Day 19: DSLR Primer Revisions

POSTED Tue Feb.19.2013 by Dave Seah UNDER Challenge, Product Making

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

TIP: To download the PDFs to your computer, right-click (control-click on Macs) the links and choose "Save Link As..." Adobe Acrobat Reader is recommended for printing. The built-in "Mac OS X Preview" and "Chrome Browser" PDF viewers do not always draw dotted lines correctly.

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.


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

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