mb cards anymore… 😉

    • wrasku

      Hey Andy, I don’t know where my brain was when I typed that, but I certainly appreciate you pointing out my mistake. Of course, I was referring to GB instead of MB.. the post is updated now.