Introduction To Photography & Camera Basics For Beginners

Photography is not a brand new industry but not so long ago, cameras were only available to a very limited number of people, such as movie makers and Television multimedia producers, because cameras were too expensive for an average person to afford and very big to carry for personal use. So thanks to the huge upheaval made by digital electronics and cameras manufacturers that made it possible for the average person to own a professional camera at a decent price and portable size with the ability to take very high detailed images, switch between different lenses, and have more advanced control over the camera even without the complicated process of old film cameras which is a lot more interesting and open an endless number of possibilities to capture great images. Therefore, Photography became one of the most interesting hobbies and fascinating fields nowadays whether you’re an amateur or looking for a career with a good salary, it also teaches you how to look at your surroundings through a new different, and creative way.

Photography-For-Beginners-Camera-BasicsWhat Is Photography?

Photography is the art of creating images from the environment around us by capturing light using cameras. It is all about light, the quality of light, the color of light, the direction of light, and a lot more to learn about light, and with cameras, you will be able to capture light, process it, and preserve it for later use.

When Was Photography Invented?

  • 1826 – The first photograph was formed by a camera created by Niépce.
  • 1888 – The first film-based camera (Kodac) was invented by George Eastman.
  • 1991 – The first digital camera was created by Steve Sasson.


How Does A DSLR Camera Work?

The basic concept of all cameras, even ancient film cameras, is to capture light at a certain instant and save it on a light-sensitive material. The main difference between traditional film cameras and digital cameras is the internal light sensor, which evolved from chemical to digital, and this development had a significant influence on many aspects, including performance and convenience of use, just as it does in many other industries in which digital technology is involved.

1- Ready Mode

Light Path In DSLR Cameras

Light Path In DSLR Cameras Source

As you may know, light enters the camera through the lens, passing various glass parts before hitting a mirror, which reflects light up into a prism before exiting through the viewfinder, thus you will be able to see straight into the lens from the viewfinder due to this reflex.

These glass elements are used to focus the light and beam on the camera sensor in the desired manner:

  • Zoom ring: moving the zoom element will cause specific elements to move forward and backward, which going to change the magnification of what the lens sees.
  • Focus frame: Moving the focus frame determines what part of the scene is in focus, whether it’s close or far away from the lens.
  • ِAperture: it consists of multiple blades in the middle of the lens and it can be changed to be wide open or very narrow in order to regulate how much light passes through the lens.


2. Shooting Mode

LightPath In DSLR Cameras

When you click the shutter button, you are instructing the camera electronics to take the photo, to achieve that the light needs to reach the sensor, so a few processes happen:

  • First, the mirror will pop up to allow the light to go directly to the shutter and the sensor behind it.
  • The shutter will open for a specified amount of time (known as shutter speed), enabling light to reach the light-sensitive sensor behind it.
  • The camera will now begin the exposure and collect all of this light information to build a picture file consisting of millions of pixels, each with its own distinct colour and save it for later uses in any digital device that can read image files.


  • If you look through the viewfinder you will notice that as you take the picture it goes black and comes back.
  • Shutter speeds in most DSLR cameras typically range from 30 seconds to 1/4000 seconds, with some high-end cameras, such as the Nikon D850, reaching 1/8000 sec.
  • A 10MP sensor indicates that the camera can capture and store 10 million pixels in a single image.
  • The digital sensor alone is a complicated piece of technology that needs advanced explanations and time in order to completely understand the very low-level details of how exactly it can convert the light into a digital image or a video, also you will need a basic background in electronics and computer theory. It’s very interesting to learn these low-level details that can open your mind to many other topics, however,  there’s no need for a photographer to understand these low-level details.

What Are The Different Types Of Cameras?

Point and Shoot Cameras

Point And Shoot is the most basic and compact form of a standalone camera. It has a fixed-lens so you can’t switch between different lenses and don’t offer many manual control options like DSLRs so it’s very simple to operate and automatically adjusts focus and exposure settings so you can directly point and shoot. Also, it is characterized by its budget-friendly prices and one of the best-selling types of cameras, very compact and lightweight that can fit right into your pocket.

Bridge Cameras

bridge camera

Bridge cameras offer a bridge link between point-and-shoot and DSLRs cameras and are moving more towards the fully-featured DSLRs. While they come with fixed lenses, they offer more creative manual exposure controls over point-and-shoot cameras and normally come with much higher quality lenses, also, they are more portable than DSLRs.

Although it is not as popular as DSLRs, it is very practical for many people who are looking for a high-quality camera and at the same time, is easy to use, compact, and has affordable prices which is ideal for personal photography like vacations, birthdays parties to produce reminiscent photographs.

DSLR Cameras

dslr camera

DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera has a mirror-based reflex design that makes it has bulkier and heavier compared to mirrorless cameras, however, DSLR cameras are still the model of choice for most professional and serious amateur photographers because they produce high performances and high-quality images at affordable prices. Typically, DSLRs sport larger sensors than bridge cameras; a feature that allows them to be more light-sensitive and so help reduce problems associated with image noise at high sensitivity settings, such as those needed for low light photography.

