March 31, 2010

Hold please:: let me put on my teacher hat.
Ok, class. we are about to leap into springtime photography this friday (the weather is just TOO gorgeous to not be outside taking great shots). and since most of us have cameras that are more advanced than my beloved FM10 film camera (pictured above), maybe we would do a quick run-through of some bells and whistles so that everyone is familiar with our capabilities. SO— Canon or Nikon, this info will apply…or, it “should” at least. point and shoot camera users- some of your cameras have these settings too so look in your menus and check your user manuals. If your camera does not have special settings, do not fear!! Its not the camera that takes the great pictures…its the eye behind it. I took many of my portfolio images with a point and shoot. (no seriously…you can ask my mom. it was her camera)

Alright, grab your coffee and get comfy…this is not a short post. Lets get started by looking at some buttons here: Canon users, bear with me…although I think your options and icons are fairly similar. On the top of MY camera (its a Nikon) there is a big dial on the left hand side. It has these icons: M, A, S, P, AUTO, NO FLASH (looks like a lightning bolt with a line through it), PORTRAIT (lady with a hat), LANDSCAPE (mountain), MACRO (flower), SPORTS (dude running), and NIGHT PORTRAIT (avatar with a star above). Some DSLRs have a setting for special scene (SCN on Canon) sometimes a few other options….it really does depend on the camera model. My D90 does not. (it wants you to do the work). Refer to your user manual for hints on those…they’re helpful quick sets for things like snow scenes and beach scenes where you might otherwise use an exposure compensation (we can learn more on that in later posts). Oh yes, and on the user manual front– you can get user manuals online from your manufacturer’s website if you lost your orig. I found one for the FM10…so you know they’re out there!

Lets go over what these icons mean and maybe a brief example, if I’m feeling saucy, for each. To keep from overwhelming us all, we will split the list in half and cover it over the next 2 days.

1. “M” the M is for Manual. This means you set the aperture and shutter speed. You are in control. The camera does nothing but open the shutter at your command. You would use this to have full control over your exposure.

2. “A” (or “Av” on a Canon) stands for Aperture value. This is a type of program mode that allows you to choose the aperture while the camera chooses the shutter speed to accompany your chosen aperture. What is aperture? well, we will go into more detail in a later post but to be brief it is one of the ways that the camera determines the amount of light that hits the sensor. Wide maximum aperture values let you shoot in lower light without a flash. Think of it like the pupil of your eye. When the light is low, the pupil of your eye gets bigger to let in more light. Aperture works similarly for a camera. Wide open apertures let in more light. We’ll leave it at that for now.

{{is somebody snoring?? who is snoring?? you might be tested on this… so pay attention!}}

3. “S” (or “Tv” on a Canon) stands for the shutter speed setting. This is another type of program mode that lets you choose the shutter speed while the camera picks the appropriate aperture for that setting. Fast shutter speeds allow you to stop action (think sports) while slower shutter speeds allow you to take pictures in low light without a flash or blur movement to show the action in your photo. Again, we’ll cover it in more depth at a later time when we delve into more photography basics. Right now, we’re simply learning the dials on our cameras.

4. “P” is actually just the program mode. Confusing since “S” and “A” are also program modes. P mode allows you to go back and forth adjusting aperture or shutter speed without having to change modes completely. This mode is like AUTO mode in that it will choose the best settings for optimal exposure but it is customizable (where AUTO is not). It will not pop up your flash even if it is needed unless you tell it to, though. (AUTO mode will).

5. AUTO mode. Says it all. Camera does it all. When you get in a jam, or need a snapshot fast its a great setting.


We will continue this discussion tomorrow with the NO FLASH mode description. I know you’ll be waiting on the edge of your seats. **the picture at the top is my show and tell: it was my first SLR camera…from way back in the 90s: the Nikon FM10. i still have it and i still love it. 😉 no bells. no whistles…just the basics at its core. awesomely old school, huh? Who else has a show and tell?

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3 Comments to IN FOCUS: camera basics

  1. loved it, can’t wait for more…

  2. Woo hoo! There’s lots more tomorrow! Can’t wait to share!


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