Learn Photography – Lesson 3 – Set up your camera

DSLR camera

Welcome to the third part of “Learn Photography”. I hope you enjoyed the other two parts and that you are eager to learn more and start benefiting in your photography. We’re still on the settings on your camera, but we’ll talk more about more useful/important/practical things that can be found on your camera.

Let me explain a few things about the settings. You may have been shooting on auto for some time (especially if you’re new to photography/cameras), so it’s time to move outside your comfort zone and get into the real world, so to speak.

Whether you’re scared of changing the settings or you just think that Auto is fine, let me show you some things you need to know.

Raw vs JPEG

These are two most popular file formats to choose from when taking photos using your digital SLR camera or CSC (or some compacts as well). Whether you’re going to choose Raw or JPEG, it is not going to change how you use your camera. They’re just file formats that are set up in the camera’s menu.

Let’s look at JPEG first (pros in green, cons in red):

– very popular – every camera supports it,

– a highly-compressed file format,

– takes little space on the memory card (because of the compression),

– can be printed straight away,

– not setting the quality of JPEGs properly results in a very poor quality that may not be suitable for print,

– most cameras save JPEGs as 72 ppi only images (very low resolution, not suitable for print).


– unprocessed and uncompressed (highest possible quality),

– most flexibility in exposure (image can be often overexposed or underexposed and still can be adjusted in software without loosing the quality),

– images can be saved as ProPhoto RGB images (more on this later),

– big files (bigger than JPEG),

– software needs to be used for processing (i.e. Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or Gimp, etc).

My suggestion here will be not to look at how many reds and green are there for each file format, but just focus on what’s the most important to you. I, as an example, always shoot Raw, because it gives the the best quality, it’s uncompressed and unedited (unlike JPEG). Raw is like a digital negative. JPEG reminds me a bit of Polaroid – you take a photo and that’s it, you can’t change the White Balance setting on JPEG (you can on Raw, and easily).

However, if you only shoot for the web, and you’re never going to print your images (or at least not bigger than the standard 4 x 6 in size, then you may be fine with JPEG.  If you decide on shooting JPEG, one of the decisions you need to make is setting up the quality, as shown on the image below:

JPEG settings on the camera

So, the first thing you need to decide on is whether you’re going to shoot on Large, Medium, or Small and this will define the resolution of your images. There is no one right answer here (if you shoot JPEG), but my advice would be to set it to Large as you can always resize the images (you can’t really do it the other way round. Well, you can, but you will loose the quality and the image will get pixelated).

Colour Space

Colour Space may seem like some dark magic, but it’s actually simple to explain. Here’s what they look like:

Colour Spaces

sRGB – a very small and limited colour space, only displays limited number of colours (has smaller gamut). It is used for the web as consumer monitors are sRGB devices.

Adobe RGB – can display more colours than sRGB, it is better for printing. Because of its wider gamut, it is recommended for shooting JPEGs and then you can always convert them to sRGB.

ProPhoto RGB – the best of all, the widest possible gamut. ProPhoto RGB has widest gamut of colours than a human eye can see! However, ProPhoto RGB can only be used when shooting Raw.

Well, I think that’s it for today. That is a lot of information for one post.

More coming soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.