Day 19: DSLR Primer Revisions

A Digital SLR Manual Settings Primer I posted yesterday’s DSLR Primer Card pretty late, and I awoke this morning to find a few comments by Sid with some feedback. One was an idea for the ISO section, which I liked. The other was an ERROR he had discovered in the shutter section: “It should be 200 or 250 or slower, not faster”.

Chagrined, I said I would look at it immediately. This took up all of today’s design time, but it’s be a reminder of what it’s like to collaborate with other experts. Hmm!

I soon realized that the source of confusion was my home-grown understanding versus his daily practice. Shutter speeds on a camera are often written as integers (e.g. 30, 50, 125, 250), which is how Sid thinks of them in his day-to-day use. Since I’m approaching the camera as a mental model, I’m thinking of shutter speeds as lengths of time as fractions of a second (e.g. 1/30, 1/50, 1/125, 1/250). Which is more clear? It would be best to use actual camera setting numbers on the graph so new users can match them on their camera. However, to understand “faster” means knowing that 1/250 is more than 1/125 if I use “shutter open duration” as the scale. However, if one thinks in terms of “faster shutters” as meaning “higher numbers”, then they are unlikely to think this. This is one of those areas where daily use tends to round the corners of theory.

I spent some time re-designing the graph to try to accommodate both Sid’s views and mine on the subject. I think the result is a better graph, which is a better product though it’s not a new one. However, I think the wrinkle in today’s POTD is that this is the first time I’m collaborating with someone else, at least in spirit, on the challenge. So today’s product of the day is two parts:

  • An improved diagram, which is already available on yesterday’s product page.
  • A renewed appreciation on my part for the collaborative design process.

For fun, here’s the two versions so you can look at them and compare:

  • DSLR Manual Camera Settings Primer: Basics Version 1 PDF
  • DSLR Manual Camera Settings Primer: Basics Version 2 PDF


Project of the Day Insight

On a side note, I’m starting to feel the strain of producing a new project every day including the weekends. I overslept for the first time and missed my 715A call with Brad for the first time since starting in December, and I am feeling the need to put time into other areas of my life, like vacuuming and socializing. I actually need a break from this work! I can’t remember the last time that happened; apparently I have found a limit at the 2 or 3 week mark!

So I am using that as my excuse for calling a “revision” a Product of the Day. Technically, I don’t think it counts, but I also have already used up the time I allocated for the day. However, the insight about collaboration as part of the product refinement process was worthwhile.

Groundhog Day Resolution Posts for 2014

I am challenging myself to create a new product every day for the month of February 2013. The Challenge Page lists all the products in one place. Check it out!


  1. Christopher Robin 3 years ago

    If the purpose was to help make setting changes based on available light, would it be better to keep the bright settings and the dark settings on the same side of the page for each section? Currently the conditions and aperture sections are from dark to bright, while the ISO and shutter sections are from bright to dark.

    Could you tie the graphic depicting the “range of DSLR” to the ISO settings in the space you have? I think depicting the moving range with the changing ISO setting would help make this more apparent at a glance.

    Minor nitpick, in the “Observe Conditions” block, are the middle two pictures supposed to be rooms? If so, it took me a little bit to figure that out. Basically, I’m having issues keeping the 3D effect going away from me instead of coming toward me. I think my brain wants some kind of anchor to identify the image as a room instead of a pyramidal frustum. A table, a plant, or window pane cross beams could help make that more obvious. Perhaps trimming the top left and right corners so the wall has a consistent height, or making the floor a different color than the walls would have a similar effect.

    Also, super minor nitpick, but if the sun is in the right hand window, shouldn’t the left wall be brighter than the right one? ^_-

  2. Author
    Dave Seah 3 years ago

    Christopher: Good catch! I can more easily reverse the images and aperture sections; I like time going from left to right for the shutters, so I think that would have to remain the same.

    I like the idea of the moving range. I think what I would do is actually put that topic onto another card (the 4×6 is VERY cramped), and this one becomes an index. You’re right that it could be more apparent at-a-glance, but I think it probably needs more room and more repetition. It might be a cool interactive.

    Yes, the two middle images are supposed to be rooms. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time drawing a realistically room, so I put in placeholders based on night, dim room, daylight room, daylight outside. I think a finished product would use actual photos, perhaps a controlled set or location, indoor and outdoor.

  3. Mark 3 years ago

    Is having to revise one day’s work a valid use of POTD for the next day? :-)

    Just kidding. Great site, very thought evoking.


  4. Author
    Dave Seah 3 years ago

    Mark: I think you are suffering from TL;DR :D

    But yes, I don’t think it technically counts, unless I think of the “product” as “collaborative design iteration”.

A message from Dave:

I believe we all benefit when we respectfully share our perspectives on common experiences. My house rules are "please be respectful of divergent views" and "enjoy the flow of ideas!"

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