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DSLR Guide News, April 2006 - A Digital SLR First
April 27, 2006

Finally - A Digital SLR With Live Preview

Table of Contents

Intro - To the Point
SLR Q and A - What can't digital SLRs do?
Photo Recipe - Capturing Ghosts
The Gear - Olympus E-330
Recent Updates - What's new at the Guide
SLR E-course - Master Your Digital SLR
Learn More - Digital SLR Resources


There's not a lot to say for this month's introduction.

I have been keeping busy reviewing the new Olympus E-330 digital SLR, and deciding which digital SLR cameras I like the best - but you'll find out about all of that soon enough.

More new cameras are right around the corner: the Samsung GX-1S will be available soon (Samsung's first) as will the Panasonic DMC-L1 (also Pansonic's first).

With all the electonics companies jumping feet-first into the digital SLR market (yes, Sony will too) it looks like I am going to have my hands full for the next couple of months.

With that in mind, I won't delay the newsletter any further.

Let's get right into it with a question that will clear up some of the common misconceptions about the features of digital SLR cameras.

Digital SLR Q&A

Question: Is there anything a digital SLR can't do?

Answer: Yes - they are just cameras after all, and not so good at cooking and cleaning.

On a more practical note, there are several key features missing from digital SLR cameras that are quite common on compact digital cameras.

People making the switch from a compact camera can get caught unawares when they don't realize that their digital SLR won't do everything and more that their compact can.

I'd rather that you not be one of those people caught by surprise. That's why I'd like to point you to this article: What Digital SLRs Can't Do.

By way of comparison, you can also find out about the advantages of digital SLR cameras over their compact cousins.

Photo Recipe

A photo recipe is a simple way of breaking down a complicated photography technique.

I'd like to hear your ideas for photo recipes. Contact me and I'll include your requests in a future issue of the newsletter.

February Photo Recipe - Photographing Ghosts
This month's photo recipe shows you how to take ghostly images with your digital SLR.


  • Digital SLR Camera
  • Any lens
  • A tripod
  • Dim lighting

STEP 1 - Set up the camera
Attach your digital SLR to a tripod and set it to shutter priority mode.

Find a location where the light is dim enough to let you use a very slow shutter speed. Some examples include indoors, outside on a very overcast day, or anywhere at dusk or in the middle of the night.

Set your camera to timer mode and adjust the shutter speed so that the shutter stays open for 5 seconds or longer.

STEP 2 - Pick a subject
The subject can be an everyday household object, yourself or a good friend.

Whatever subject you choose, just make sure that it's someone (or something) that can take direction. Children and pets are not recommended for this type of photo.

STEP 3 - Create a ghost image
To make things clearer, I will explain how to make a ghost image of a ball.

Set the ball on a stable surface so that it won't move around a lot and compose your photo as you would under normal circumstances.

Lock the tripod into place so that the camera won't move when you take the photo.

Press the shutter release button - the timer should chime until it is ready to take the shot. Once the timer is done, you will hear the shutter open.

If your shutter speed is set to 6 seconds count to 3 seconds, then remove the ball from in front of the camera. Wait until the shutter closes (about 3 seconds later).

You've just created a ghost ball!

The same technique can be applied to any other subject. For example, you can create an eerie self-portrait by standing in front of the camera for 3 seconds and then stepping out of the way.

Feel free to experiment with the length ot time the subject is in front of the camera, and the amount of time the shutter stays open.

Subjects will have more mass and will appear less transparent the longer they remain in front of the camera for the duration of the exposure.

A very ghostly ball
A more substantial ball

Digital SLR Gear

This month's gear section is pretty straightforward.

Last month I told you that I was going to get my hands on an Olympus E-330.

Indeed I did, and that means that you can now read all about this remarkable camera with my Olympus E-330 Guide.

If you don't want to take the time to read the entire guide, here's the quick rundown:

This camera is the first digital SLR to feature a live preview mode on the LCD. Now you don't have to peer through the viewfinder all the time, you can compose photos by looking at the LCD on the back of the camera.

Even better, the LCD flips out from the camera body, making it easy to take photos from high and low angles.

