A ShortCourse Book
Using Your Digital Camera 5th edition

Using Your Digital Camera 5th edition

Using Your Digital Camera 5th edition

To get the best from your digital camera, you need to understand how to use its many features. Here, supported by interactive multimedia animations, is everything you need to know about the core principles of photography so you understand when and why you use all of the settings discussed in the manual that came with your camera. This easy-to-read and extensively illustrated guide is available as a traditional 131 page large-format (8.5 by 11 inches) spiral bound book printed in black and white, and as a full-color, fully searchable PDF eBook you can order on a CD or download instantly. (Note that you don’t need this guide if we have a book specific to your camera model.)



Using Your Digital Camera, now in its fifth edition, is a popular and widely used introduction to digital photography. This book has been kept deceptively short by focusing on the core principle— those principles of photography that underlie how all cameras operate. This coverage is then expanded by separate on-line extensions—animations, movies, Web sites, Excel worksheets and PDFs–designed to bring these core principles to life so it’s easier for you to master your camera and its controls. All of these extensions (they are listed below) are stored on the PhotoCourse.com Web site so you need an Internet connection to view them as follows:
  • If you purchase the eBook edition, which is a PDF file available as either a download or on a CD, you click buttons throughout the book to display the extensions. When you click one of these buttons, what happens depends on the type of extension the button links to. Animations and movies play, PDFs open in Acrobat Reader, Web sites appear in the browser, or Excel worksheets open in Excel.
  • Using your digital camera 5th edition

  • If you purchase the print edition, click the URL below or enter it into your browser’s address line whenever you have access to a computer. The PDF describes all of the extensions and provides links you can click or enter into your browser to view them.


A great photograph begins when you recognize a great scene or subject. But recognizing a great opportunity isn’t enough to capture it; you also have to be prepared. A large part of being prepared involves understanding your camera well enough to capture what you see the way you want to interpret it. Getting you prepared to see and capture great photographs is what this book is all about. It doesn’t matter if you are taking pictures for business or pleasure, there’s much here to help you get better results and more satisfaction from your photography.

To get better, and possibly even great photographs, you need to understand both concepts and procedures; the “whys” and “hows” of photography.

  • Concepts of photography are the underlying principles that apply regardless of the camera you are using. They include such things as how sharpness and exposure affect your images and the way they are perceived by viewers. Understanding concepts answers the “why” kinds of questions you might have about photography.
  • Procedures are those things specific to one kind of camera, and explain step-by-step how you set your camera’s controls to capture an image just the way you want to. Understanding procedures gives you the answers to the “how” kinds of questions you might have.
This book is organized around the concepts of digital photography because that’s how photographers think. We think about scenes and subjects, highlights and shadows, softness and sharpness, color and tone. Discussions of the procedures you use with some or all cameras are integrated throughout the concepts in places where they apply. This integrated approach lets you first understand the concepts of photography and then see where to look in your camera manual for the specific steps you use in all kinds of photographic situations.

To get more effective, interesting, and creative photographs, you only need to understand how and when to use a few simple features on your camera such as focus, exposure controls, and flash. If you’ve previously avoided understanding these features and the profound impact they can have on your images, you’ll be pleased to know that you can learn them very quickly. You can then spend the rest of your life marveling at how the infinite variety of combinations they provide make it possible to convey your own personal view of the world. You’ll be ready to keep everything in a scene sharp for maximum detail or to blur it all for an impressionistic portrayal. You’ll be able to get dramatic close-ups, freeze or blur fast action as it unfolds, create wonderful landscapes and cityscapes full of light, and capture the beauty and wonder of children, rainbows, sunsets, fireworks, flowers and animals.

As you explore your camera, be sure to have fun. There are no “rules” or “best” way to make a picture. Great photographs come from using what you know to experiment and try new approaches. Digital cameras make this especially easy because there are no film costs or delays. Every experiment is free and you see the results immediately so you can learn step by step how to get better results.


Chapter 1
Digital Cameras & Images ...7

In the Beginning ...8
What is a Digital Photograph? ...9
Digital Photography—The Past and the Future ...10
Why Go Digital? ...12
Types of Digital Cameras ...13
Jump Start—Taking Photos with Full Auto Mode ...17
Camera Controls ...19
Composing Images ...20
Capturing Images ...23
Continuous Photography ...24
Live View ...25
Capturing Movies ...26
Playback Mode ...27
Special Features ...28
When Things Go Wrong ...29
Image Sensors ...30

Chapter 2
Controlling Exposure ...31

Exposure Controls—The Shutter and Aperture ...32
The Importance of Exposure ...33
How Exposure Affects Your Images ...34
Exposure Controls—Why So Many Choices? ...35
The Shutter Controls Light and Motion ...36
The Aperture Controls Light and Depth of Field ...39
Using Shutter Speed and Aperture Together ...41
Exposure Modes ...43
Using Scene Specific Exposure Modes ...44
How Your Exposure System Works ...45
When Automatic Exposure Works Well ...49
When to Override Automatic Exposure ...50
How Overriding Autoexposure Works ...54
How to Override Automatic Exposure ...55

