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The second benefit of an SLR

So, you've upgraded from that old point and shoot camera, and are wondering how you can use this beast of a camera to start taking better pictures.  Unfortunately, simply shelling out the big bucks for an SLR won't get you anywhere.  You need to start learning how to use this bad boy and take the pictures you want.

First of all, you need to realize what buying an SLR has done for you.  You haven't purchased a magical masterpiece picture making machine, you've purchased a rather large and expensive camera.  However, an SLR does benefit you in three key areas: more control, more light, and more lenses.  When you boil it all down, these are the benefits that make the SLR worth more, and allow it to take better pictures when in skilled hands.

Let's talk about the first benefit, more control.  While many high end digital cameras will allow you to take control of all the exposure settings, an SLR makes this quick, easy, and intuitive.  Of course, all of this control is useless to you if you're not able to understand what you're doing.  This is your first assignment:  learn about these manual controls.  Read about aperture, shutter speed, focal length, depth of field, and more.  There is a lot of terminology to cover, but I promise you that it isn't too hard to figure out.  Do this, and it will pay dividends in the future.

The second benefit of an SLR, more light, will become apparent once you've brushed up on all your terminology.  Basically, the DSLR's large sensor allows it to capture more light in a shorter amount of time than a smaller digital camera's, which allow you a lot more versatility in your picture taking.  This is most noticeable in low light situations (which is usually where the most interesting pictures happen,as it turns out).  Experiment with this capability.  Take pictures in the morning, take picture evening.  Take pictures without a flash.  Experiment, see what happens, and your pictures will begin to improve.

The last big benefit of a DSLR is the lenses.  Interchangeable lenses give you more creative options.  Of course, these won't help you much unless you have a good grasp of the basics, so thats why I have this point last.  However, once you start to take more pictures, you'll see how using different lenses ranging from ultra-wide angle to super telephoto will give you different perspectives on the same scene.  For this reason, I recommend fairly broad range zoom lenses for beginners, so you can learn how these different perspectives work.  As you get better, you'll likely find that you want a higher quality lenses in a certain focus length range, and thats where the interchangeable lens feature will come in handy.

I hope this all has help you a little to see what exactly that nice digital SLR is doing for you.  Remember, that camera doesn't take the pictures, you do.  The only way to really improve the quality of your images is conscientious practice.  Do this, and I guarantee that you will be taking better pictures in a very short time.

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