Newbie--limitations on my camera and lens
Hi this is my first post..

My husband surprised me with a Canon 40d. My head is spinning. I've owned a film canon and only took pic. in auto..

Now I really want to learn to take great pictures. Bought the book Understanding Exposure by Peterson. Learningslowly:).

The 40d came with 17-85 IS f4-4.5 lens. Can someone tell me what my limitations are with this lens. I'm confused on what aperture settings I can use on the camera?.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks..

Sorry but I'm just learning!!..

Comments (11)

4YAHWEH wrote:.

Hi this is my first post.My husband surprised me with a Canon 40d. My head is spinning. I'veowned a film canon and only took pic. in auto..

Now I really want to learn to take great pictures. Bought the bookUnderstanding Exposure by Peterson. Learningslowly:).

The 40d came with 17-85 IS f4-4.5 lens. Can someone tell me what mylimitations are with this lens. I'm confused on what aperturesettings I can use on the camera?.

Learning is where you start. The (f) or aperture listed on a lens is the widest the lens will go. Think of it as a starting point. The range for that lens is 4-5.6 to 22-32 depending on how zoomed in you are. The sweet spot for that lens is somewhere from f8-f11. Just play with it and figure out what you are happy with.

I shoot in RAW but you may find in the short term jpeg's are easier to critique. I would also recommend shooting in AV mode ... adjust your aperture & ISO to what you want and let it pick a speed based on that. Once you get the basics try some manual, that really helps you understand what is going on..

Here is a link to a good explanation by Eric Sorensen.

Richard Herbert, Monterey CAStandout from conformity, 'Only a dead fish swims with the current.'..

Comment #1

4YAHWEH wrote:.

Hi this is my first post.The 40d came with 17-85 IS f4-4.5 lens. Can someone tell me what mylimitations are with this lens. I'm confused on what aperturesettings I can use on the camera?.

OK, the "f4-4.5" refers to the maximum aperture the lens will provide - f/4 at the shortest focal length (17mm) ranging through to 4.5 at the longest zoom (85mm). This is not great - it will limit your ability to take shots in low light because you will need to use slower shutter speeds to compensate for the relatively narrow aperture. The other limitation would be when shooting action/sports, where you may not be able to achieve a suitably fast shutter speed to freeze the action. But for general use, in good light, it should serve you well. After a while, and some experience, youll get a feel for what sort of lens you might like your husband to buy you next!.

Take a look at other lenses in the Canon range, and their apertures (and prices!) to get a feel for how this works..

The great thing about digital compared to film is that you can experiment as much as you like at zero cost. So just get out and shoot lots in the different modes of the camera, to learn more..

The main modes you will want to play with are Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S) and Manual (M). Forget about Program (P) mode for the moment, its really only one step removed from Auto and IMHO you wont learn as much, as quickly, as if you go straight to the other modes. Quick summary of how these modes work:.

A mode - you set the aperture (between the maximum / widest opening of 4/4.5 and the narrowest, which is probably f/22) and the camera selects the shutter speed to suit..

S mode - you set the shutter speed and the camera selects the aperture..

- Note that in both these modes there is no guarantee of a correct exposure: If you select a very high shutter speed for example, and theres not enough light for even the widest aperture, then the camera cant help you and the picture will be underexposed. There should be some sort of warning in the viewfinder - a Lo indicator or something (sorry, I dont know the Canon SLRs).

M mode - you select both shutter and aperture. There will be an indicator in the viewfinder that shows whether the picture is over or underexposed - your job is to twiddle the shutter and aperture until the needle is centred at the zero point..

The other main factors in exposure will be.

- ISO setting: Id say start at 200 but dont be afraid to step up to 400 or 800, you may get more noise but the 40D should be pretty good in that area.- Metering mode - average, centre weight or spot..

- Exposure compensation: you dial in a bias for under or overexposure so the cameras light meter will automatically give you a little more or less exposure..

I suggest you start with ISO of, say, 400 (to make sure youve got a good range of exposure options) and average / matrix metering mode (whatever its called on the 40D) and play with shutter speed and aperture first. Keep the number of variables down to a minimum, learn one thing at a time. I think a lot of people get confused when they try to tinker with all the settings at once and theyre not sure which setting is having which effect..

I hope thats a good start for you. Good luck, youre going to have a lot of fun...

Comment #2

Hi Newbie,.

I'm a Newbie husband got me a 40D for Christmas but I didn't like the heaviness or large grip size so I returned it..

I posted many threads! may get some help by reading what was replied to mine...most of which was very helpful!!!.

Now I'm trying to decide on which zoom to buy...hard to know what's decent when you're just beginning, but it's also hard to learn without the equipment!.

Good Luck!Denise..

