Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digital SLR and Interchangeable Lens Cameras > Canon EOS dSLR

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Sep 6, 2007, 3:12 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 31

Hi folks. First post and first-time DSLR owner. I'm upgrading from my *cough* Canon SD700is Point and Shoot, which is a great little camera (really).

Anyway, I really love the feel of the EOS 40D, and I got it as a kit with the 28-135 lens since I hear it's a great starter lens.

So, my question to you folks is where is the best place to start for reading about usage? I'm very tech savvy in everything EXCEPT SLRs, so shutter speeds and f points and 1.6 crop factors are all over my head at the moment. I can say that I took better pictures out of the box in "P" mode without touching any settings than I ever have with any camera in the past. I figure the only way is up?

I ordered a couple of books from Amazon:

1 of: The Digital Photography Book [Paperback]
By: Scott Kelby (Author)


The Complete Idiot's Guide to Canon EOS Digital Cameras (Complete Idiot's Guide to) [Paperback]
By: Erik Sherman (Author)

I figure these two are a good start.

Also looking to get a "hood" of some sort. Any advice there?

So, any tips mightily appreciated. I'm willing to learn!

Thanks all.
WilliamG is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Sep 6, 2007, 3:57 PM   #2
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,528


You're off to a good start - getting some books. Here's a dirty little secret - the principles of successful photography haven't changed much in 20 years - the last major change being auto-focus cameras. So my advice is to use books and tutorials that teach you PHOTOGRAPHY not a camera.

Use the books to learn about exposure (aperture, shutter speed, ISO), composition etc. Practice with the camera in the field with the book and review your photos immediately afterward on the PC. This last part is important, IMO. This is the best part of digital - no waiting a week to get film. But the lcd on a camera is not the best tool to view and critique your work by. So, upload the shots from a practice session to your PC and review them. Look at what you like/don't like about the shots. When what you like/don't like is affected by something technical(i.e. exposure very good or bad or motion blur is good bad or depth of field good or bad) take a look at the EXIF info (ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc) so you set in your mind what the settings were that worked and what you might try differently.

When working on depth of field and motion blur take a sequence of shots with aperture or shutter speed varying so when you get to your computer you can see what 1/3 stop aperture difference did to your depth of field or what a 1/3 1/2 full stop of shutter speed did to your motion blur.

Understanding exposure and composition are probably the biggest keys to success. Over time you'll build up experience that tells you "gee, this person is wearing a white shirt - the camera is likely to underexpose the shot by xxx stops). You'll know this by reviewing your work right after and making those mental notes. Eventually you get to the point where you recognize that will occur and you'll make the adjustment BEFORE taking the shot.

If you can conquer exposure and composition I can hand you any DSLR out there and in 15 minutes you'll know how to use it to do general photography.

Having said all that - I will suggest some other topics to look into:

Focus modes and what they do

Different exposure modes offered and what they do (center-weighted, spot, etc)

Reading a histogram (if your books don't cover it there are some great web-based tutorials on histograms. Once you understand the basics, the histogram is one of your greatest tools in the field - if you know how to interpret it for a given situation you can tell with a quick look whether your exposure is good or not - it is a much better tool for judging exposure than just looking at the image on the LCD.

As you get questions the books can't answer - ask them on forums. Everyone takes a different path in the process so I've found that to be the best approach. That way people here and on other forums can point you to articles, web pages or whatever to answer your specific questions.

After you have a handle on the basics, the 2nd step in the process is to learn post processing. 99.9% of photos can be improved in post processing. And, unless you're very gifted photographer I'd say 80% of the photos you take can be improved significantly with post processing.

But I think it's best to do things in the proper order. The better you get your images coming out of the camera (by understanding exposure, DOF, composition) the better the final product will be. I see too many poor images created because people rely way too heavily on post processing to fix what they could have gotten right in-camera.

But dont forget to have fun and enjoy your new toy!
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 6, 2007, 4:13 PM   #3
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 31


Thank you ever so much for your indepth reply. Really useful information. I'm right now waiting for my battery to charge, and for my new Sandisk Compact Flash card to arrive. I was reading reviews, and decided to go with an 8GB Sandisk Extreme III (what a mouthful). Hopefully that will do the trick!

I have my books and flash card tomorrow, so I intend to do some reading to get me started, and then to head out into the field and take some pictures. If I take any good ones, I'll be sure to post them on the forums.

Thanks again for your help.

BTW, any hood recommendation?
WilliamG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 6, 2007, 6:20 PM   #4
Super Moderator
Mark1616's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 7,396

William, welcome and congratulation on your new purchase.

As you've already found out John is a very knowledgeable man and I swear one day he is going to writea book, actually he probably has on most subjects if he went back through his posts he would have most things ready to be bound and sold!!!

Anyway all I'm going to add is that you have found the right place, somewhere friendly and informative to learn how to get the most out of your new camera and lens to start getting great shots.

My advice is to follow what John says, get shooting, critique your work yourself, post here for others to critique and advise where to take it next time and then put it into action....... then repeat.

I've been doing this for quite a long time and each time I go out I try to learn something new to make my work better.

I really hope you enjoy your 40D (I know I would) and that your passion for photography grows as your skills do.

Happy shooting,

Mark1616 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 7, 2007, 12:49 AM   #5
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 31

Thanks for the reply!