Mirrorless Cameras

mirrorless camera

Mirrorless cameras are a relatively new category that initially appeared on the scene in 2008 and quickly acquired widespread favor among professional photographers. It is intended to replace the reflex mechanism in DSLR cameras that reflects light to the viewfinder with an electronic one, which allows light to hit directly the shutter and sensor without the need for a mirror, allowing the camera to have a smaller body design and offer more advanced technology; however, they are also more expensive. DSLR cameras, on the other hand, are recognized for their bulky body designs and more affordable pricing.

See the Best Cameras For Beginners

Understanding The Exposure Triangle (The Key To The Better Shots)

The exposure triangle consists of three main elements (shutter speed, aperture, and ISO). The value choice of these three elements has a significant impact on the look and feel of your pictures. Different settings are needed in different situations based on the desired results. There Are other elements as well but most of them are editable through photo editing software. Luckily, most cameras have smart electronics and light meters in them, which with the auto mode the camera automatically changes these values, and hopefully, you’ll get correctly exposed pictures all the time. But to get really creative, you need to take control.

Shutter Speed

The shutter speed is the amount of time that the shutter will stay open for the sensor to collect light, slow shutter speed means a longer time the shutter will stay open, therefore, more amount of light enters the camera. For example, using high shutter speed at night without artificial lighting like flashes will result in under-exposed photographs while using low shutter speed at daylight could produce over-exposed photographs so a photographer needs to choose shutter speed depending on the surrounding environment and how it balanced relative to ISO and Aperture to produce the desired result. Most cameras have a shutter speed range from 1/4000 to 30 sec which is enough for most photographers to handle any scenario whether getting sharp images from fast-moving objects or longer shutter speeds for certain types of low-light / night photography or fancy-looking images

Effect of shutter speed


In the path that light travels through the lens there is a mechanism that can be controlled to make the hole wide open or narrow It is denoted by a value from F1.2 to F32 and changing this value will manipulate the aperture of the lens. The value F1.2 means the aperture is wide open and F32 means it is very narrow so the smaller the aperture number, the wider the opening will be.

Shooting with a wide-open aperture (low-value) allow more light to enter the camera and also the light will be able to enter the lens from different angles, and this creates a shallow depth of field means that the subject will be in focus but the background will have a blur effect (out of focus) and this technique is commonly used in certain portrait photography. On the other hand, shooting with a narrow aperture (high-value) means less light enter the camera and create a deep depth of field which means the background will be more in focus at the exact same time with the subject and that is mainly used in landscape photography.

The larger f-stop means smaller aperture

The larger f-stop means a smaller aperture


The camera sensors are made of millions of tiny light-sensitive cells and the ISO value determine is how much these cells should be sensitive to light, the higher ISO value will make them more sensitive to light therefore brighter images. So setting the right ISO value is important for every photographer to make the right exposed images.

ISO is commonly used in low light conditions where the camera sensor can’t catch enough light and decreasing the shutter speed will cause shaky pictures but the higher the sensitivity, the greater chance of noise appearing in the image until it is completely distorted, therefore, increasing the ISO value should be the last option if the shutter speed and aperture can’t allow enough light to enter the camera and in bright conditions using low ISO is the ideal choice. Also, ISO performance is different in cameras, a good camera produces less noise when using a high ISO value.

Different ISO Settings

Shooting Modes

Almost all DSLR cameras come with a rotating dial that is responsible for changing the shooting mode, some of these modes come with preset suggested settings for photographing popular scenarios, these could be portrait, sports, close-up, night-portrait, etc. Also, there are Auto and Auto(flash off) modes. These settings are designed to prepare the camera for quick and easy shooting.

Moreover, there’re manual modes where you can have full control of the camera settings to capture unique and more creative photographs. These modes are:

  • [P] Programmed Auto: The camera will automatically adjust Shutter and Aperture and let the user control the ISO sensitivity.
  • [S] Shutter Priority:  The camera will automatically adjust Shutter and let the user control the Aperture and ISO sensitivity.
  • [A] Aperture Priority: The camera will automatically adjust the Aperture and let the user control the Shutter and ISO sensitivity.
  • [M] Manual: Let the user have full manual control of the three elements.

Shooting In RAW and JPEG?

RAW and JPEG are digital file formats used by the cameras, and let the user decide whether to shoot in JPEG, RAW, or both in the same shot. JPEG images are typically compressed image file that is automatically processed by the camera to make a much smaller file size to easily fit into the memory cards, RAW files on the other hand are the unprocessed image files that keep all the original image information captured by the camera and normally have bigger file sizes.

Shooting in RAW is considerably more intriguing since it allows you to subsequently post-process photographs in many photo editing software programs like Photoshop to restore incorrectly exposed images and make a tweaked image out of this RAW file. You may accurately modify and tweak practically every aspect of the image throughout this process, including shadows, highlights, colour tones, brightness, and much more. That’s why shooting in RAW is preferred and loved by most enthusiasts and professional photographers although it consumes memory cards storages.

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