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Class Introduction - The Camera

Lesson 1 from: The Photography Starter Kit for Beginners

John Greengo

Class Introduction - The Camera

Lesson 1 from: The Photography Starter Kit for Beginners

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction - The Camera

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of this lesson is the different types of cameras in photography, including point and shoot, digital single lens reflex (DSLR), and mirrorless cameras.


  1. What are the three most common types of dedicated cameras?

    The three most common types of dedicated cameras are point and shoot, DSLR, and mirrorless cameras.

  2. What are the advantages of point and shoot cameras?

    Point and shoot cameras are small, convenient, and affordable. However, they have smaller sensor sizes, lack viewfinders, and have limited manual options.

  3. How do DSLR cameras work?

    DSLR cameras have a single lens that allows light to come through and a mirror that reflects the light up to a focusing screen and then out the viewfinder. When taking a photo, the mirror flips up and a shutter curtain opens and closes to expose the image sensor.

  4. What are the advantages of DSLR cameras?

    DSLR cameras provide high-quality viewing through the viewfinder, have large sensors, and offer a wide range of lenses and accessories.

  5. How do mirrorless cameras work?

    Mirrorless cameras allow light to pass directly onto the image sensor for viewing on an LCD screen or electronic viewfinder. When taking a photo, the shutter opens and closes to expose the image sensor.

  6. What are the advantages of mirrorless cameras?

    Mirrorless cameras provide a preview of the final image, allow for reviewing images in bright light, and enable shooting videos while looking through the viewfinder. However, electronic viewfinders may not be as sharp and there are currently fewer lens and accessory options compared to DSLR cameras.

Next Lesson: Shutter Speed

Lesson Info

Class Introduction - The Camera

So this the Photography Starter Kit for Beginners, which I think is pretty aptly described, so I think we know what we're all getting into here. So this is great for anyone who is getting started in photography. It might not be the worst thing in the world for somebody who's got a little bit of experience, 'cause let's face it. There's a lot of things to know in photography, and it helps to keep up with the technology and how all of that works, because there's a lot of things that go into this class. And so this class really combines a couple of my favorite things. One, is I love photography and I also love efficiency. I love when things work really smoothly and they're tightly packaged into this nice simple package. And this class, well, it's a bit of a challenge for me to teach, because this is one of my shortest classes. But it's all on just the basics, the fundamentals of photography. These are the things that I think are really, really most important. I've been teaching for quite ...

