During the camera controls lessons, I learned the basics to operating a DSLR camera in manual mode. The most important functions of a camera’s manual mode is controlling the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. These three features work together to create reciprocity.
The aperture, or F-stop, is used to control the depth of field. This is measured in stops. To achieve a shallow depth of field, a photojournalist should set the aperture to be open at a two or four. To achieve a wide depth of field, a photojournalist should set the aperture to be closed at 16, 22, or 32. Depth of field can be controlled in three ways, the aperture, the focal length, and with the lens the photojournalist chooses to use.
The shutter speed determines how fast or slow the shutter captures the image. The shutter speed is important because it controls motion and light. Shutter speeds are also measured in stops. A slower shutter speed, such as 1/30 will allow the camera to let more light in, and will capture a blurred or panned motion. A faster shutter speed, such as ¼ will allow the camera to let less light in and stops action. When capturing a slow action shot, it is unwise to try to hand hold a camera when using a shutter speed 1/30 and slower. A blurred action shot will capture an image where the subject appears to be moving, but the background is still. A panned action shot will capture an image where the subject is still, but the background is blurred or streaked. A stopped action shot will capture an image of an action that is completely frozen.
The ISO is measures how sensitive the camera is to the light level. ISO stands for International Standard Association. The ISO is important because if you have a lower ISO, you will have a lower amount of grain in your image. Light exposure is very important in photojournalism. If you set your camera to a low ISO setting, you will not have a lot light. If you set your camera to a high ISO setting, you will have a lot of light. If a picture is over exposed the camera meter will tell you. The histogram, is the camera’s built in exposure tool. The histogram will alert the photojournalist if the exposure needs to be adjusted. This is important because it allows the journalist to attempt to fix exposure issues before taking the picture, opposed to after. A camera meters the world at 18% grey. To meter a camera properly, the photojournalist should find something as close to 18% grey as possible. White reflects light, and can lead to overexposure. Black absorbs light, and can lead to underexposure.
The lens a photojournalist chooses to use is also very important, as it can determine the type of image that will be captured. There are six different types of lens: fixed, telephoto, zoom, fixed zoom, variable, and prime. Variable lens, while not recommended for professional use, are the lens that come with most beginner camera bundles.