Newbie to DSLR - What to know

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by txhockey9404, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. txhockey9404 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2008
    First, let me introduce my level of photographic knowledge; I have owned digital point and shoot cameras from their 2 megapixel days through today, and have just purchased a new DSLR. I thought I knew what I was doing, but there are now so many settings on this new camera that I am somewhat overwhelmed. While I am a newbie to this new breed of cameras, I am certainly not a newbie to photography or this forum.

    I purchased the Canon EOS Rebel XS since this is my first of this type, and they are certainly not cheap in comparison to my previous cameras. I have the camera body, the standard 18-55IS lens, the battery, the charger, and a 4gb SD card. I plan to use this camera mainly for amateur hockey games (I know I need a different lens. Any suggestions would be awesome) as well as some family portraits and vacation photos. I think I have the basic photos down, but I really need help with the hockey portion.

    Also, I currently have iPhoto 08, GIMP, Photoshop Express (online), and the Canon utilities on the software side. Is there anything else I need (preferably under $150USD)? I will not be getting Photoshop CS4 simply because it is complete overkill for me, but have been looking at Photoshop Elements and possibly Aperture 2 if I find a significant difference between that and iPhoto. Please keep in mind that this is nothing more than a hobby. I really do not plan on becoming a photographer.

    So, thanks for reading this ridiculously long post, and any help in choosing lenses, accessories, and software, as well as general shooting advice is much appreciated!
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Just google "how to use a DSLR" or something. Lots of quality guides will be found- pick any of them and read through.

    This will be difficult. In my experience places like ice rinks are not well lit, which means it will be difficult to shoot without a wider aperture. Unless you are quite close to the rink, you'll need a telephoto lens to get up close to the action. All of this means that the ideal lens (large, constant aperture and telephoto zoom) is going to be very, very expensive.

    Not really. GIMP is pretty good; another program you could look into is GraphicConverter (free). For the basics even Preview works pretty well.

    At your level I don't think you'll find much difference.
  3. LittleCanonKid macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2008
    Great! I hope you'll get into photography and enjoy it--it really is quite a fun hobby. :cool:

    One of the first things you'll notice on a DSLR is that you can do manual controls. I would say don't quite worry about doing everything manually first. P, or Program mode, should be fine for now. Just get a feel for the controls and how one thing affects another. Here's some basics:

    ISO: Sensitivity to light. The higher the number, the more sensitive it is but more "noise" (basically grain, although Canon's noise isn't quite film-like) appears in the photo. Don't be afraid to use ISO 1600 in bad light. Get the shot, then worry about the noise.

    Aperture: The opening that the lens takes in light. The smaller the number, the more light that is taken in. The kit lens is f/3.5-5.6, which means it's f/3.5 on the wide end (18mm) and f/5.6 on the telephoto end (around 55mm). For indoor games, f/5.6 probably isn't too great. Look into the 50mm f/1.8, which is a great way to finally get some low-light shots on the cheap. But for now, I'd recommend you just play with you have now, then figure out what you need.

    As for software, all I ever use is GIMP and the occasional DPP. I don't really edit that much, and processing RAW may be a bit of a hassle. Shoot in JPEG for now (although some will disagree with me), and when you're ready to step into RAW processing and get the extra flexibility, go for it.

    All I can say is take baby steps. I originally started out using Program and a cheapo lens or two and I've got 4 12x18s hanging on the wall from my trip to Hawaii using P and the two cheap lenses. Don't be afraid to experiment, and read up and be sure to understand your camera. Last but certainly not least--take pictures! You'll find that eventually the knowledge will be filled in as you go and you can ween yourself off of Program and use the other modes. Have fun! :)
  4. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    first off, read up on aperture and ISO. learn to keep track of your shutter speed - rule of thumb for your camera is 1/(focal length * 1.6), though I just do *1.5 for simplicity. double or halving the shutter speed will halve or double the amount of light coming in, respectively.

    learn how to use exposure compensation. the camera meter is not always reliable, so you'll have to adjust to get the proper exposure.

    make sure you know how to hold the camera properly. everything goes to waste if you don't.

    and for lenses...yeah, i doubt you'll have enough light in a hockey rink. your options depend on how much money you have to throw around, and if you're ok with prime lenses. in order of price (roughly):

    <$300: Canon 55-250 IS
    $300-$600: Canon 85mm f/1.8, 100mm f/2, 70-200mm f/4
    $600-$1000: Tamron or Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8, Canon 200mm f/2.8, 135mm f/2
  5. txhockey9404 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2008
    Wow! That was really quick! That's exactly why I like this forum! Thanks so far!

    So, I should read up a bit on ISO, aperture, and lighting. Would you recommend the Canon 55-250 IS? I think that anything more than $300 is a bit excessive for me at this point. Will it really have lighting problems if I sit about 10-25 feet from the ice surface, and subjects could be about 100ft away? The rinks I go to are usually newer and fairly well lit (as far as hockey rinks go). They are most definitely not stadiums, but they are big enough for the rink, benches, and some stands.
  6. LittleCanonKid macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2008
    The 55-250 has a great performance-to-cost ratio, although it's not a very "fast" (wide-apertured) lens. Since it has about the same aperture range as your kit lens, I would try to use ISO 1600 and your kit lens and see what kinds of shutter speeds you would get. If you can't get decent shutter speeds with that aperture range, then the 55-250 probably wouldn't be much of an improvement, besides the extra reach. Anything brighter than that is going to cost more than $300, though. Photography's quite an expensive hobby!
  7. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    the thing with "well-lit" is you might think that, but your camera might not.

    anyway, run with the 55-250 for now. try to keep your shutter at 1/500 or faster. shoot in RAW, even though the XS sucks at continuous shooting in RAW...there's no need to hold the shutter down. i assume you know the game, so you have an idea of when its worth taking a picture. just take shutter lag into account. invest in Noise Ninja or NeatImage or the like if you need to.

    oh, and you can get the 85/1.8 for around $300 used. possibly the 100/2 as well, since fewer people want it. either will work well if the action isn't on the opposite side, though you lose if it's right next to you...
  8. cube macrumors G5

    May 10, 2004
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Adobe Photoshop CS4 is over kill for most photographers. Get "Elements". Later you can upgrade without loosing what you paid for Elements. The user interface is the same for both, so there is little risk. But if all you want to do is adjust and crop iPhoto will do fine. Photoshop is for when you want to change something inside the image. Same with Aperture. Buy it only after using iPhoto and having a good identifiable reason to upgrade.

    The clasic lens for your usage is the 80-200 f/2.8. It's an expensive lens. If you need to spend less look for a used 135mm f/2 (about $350). A slow f/5.6 zoom is not the best lens for a game where the players move so fast as Hocky
  10. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    eh. i dunno about other manufacturers, but Canon only has one 135/2, which is about $800 used. there's a 135/2.8 that's about $300, but i don't think the AF motor is fast enough for sports.

    there are used 80-200's around, which i completely forgot about...but they're still too expensive for the OP right now anyway.
  11. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

    Apr 26, 2008
    Canon makes a couple of 135mm f/2.8, one which is USM (non-L), and the other an L lens. This one is around $800.00 new, and the first one is quite cheap around $200.00. Of these two I would only buy the L one.

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