Guides/tricks for my new DSLR?
June 14, 2008 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Please help me use my new DSLR camera. Are there guides/tricks for specific cameras online?

I took a course today on how to use my new Canon Rebel xti, which came with a handy password protected guide online. (The guide was far superior to the camera manual - with explanations of when and why you would use a certain function, complete with photo examples.) The course was a little basic for my needs but I can't take the more advanced part of the course for a few months. Are there guides along these lines available online?

Big bonus points for anyone who has the password for Henry's School of Imaging Canon xti Part 2 guide.
posted by meerkatty to Technology (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Are you looking to take good photographs, or do you just want to be an expert on the functions of a Canon Rebel xti?

Sorry if that sounds sarcastic, but what I'm trying to get across is that good photography is not specific to any particular camera. Of course each camera is different in the way its features are laid out, but essentially the process of taking a picture is the same for every SLR camera, whether it's digital or film.

You need to learn about aperture, shutter-speed and ISO. You need to know the effects of using different lenses and filters. You need to know about composition and lighting. Increasingly with digital SLRs you need to know about manipulating the images once you've taken them.

I'm sure the xti guide is useful, but really the skills required to use a camera are universal, and don't depend much on equipment. There are some fantastic general photography resources both online, in books, and in taught courses; you really should explore those too.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:11 AM on June 14, 2008

Response by poster: There are some fantastic general photography resources both online, in books, and in taught courses; you really should explore those too.

Yes, the online part is what I'm asking for here. If it's not camera specific, that's fine too. It's just that for absolute beginners - explaining shutter speed, for example, and then pointing to that function on a specific camera is highly useful.
posted by meerkatty at 11:17 AM on June 14, 2008

It's the same as learning any piece of technology: do some reading, and then start trying everything and see the results. No need for a course or some passworded guide. The web is full of slr HOWTOs.

DSLRs, SLRs, Medium format, film cameras, etc.. are all basically the same thing: a box that controls how light is recorded. There are 3 MAIN CONCEPTS that you need to understand:

1. Aperture - let you control how much light is let in to the camera
2. Shutter speed - controls how long that light is allowed to hit the "film"
3. ISO speed / film speed - controls how quickly the "film" is exposed by light

These 3 settings are mostly about making sure your image isn't too dark, too bright (washed-out), or blurry.

Adjusting any 1 of these settings will affect the other 2. If you increase the amount of light coming into the camera (aperture), then your image will get washed out unless you also increase your shutter speed or speed up your film (ISO setting).

Once you understand this, then you can start getting more advanced.
posted by jsonic at 11:27 AM on June 14, 2008

Ken Rockwell's site should be on every photographer's bookmark list.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 11:38 AM on June 14, 2008

I have recommended them before; the Canon Digital Photography Forums seem tailor-made for what you want. Just about every question you might have has been asked and answered many times; registration is free. Don't mention Ken Rockwell there, however, as he is not much respected by that group of photographers.
posted by TedW at 1:07 PM on June 14, 2008

Kodak Guide to Better Pictures

There are lots of great guides out there, but here are some specific suggestions to getting better pictures. You can skip the film section, have a look at the Composition section.

I like some of the articles at as well
posted by so_ at 2:01 PM on June 14, 2008

Here's my collection of links, somewhat Nikon oriented, but lots of general info: Digital Photography
posted by psyche7 at 3:06 PM on June 14, 2008

I like Gary Friedman's ebooks - they're not free but well worth the money. I have the version for my Sony SLR but the link is to the canon version. It's something of a combination of an intermediate photography tutorial and a camera manual, so you'll learn every function of the camera and get some great photography advice in the process.
posted by mmoncur at 8:03 PM on June 14, 2008

I got the same camera as you and, after only a few weeks of using it, I'm improving greatly as a photographer. I found that shooting in RAW format and then going through the stored information on my computer later made me understand how my pictures were affected by aperture, shutter speed and ISO. It's digital, so shooting doesn't cost anything. I rejected about 200 of my photos to get maybe 6 good ones, but I learned a ridiculous amount doing that. I read the basic guides online and the manual to find out how to do it, but the why didn't really penetrate until I was looking at the photos.

addendum: I find Ken Rockwell's site to be insuffrable. And contradictory in a lot of the information it provides. There's plenty of good stuff in there, but it's hidden under layers upon layers of ego, terrible writing and awful website design.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:48 AM on June 16, 2008

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