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  1. #1

    A DSLR Newbie Taking The First Steps

    Hey all,

    I have recently taken the plunge into purchasing a 'proper' camera. Having always had a bit of a thing for taking photos of basically everything and anything, a while ago someone suggested I look to getting a dedicated camera instead of just using my phone! I did some research and thought about the photos I like to take and the conditions I want to be able to take them in.

    I spend a lot of time outdoors these days, and it often ends up with me getting stuck in the rain - so one of my top priorities was getting a camera that could withstand the rain. Other than that, I wanted one suitable for beginners but versatile and hopefully good to learn some of the tricks of the trade with. Did some research, and found out that really there were only a few such cameras within my price range (which topped out at around £500). After plenty of reading I concluded that the Pentax K-50 was the one to go for. Its a weather resistant DSLR with good reviews praising the image quality and features that punch above the price bracket, and perhaps most importantly how suitable it is for beginners!

    Now, the idea of this thread is simply to have a place for me to post my experiences as I learn the basics. I've been chatting a lot to DZ in the Google Hangouts chat, and he suggested we bring the conversation here, just in case anyone else could benefit from the questions I ask and the answers he provides! The man sure knows his cameras, after all. I will update the thread every so often with thoughts and comments, and hopefully a few pictures to show what I have been up to.

    And please, anyone can feel free to chip in and offer advice, feedback, or simply to correct anything I get horribly wrong! I really am a beginner here, and welcome the help So far I love the playing around I have done with my new toy, and hope to learn a lot more about it and taking pictures as I go on.

    The camera arrived a few days ago, with 2 Pentax weather resistant lenses -
    18-55mm, F3.5-5.6 AL WR
    50-200mm, F4-5.6 ED WR

    To put it simply, so far I have learnt that the 50-200mm lense is a zoom lense (fairly obvious), and that the F values represent the possible range of the aperture (do correct and phrases I am misusing, already I am not sure if aperture is correct here!). So the F values represent how much light is getting in to the sensor, and of course the sensor is what records the picture

    Lower F values mean wider apertures, so the widest I can have with these lenses is 3.5, and the narrowest 5.6. If I wanted to shoot in lower light conditions, a lense with a smaller F value would be beneficial, right? I've played around taking some shots at night, and found that in such situations, either increasing the ISO level (sensitivity? not really sure what exactly ISO is...) or leaving the shutter open for a longer duration increases the light in the final product. Of course, with this you really have to be taking pictures of something static - any movement with the shutter open longer creates blur, which of course sometimes is desired and sometimes is not. Still playing around with ISO levels to see what difference they make.

    I will stop writing now as it is way past my bed time, but just one question before I go... I am a bit stuck as to what the AL and ED letters refer to, any help there?

    All our Gods have abandoned us.

  2. #2
    I am glad this moved here, the poor guys in the hangout with us!

    I think you got a bit of a bargain with the Pentax and you can easily mount old Pentax lenses on there for some cheap manual fun which will have very good image quality and bang for your buck. Its debatable if the quality of the glass you put in front of your camera has got any better over the years and many old lenses are prized still.
    It is a shame however that you went for a camera system very much in the minority. if you would have bought a canon you could have just borrowed stuff, but having a water resistant body and all of the entry level lenses being water resistant is pretty useful and Pentax does have some nice creative mode features which for a beginner can be fun!

    AL will mean it contain aspherical elements which are used to give you better corner sharpness (corner Image resolving quality) and are normally used on lenses that have the ability to go wide (zoom out).
    ED will mean it contains extra-low dispersion elements that will help to reduce colour fringing on telephoto lenses (zoomed in lenses).

    Buy a prime 50mm on the cheap if you can as its will teach you so much and will have the best IQ and bang for your bucks out of anything on the market. Plus its great in low light and an ideal beginners portrait and macro lens (to go with your macro tubes).

