How to Use Canon DSLR Camera for Beginners: Everything You Need To Know

Are you new to photography? Here is what you need to know about a Canon DSLR camera. A Canon DSLR camera is an advanced modern-day camera type combining digital imaging sensoring with the techniques of an advanced SLR camera.

It uses interchangeable lenses and has a mirror for blocking light from passing through the lens and striking the image sensor. This is opposed to a fixed lens camera that has only one lens built into the camera. Or a camera that uses photographic film or a mirrorless camera.

A Canon DSLR camera is a very amazing device. Unfortunately, it can be intimidating for a beginner, because of its many features and buttons. By learning the many features of your Canon DSLR camera, you can take very nice family photos, wildlife, food, landscape, portraits, and many other special photos.

How to Use Canon DSLR Camera for Beginners

How to Use Canon DSLR Camera for Beginners – Simple Guide

Basic parts of a DSLR camera

The basic parts of your camera are the lens, viewfinder, body, mode dial, aperture, shutter release, LCD screen, image sensor, focus ring, and flash. The Canon DSLR camera is a bit heavy with a big body. Mode dial is the different settings that the camera has to offer. State of the art cameras have touchscreens offering different menus instead of a mode dial.

The viewfinder is the part of the camera where you look through before taking a shot. Shutter release is a button for taking images. This button opens and closes the shutter. Photo processing begins in the lens because light enters through the lens.

The aperture feature determines the diameter size that the lenses will open, controlling light entering the image sensor. Image sensors on the other hand convert optical images to electronic signals before sending them to the memory card.

LCD screens on your camera are for viewing images after a shoot. Some cameras have a live LCD screen mode. Flashes provide extra light but may not be available on all cameras. A focus ring is found on the lens of a camera and functions by allowing you to control how much of the image you want your camera to focus on.

Exposure triangle

The exposure triangle controls the quality of your images. To operate your Canon DSLR camera, it is important to understand the three elements that make up the exposure triangle which are Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed. Knowing how these three elements work will turn you into a pro.

Cameras are designed with automatic settings. Select “Auto” mode for automatic settings. Shutter speeds, aperture, and ISO can also be set manually. But when you are a beginner in photography, it is recommended to use automatic settings as you learn how to operate the Canon DSLR camera manually.


Aperture is an opening in a camera lens where light passes through. Aperture is a very important feature among the three exposure triangle elements because it affects many variables of an image. Learning how to control aperture is fundamental to taking good quality images.

You can control how much light gets to your image by adjusting the size of the aperture. A large aperture will pass a lot of light to the sensor resulting in a bright image whereas a small aperture will limit light, resulting in a dark photo.

When taking photos at night, in a dark environment or indoors, you may want to choose a large aperture to brighten your image. Aperture is expressed as an f-number and describe the size of the aperture. Please note that small aperture numbers result in large aperture openings and big numbers result in small aperture openings.

The depth of field of a photograph is also controlled by Apertures. Depth of field is how much sharpness you want your photograph to appear from front to back. Photo backgrounds can be manipulated by playing with the aperture. A large aperture results in a blurred background whereas a small aperture captures sharp details in the background and foreground of the photo.


ISO measures your camera sensors sensitivity to light. Always try to shoot your images on a low ISO for better quality images. If you are working in a dark environment, however, then you need to adjust the ISO to a high setting. If on the other hand, you are working in a very lit environment, then you need to use low ISO settings.

Shutter Speed

A camera shutter is a curtain in front of your camera sensor. When you fire your camera, the shutter opens and exposes the sensor to the light that passes through the lens. Shutter speed is the length of time the camera spends in taking an image. Shutter speed will come in handy when changing the brightness of your image and also if you want certain effects on your images.

Long shutter speeds expose the camera sensor to a lot of light giving you a bright image whereas a quick shutter speed will expose your image to very little light resulting in a dark photo. Therefore, long shutter speeds are ideal for night photography or low light photography.

Shutter speed is also responsible for blurring or freezing images. Extended shutter speeds will blur images while short shutter speeds will freeze motions in moving objects like cars or birds in a flight.

Please note that the brightness of an image is affected by four things in combination. How bright your environment is, ISO, Aperture and shutter speed. Therefore when doing your camera settings, you have to consider the four items carefully.

Related post: DSLR Photography Tips and Tricks – Some Handy Details for You


Understanding your Canon DSLR camera will take some time. You will need to learn the functions of all the parts of your Canon DSLR camera and how shutter speed, ISO, and,aperture work. If you are new to photography, start with the auto mode before trying out one element, say the shutter speed only. After mastering the shutter speed then learn how to operate the aperture and finally the master the ISO.

Then, start practicing by setting different modes in ISO, aperture and shutter speed and comparing the sharpness and quality of the resulting images. Refer to your camera manual if you get stuck. That’s it for today, hope you enjoyed learning these handy tips, if so, please let us know on the comment box.

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