a while, and you just keep honing it down, and this is about as tight a project we can get into for teaching basic photography. So I hope all of you are gonna enjoy this. I think there's a lot to learn in here, really no matter what level you're at, but definitely for anyone who's getting started. There's a number of things you just have to know, and I put all of those into this class. All right, so let's dive in. I wanna show you what we're gonna be talking about throughout this class. And so I've broken the starter kit into 14 short little sections, and so each of these are kind of bite-sized, not too big, cumbersome type sections that covers all the most important information. So we're gonna go through each one of these. It's not necessary that you go through these in order, but I put 'em in order so that we kinda follow through a natural flow of understanding of photography. And so jumping back and reviewing these is a good idea, but we're gonna walk through them in order to begin with. Obviously in photography, we're gonna be starting with the camera and understanding the camera, and it's something that has been changing ever since the beginning of photography, and it's continuing to change quite rapidly right now with different types of cameras. So I'm gonna talk about the three most common types of dedicated cameras. And we're gonna start off with the simplest of these, which is the point and shoot. And if you want, you can throw your phone into this category as well, 'cause it's kind of a simple point and shoot camera as well. So these cameras have a group of small lenses, and it's projecting an image onto the image sensor. From there, the information is sent electronically to the LCD in the back of the camera. And I like the LCDs when digital came around that you could look on the back of the camera and you could see exactly what your camera is pointed at. You can see a digital version of it. The problem is that no matter how big your phone or your camera is, it's still a pretty small image, and you can't really judge sharpness on it. And it's not very good for judging exposure, because the brightness levels can be affected by bright sunlight or bright lights that you're around. So it is a very imperfect viewing system. Within the lens itself, there is what's known as the leaf, shutter, and aperture. So this is a combined unit for controlling the light as it's coming in. So if you want to let in less light, you can close it off. Now, in order to take a photo, it closes completely and then it opens. And right now it's capturing the exposure, obviously for just a fraction of a second, and then it needs to close again to end the exposure. But then you wanna see what's going on for the next picture, so it needs to open up again. So there's a lot of little movements that are happening very, very quickly in the camera. So obviously these types of cameras, and putting phones in there as well, are nice because they're small in size. They're not too much money. But they do have some downsides to them as well. So obviously convenience is a big part of these small cameras. The big downside is that the sensor size is small, which gives us lower performance. There's no viewfinder, and there's very few manual options. And I know some of you who are getting into photography might be a little apprehensive when it comes to manually operating the camera. And this is something that we're going to conquer in this class. And manual, I'm just gonna tell you right now, it's the best thing ever, because you get to have control over you image. You really get to control exactly what it looks like. And if you have a camera that doesn't have manual control, there's a lot of things that you can't do with it. There's a lot of things that you can that are perfectly fine, but having that manual control is gonna be a big part about photography. The digital, single lens reflex. This has been the most popular camera for photographers for the last decade or so. The single lens reflex has been the most popular type of camera for photographers for the last 60 to 70 years. And so with the single lens reflex, we have a single lens, obviously light coming through the lens, and in each of those lens is an aperture that will open and close to control the amount of light coming in. And then we get to the reflex portion, which is a mirror. So that bounces the light up to a focusing screen and then out the viewfinder. The beauty of this system is that you get to see exactly what the lens sees. You get to see the angle and view. You get to see whether it's in focus. You get to see whether the lens cap is on and off the camera. It's really, really simple, and it's also using the power of your own eyes, the resolution and colors that your own eyes see with, which is really good. Very high resolution. And so this is still, right now, it's the sharpest way to look and see with your own eyes what your camera's gonna get. When it comes time to take a photo, the mirror needs to get up and out of the way so the light can make its way back to the image sensor. Before it gets back there, it's got a shutter unit, often called a shutter curtain, but the curtain is really metal blades in most cases. And there are two of them. There's the first curtain and the second curtain. And the way this works is kind of interesting. I'm gonna show you from the side and from the front. And so what happens is it's blocked to start with, and then when the shutter opens, the first one drops away. Light comes in, exposes the sensor, and then the second curtain comes in and blocks it all off. That way, each pixel is exposed for exactly the same amount of time. And then the whole unit resets so that you can shoot another picture. Now, there are some cameras that will do this upwards of 10 or more frames per second, so there's a lot of movement in there going back and forth. And then the meter is going up and down, up and down, up and down so that you can get a view as soon as the picture is taken. And this has been a very good system because it's got very high-quality viewing. It's got a nice big sensor, which as I said, we'll get into that, into another section. And so this has been just the dominant way most serious photographers have been shooting in the world of digital, and even before the world of digital, back in the days of film, the single reflex, because of its interchangeable lenses and so forth. And this is where we have some very large established systems. We're not gonna talk too much about camera brands and stuff, but for instance, Nikon and Canon are two of the largest manufacturers, and they have systems out there currently that have in excess of 70 different lenses. So there's pretty much anything you wanna do, they've got something for you in this regard. Now the downside to this is the viewfinder is really only a preview of what you're gonna see. That's just a vision of what you see with your eyes of a digital image that you will be capturing. And part of the problem is this mirror in here. And the mirror goes up and down. First off, it takes up a bit of space and it's constantly moving. It hits and it causes just a little bit of vibration in the camera. And so when we went to digital, there were some new possibilities that had kind of taken a while to really take hold. But they thought well, you know, that mirror forces the lens mount to be very far from the image senor, which makes designing lenses a bit of a challenge. Don't get too close to the sensor, 'cause we need this much space. And so when they took out the meter, you got rid of the prism system, you were able to bring the mount closer and the camera became a little bit smaller. So that's the new, mirrorless camera. Now the mirrorless camera has light coming straight into the image sensor, and you can see that either on the LCD on the back of the camera or through what's called en electronic viewfinder. Now in my opinion, one of the most important things in a mirrorless camera is that electronic viewfinder, because now we are judging our subject. One of the factors that you may see a bias towards is viewfinders. One of the things that people who are not into photography underestimate is how important the viewfinder is. And you'll find that lower-end products tend to have lower-quality viewfinders and the higher-end products have a higher-end viewfinder, whether it's size or resolution. And that just really helps the photographer being able to see their subject as clearly as possible. And so the early days of these, they were pretty bad. We had about a million dots, which is not a lot. It's kind of photorealistic, but it's not great. Now many of them are at two, upwards of four million dots, which is quite good. I'm pretty happy with that. So we can use either the viewfinder or the LCD screen. Now the shutter works a little bit differently here, because it has to be open in order for light to come onto the sensor. So what happens when you press the shutter release is a slightly different series of events. Let's look at it again from the side and from the front. It's time to take a photo. What happens is the shutter closes so that the censor can prepare to capture an image. It then captures the image and goes to that same process of one curtain opening, a second curtain closing, and then it's got to open again so that you can see the next image. And this is how the default mirrorless camera works. Now, I will just put a little side note here for all of those of you that are more advanced and screaming at me right now. There's a lot of cameras that use what's called an electronic front shutter curtain, and that's where it's electronically just turning the sensor on, and that shutter curtain is not physically moving, but there is a second curtain that's moving. The next big thing in cameras, which is currently not being done, is removing the shutter from the camera. Just turning the pixels on then off. There is one camera on the market that does that pretty well right now, but it's kind of an oddity at this point. But that's gonna be the next revolution in cameras, and that's just gonna simplify the cameras. Less stuff in the cameras, less moving parts. But the shutter, very important. So the mirrorless camera has some great benefits to it. You get a final image of this is what you're actually going to be capturing. This is a digital version of your final image. You can review things in bright light. And if you wanna shoot with video, this class really isn't about video, but if you do wanna shoot with video, with an SLR camera, you have to hold the camera out here because you can't look through the viewfinder, 'cause the light's coming into the sensor and the mirror's up. With a mirrorless camera, you can look through the viewfinder and hold your camera in a more steady position. Now the downside is that the EVF is not quite as sharp as everything else, and the systems are a little bit limited in how many lenses and accessories. And I say that and there's an asterisk. And the next time I teach this class, I'm probably not gonna say it because the systems are growing so fast. As far as holding the camera, there's a couple of different systems. And let me just grab one of my cameras right here. And for a lot of people, obviously you're gonna grab the grip with the right hand. That's pretty obvious. And a lot of people just kinda do this. It feels kinda comfortable. But the problem is it leaves your elbow out here without support. It's better if you turn your thumb around like this and get your elbow in your torso, and that way you got one point of contact, two points, and then up on your forehead you've got three points of contact, and that's gonna enable you to keep the camera as steady as possible. And you always wanna try and keep it as steady as possible, because then you're not gonna get blur with your images. And so the idea to remember is that thumb down is bad and thumb up is good. I'm not sure how you'll ever remember that, but that's what you wanna do with your left hand.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Photography Starter Kit Outline

