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Photo Basics

Lesson 2 from: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Fast Start

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

2. Photo Basics

If this Canon camera is your very first DSLR, pay attention to this quick crash course on camera basics, like how a reflex camera works, the difference between a full frame CMOS sensor and an APS-C, and exposure basics. If you're not scratching your head at the terms aperture and shutter speed, then go grab a coffee or skip this four-minute lesson.

Lesson Info

Photo Basics

Alright this section is called Photo Basics and for probably 90% of you, just skip past this. Some people get angry when they get told information they already know about, in which case, you need to find new things to get angry about. Just move on to the next section, go on to Camera Controls but for those of you who just don't mind a few minutes brushing up on the basics, let's go through a few of the basics here. So this is a Single Lens Reflex camera which means we have one lens on the camera. There are lots of choices and lenses, wide angle, telephoto, many more we don't have time to talk about right now. In the lens itself is an Aperture which allows us to control the amount of light coming through the lens so we can let in more light or less light by changing our f stops or apertures and closing our Aperture down like this to let in less light. And with each of these stops, the f stops, it is either doubling or cutting in half the amount of light coming in the camera. Beyond cont...

rolling the amount of light coming in the camera, it also controls our depth field or how much is in focus. A 1.4 lens is gonna exhibit very shallow depth of field when shot at 1.4. As we stop our apertures down, we're gonna get more and more depth of field. The area that is in focus is going to increase as you can see on this yard stick on the right, the numbers at the top and bottom are coming in sharper and sharper focus as we stop our aperture down to its smallest opening. Now we have great depth of field. So that's what's going on in the lens. Now when the light comes in, it hits the mirror and that's the reflex portion. Reflex means there's a mirror in there bouncing the light upwards. It bounces the light upwards to a focusing screen which you can see through the viewfinder via a prism system and so that's what's happening when you pick the camera up just to look and compose your shots. When you press down on the shutter release, the mirror needs to get up and out of the way so that light can get back to the Image Sensor. Now before light can get there, it needs to get past the Shutter unit which actually has two parts to it, the first and the second curtain. The first curtain is blocking and then it moves away, lets the light into the sensor, and then the second unit comes in and turns and blocks the light and that way each pixel is exposed for exactly the same amount of time. The mirror returns, the shutter returns to its beginning position and there are many different shutter speeds used for controlling light. Once again, you can let in more light with a longer shutter speed or less light with a faster shutter speed but it also controls the action stopping capability of the camera. One of the most important things in any camera these days is the size of the sensor and there are lots of different cameras out on the market and there are lots of different size sensors which has to do great deal with the overall image quality capabilities, the types of accessories that work with it and the 5D Mark IV works with the largest of the common sensors out on the market which is based off of 35mm Film which is what I like to call the goldilocks size. It was not too big and not too small, it just fit right for a lot of people's needs in photography and that's why it was so popular in the days of film and it's been carried forward in the days of digital as well. And so this is what is known as a Full Frame because it's the same size as film. Now there are smaller sensors, some of them in Canon cameras like the Canon 7D Mark II uses an APS-C sensor as many of the other lower cost Canon cameras and there are different factors and we'll talk a little bit more about this when we talk about the lenses that you can use on this camera. So if you wanna know more about photography, I have a class called the Fundamentals of Photography. It's about 27 hours of visuals and lectures and going through everything. It's a little deceptive, I think the name is probably not the best name. It's Fundamentals, there's just so much more in there. It's not just the basics. It should be the Fundamentals of Photography And Much More, something like that 'cause as I said we spent five days going over that information here at CreativeLive and so you can find that at CreativeLive's website of course.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Canon 5D Mark IV Recommended Settings

Ratings and Reviews


John is such a fabulous educator. Well spoken, knowledgeable and he presents with such clarity and easy, it makes listening that much more enjoyable. I would highly recommend taking this class and any of his classes dealing with photography. HE simplifies the menu system and buttons on the camera in this course that would be painstakingly long if you tried it on your own. I have watched this video 2-3 times know and each time I go back, I learn a little more. Being able to drop into any of the main topics with easy, not having to watch and search for your desired info is so convenient. I will never buy another camera without checking to see if John has completed a review on it........I trust his opinion. Thanks John......I am a fan.

Ralph Somma

I was reluctant to purchase this course because I already have the Instruction Manual that came with the 5D Mark IV and am committed to reading it in it's entirely. Nevertheless, after watching a preview of the course, I decide to buy it so I could view it at my leisure, pause and rewind it as needed. I am so glad I did. John Greengo's teaching method is clear and concise. He presents the material in a way that makes it interesting and enjoyable to learn. His effective use of visuals and demonstrations makes understanding every important function of the 5D Mark IV a breeze. I look forward to implementing what I've learned, his recommendations and tweaking the camera's settings to suit my own needs and preferences. Now as I trudge through all 600+ pages of the manual, I'm confident I will more easily grasp the camera's 100+ settings and can always refer back to the course if necessary.


First I have to say that I wanted this camera before it was even released. I had taken some of John's fast start courses and I had some questions regarding this camera vs. the 5D mark III and 7D mark II that I was using at that time. I emailed John and got an "out of office/out on location response". I put it out of my mind assuming that when John Greengo was back in the office, he'd have hundreds of emails waiting and my little question would get lost in the shuffle. I was delighted to receive a response a few weeks later. I was even more delighted when he released this fast start course. I did end up buying the 5D mark IV (love it) and had a pretty good handle on using it. This class opened up some new doors in how to use all of the features and customize things to suit my needs. I can never recommend John's classes enough. He explains things in an easy yet technical way that is useful to both beginners and seasoned photographers!

Student Work