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Know your camera

Created date

September 24th, 2013
John Toutkaldjian

Today’s digital cameras are very complex computers that can take extraordinary photos. They are smarter than we are—at least, in taking photographs—but they do only what they are told to do. All you have to figure out is what you want the camera to do and how to tell it what to do.

The path to knowing your camera is your manual. Here are a few of its key points that should kick-start you toward a better photo experience.

Your camera’s auto function is amazingly accurate. Even if your camera has manual options by which you can change aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, don’t bother with them. Leave your camera on auto. When you are more experienced, you can learn these functions.

A camera’s scene modes do an excellent job of taking good photos under conditions to which they have been assigned. The main control dial has an icon or the word “Scene” (SCN) or letters, like BS (meaning “best shot”), which allows you, via the menu, to dial up the appropriate scene mode. It will show you a picture of a “night” scene or “portrait” scene, among others, designed to produce good photos under certain conditions.

Your flash can be controlled to accomplish a number of tasks. In auto, it will automatically flash when light conditions are low. The on position will cause the camera to flash every time the button is pressed to take a picture, handy when taking portraits out-of-doors. Red eye helps prevent the dreaded red eye that you see when a person is looking directly at the camera. The off designation turns the flash completely off. There is a lightning bolt icon near the control selector with which to change these functions. Your manual will instruct you how to use it.

Learn how to charge your battery. For the most part, you won’t need a backup, but take your battery charger with you when away from home for a few days.

Check your manual to learn how to download your photos to a computer and how to format your camera card to delete all the images.

Become comfortable with these few operations. Your manual is the key to finding answers to most of your questions. Use it and it will help you take fantastic photos.

John Toutkaldjian became an avid photographer after retiring from a career in television broadcasting. He and his wife Berjouhie live at Maris Grove, an Erickson Living community in Delaware County, Pa. He was the photographer for the official 2013 Maris Grove calendar.

John's 6 tips to better photos

  1. Hold the camera steady.
  2. Photograph children at their eye level.
  3. Use the camera flash outdoors when photographing people.
  4. Use the scene mode function more often.
  5. Look up the word composition and include it in your photography.
  6. Get to know your camera.