    The Aperture is measured in F-stops written as f/ and will be quoted as the maximum light that is lent into the lens (T-stops are the actual measurement for the light transmitted through all of the elements but we will ignore this for now). If a lens has a single Aperture value quoted like f/1.8 then this is the maximum aperture (widest) that this will be and this is constant. Primes lenses which do not zoom will always have a constant aperture however zoom lenses (lenses which you have the ability to zoom in and out with) can have two number after the aperture like f/3.5-5.6. This actually means that the lens at its widest (18mm on and 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6) will be at f/3.5 and at its longest it will be a more narrow f/5.6 which will let less light in. Anything in between will change normally in a third of a stop increments. What you had said above Ben is that your lens is between f/3.5 and f/5.6 is not correct, that’s as wide as it can go depending on the focal length on your zoom (ben you can test this by putting your camera in Aperture Priority mode “A” on the dail and zooming the lens all the way to its widest, 18mm and setting the aperture to as low number as you can at f/3.5. Now zoom in slowly and you will see the aperture number creeping up until you are zoomed all the way to the most narrow end where you it will change to f/5.6). Your lens actually has a minimum aperture of f/22 to f/38 depending on the zoom range where the hole is going to be very small and not let much light in at all.
    Now why do we are about Aperture? Because the Aperture controls the amount depth of field (the amount of an image that is in focus). With a lens at its widest open (low F number) the camera will be able to take a picture of the shallowest depth of field that you can create; so less will be in focus in front and behind the photo plane. This can be used to blur out backgrounds and give emphasis to a subject by isolating it’s from its surroundings. What you need to remember is that the subject needs to be perpendicular to the cameras plane to get it all in focus if this is the case (or you can use a tilt shift lens but that’s complicated and for advanced shizz). At its narrowest opening (highest F number) you will have the most of the scene in focus that is possible that that focal length but not much light will be getting through. We will discuss the relation between the ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed later. I have also over simplified the Depth of field as there is a link between the focal length which we need to discuss later have that effects the Depth of field even at the same F-stop.
    Aperture is measured in stops. Each stop will let in double the amount of light so to maintain the same exposure while changing the Aperture you will need to half or double the shutter speed depending on which direction you want to go. See below:
    Aperture f/1.4 f/2 f/2.8 f/4 f/5.6 f/8 f/11 f/16 f/22
    Shutter speed 1/2000 1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/120 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8
    The f numbers are the powers of the square root of 2 counting up from 1 (actually some lenses can go wider than f/1 but we won’t go there as the maths gets complicated).
    Typically cameras can increment in a third of a stop intervals so you have some more fine control over the amount of light you let into the camera.

    To be continued….


  3. #3
    What I'd like to know is what to do with my photographs after I was on deviant art for 6 years but recently left what's the other alternatives, I don't really understand the point of Flickr

  4. #4
    Between Smilodon and DZ (and others) I'm sure you'll get a handle on it.

    All I can say about Smilo is that he's now the professional photographer of choice for all my clients which specifier photoshoots - and remains the same even when we've stopped working with them. I think one of my Danish clients is slightly in love with him tbh by the way she exudes about his work

    DZ is one of the most devoted amateurs I've seen (in so much as it's not his job) - he would be perfectly credible as a photographer except he does have an inclination towards wearing American Football Cardinals shirts!
    (Formerly: ThePENDRAGON)

  5. #5
    Kind of you to say that Pen. Smilo is the best person to talk to anyone definitely about photography as he is a pro.

    I am not a pro... Not sure if I would want to be as I may lose some enjoyment. Friends and family have started to ask me to take pictures at their weddings and important events and I really don't like the pressure of a formal gig paid or free.

    Quote from my photographer from his blog about my wedding:
    This wedding was also somewhat unique in the fact that I met my match when it comes to being a ‘camera geek’. Tom certainly knows his cameras and from time to time he’d guess which lens I was using; and he knew why I was using it. I felt like the magician at the kids party when the lad in the front row keeps telling everyone how the trick was done. Knowing Tom was into his photography in a big way meant I felt that little extra pressure to impress my couple.

    I do like teaching photography to people however, particularly the science behind it all (including the physics and maths which are pretty cool). Just how a digital camera sensor works is pretty mind blowing when you take the time to look into the technology. Couple that with lenses and manipulation of digital images and your onto a winner in terms of an area where you will still be learning after 50 years. There is always something new to try.

    Its a great hobby. But expensive when its not your main gig and you want good gear!


  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Vamdrup, Denmark
    Welcome to the world of photography, now give your creditcard to your wife/girlfriend for safekeeping

  7. #7
    so we have a in house canon club then?.lol

    welcome to the club. chaos.
    Remember when I promised to kill you last?…I lied!(arnie-commando)

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Vamdrup, Denmark
    No Canon here, i shoot Nikon

  9. #9
    Game Leader - Racing
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

  10. #10
    Council TeaLeaf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    UK in body. Atlanta in spirit.
    Blog Entries
    Another Canon user here!
    Wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself. (Tom Wilson)
    Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships. (Michael Jordan)

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