Ratings and Reviews

Kanoelani Patenaude

I am a pro photographer in my dreams, where I know the in's and out's of my camera; however, reality proved differently, as real life would tell you, I was a deer caught in headlights just looking at my new 7D Mark II. I am a photographer enthusiast without the skills, but a lot of love for the moments one, or the profession/hobby of it can capture. I mostly shoot my husband, friends, and community surfers in the lineup, and of course, my children, who rarely sit still. Thus, I switched from Nikon to Canon, venturing on the 7D Mark II for the grand reviews of how stellar of camera it is for action shots (surfing, and kids, this was a no brainer). That said, and overwhelmed with the way beyond my skill set, but noted desire and aspiration to grow, I made the purchase, and sought help rather quickly as I wanted to feel confident with what I was utilizing to capture the best memories possible. I came into this John's courses knowing the "on/off" button, and "auto" shoot mode. I came out of the course feeling like the pro in my dreams, and ready to shoot manual. John's teaching style is on point, and his detailed visuals are a huge plus. My first shots post this photography kit course, I thought were great for my first educated shoot, and shockingly, I even received and email from one of the sponsors of the surfers I captured, asking if they could use my image for their sites and publications. Not bad for a newbie. Though, my intent was never a business purpose, I did not know if I should charge a small fee, or give it for free. I don't mind free as it's not my business, yet I don't want to ruin it for any professional photographers in town doing the same thing that are charging. Perhaps another course to help me with that. I highly recommend courses by John Greengo! Thank you so much, John!


I'm not sure my first review posted. But I LOVE this class! John Greengo is a great, engaging teacher who is really adept at representing the concepts visually and excellent at explaining them verbally. I love how he goes through examples with photographs he has taken. Even though I only have a Nikon Coolpix digital camera, it does have Manual, Shutter priority, and Aperture priority modes. Through his class I've gotten a really good sense of how to balance ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. It's a great overview for me especially since I am new to photography, I can play around with some of these settings, and I have a greater understanding of what I might need in a higher level camera in the future. Money well spend! (For $29, this is an absolute steal). John Greengo is an awesome teacher and I hope to take more of his classes in the future!

Megan Wagner

John is extremely articulate and is a great teacher with lots of visual aids and metaphors to help understand photography. I have been doing photography for a few years now and this class was a tremendous help in boosting my knowledge and refreshing my memory in multiple aspects of photography. The graphics that John uses are helpful and he even goes through images and asks which settings would be best to use and will go through the why. He makes things easy to understand and is very clear about the information he provides. I am so glad I took this course and I would highly recommend it even to an experienced photographer. Thank you John Greengo!

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