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Your mobile device that fits snugly into your hand does everything and anything you need at the touch of a button (or two). It takes photos; it creates video; it plays games; it plays music… it does everything you want right there in the very moment that you need to do it. It even takes and receives phone calls.

Let’s pull on the reins here. It does all this because modern tech allows it to do that, but it doesn’t mean it has to while at the same time giving you a lot less than you should be getting if it were a little bit more dedicated to the task.

There’s two things that are behind the curve with a mobile device and that’s the taking photos part and the taking video part.

It also means it’s going to be a little bit more expensive.


The Digital Single-Lens Reflex or “DSLR” for short

I’m a Beginner when it comes to DSLR and what I have learned is that you don’t need to know everything about getting a DSLR to work like a mobile device. In fact, the more you know, the less you get when it comes to a DSLR. The are just two things you need to be aware of and once you have that sorted out, and with practice, you’re going to be using a DSLR from a bag strapped over your shoulder along with the mobile device in your hand without questioning it.

A camera that doesn’t let you call anybody… and it has no lens that’s going to make you want to drop your mobile device. Not a good start to sway anybody with a mobile camera that does it all. DSLR will have however, video recording capabilities that surpass anything a mobile device could expect to achieve, so there is that, and it now doesn’t seem too bad (video recording won’t be covered here).

With the DSLR, we’re going to attach a 35mm lens to it. It’s a F1.4. If you want to know what F1.4 means… it means “about $650 “. Since you’ve already paid twice as much as that for the DSLR body itself you’re going to start scratching the top of your head. The important thing to understand is that the lens is more important than the DSLR.

So now you have the DSLR, and now that you have a lens attachment for it that will do 90% of everything you want it to do as Blogger, what do you do with it where a single button press on a mobile camera was about as far as you’d wanted to go with photography?

You can treat the DSLR like a one-button wonder and you’d probably get away with it because it’s a 35mm lens, it’s F1.4 (which means it’s fast to react and can function in very poor light and very bright light and you can easily get away with hand-holding it as long as you’re not moving too much). There is some dependency on which DSLR you have, but I’ve tried a lot of them and it comes down to one thing: “How does it feel in your hand? 

A small mobile device is meant to not let you know it’s in your hand in the first place. A DSLR is going to let you know; they’re different sizes, they’re different shapes and they can feel very different even though they look the same. Pick one that feels right in your hand and you’ll be OK. Because if it’s a pain to hold and use, it doesn’t matter what you get out of it. They’re all good in their own way and the tech in them is impressive to begin with and they all follow the same rules of photographic capture; so they function pretty similarly.

F Stop

F Stop controls the amount of light that can get through the lens to the digital sensor when the shutter opens and closes. F Stop also controls how fast that shutter speed is – the lower it is, the faster that shutter can be. It also determines how much variation you can have between light and dark sequences in the shot that the digital sensor in the DSLR is capable of processing. If you were to use F5.6 in a dark nightclub, you’re going to get disappointing results even if you’ve got a DSLR with high ISO.

If you get a lens that isn’t F1.4 capable, you are going to find some restrictions to what you can do. The first time I went from a F4.0 lens (it was a telephoto 70-200mm) to a F1.4 capable one (a primary 35mm), I thought I had been suffering from blurred vision – the sharpness and clarity gained by primary lenses at F2.8 is hard to describe and you can use them on relatively cheap DSLR bodies (which in turn, push those DSLRs to the upper limit of what they’re capable of).

Once you have a F1.4 lens, it will likely be highly capable with F2.8 (which is the F Stop you will be using the most). On that subject of F Stop range, F4.0 is pretty much required for Telephoto lenses. F5.6/6.3 is for photographers who want consistent and balanced results with a range of lenses and F8 is for landscape shots.

Whenever I use anything over F4.0 and I am not using a telephoto lens, I’m almost always disappointed – having taken that shot that was one of a kind and “it didn’t quite make the cut “. You’ll get a lot of those shots hand-held over a lens at F2.8 and you’re going to be in situations where an event will only ever happen once (because it’s not just product shots you’ll be taking). The uniqueness of your Blog page is entirely dependent on what your viewer is seeing that doesn’t exist anywhere else.