It's the power of a digital SLR with the flexibility of a compact digital camera.

The Olympus E-330 also has a self-cleaning sensor, a real benefit when using a digital SLR, since it's easy to get dust on the sensor when you're changing lenses.

The camera has a complicated menu system (more than other comparable cameras) which makes it tricky to find all the settings. The good news is that once the camera's set, you don't have to fiddle with it very much.

Colors produced by the E-330 are vibrant, clarity is exceptional and there are a lot of small additional features that really make the camera fun to use.

SPECIAL NOTE: I will have the Olympus E-330 that I used for this review available on eBay next week. If it seems like the right digital SLR for you, you have the opportunity to get a great deal on it.

Check the Digital SLR Guide Weblog to find out when that auction is available.

Recent Updates to The Guide

Each month, I'll let you know what new information is available at the Digital SLR Guide to help you find the best digital SLR camera.

I finally did it.

I have been avoiding picking cameras associated with the word "best" since the best camera for any type of photography is pretty subjective.

The best digital SLR camera for landscape photography may not be the best for child portraiture.

This is why my "best digital SLR" series includes a lot of different categories.

Rather than a beauty pageant (where there is only one winner) think of it more like the Oscars: there are many opportunities for different cameras to be the best.

I will continue to add categories over the coming months, and will keep you posted about the new ones in this newsletter.

SLR Guide E-Course

Do you have a new digital SLR camera but aren't sure how to use it?

Good news - the Digital SLR Guide is here to help!

I offer a 5-week online course in digital SLR camera technique that will teach you about all of the important features of your digital SLR or SLR-like camera.

Here's what some people who have taken the course have to say about it:

"The purchase of my Digital SLR which began with sheer terror has-in a few short weeks-turned into a wonderful photographing experience due in no small part to this great course."

"If you have ever thought that taking pictures with a SLR is out of your league, this Ecourse will prove you wrong. This is a simple and easy to understand approach to getting started the right way."

Find Out More

Digital SLR Learning Resources

Each month I will present a new photography book or online resource that will take your photos to the next level, and help you continue to learn about photography (if that's your desire).

March Resource: Flickr

Perceptive readers of the Digital SLR Guide will notice that I post all of my photo samples using an online service called Flickr.

Flickr is a photo-sharing service (and there are many of them) that was originally developed in Canada, grew to massive proportions, and was recently purchased by Yahoo.

The good news is that the purchase hasn't changed the spirit of Flickr, it's just given the service more visibility.

While Flickr is not easy to use (there is a learning curve associated with it) it does offer many powerful features not available in other photo-sharing services. If the features are available in other services, they probably got the idea from Flickr since this really was a pioneering web site.

What sets Flickr apart? It's the ability to tag photos that you upload with a series of descriptive words.

For example, I might tag my ghost ball with the following words: ball, ghost, special effect.

Later on, when I'm trying to find this photo, I can search for "ghost ball" and this one will be found - after all, how many other photos have those two words associated with them?

This is especially powerful because you can search for photos tagged by anyone who has ever used Flickr. It's also why Flickr is such an excellent learning resource.

Just go to the Flick home page at and think of a photo you'd like to take. Enter descriptive words into the search box and submit (i.e. geranium, opera house, bicycle, labrador, etc.).

What you'll find is several hundred photographic examples of the photo that you'd like to take. Find one that really has an impact, and then try to figure out what it is about the photo (lighting, composition, subject) that you really like.

To get started on your own photo, just try to copy the one that you like. Once you've made a good copy, then you can continue to experiment on your own until you get a unique photo that you really enjoy.

In Conclusion

That's all for the month of April!

The showers are gradually going away and May flowers are right around the corner - lots of photo opportunities for those who enjoy the great outdoors (and aren't overwhelmed by allergies).

Keep an eye on the Digital SLR Weblog, since I will use that to announce the eBay auction for the Olympus E-330, and any new "best SLR" articles that I am able to write in between now and the next newsletter.

My e-mail box is always open, and I enjoy hearing from you if you have questions or want to provide some feedback.

Thanks for reading, happy picture-taking, and I'll see you next month!

--Chris Roberts, Your Digital SLR Guide

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