Chapter 3
Controlling Sharpness ...58

Eliminating Blur From Camera Movement ...59
Image Stabilization ...61
Increasing Sensitivity (ISO) ...62
Sharpness Isn’t Everything ...63
How to Photograph Motion Sharply ...64
Focusing—The Plane of Critical Focus ...66
Focusing—Focus Areas ...67
Focus–Techniques ...68
Depth of Field ...71
Circles of Confusion ...72
Controlling Depth of Field ...73
Using Maximum Depth of Field ...74
Using Shallow Depth of Field ...76
Conveying the Feeling of Motion ...77

Chapter 4
Capturing Light & Color ...78

Where Does Color Come From? ...79
White Balance ...80
Color Balance and Time of Day ...84
Sunsets and Sunrises ...85
Weather ...87
Photographing at Night ...89
The Direction of Light ...91
The Quality of Light ...93

Chapter 5
Understanding Lenses ...94

Introduction to Lenses ...95
Understanding Focal Lengths ...96
Zoom Lenses ...99
Normal Focal Lengths ...100
Short Focal Lengths ...101
Long Focal Lengths ...103
Portraits and Focal Length ...105
Macro Mode and Macro Lenses ...106
Perspective in a Photograph ...108
Lens Accessories ...109

Chapter 6
Flash And Studio Photography ...110

Autoflash ...111
Flash Power and Range ...112
Flash Sync and Shutter Speeds ...113
Redeye Reduction ...115
Using Fill Flash ...116
Flash Off ...117
Using Slow Sync Flash ...118
Controlling Flash Exposures ...119
Using an External Flash ...121
External Flash Accessories ...123
Studio Lighting ...124
Portrait and Product Photography—Introduction ...127
The Main Light ...128
The Fill Light ...129
The Background Light ...130
The Rim Light ...13


Front Matter

Copyright Booklet ii
Using this eText™ and Animations iii
Glossary iv
Googling iv

Chapter 1
Digital Cameras & Images

Digital Workflow ... 7
Cameras are Dark Boxes ...8
Dots on an Ink-Jet Print ...9
Manual for the Kodak DC 40 ...11
GPS Tagged Photos ...12
Canon Lenses ...14
Buying a Digital Camera ...14
Caring for your Camera ...18
Camera Icons ...19
Parallax in an Optical Viewfinder ...21
The Light Path Through an SLR ...22
Continuous Mode ...24
The Light Path Through an SLR ...25
Movies with a Digital Camera ...26
Sensors, Pixels, and Image Sizes ...30
Camera Straps and Bags ...30

Chapter 2
Controlling Exposure

Understanding Exposure ...33
Shutter Speed Effect on Exposure ...36
Shutter Speed Effect on Motion ...36
Type of Shutters ...38
Aperture Settings and Exposure ...39
Aperture and Depth of Field ...40
Aperture-Shutter Speed Equivalent ...42
Changing Exposure Modes ...43
How Your Meter Sees ...45
Sensors, Pixels, and Image Sizes ...46
Exposure Compensation ...55
Exposure Lock ...56
Autoexposure Bracketing ...57

Chapter 3
Controlling Sharpness

Tripods ...59
Image Stabilization ...61
ISO and Noise ...62
An Example of Noise ...62
Distance and Sharpness ...65
Shutter Speed Effect on Motion ...65
The Plane of Critical Focus ...66
Focus Areas ...67
Servo AF Focus ...68
Focus Lock ...69
Aperture and Depth of Field ...73
Selective Focus ...76

Chapter 4
Capturing Light & Color

The Color of Light ...79
Adjusting White Balance ...80
Comparing sRGB and Adobe RGB Color Spaces ...81
Hard and Soft Light ...93

Chapter 5
Using Lenses

Canon Lenses ...95
Focal Length and Angle of View ...96
Bending Lights–Part 1 ...96
Bending Lights–Part 2 ...96
Bending Lights–Part 3 ...96
Focal Length Factors ...97
Image Stabilization ...98
Optical and Digital Zoom ...99
360-Degree VR Panorama ...101
Wide-Angle Lens Distortion ...105
Macro Magnifications ...106
Parallax in an Optical Viewfinder ...107
Perspective in a Photograph ... 108

Chapter 6
On–Camera Flash Photography

The Inverse Square Law ...112
Calculating Guide Numbers ...112
Flash Sync ...113
Red-Eye ...115
Fill Flash ...116
First and Second Curtain Sync ...118
Flash Compensation ...119
High Speed Sync ...120
High Speed Stroboscopic Photography ...120
External Flash Tilt and Swivel ...122
Hard And Soft Light ...127
The Main Light ...128
The Fill Light ...129
The Background Light ...130
The Rim Light ...131

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