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Understanding camera lingo related to the 60D

edited October 2013 Posted in » Canon 60D Forum
Hi there,

Today I went to our local camera shop to get a price for the Canon 60D and Tamron 18-270mm lens bundle. The guy was awesome explaining things to me in plain english, but I began to feel completely stupid when he started explain the F numbering on the screen versus the automatic shutter speed. He was trying to explain the ISO rating and the higher it goes, the more it allows light in and stability is strengthened; I became very confused.

He summed it up by stating there are three important factors with the ISO rating:

1. Shutter speed
2. Light it allows in
3. Forgot completely!

I guess I am very new and very green about the whole camera lingo. I am use to a roll of film being developed rather than digital but wanted to buy a good camera for my 2.5 months away.

Help understanding the lingo would be my desperate request. I have not purchased it yet, but I want to understand more before I do.



  • edited August 2013
    Hi Philippa,
    The jargon can be confusing. What the salesman was trying to tell you was the principle of exposure. There are 3 factors which make up an exposure:

    1) The aperture - this is the hole in your lens which allows light through. Think of it like the pupil of your eye. When there is a lot of light, your pupil goes small and when there is low light, your pupil grows bigger. On a camera the hole can be resized in steps; these are known as F stops. This is the confusing part; the smaller the number then the bigger is the hole (ie f/2 is a bigger aperture than f/16).

    2) Shutter speed - you can control how long the shutter stays open. The longer it is open the more light will reach the sensor. The less time it is open the less light will reach the sensor. Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second (1/10 1/125 1/500 etc.).

    3) ISO - this international standard is a throwover from the old days of film. It was a measure of the film's chemicals reaction to light. If you remember film, you could buy it as 100, 200, 400 ISO. You chose the film according to the conditions you were going to film under (100 for bright sunny conditions, 400 for duller conditions). The problem was that having bought your film you couldn't change its ISO. The beauty of today's digital cameras is that the ISO rating can be changed from its minimum to its maximum at any time; from 100 to 1600 and anywhere in between. Therefore, you can choose a higher ISO if your camera tells you that your shutter speed is too slow. There are problems though. High ISO settings produce noise or grain on your pictures so the quality suffers.

    So there is a brief explanation of the principles of exposure. As a newbie you are in luck. All DSLRs have a full auto mode. They also have a P (program) mode which is like full auto except you can choose extra options. They are also able to set ISO automatically for you.
    Most newcomers will tend to use P mode and auto ISO until they become more confident.

    Now a little personal advice. If you look through the 60D forum you will see that there are many comments regarding the steep learning curve of this camera. However, the T2i (or 550D in Europe) is a much friendlier camera. They can be bought new quite cheap still and paired with the Tamron 18-270mm pzd zoom lens they give a combination that will produce stunning pictures and give their owners the chance to expand their photographic skills without having to worry about the mechanics of how the camera works.

    I'm sorry if this has seemed long-winded, but there is no easy way to tackle your request. I just hope it makes sense to you and is of some help. If you do go for a T2i or 60D you can be sure of getting much support from Moose's forums.
    Best regards, PBked
  • edited August 2013
    Nice one, PBked! That must have hurt a tad to write so much!
  • edited August 2013
    Thanks for this. Well the T2i is a possibility. I wanted to grow into my camera rather than grow out of it. I prefer a higher spec model so that once I become familiar with it, I can do more rather than less. Does the T2i have the same capabilities?
  • edited October 2013
    I take your point, but you don't want to get frustrated with the camera from the word go. The T2i and the 60d have exactly the same specs. The 60d has a few extra bells and whistles like being able to add creative filters (if you like that sort of thing) which can be done with most photo retouching programs. Personally, I don't think that the bells and whistles add anything to the nitty gritty of learning photographic technique. But, hey, it is your choice ultimately.

    @MisterD, yes it did hurt, but I thought it was worth it to produce a decent response. Thanks for your concern.

    Regards, PBked
  • Great advice as always @PBked! :)
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