02 June 2010

30 Second Photography

Here's one from my old MySpace blog, from before I made the jump.

A friend of mine is looking into a camera for his Alaskan adventure, wants to use a DSLR, but doesn't know anything about the lenses &c. I decided rather than just turning him loose on Wikipedia I'd at least try to give him some basic knowledge to cling to once he goes looking for those more detailed answers. Following here is the 30 second breakdown I gave him. If anyone out there who really knows this stuff happens to look at it, please tell me if and where I got it wrong. I'm hoping I steered him right, and I really dig photography so I'm always looking to improve my knowledge and my skill. Thanks for reading!

F stop (f numbers)
  • The f-stop is how wide open your aperture is; the aperture is the iris/hole that controls how much light gets through to the film or sensor.
  • The bigger the hole the smaller the f number (i.e. f/11 is a small hole while f/1.8 is WIDE OPEN).
  • Something to remember is that the more open your aperture is, the smaller your depth of field is (Depth of field is how much stuff is in focus. Say there are 3 people, 1 10 feet away, 1 15 feet away, 1 20 feet away. A shorter DoF means that only one of these people is going to be in focus, but the more you close your aperture (bigger f number), the more depth you will have in your field.)

Shutter Speed (the 1/x numbers)

  • Simply put, it's how long the shutter lets light hit the film/sensor when you press the shutter button and take a picture.
  • This is measured in fractions of a second (e.g. a shutter speed of 100 is actually 1/100 or .01 of a second).
  • The longer you leave the shutter open (your exposure time), the more likely you are to have a blurry photo.

Lens size (the mm numbers)
  • Lenses are measure by their focal length, in millimeters (mm).
  • The shorter the focal length, the more zoomed-out (wider) you are.
  • About 50mm or so makes an object appear in your view finder about as big as it does to the naked eye.
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  • >50mm gives you zoom-in capabilities.

Bonus: ISO numbers (film grain)
  • The ISO number on a digital camera is how sensitive the sensor is to light; film has an ISO rating related to the size of the film grain that also tells how sensitive it is to light, which is where the numbers come from.
  • The ISO number is changeable in digital cameras.
  • The bigger the ISO number the more sensitive the sensor is to light (shoot ISO 200 in sunlight, but ISO 1600 in a dim room).
  • The drawback is that more noise / weird pixels creep into your images at higher ISO numbers. Many cameras have Noise Reduction (NR) technology to help with this, but only so much.

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