7 Vital Tips for New Photographers

By Ed Mercer

Chief Photographer/Editor


Hi, Ed Mercer here. 

I’ve been a professional photographer for over 30 years, and I often get asked for advice for new photographers. I’ve come up with a list of 7 things I think are important for beginner photographers to know. 

So let’s get started!  

Camera Selection

You’d think that selecting a camera should be one of the easiest choices for a new photographer to make, but there’s more options than ever. 

Aside from traditional DSLR’s, which is what I will be talking the most about in this article, there’s also smartphones, tablets, point and shoot cameras, mirrorless cameras, Go-Pros, and drones cameras to consider. 

You need to think about what kind of photos you want to take before you make your decision. Are you primarily interested in taking snapshots of friends & family? Then a smartphone, tablet or point-and-shoot camera may be a perfect choice. 

There’s no point in buying more camera than you really need.

Smartphones today have more megapixels of definition than early DSLR cameras did, so they may be the perfect choice for you, especially with all of the great apps and accessories coming out nearly every day. 

If you’re interested in shooting portraits, landscapes and everything in between, then a DSLR gives you lots of options because of the advanced features of the camera, and the flexibility interchangeable lenses give you.  

DSLR cameras are evolving. 

One exciting development is lightweight mirrorless cameras that are becoming more sophisticated and popular every day. 

If you’re into fast-action sport, a Go-Pro, or a drone camera may be a great choice.

Whatever type of shots you like to take, your local camera store is a great place to get the help you need to make the right decision. You’ll get to speak to someone with the experience to help you make the choice of camera that best fits your needs. 

Choosing the Right ISO Setting

ISO  is a setting that determines your camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. ISO is usually a setting between 50 all the way up to 12,800 and higher. 

The higher the ISO setting the more sensitive the image is to light. 

Each step up on the ISO scale (say from 100 to 200) doubles the amount of light hitting your sensor.

Brightly lit daylight scenes call for an ISO setting of 50-200. Partial to full-shade commonly requires an ISO setting of 400. Higher ISO settings of 800-12800 are commonly used in low-light situations.

Although turning up your ISO will allow you to take pictures in dim light without a flash, there is a drawback. 

The higher the ISO setting the larger the grain structure of the image will be, so a higher ISO would have larger grain and lower ISO setting will have minimal grain.

The best explanation I ever heard to explain this was to imagine one of the lite-brite toys with the little pegs of light that create an image. If the pegs were large that would emulate a high ISO setting and if the pegs were small, it would emulate a low ISO setting.

With modern post-processing software, many problems with graininess can be overcome, so don’t be afraid to do a little experimenting with your ISO settings. 

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