Beginner Total beginner!

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#1
Hi all,

I've always enjoyed messing around and taking photos, started with a cheap compact when young and eventually bought a bridge almost 10 years ago. That's not been very happy recently and I've been wanting to buy a new one for a while!
So I researched lots and today bought a cannon EOS 200D, it's considered a fairly good 1st SLR. Came with a the standard 18-55mm lens.
Took it out this afternoon and got a few ok shots, problem was the sun was too bright!
What's the best way to start to properly get to grips with it, am I best just taking out lots and just using it in different ways. I've always focussed on macro type shots with all my cameras, never been a great landscape person!
 
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Name
Tim
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#2
Try starting with “understanding exposure” by Bryan Peterson.
 
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Mike
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#3
Camera-Phones, bridge and compact cameras tend to have very small 'micro-sensors' to 'see' the picture the lens gets.
These micro-sensors tend to be pretty small, as in maybe 4x5mm square.
The 'normal' angle of view, lens-length on any format or sensor size is 'usually' around the diagonal of the sensor. So, on a 35mm film camera it was generally accepted to be a 50mm lens; on a 120 roll film 'Mediem Format' camera, it was 'around' 90mm or so, depending on the frame size put on the film.
The 'normal' angle lens-length on an APS-C sized digital sensor, is about 35mm, for a sensor 16x24mm; go smaller than that, and the 'Normal' lens-length starts to drop a lot, and when you are down to 4x5mm micro-sensors, the 'normal' angle of view lens-length is only about 6.5mm or so... that's RATHER very short.

Now! This is the important bit; a lens is a lens is a lens; it doesn't much care what's behind it, so a 50mm focal length lens, is a 50mm focal length lens, and put that 'normal-angle' lens for a 35mm film camera, onto an APS-C sensor sized digital camera, and it becomes a mild telphoto... and enter the 'crop-factor' of approx 1.5, and that 50mm lens has the 'equivalent' angle-of-view to a 75mm lens on a 35mm film camera... BUT its still a 50mm lens, and its closest focus distance is the same, it's range of 'critical focus' before it's 'hyperfocal' setting where it's focused essentially on 'infinity' is still the same.
SO! on a small format or micro-sensor camera, you need to use a very short focal length lens to get an equivalent angle-of-view.. and NOW, that focal length, as mentioned, is likely to be incredibly short. A-N-D, the closest focus distance and the distance it achieves hyper-focus on infinity, are 1/ very very close together. 2/ they are very very close to the camera.

I have a couple of fish-eye lenses that have pretty short focal lengths. One for the 35mm film camera has a focal length of 12mm. The close focus distance is so close to the camera, and the range of critical focus beyond that, so small, that it was factory set to 'hyper-focal' and sold as 'Focus Free'... which is what many camera-phones are... they avoid the necessity for a complicated and expensive focus mechanism, simply by exploiting this very close near focus and short and close zone of critical focus, begged by the short 'normal' angle of view from a very short focal length lens, begged by a very small 'sensor'.

I have a little action-cam, I got to bolt on the handle-bars of the motorbike, and this is exactly how they work, and it has just a 4.5mm focal length lens, which is just a bit wider than 'normal angle' for its diddy little sensor.... and is co-incidentally the same focal length as the other fish-eye for the APS-C sensor digital SLR... which has such a close near focus distance, and such a short range of critical focus, I don't really know why they bothered putting a complicated 'auto-focus' motor and mechanism in it! Its more hassle than its worth most of the time! but still.

POINT IS!
Up until now you have 'enjoyed' the luxury of cameras with effectively focus free set up, and incredibly close near-focus distances... just what you want for 'Macro' type photography. Now.... with a larger sensor camera, and a much longer 'normal'angle lens.... that's lost.

The lens you have, will have a close focus distance much further from your subject, and a range or critical focus beyond that, before its at hyper-focal... so FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS! It will be oh-so-much harder to nail focus on pretty much anything with this camera, and more, especially on nearer subjects, and even more so if you try to get close enough to do 'macro' type stuff.

Oh-Kay....... gets rather tedious with newbies believing the mantra that "The pro's shoot Manwell" (K?... poor fella.. must be running from pro's every-where he tries!)... and even MORE the notion, that Manwell, MUST be the nice neat 'setting' on the exposure mode dial marked 'M' for Manuel ... sorry, no, wrong set of 80's films... MANUAL... that'll be it!