I went out this evening and took some pictures of my two year-old Shih Tzu playing in the grass, and then my wife took a few pictures of some flowers. I should upload them tomorrow to a free host (though they will likely be resized), but then - if you don't mind - you can offer me some tips. Bear in mind they were taken with fairly automatic settings, but these pictures are of a quality far beyond anything I've ever taken before (in my eyes).

Anyway, pictures to come!

PS Still looking for a hood recommendation!
WilliamG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 7, 2007, 2:00 AM   #6
Super Moderator
peripatetic's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 3,598

Absolutely - the first things to learn are the basics of exposure, understanding composition is a lot harder because there are no "rules" only aesthetics, though there are lots of ways to take bad photos and many general guidelines.

There are some very good information sites on the internet. You can learn everything you need to about the camera from the manual and experimentation.

Recommended internet resources:

Check out the tutorials and columns at:


There are a couple of podcasts that are very good and available free from iTunes or the websites as downloads.

Check out Jeff Curto's "Camera Position" podcast.

Also "The Candid Frame" podcast and website.

You don't say where you are from in your sig but you should certainly have a look at Lenswork magazine if you can find it on the stands.

That should get you started.

There is also a photo-sharing and critique section to this website, and you are welcome to join the "Steves Forums Collaborators" group on Flickr. It is certainly possible to get lots of feedback on pictures at Flickr they have hundreds or thousands of groups for that sort of thing.
peripatetic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 7, 2007, 3:23 AM   #7
Super Moderator
Mark1616's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 7,396

WilliamG wrote:
PS Still looking for a hood recommendation!
Are you referring to lens hood?
Mark1616 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 7, 2007, 6:13 AM   #8
Senior Member
nickphoto123's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,356

Hi WilliamG,

Welcome to the DSLR world.

The basics of photography are the same for a Point & Shoot or a DSLR.

Here is part of a reply I made to a new R-1 user a while ago:


"There are many free photography lessons on the web. Run various

searches on Google, and don't pay for any of them.

If I may out line my own 'Lesson' on using the R-1:


*****( All of the following assumes you will not be going on a trip/special occasion with your R-1 during the next month. If you are, shoot fully on automatic at all focal lenghtsfor such events, this will be the ''safest' thing to do until you learn your camera and increase your knowledge of photography, IMHO.)*****

1) Buy a B&W UV filter and put it on your camera, period.

2)Shoot your Zoom Lens ONLYat50mm ( 35 mm equiv ) for an entire month. This will teach you photography's most important lesson: Composition. Learn this and you can shoot any camera effectively. 50mm is the typical human vision field of view.

3) Shoot only on Aperture priority and/or Shutter priority for the same month as in #1. This will teach you how to control the particular amount of light hitting your sensor, and controllingthe amount of time the sensor is exposed to light. This is your 'Light Paint Bucket'. You capture images by painting them with light. This will teach you how to handle the paint bucket and the brush. I am stressing controlling the light as it hits your sensor at this point, not the 'Quality' of it.

During this time you will note your exposures, mm, etc. ( much easier than EXIF info on an image by image basis ) via pen & paper. Do not erase images in camera. ReviewALL your images, with your notes in hand,on your CRT/LCD and observe the effects your settings have on your images.

Do this for a month and you will be in good position to move wisely forward in the fantastic endeavor known as photography".


I hope you find this helpful. Do this for a month and you will also gain self-confidence in your photographic ability.



nickphoto123 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 7, 2007, 8:22 AM   #9
Senior Member
hgernhardtjr's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 516

Re your "hood" question, and assuming it is a lens hood you are talking about ...

Assuming you have the Ef 28-135 3.5/5.6 Is USM, the Canon lens hood to use is the EW-78B-IIbut itcosts an exorbitant $28+/-. Personally, I use that lens hood and like it.

However, for well under $10, you can purchase a screw-on rubber lens hood to fit the 72mm filter thread on the lens at most any camera store.

On edit:

Oh, and as to the suggestion to always use a UV filter: in general I don't and that is what I advise my students. A properly coated UV filter at 72mm can be quite expensive, adds more glass to cause flare and often vignetting (unless you get a thin ring type), and a lens hood, if used regularly, provides all the protection you need. The exception? Dusty, sandy, salty environments. In my 50+ years of shooting all around the world, in all climates, geographies, altitudes, and depths I have found my UV filters rarely needed or used and have never damaged a lens front element. Now, a polarizing filter ... emphatically YES and it should be in every serious photographers kit bag.

hgernhardtjr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 7, 2007, 8:45 AM   #10
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 31

Thank you for the replies! You're all very helpful. I'll make sure to get a good lens hood.

So, a few more questions:

1.) What is a B&W UV filter? I can make some obvious assumptions, but more info here would be good...

2.) Shoot only at 50mm? As in zoom length? (I are not camera-smart).

4.) I need to read about apertures/shutter priorities since I know very little about that...

5.) Out of interest, on a point-and-shoot camera, they have things like 4.0 optical zoom. How does a 28-135 lens compare to those point-and-shoot cameras? Is there a correlation between the two at all?

Thanks again for all the help. I'm hoping my books arrive today so I can understand a little more about the more technical stuff!


Uh oh! We have someone saying don't get a UV filter, but get a polarizing filter. Now I'm interested in what the two do.
WilliamG is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 3:40 PM.