View Full Version : Advice for a New DSLR owner

04-13-2009, 07:53 PM
So for my second post, I'm asking for advice.

Camera is the Rebel XTi, with the standard 18-55mm EFS lens.

I got my camera on Thursday night from my wonderful girlfriend as a birthday present. I have not put it down since. I even took it to work and went out at lunch to take more pictures.

I started on the full-auto setting, learned what the other settings do from the manual, and now leave it on full-manual to control everything. My indoor photographs are turning out well (subjects are my cats and Parrotlet.) My outdoor shots are leaving a little to be desired. Today specifically everything looked washed out. I'm sure I should have dropped the exposure down, instead I increased the F stop (which decreased the aperture IIRC) and the shutter speed. The subject today was commercial jets landing at Pearson Intl.

I've also played with tethering my XTi to my PC, to see what that's like. I can see how that's useful in some situations. I have a tripod for it as well, Velbon Sherpa 250, kindly given to me by my brother. The future purchases are a 50mm lens, macro lens, and a Telephoto lens.

I guess I'm wondering if I'm just trying to learn too much at once, or am I on the right path, just figuring out what does what, and learning what I need to do in different situations/settings to get the results I want. I'm not sure I can slow down even if I wanted to.



04-13-2009, 08:06 PM
LOL, welcome to the obsession. The right way is whichever one works for you. What I would suggest is read the manual completely. Then, read it again. Once you've done that, read it again. Then, go down to your local library and find a book or two on the basics of photography. It doesn't really matter if they're old film books or new digital ones. The basics haven't change. That will give you an understanding of exposure theory, light, basic composition, et cetera. And, of course, keep shooting and posting images here. There are some very knowedgable people here who can give you a lot of guidance. Good luck!


04-13-2009, 09:03 PM
Tirediron is right, start with the manual first. But I would like to suggest that you read it then go out and use the camera for a few weeks then go back later to the manual again then repeat. It will prevent you from taking in too much info at one time, some might get forgotten. You will probably learn stuff you missed the first couple times through.

04-13-2009, 09:12 PM
tirediron is spot on in regards to boning up on your user manual. The only problem for some that are new to digital or photography in general is that the manuals can sometimes be a little hard to digest. My advice is go to youtube.com and type Rebel XTi in the search bar. You can find out a lot about you camera there in an easy to understand manner if you search specific features of your camera, even more if you know Japanese.:D

04-13-2009, 09:47 PM
Yup to the manual. I still read mine and actually got a book that further explains my manual. The more you learn you will always end up back at that manual!

Welcome to the world of photography! :)

04-13-2009, 10:33 PM
If you ever feel like you have all the toys you need, you must have given up on photography :clown:

Mad Aussie
04-14-2009, 02:26 AM
I wouldn't give up on the Manual mode just yet Zen.
My advice is simple ...
learn how to use the shutter speed to control any action in your scene.
learn how to control the light in your scene via the f-stops and ISO and again the shutter speed
And then use the AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) in your menu.

That way you learn but the camera gives you two other shots (one more over-exposed than what you chose yourself, and one more underexposed than what you chose) and hopefully if you weren't quite right with your choice the AEB got a good one for you and you can learn from that.

Also, before actually shooting in Manual maybe shoot the scene in either TV or AV (or both) and see what settings the camera chose for those. Then switch to Manual ... dial in those settings and then adjust how you think it might expose a better image. In this way the camera gives you a starting point.

Obviously reading about these settings first and understanding what they are and how they work is important before trying these techniques.

04-14-2009, 09:41 AM
Thanks everyone... I have no intentions of giving up on the Manual Mode or on reading the camera's manual. I put it in the camera bag so I could read it. I'm just out there (or inside) taking pictures on different settings. I took video production in school, so I'm familiar with most of the terms. There was a required still photography component to the course.

I have to say that the software with the camera is useful for a novice like me. In the ZoomBrowser app, it pulls the meta-data with the images, so I can take 20 shots of the same subject, all different settings, and the little box on the side tells me what I did. I can compare images and see the settings, and figure stuff out that way too.

I'm a very technical person (I'm a Enterprise Architect - Server Engineer) so I have no problems absorbing instruction manuals... I brought my gear to work again (addicted???) so when I get some shot's that I actually like, I'll post them up, or link my Flickr stuff..



04-14-2009, 11:16 AM
This is the biggest advantage for learning, you have the most complete set of notes taken for you by the camera. All this meta data is so important when you're trying to figure out what you did wrong or right. Practice, practice, practice, review, review, review.

04-14-2009, 11:20 AM
Off topic but you are owned by a parrotlet, too! I have two little bundles of energy that rule my home. http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/Sparkle2/Smilies/i_ooki1.gif

04-14-2009, 04:07 PM
Off topic but you are owned by a parrotlet, too! I have two little bundles of energy that rule my home. http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/Sparkle2/Smilies/i_ooki1.gif

Lol, nice. Jake is fun, about a year old, and an attention seeker if there ever was one. He makes a great subject for photos. He screams in his cage, loves jewelery (takes my ring) and will occasionally preen me and my girlfriend. We have 2 cats too, and if I can catch them play-fighting, they would make fun action shots. Fritz, the older one hates, it when Jake screams for attention, so he talks back to the bird. Aries (youger one) figured out how to sit right beside the cage and plays with Jake.

Back to the topic, has anyone here taken the DSLR class from Henry's? Someone I work with said it was a decent class, and it's supposedly based around the Rebel cameras. Or, in your collective experience, is it better (or more enjoyable) to learn on one's own?



Mad Aussie
04-15-2009, 12:02 AM
I think learning with others has the advantage of being able to see things from others perspectives as well as getting feedback. Learning alone has the advantage of less distractions.

You might find with the resources you already have that a bit of practice and plenty of time spent here at ph.ca will do wonders ;)

04-15-2009, 02:22 AM
I got my camera on Thursday night from my wonderful girlfriend as a birthday present.

I envy you man. ;)

I suggest understanding exposure by Bryan Peterson is an excellent read.

04-18-2009, 06:33 PM
So after the last few days taking pictures, I found something frustrating. The LCD on the camera. I find that in different lighting, reviewing photos can be a pain. Better than film where you don't know till they are developed, but still. I find myself adjusting the shutter speed or apareture till I get a "desired" result on the screen. When I get them on my PC, what looked good on the camera doesn't necessarily look good on the PC. Some that looked washed out on the camera look just fine on the PC.

I have 2 laptops that I can port around with me and tether my camera to them. One is a tablet, so I can have it just like a larger screen for reviewing. I also have a small palm-top laptop (Dell X1) that's tiny and way more portable. Should I bother? I'm just looking for more consistant results.


Mad Aussie
04-18-2009, 06:39 PM
Adjust your LCD for brightness to compensate AND look for information on how to read the histogram properly. Marko has a podcast on that I think.

If in doubt then shoot slightly underexposed because that retains more information in the file, thereby keeping the colour and details whereas over exposure loses that more quickly. In this way you can use PS to save the shot easily.