No worries

OK, I have this great camera. It has buttons, knobs, dials, and some things I’m not really sure what they are. Let’s ignore them for now. Each camera has some basic things in common. They may look different than someone else’s, be in a different place, or even be labeled differently.


No worries.


Each camera has some basic things that are common across all of them as far as function is concerned, and regardless of where it might be on your camera.


So let’s go through some things you need to know about your camera and a few things you should know to make it more functional.


This is where you should dig out that manual that you threw in the back of the drawer.


The most important? The on/off switch.  It should be obvious, but I’ve seen some cameras that make them difficult to find and use.


Continuing the list:

  • Zoom. On point and shoot cameras it is typically by the shutter button. On DSLR’s it’s typically on the lens barrel. Cell phones? Most do not have a real zoom. When you pinch twist and turn your fingers on the screen to expand and contract the image, all you are really doing is “cropping” in the phone.

  • Where do the batteries go? Do you have extra batteries? With you? Are they charged? Do you know where the charger is?

  • The Memory card. Do you know where it goes? Do you have an extra one in case the one in your camera gets filled up? More on Memory cards later.

  • The Shutter button: It should fit naturally under your index finger when holding the camera.

  • The Review button: This enables you to take a look at the images you just took, enlarge them, show them to other people, and if needed, delete them.

  • Flash. Most cameras have flash built into them. Do you know how to turn it on or off?

  • Menu. The dreaded MENU switch (required for things such as setting date-time, turning GPS on/off, formatting memory card, and much more)

 I need to talk about zoom a bit more. Do not let a salesman even talk to you about “Digital zoom”. It’s all hype and marketing. Using digital zoom is the camera’s computer interpolating [read guessing] on how to add pixels to make the image look bigger. Don’t use it. Most camera’s do this quite poorly.


Optical zoom is done with physically moving the lens. It is accurate, and your image doesn’t lose quality.


Get the images on your computer, then you edit it using the computer’s tools to change the image so it reflects your vision.


See? Your camera isn’t quite so strange anymore, is it? There really is a reason for all those controls, but it doesn’t mean you have to use them all. When you are ready to capture your view of the world, know that your camera is your tool, which you control, doing what you told it to do.


Next month I am going to briefly discuss all these great images you have on your memory card and what to do with them.


It’s time to talk computers and software. Don’t let that beast intimidate you, it’s just another tool.  Get those images off the camera, onto your computer, edit them and share them. There is a software that makes this part fairly easy and actually fun; much of it is even free, while some is scary expensive. We are going to try to take a quick look at some of them.

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