Basics of Photography

Some basic settings of your camera, like file format, ISO, white balance, shutter speed, aperture every photograph should know, especially for owners of a new camera and beginners they could be helpful.

File Formats

File formats, one of the first things you need to do before you can take photos with a digital camera is to decide a file format. A file format is a language used by digital devices to read, write and transmit image data. The format you choose will impact the quality of your image, how many images will fit onto your memory cards and how fast your camera will process images. There are JPEG, TIFF and RAW. The most widely used is JPEG, however TIFF file format provides a high image quality because it doesn’t compress the file. The only problem with TIFF is that it takes up more memory space. RAW is the best quality, it doesn’t change your photo to any degree.


ISO speed setting. The higher the ISO number the more sensitive it is to light. With most digital camera’s you can adjust the ISO setting to increase or decrease the sensor’s response to light. Digital cameras are set on ISO 100 through the manufacturer. Quality-wise, ISO 100 will provide the best photo quality. When indoors without a flash or in dim daylight you will want to increase your ISO setting. Digital cameras have a range from ISO 100-800.

White balance

White balance settings are made to give you correct color. However, you can also use them creatively to change the color of a scene. All light sources have their own color temperature. As the temperature of light goes up the light becomes bluish. Most digital cameras have an auto white balance feature that measures the light around you and automatically sets. More advanced cameras have a setting for white balance: The Preset or Manual mode. It helps you create an exact match for the existing light.

Shutter speed

Shutter speed determines how long the sensor will be exposed to light. Usually it ranges from several seconds to several thousandths of a second. The higher the shutter speed, the more the photograph will have freezing or blurring motion. Experiment with various shutter and subject speed and study the results. The delay in the firing of the shutter is caused by a series of procedures the camera must follow in order to capture an image, this is referred to as shutter lag. To avoid this annoyance, you can pre focus on the spot you expect the action to take place. Other factors to remember that will influence how motion is recorded is subject direction, distance to the subject and the focal length of the lens being used.


Aperture is the opening in the lens that will let light into the camera. The f-stop is a measurement used for the size of the lens opening. If a photograph is to bright you would choose a higher f-stop number, and vice versa for a photo that is to dark. The aperture also controls the depth-of-field; depth-of-field is how blurry or sharp the photograph will be. Leaving your aperture wide open will create brighter photos and a shallow depth-of-field. Leaving your aperture with only a small opening with create darker photos and a full depth-of-field.

To solidify all the information, it is good to experiment and see for yourself what happens when you begin to change the settings and take notes. A few steps to follow after preparing you camera. First, select your file format so you get the best quality photographs along with the as much storage space you need. Second, select an exposure mode to match a specific subject. Third, set the ISO to match your shooting conditions. Fourth, set the white balance to the type of lighting you are in.