My name is Joe Crimmings and I’m a photographer in Des Moines. I had the great honor of having Kristin ask me to share some knowledge of Digital SLR Cameras with you all!


To begin with, a digital SLR (or DSLR) is simply any digital camera that has an interchangeable lens through which the subject is viewed.

Due to the drop in cost and rise in quality for beginner-end DSLR cameras, many people are opting to buy them over traditional point and shoots. This is great because it offers users to be a little more creative with their photography. It can also be a new challenge for those who are unfamiliar with all the techno jargon that comes with DSLRs.

Well, I’m here to help break down some of the more common terms and hopefully help you create better photographs with your DSLR cameras.

I’m also peppering in some of my favorite photos from a variety of subject matter. If you have any specific questions or want further in-depth knowledge on a certain topic, feel free to email me at Now, without further ado I bring you…

DSLR for Dummies!!!

Number 1: You. Are. NOT. A. Dummy.

Say it with me! …”I…Am…NOT…A…Dummy!”

Please repeat until you are confident and ready to continue.


Ok, now that we are ready, let’s start with ISO.


The term “ISO” goes back to the days when film was used in cameras, and refers to how sensitive the film was to light.


Nowadays, the higher the ISO, the more sensitive your camera’s sensor (the DSLR’s “film”) is to light.


A higher ISO has its pros and cons. The pros are that you can create images in low light situations that you may not have thought possible without a flash. The cons are that you get a lot more grain, or noise, in your images.

(left: low ISO, right: high ISO)


Here’s an easier way to think about it:

ISO 100-400: best suited for outdoor daylight usage.

ISO 400-1000: best suited for overcast, or dark outdoor & indoor use.

ISO 1000+: very dark situations, might just want to use a flash at a lower ISO.


Most cameras now have AUTO ISO, which will adjust your camera according to the light it is receiving through the lens. This can be easier to use and be one less thing to think about when adjusting camera settings.



The aperture (2.8, 3.5, 4.0, 5.6, 8.0 etc.) of a camera is basically a dial in the lens of your camera that allows more or less light in.


This is kind of confusing as the SMALLER the number, the MORE light is allowed in. Also, the smaller the aperture, the more the background or anything you aren’t specifically focusing will be out of focus.


The aperture and the shutter speed work together. The smaller the aperture, the faster your shutter speed can be – or the larger your aperture, the slower your shutter speed needs to be.


To make this easier for people, most DSLR cameras have an “A” option on the menu dial. This allows you to set the aperture, and the camera adjusts the shutter speed accordingly.


Shutter Speed

This is pretty easy. Your camera most likely goes from a 30 second shutter speed to a 1/4000 of a second shutter speed. The trick with shutter speed is if you are shooting in a low light situation and your camera, via it’s light meter, is telling you your shutter speed should be less than 1/60, I suggest getting a tripod or using a flash because you will get a lot of motion in your picture. You can also trying bumping up your ISO or lowering your aperture.


Again, this is a very simplified breakdown of the goings ons of a Digital SLR camera. If you have any questions you can contact me directly at


Thanks everyone, have a great week!