Learn Photography: Digital SLR Basics

To learn photography can be an advantage in any career or used to create better memories. Digital cameras are quiet common and easily accessible in contemporary society. An understanding of the digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera basics will prove useful and will elevate the quality of the photograph beyond a simple snapshot.

Digital Single-Lens Reflex

DSLRs share many features with SLRs. Indeed, many of the principles of photography can be applied regardless of shooting in digital or film. This includes:

  • Shutter speed
  • f/stops
  • ISO settings
  • Focusing
  • Principles of composition


Megapixels are often the first measurement mentioned when evaluation a digital camera. While they are indeed important, megapixels are not the end of the story. Point and shoots can nearly rival DSLRs in the amount of megapixels they offer. Ten or Twelve megapixels are more than enough for standard use and will produce clear 8x10 prints. 

Use the DSLR as a DSLR

Many DSLRs come with features which enable the photographer to use the camera as a point and shoot. These usually include little pictures on the model dial such as a flower, a face, a person running and things like that. If using these point and shoot features, the photographs will come out looking like point and shoot photographs. At the very least, it is suggested to use the aperture or shutter priority features until comfortable enough to use full manual. 

Developing the Pictures

Unlike pictures on film, digital pictures do not have to be "developed." For the best quality possible, however, they do have to be developed in a sense of the word. There are many editing programs available-the most popular being Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. It is highly recommended to use one of these programs, without any editing the potential quality of the photographs will be hampered. Photoshop Elements offers everything a non-professional photographer could want, and for a reasonable price. The easiest things to adjust and which yield the best results are: contrast/brightness, shadows/highlights and adjust hue/saturation. 

File Management

It is easy to become quickly overwhelmed with the amount of photographs when exporting them from the camera onto a computer. Indeed, one of the advantages of digital photography is the freedom to take nearly an endless amount of pictures at no cost. That freedom will become a burden if there is not a file system in use. Photographs take up a lot of room, so if possible use an external hard drive. Create a film system that is easy to use and efficient. If it is overly complicated, pictures could become lost. If editing pictures, decide what kind of file to save them as, such as the most common file-jpeg. The quality of the photograph will be adjusted depending on their file. Jpegs, for example, are a lossy file meaning every time they are saved they lose quality. Photoshop has its own file with does not lose quality, but it is not as universally used as .jpeg. 


The biggest advantage digital photography has over film photography is the ability to learn and experiment at no cost. Once the equipment is in hand, the possibilities are infinite.

Popular Cameras for High Quality Photos: