Derek Miller has started writing an excellent series called Learn how your camera works: an introduction. I’ve struggled over the years to really come to grips with my camera. Partly it’s time, and partly it’s synthesising all the different aspects of light and aperture and shutter speed and sensitivity and so on.
Somehow it’s just never quite come together for me, even though I understand the individual elements. Derek though is putting them all together very nicely:
I won’t be tackling this stuff in excruciating technical detail: I’m not an engineer or lens designer, and the last time I studied optics was at least a couple of decades age. But I want to demystify some of the funky terminology photo enthusiasts throw around all the time—for myself as much as anyone. Even experienced photographers I know, who have developed an intuitive sense for exposure settings, composition, and lens choices, don’t always know the answers to such basic questions as:
- When we talk about a lens’s focal length, what do we really mean?
- What do aperture f-numbers like f/1.4 or f/16 represent?
- Why do those f-numbers and shutter speeds have the values they do, and how are they related?
- Why do most digital cameras have a crop factor (like 1.5, 1.6, or 2.0) for their lenses, while film cameras don’t?
- Where do ISO and EV numbers come from, and what do they indicate?
- Why is the flash sync shutter speed of most cameras much slower than the fastest shutter speed you can use without a flash?
If you’d like to know a bit more about photography you’d do yourself a favour to check in on Derek’s series. He writes clearly and explains well.