Comment #3



Comment #4

I also thought about returning my 40D, heavy and little bulky, and specially since it's soooo expensive. I keep telling him the xti is so much cheaper..

My husband knows I love photography and warned me that he would go out and buy 3 new beautiful shiny guns if I returned it.:) Besides he said "maybe someday you'll make money doing what you love".

Still agonizing over if this is the right camera for me. A lot to learn about this camera.But getting advice and reading, and reading some more..

So thank you for the advice I'm getting. Right now I'm playing around with the manual, aperture, and shutter speed and getting a little frustrated at times I can't even get a picture. I'm getting some of the settings wrong. But as some of the replies I need to maybe stay at the "sweet spot" (for now) due to my lens..

I want to take pic. of my kids, portraits, and maybe some day weddings. I'm also interested in travel photography. I guess everything:).

I'm excited this photographer is letting me shadow him in some of his weddings..

Again thanks!Audry..

Comment #5

Audry, if you do love photography as your husband believes you do, then keep your 40d. That is a terrific camera that even some professionals use..

Don't return it only to buy a stifling P&S or only-slightly-better prosumer model..

Even though the included lens isn't the best of quality, it's still w-a-a-a-y better than any P&S and will serve you well for quite some time. Better lenses can come later..

Your new 40d has all the features and controls you need to do some pretty amazing things, limited only by your creativity and imagination. If you can adapt to the size and weight, you will not be disappointed in the long run. No, it's not as convenient as a P&S, but nor does it have the severe limitations of a P&S..

If all you want is happy snaps of kids birthday parties or mundane souvenir pictures of your vacations, then a P&S is fine. But if you have a budding interest in photography as anything more than a handful of 4x6s to pass around then discard, then keep your 40d and learn to use it..

You will not be disappointed!.


Comment #6


Thank you for your reassurance on the 40d. You really helped me get that extra confidence I really needed.There's so much to this camera, it's little overwhelming.O.K a lot!!!!!Any favorite books I should buy, or best advice you ever got???.

I already have the exposure book by peterson and one by Freeman-digital camerasthanks audry.

I actually can't wait to get out of work so I can go practice, shoot and shoot some more...

Comment #7

Translated into terms of 35mm film photography, you have the equivalent of a 28-135 mm lens which also has Image Stabilization.You have a very nice body/lens combination which can get you excellent pictures..

Keep the camera and the lens and go and take pictures, start in full auto just to see what it does and buy a book or two on how to get the most out of that camera..

You'll want to learn about white balance, jpeg, raw and other terms people throw around but, basically, you have what I would call an excellent advanced amateur camera with an excellent lens.I wish my wife walked in with a present like that...:-)..

Comment #8

Don't be too intimidated, you have got a great camera there. And remember, by posting here you may get replies that assume a great deal. As another said your lens is just fine for starting out, in fact it is great, and will serve for a long, long time. The zoom feature will let you learn about composition (google for "rule of thirds"). When one referred to the "sweet spot" that only means that at that f-stop, your images will have their highest potential sharpness, assuming correct focusing (which is automatic, as you know). But most beginners can't see this, in fact many seasoned "hobby" photographers can't tell the difference.

I think the primary thing a beginner can learn about first is composition. Of course, you have to learn how to use the camera, too. But remember, all those little options on your menus won't do any good until you learn the relationship between f-stop and shutter speed, lighting, contrast, depth-of-field (or focus) and the like which are the same concepts whether you are using a digital, analog or pin-hole camera..

There are many, many, many digital photography resources on the internet, too..

I think one of the best pieces of advice is to find a class taught at your local community college or city/county activities provider. There are a lot of folks out there who have learned a great deal about photography and just want to share what they have learned. Then you can ask "live" questions of teachers and other participants and learn so much quicker. This is overlooked way too often..

And then, like you said, shoot, shoot, shoot. Learn how to post pics on DPReview and ask for "CC" (constructive criticism). You'll get it. Just don't be shy and don't be thin skinned. You'll learn a lot..


Comment #9


Again thanks for everyone advice and encouragement..


Comment #10

Those books should be fine. Actually, old film-based SLRs and today's dSLRs have more in common than not..

Photographic theory and principle is pretty much unchanged. For the purposes of learning how to take good pictures, don't even think in terms of digital. Of course, having that instant feedback is nice, meaning you don't have to wait for film processing..

But aside from that instant-feedback convenience, I would forget that it's digital. Once you get comfortable not a master, just comfortable with your camera such that your pictures fairly accurately represent your vision for the shot, then you can start thinking in the added terms of digital and what that can do for you..

I'm excited for you! Your enthusiasm reminds me of my fun times learning my cameras many years ago. There's so much to do and a lot of it is within fairly easy grasp once you learn some basics..


Comment #11

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