Digital Photography for Beginners

Learn how to make the most of your digital camera

Digital Photography For Beginners with Baby Close Up

Note: This page is for absolute beginners to digital photography. The more experienced of you can head over to our Advanced Photography Tips.

When you look at the facts about digital photography, it is hard to think that we will "turn back" and all start using emulsion permanently again. Why? Think vinyl to CD, CD to MP3/4, VHS to DVD, DVD to Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray to Solid State and streaming.

Times change, technology moves on. Of course there are a lot of people turning to film again for nostalgia, training and just for fun!

When you look around you:

  • At a party
  • A school play
  • Sports matches
  • Family gatherings
  • Literally anywhere there are people

...take note of how many have a camera? Quite a few? Look again. How many people have a Smartphone, or a camera phone or iPod (iPods not so much these days)? Does it use film? You see what I am getting at?

It's Impossible! A History Lesson

When you think about it, it was impossible to keep using film. The demand was too high for the instant gratification and excitement that digital photography brought. 

With consumers crying out for more and more digital technology, the manufacturers had to meet this demand. That meant that the lesser sought after film cameras started taking a back seat. How many of you still use film for everyday snaps?

Thought not...

Some unfortunate proof of this was the liquidation of a well known black and white film maker. As well as companies like Kodak halting future production of all film cameras back in the noughties. There will always be some demand for film use, especially from the enthusiasts, but the mainstream consumer is already on the digital photography bandwagon and has been for some time.


Note: Over time, we will be adding more about digital video (1080p, 4K, 6/8K) to All Things Photography. Video is everything now, especially as you can pull high resolution stills from 4/6 or 8K video.

We will include everything from shooting the footage right through to post production.

Would you like to understand digital photography a little better? Check out our page on digital photography explained for a more in-depth look. If you are about to buy or upgrade to a digital camera, fear not, it will be the best thing you ever did. Well, in photographic terms anyway.

The transition from Smartphone "snaps" to more in-depth and serious photography is great. You will learn techniques that are (right now) impossible with a Smartphone and app.

A lot of great photography comes from research, timing, preparation and patience. This site is aimed at making the transition or journey fun, easy and hopefully profitable if you so desire.

DSLR's and Mirrorless Cameras

If you are entering the world of the DSLR (digital SLR) or mirrorless camera, then you may like our guide to a DSLR. It includes the bits, buttons and terminology of digital photography and cameras and should help you on your way through this minefield of technology.

The difference between a DSLR and Mirrorless camera is minimal so the above applies to both in most respects.

!!! Important Digital SLR Message !!!

If you are using a DSLR, mirrorless or other digital camera for the first time, you may find some things a little strange. Don’t worry, we are here to help!

Most of us who have used either film cameras or digital compact cameras in the past have had either the nice people at film processing labs, or the in-built processors in compact digital cameras, to do certain things for us.

Things such as:

  • Colour saturation
  • Sharpening
  • Adjusting contrast levels etc

Which just left you to just take the photographs.

A DSLR whether it is a "Prosumer DSLR" or "Professional DSLR" level camera, isn’t so kind. It produces more of a digital negative file which you will almost certainly have to work on in some form of editing suite. Especially so if you decide to shoot RAW…but DON’T PANIC!

Most of us have found shooting RAW has given a whole new and exciting lease of life to digital photography. With the right guidance, I am sure you will notice this too. Especially when you see the quality of the results!

Give us an example of what you mean!

Ok. This photograph below was posted on a well-known forum circa 2005/2006 asking for help. That's quite a few years ago now. The guy had just bought a Canon EOS 20D (lovely camera) and was new to digital photography.

This was one of his first pictures taken and he didn’t like the contrast, colour saturation and the overall look. I thought the composition was great but the picture needed a little work.

"Today I went to the car show and hope that pictures will came good, but some are just not good as I expected. If you can take a look at this Ferrari.jpg photo. I remember I had the focus point on the car, but how come it came out not SHARP and too CLEAR. And other one SLR.jpg is little better.

I really have no idea what did I do wrong. Pictures are not being modified. You should be able to see the details information on it. I am using the stock lens. Should I get a better lens like the "L" series? I really want to take nice sharp and clear pictures, I don’t think I have shake the camera and makes the pictures look bury. Help please…. :- ( "

Photo of Mercedes Benz with Poor White Balance
Photo of Mercedes Benz with Corrected White Balance

Digital Photography Editing

As I said before, these cameras are quite different to film Cameras, but once you get the idea of what is needed, it is a breeze. All I did here was about 5 minutes or less in Photoshop. I adjusted the:

  • Levels
  • Contrast
  • Shadows/Highlights

I also tweaked the colour contrast and sharpness a bit. You will find more detailed explanations in the Photoshop tutorials, but for now this is the result. Of course, in my opinion, the photo was maybe a little under-exposed at the time of taking. The beauty of digital is that you check the picture immediately, adjust settings and fire again.

I would say the original, full sized photograph is actually good enough for publication. The photograph in its own right, not because of my tweaking! Hopefully, this guy was put on the right track and started to enjoy the camera a lot more! This is covered in more detail in the "Using a DSLR" tutorial mentioned above.

!!! End of Important Digital SLR Message !!! 

To find its roots, read up on a Brief History of Digital Photography. It has been around longer than you think! Digital photography came a long way in such a short time but is it here to stay? Of course it is. It is...

  • Environmentally Friendly - No chemicals or solutions to throw down the sink (or all over your clothes if you ever owned a darkroom)
  • Safe - No rolls of film to lose in the post, get wet, get dirty or get scratched once in negative form
  • Cheap - No "Burning" of expensive film and processing. With digital photography you can just fire away at will and not worry about cost!
  • Instant Results - Particularly useful for Sports or Press Photographers. Pictures of a fantastic goal for instance, can be uploaded to the news pages of the internet before they have even kicked off again! Like it or not, we have well and truly entered the "I want it now" era.
  • Storage - With the capacities of storage media on the market today, it is possible to store millions of photos on one hard drive. How many cardboard boxes full of old photos under the stairs has THAT saved?
  • Selective "Keepers" - Best of all, you get to delete all the bad photos before they even get stored. I remember, as a 14 year old, the sheer excitement of that TRUEPRINT envelope landing on the mat 2 weeks after sending away. Only to be hit with the disappointment of so many over/under/not exposed photographs.

If you are still not convinced, read our tutorials on developing skills and how to better your knowledge of digital photography.

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