ISO

The DSLR I use has a setting maximum of ISO 6,400. I have never used it more than once, because it’s not too great (ISO 3,200 under the right conditions is passable). The ISO I use all the time is ISO 400. I don’t even really need to, but for the sake of consistency, nothing has ever gone wrong with a F1.4 capable lens at F2.8 and ISO 400 with over 10,000 photos taken – because not-so-perfect shots are just a headache you don’t want repeated too many times.

ISO is like a post-processing light sensitivity algorithm that the digital sensor is doing inside the DSLR. In some cases, a slightly grainy texture to images is better than completely clean – though you do lose the 3D-like effect to ISO 100/200 images you would take under bright sunny conditions. In all honesty, these images tend to look like digital film and not like celluloid film. ISO’s tendency to “grain” and “freckle” the image (digital image noise), is a limitation of the digital sensor.

There’s another thing about F Stop and ISO that makes taking shots indoors with an object in close proximity to you the only thing you need to consider. You have your product in front of you, but there’s some distracting objects behind it. With F2.8 and ISO 400, the DSLR will detect the object you’re photographing and completely blur out the background so that the object pops out on top of it. The quality level and the expense of the lens also coincides with the quality level of Bokeh.

Bokeh

If you look at the image below, Bokeh is everything in the background that is blurred out. This starts happening in your shots when your F Stop is below F6.3, but it does also depend on how far you are away from what you’re photographing and its distance from the background. The bottom line is, F1.4/2.8 will always give it to you in the context of a Blogger wanting a photo with an object close to them that pops out of the background – effectively removing background detail you don’t want in it – and standing out clearly on their Web blog. Depending on what you’re doing and the lighting conditions, you can get some really surprising results.

Bokeh is completely reliant on the lens and there are lenses that are designed for the purpose of getting a depth-of-field effect like no other (they’re expensive and they’re internally complex) and the resulting image can give a wow-factor that’s hard to ignore.

Megapixels

My DSLR has a digital sensor that can capture 18 Megapixels of an image. This is twice the resolution of a 4K UHD display. The good thing about the amount of image data a DSLR can capture, is that there is a lot of image that can be picked out to use in an editor. Basically, if there’s 50% of the image that you want to use, and the other 50% isn’t needed, you just crop it out (you edit that part of that image you want into a new image). You still end up with a 2K photo.

Modern DSLRs and their digital sensors are already reaching 45 Megapixels – that’s almost 6x the resolution of a 4K UHD display (that’s twice 8K UHD) – and that means, if you were using a F Stop of F8.0 (so the image is even and clear throughout) and a primary lens, you are going to be able to probably edit out several images, of that one shot, to use. Like hitting 6 birds with one stone. You probably won’t ever get 6 images from that one shot that are each 8 Megapixels in size unless you’re really lucky, but you never know, but I do it all the time with a 18 Megapixel DSLR and get at least two editable parts of the image I can use at F8.0.

.RAW, .PNG, .JPG

These are image file formats. RAW is the untouched, uncompressed and direct image the digital sensor takes of the image it captures. They’re very big files (or can be) and you need an editor to read them so that they can be exported to PNG or JPG. RAW files can go through many post-processing adjustments so that the intent of the image can be revealed even though several factors are not perfect when the shot was taken (whether it was the wrong ISO or the wrong F Stop – RAW images hold the data to extract the best possible expectation).

PNG is just like JPG, but without any form of compression applied to it to reduce the file size. JPG will by default have 20% compression (though you can control the compression applied so that there is none at all – so you may as well use PNG). The JPG and PNG issue is only noticeable with the size of the image and the capability of the DSLR; you’re not going to see much of a difference in image quality. The one thing you will notice is that JPG will probably be at least half the date size of a PNG. Doesn’t seem much, but your Web page is now twice as fast to somebody else looking at it than it was before. Use PNG for a main image on the front page or at the header of a page; don’t use it everywhere.

Things I have learned coming back to using what I have learned

While writing this blog, I have just discovered that modern DSLRs (my DSLR is 8 years old now) can easily do ISO 25,600. On my DSLR, ISO 3,200 is kind of like scraping your eyeballs with sandpaper and then wearing spectacles with scratched lenses on it while you have somebody sandpaper them down for you.

What does ISO 25,600 really do anyway? Try this for starters. It’s everything I love about ISO and F Stop 1.4 lenses.

If you’re not impressed by this photo (the Cat’s eyes are fully dilated, which means you’re looking at an image shot in near total darkness. Click on the outer edge of the image to open it up to its native – cropped – size; the grain is a wonder to behold), then you should probably stick to a mobile device.

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