Getting Comfortable with Your Lens

One of the biggest differences between a point-and-shoot camera and an SLR (single-lens reflex) camera is the lens. With an SLR, you can swap out lenses to suit different photographic needs, going from an extreme close-up lens to a super-long telephoto, for example. Additionally, an SLR lens has a movable focusing ring that gives you the option of focusing manually instead of relying on the camera's autofocus mechanism.

Of course, those added capabilities mean that you need a little background information to take full advantage of your lens. To that end, the next three sections explain the process of attaching, removing, and using this critical part of your camera.

Attaching a lens

Your camera can accept two categories of Canon lenses: those with an EF-S design and those with a plain-old EF design.

The EF stands for electro focus; the S, for short back focus. And no, you don't need to remember what the abbreviation stands for — just make sure that if you buy a Canon lens other than the one sold with the camera, it carries either the EF or EF-S specification. (The letters are part of the lens name; for example, the kit lens name is EF-S 18-55mm IS, with the IS standing for image stabilization, a feature explained later in this chapter.) If you want to buy a non-Canon lens, check the lens manufacturer's Web site to find out which lenses work with the Rebel T1i/500D.

Whatever lens you choose, follow these steps to attach it to the camera body:

1. Remove the cap at covers the lens mount on the front of the camera.

2. Remove the cap that covers the back of the lens.

3. Locate the proper lens mounting index on the camera body.

A mounting index is simply a marker that tells you where to align the lens with the camera body when connecting the two. Your camera has two of these markers, one red and one white, as shown in Figure 1-1.

Which marker you use to align your lens depends on the lens type:

• Canon EF-S lens: The white square is the mounting index.

• Canon EF lens: The red dot is the mounting index.

If you buy a non-Canon lens, check the lens manual for help with this step.

4. Align the mounting index on the lens with the correct one on the camera body.

The lens also has a mounting index; Figure 1-2 shows the one that appears on the so-called "kit lens" — the EF-S 18-55mm IS (image stabilizer) zoom lens that Canon sells as a unit with the Rebel T1i/500D. If you buy a different lens, the index marker may be red or some other color, so again, check the lens instruction manual.

Figure 1-1: Which index marker you should use depends on the lens type.

5. Keeping the mounting EF-S mounting indexes indexes aligned, position _K_

the lens on the camera's lens mount.

When you do so, grip the lens by its back collar as shown in the figure.

6. Turn the lens in a clockwise direction until the lens clicks into place.

In other words, turn the lens toward the lens-release button (see Figure 1-1), as indicated by the red arrow in Figure 1-2.

Always attach (or switch) lenses in a clean environment to reduce the risk of getting dust, dirt, and other contaminants inside the camera or lens. Changing lenses on a sandy beach, for example, isn't a good idea. For added safety, point the camera body slightly down when performing this maneuver, as shown in the figure. Doing so helps prevent any flotsam in the air from being drawn into the camera by gravity.

Figure 1-2: Place the lens in the lens mount with the mounting indexes aligned.

Removing a lens

To detach a lens from the camera body, take these steps:

1. Locate the lens-release button on the front of the camera.

I labeled the button in Figure 1-1.

2. Grip the rear collar of the lens.

In other words, hold onto the stationary part of the lens that's closest to the camera body.

3. Press the lens-release button while turning the lens away from the lens-release button.

You should feel the lens release from the mount at this point. Lift the lens off the mount to remove it.

4. Place the rear protective cap onto the back of the lens.

If you aren't putting another lens on the camera, cover the lens mount with the protective cap that came with your camera, too.

Using an IS (image stabilizer) lens

The 18-55mm lens sold with the Rebel T1i/500D camera offers image stabilization. On Canon lenses, this feature is indicated by the initials IS in the lens name.

Image stabilization attempts to compensate for small amounts of camera shake that are common when photographers handhold their cameras and use a slow shutter speed, a lens with a long focal length, or both. Camera shake is a problem because it can result in blurry images, even when your focus is dead-on. Although image stabilization can't work miracles, it does enable most people to capture sharper handheld shots in many situations than they otherwise could.

However, when you use a tripod, image stabilization can have detrimental effects because the system may try to adjust for movement that isn't actually occurring. Although this problem shouldn't be an issue with most Canon IS lenses, if you do see blurry images while using a tripod, try setting the Stabilizer switch (shown in Figure 1-3) to Off. You also can save battery power by turning off image stabilization when you use a tripod.

Focusing ring

Focal length marker

Auto/Manual Focus switch

Image Stabilizer switch

Focusing ring

Focal length marker

Figure 1-3: Set the focusing switch to MF before turning the manual focus ring.

If you use a non-Canon lens, the image stabilization feature may go by another name: anti-shake, vibration compensation, and so on. In some cases, the manufacturers may recommend that you leave the system turned on or select a special setting when you use a tripod, so be sure to check the lens manual for information.

Whatever type of lens you use, note that image stabilization isn't meant to eliminate the blur that can occur when your subject moves during the exposure. That problem is related to shutter speed, a topic you can explore in Chapter 5. Chapter 6 offers more tips for blur-free shots and explains focal length and its effect on your pictures.

Shifting from autofocus to manual focus

Like any modern camera, yours offers autofocusing capabilities. Your Rebel T1i/500D offers an excellent autofocusing system, which you can find out how to exploit to its best advantage in Chapter 6. With some subjects, however, autofocusing can be slow or impossible, which is why your camera also offers manual focusing.

You make the shift from auto to manual focus as follows:

1. Locate the AF/MF switch on the side of the lens.

This switch sets the focus operation to either auto (AF) or manual (MF). Figure 1-3 shows you the switch as it appears on the Rebel T1i/500D kit lens. The switch should be in a similar location on other Canon lenses. If you use a lens from another manufacturer, check the lens instruction manual.

2. Set the switch to the MF position, as shown in the figure.

3. Look through the viewfinder and twist the focusing ring until your subject comes into focus.

On the kit lens, the focusing ring is at the far end of the lens barrel, as indicated in Figure 1-3. If you use another lens, the focusing ring may be located elsewhere, so check your lens manual.

If you have trouble focusing, you may be too close to your subject; every lens has a minimum focusing distance. (For the kit lens, the minimum close-focus range is about 10 inches; for other lenses, check the specifications in the lens manual.) You also may need to adjust the viewfinder to accommodate your eyesight; see the next section for details.

Some lenses enable you to use autofocusing to set the initial focusing point and then fine-tune focus manually. Check your lens manual for information on how to use this option, if available. (It's not offered on the kit lens.)

Zooming in and out

If you bought a zoom lens, it sports a movable zoom barrel. On the kit lens, the barrel is just behind the focusing ring, as shown in Figure 1-3, but again, the relative positioning of the two components depends on your lens. Whatever the lens model, though, you rotate the lens barrel to zoom.

The numbers around the edge of the zoom barrel, by the way, represent focal lengths. I explain focal lengths in Chapter 6. In the meantime, just note that when the lens is mounted on the camera, the number that's aligned with the white focal-length indicator, labeled in Figure 1-3, represents the current focal length. In Figure 1-3, for example, the focal length is 55mm.

Digital Cameras For Beginners

Digital Cameras For Beginners

Although we usually tend to think of the digital camera as the best thing since sliced bread, there are both pros and cons with its use. Nothing is available on the market that does not have both a good and a bad side, but the key is to weigh the good against the bad in order to come up with the best of both worlds.

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Responses

  • sven
    What is a manual focus ring?
    6 years ago

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