In early days of photography, the process of taking images was considered a significant advancement in science. Early film cameras were primitive and relatively simple to use (if you knew how to operate them). Digital cameras have long since replaced film and the technology in today’s DSLR’s is nothing short of mind-boggling.
Your camera is basically a tool to create photographs and that tool you have in your camera bag is far more powerful than you can image. Most cameras are capable of creating amazing images, but only if you learn to use it properly. As we start to go through various photography courses, you need to understand the mechanics of how cameras produce an image and you must learn important settings on your camera.
For illustration purposes, we’re going to use the Canon EOS Rebel T6i in our examples.
Camera Resource Library (first step)
Our goal is to teach you how to take great photos. Your first assignment is to build a Resource Library of owners manuals, user guides, training videos, and other model-specific materials will help you master your camera inside and out. Start by building a library of virtual and hard-copy materials consisting of; camera owners manuals, user guides, blogs, product overviews, PDF’s, and tutorials for your specific camera model.
Camera User Manual
Reading a camera owners manual is a painfully arduous, but necessary task. It really is the best place to start. If you lost your manual, see if you can buy a replacement from the manufacturer or possibly on eBay.
Bookmark or download a PDF version of the manual as well. It’s better than carrying a hard copy and you can search for what you’re looking for in a PDF.
Download Canon User Manuals here.
Camera Books (model-specific)
Camera user and owner’s manuals do a respectable job of telling you how to turn on and use various features and settings. But they fall short of telling you when, where, how and why you can or should use specific features.
Hard copy camera books written by independent authors bridge the gap between understanding camera settings and photography techniques. For example, you should know how to enable Continuous Auto Focus, but it’s just as important to understand under which circumstances you might use this feature. Most books are available in both hard copy an eBook formats.
Camera user manuals are getting smaller and smaller (and are sometimes very difficult to read). We like books model-specific books written by third parties. Most of these book are in color and include helpful screen captures and illustrations not found in the manufacturers manual.
Camera manufactures, retailers, and independent third party photographers frequently review new cameras (sometimes in extensive detail). These reviews can be very informative because independent reviewers often highlight a camera’s strengths and weaknesses. Most of these reviews include examples and illustrations. Search YouTube for your specific model and bookmark the video reviews you find helpful. Below is a video that reviews the Canon EOS Rebel T6i and the T6.
Hands-On Review: Canon | EOS Rebel T6i and T6s (Free Video)
Camera Manufacturer Apps
Most major camera manufacturers now offer an app for your smartphone. Some of these apps connect with your camera (if you have wireless), while others give you access to the manual. Either way, it’s helpful to install the app so you have a resource available at all times. CANON CAMERA CONNECT is available on iTunes and Google Play.
Photography Forums and Blogs
There are countless photography forums and blogs where both amateur and professional photographers share photos, techniques, and review camera gear. Search for blogs and forms with discussions on your specific camera model and read the comments as they can provide helpful insights.
Retail Camera Product Reviews
Take time to read reviews left by other owners on Amazon, B&H, BestBuy, and Adorama. Often these unbiased reviews left by users like you provide valuable time-saving tips, as well as helpful insights into your camera’s strengths and weaknesses.
One way to get a sense of your camera’s capabilities is to check out images on Flickr taken by your camera. Search for your camera model and you’ll probably see thousands of images taken by both amateur and professional photographers alike. Most photographers will also display EFIX data (the data gives specific settings used to take the image). This information is embedded into the file for each image and can be automatically displayed.
This is especially helpful if you see an image you like and want to know what settings the photographer used.
PhotoBert Photo Cheat Sheet’s
Another great tool is a CheatSheet by PhotoBert. These one page laminated quick reference guides are available for digital cameras and some accessories. These guides can help you find the settings you’re looking for without spending precious time searching menus on your camera.
Most of these cheat sheets fold up for easy carrying and storage.
If you’re looking for an in-depth photography course, we recommend the following photography courses from Udemy.
Beginner Digital Photography, How Do I Use My Camera?
Beginner Canon Digital SLR (DSLR) Photography
Photography Starter Kit For Canon Dslr Beginners
Beginner Nikon Digital SLR (DSLR) Photography
Photography – The Nikon D3400 DSLR Camera user course
The Unofficial Guide to the Nikon D3200 & D3300
Nikon D500 Crash Course
Sony A7RII Crash Course
Beginner Sony Alpha A6000 (HD) Tutorial Guide
Photography Masterclass: Your Complete Guide to Photography
Photography Beginners: DSLR Photography Camera Settings
EasyDSLR Digital Photography Course for Beginners
Digital Photography for Beginners with DSLR cameras
The Ultimate Photography Course For Beginners
Photography – Become a Better Photographer – Part I
Photography – Become a Better Photographer – Part II
Beginner Digital Photography by Learn Photography
Photography Basics : Five Days to Better Pictures
Learn Digital Photography, Canon , Nikon, Sony, Best Seller
Learn Photography: A Simple System for Photography Starters
Photography for Beginners: Creative Photography Fundamentals
Better Photography for Beginners: Getting The Basics Right!
Digital Photography Fundamentals: Learn the basics
Beginner Photography Workshop
Basic Photography: A Guide to Using Point-and-Shoot Cameras
Beginning DSLR Photography – Take Better Photos Today!
Digital Photography 101: Get Professional Quality Images Now
Compact Camera Course – understand your camera in 30 minutes
Beginner Photography – From Start to Finish!
Jump Start Your Photography
We’re going to assume you’re on PhotographyCourse.net because you’re serious about being a good photographer. If you’re brand new to photography or accustomed to using fully automatic settings, the the initial learning curb may seem overwhelming. Having a small library of resources in your toolbox from various sources will help facilitate the learning process. Lastly, don’t stress out! Have fun, take your time, and enjoy your hobby.