Thing is, that the 'M' for manual is only one manual setting, and concerned with the exposure, or how bright or dark your picture turns out. The OTHER 'manual' mode on your camera is manual focus, on the lens... which you can toggle on or off, either on a switch on the lens itself or 'some-where' in the menus if you RTFM that came with the camera.

A-N-D, its THAT manual mode, Manual FOCUS that is the more pertinent here, and especially to near, close and macro type situations.

Along side that, there is probably a bunch of focus schemes, where you can, again in them menu's select the red-dots in the view-finder that the auto-focus mechanism uses to figure out what your focus range should be, so it can set it on the lens..... IF you must use AF playing with these different modes may be useful.... Personally I find it more of a faff to find the focus mode, let alone pick an appropriate one in them menu's... I generally don't bother! I just switch the AF off on the lens, and focus manually, like I did with film cameras for quarter of a century or more!

BUT... this is CORE..... Learn to FOCUS

Not just for macro-type shots, where with the larger sensor camera it will be more difficult and more significant; but most situations, where hand-holding, camera will likely be shaky and make focus that much harder or more critical, especially at closer subject distances.

There is an AWFUL lot you can do to salvage a photo once taken. Especially as far as 'correcting' a duff 'exposure' brightening it up or dimming it down... it's one of the few things that digital has made 'easy'. BUT you CANNOT correct a duff focus in post-process. You either get it at 'Point of Capture' or you don't; simple as that, so there is NOTHING more key to learning how to take better photo's than focusing....

and yet, oh-so-many, get so precious about 'going manual on the nice neat dial marked 'M' and over-riding the electronics that govern the brightness of the picture, and leave it to what is still rather flaky and not so reliable automation on the ONE automatic system, the Auto-Focus, where they MIGHT actually make a real difference, might actually effect real control, and likely would find it easier to take a photo, rather than have the red-sots jumping about trying to get a target lock, or picking a mode to get a red dot where you want it!

Go manual... go manual FOCUS.....

Learn that, before you worry about the exposure modes. That is where I advise you start your experimentation and play.

And on macro-type stuff? A tripod would probable be helpful, to hold the camera steady, and keep the focus distance a bit more constant. And plenty to learn, getting one of them, attaching it, and setting it up... and TIP! If you haven't hot a remote release so you can fire the shutter without touching the camera..... using its self-timer, so it can after however many seconds delay.

OTHER than that?

Start by RTFM.... that is either on-line or should be in the box you got the camera out of.... it likely wont make much sens, until you try it, so read, play, experiment, read some more, play and experiment some more....and remember.... its SUPPOSED to be 'FUN'... when it isn't.... you are trying to hard or doing something wrong... so stop! Try again later.
 
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#4
Took it out this afternoon and got a few ok shots, problem was the sun was too bright!
Too bright? For what? Your camera should expose properly for any brightness you get in Britain. Personally, I would start with the mode dial on P which will just about guarantee proper exposures regardless of brightness. When that won't give you the exposure you need, move to either A or S - if you do not know whether to use A or S, you need to keep the dial on P.

Yeah, keep on taking photos - it is very nearly free on a digital camera.
 
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Name
Dave
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#5
Hello Snowy and welcome to TP. I don't know your camera but initially I would set it AUTO and let it take care of everything.

You won't be getting the best out of your camera on Auto but its not a bad place to start. A lot of the time on Auto the camera will give you perfectly good shots, but there will be times when it gets fooled by the conditions (for example, a dark subject in an otherwise very light scene) and/or the exposure is correct but image doesn't look the way you want it (eg a portrait where the subject doesn't grab the eye because the background is too 'busy' and perfectly in focus too).

If you can view you shots critically and be able to say why they are not the way you want you will be on the way to working towards better photos.

An understanding of aperture, shutter speed and ISO, what they are and how they affect the final image is essential. There is a lot of information online about the exposure triangle.

As said above take loads of photos. If, when things don't turn out how you want, post the photo up here and someone will be able to help.

Dave
 
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Name
droj
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#6
Sound advice from Dave immediately above!

The camera (on auto) should cope overall with bright light - but it might struggle a bit with high contrast, as when the summer sun's high and bright and there's a huge range of brightness between shadows and highlights. Clouds and water can be very bright indeed, and you might need to meddle with the exposure (see 'exposure compensation') to help the camera with its judgements.

Learning to 'see' light 'like a camera does' is part of the deal - to find what works & what doesn't, and what can work with a bit of tweaking.
 
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