I’ve just got my 1st camera, now what?

OK, so you have just got a new camera, and you are wondering what all the weird dials and settings do. Well, it’s easier than you think, let’s get started.

User Manual

When you’re starting out your camera manual is going to be your best friend. If you don’t have one you can download a free PDF copy through the website. Go to 50mmFramework.com, and in the top menu click “User Manuals”. Or you could click here.

What is Auto mode?

Auto mode is a mode that lets the camera decide which settings to use.  Now that is great if you don’t care how your photos turn out. I’m guessing you do care or you wouldn’t be listening to me ramble on.

So to be able to control your camera and how your photos look, you need to shoot in Manual mode or Aperture priority mode. I cover both these modes in episode #20.

What is Manual mode?

Manual mode allows you to control every aspect of your camera. All those beautiful images with an out-of-focus blurry background were taken by a photographer that shoots in Manual mode. The photographer wanted that effect and used settings that caused the background to look like that.

Aperture Priority mode

This mode allows you to set the aperture and ISO, then the camera controls the shutter speed. Shooting in aperture priority mode is your easiest next step. You can still control how your images will look but have less to worry about.


What setting do you need to change to take a photo?

There are three settings that you need to change to get the correct amount of light onto the camera sensor. If there is not enough light your image will be dark and too much light washed out. I’ll explain how to know when you have enough light in a minute. First, let’s go through the settings you need to control.


Aperture controls how much light passes through the lens by using aperture blades in the lens. The blades open and close depending on the setting you use. The lowest f/ number allows the most light in. So if you have an 18-55mm zoom your lowest Aperture is f/3.5 when the lens is at 18mm, and f/5.6 when zoomed in at 55mm

Shutter Speed

The Shutter Speed setting controls how much light passes by the shutter and onto the image sensor. A slow Shutter Speed allows more light through than a fast one. 1/100 of a second will let more light onto the sensor than 1/4000. 

A benefit of using a fast shutter speed is it allows you to freeze fast-moving subjects such as someone running. Slow shutter speeds won’t freeze the action and will cause the image to be blurred.


Controls how sensitive the image sensor is to light. Low ISO numbers like 100 make the sensor have a low sensitivity to light, and give your image finer detail. High ISO numbers like 2000 make the sensor very sensitive to light. This is useful when there isn’t much light available. The downside is your image will be very grainy.


The Exposure Triangle

The exposure triangle shows you how Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO work together to give you a perfect exposure. 

So how do you know when you have the correct amount of light?

The exposure meter or light meter is how you know. When you look through your viewfinder you will see the light meter. The aim is to get the maker to line up with the center of the meter. When it’s in the middle you’re good to go.

You can learn more about the Exposure Triangle by listening to episode 7 of the podcast – What is the Exposure Triangle? 

Or by getting access to the member’s download section. 

To do that click “Login” in the top menu and then fill in the registration form. This will give you immediate access to videos, and PDF files mentioned in the podcast. One of those PDF files is “The Exposure Triangle”. 

I explain how to balance the light meter in the podcast and the PDF file.

If you download the PDF and then listen to episode 7 you might find it a bit easier. There is also a video that shows you how to change Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO in the download section.

OK, so I hope you found my rambling useful. If you need more help join the Facebook group and ask as many questions as you like.