Photography 101: Know Your Camera Part One

In this post I would like to show you around the Canon 450D and explain in brief (if possible) what each button does. Why I have chosen this camera is simple. First I have it so I know the camera like the manual was written on the back of my hand. Secondly the configuration of the 450D is quite similar to other brands so they might look different yet they share a common ground.

So lets get started.

1. Shutter Release

Pressing the shutter release fully will take a picture. The button can also be pressed half way (not completely down) which will tell the camera to auto focus and to take a meter reading to determine your settings. This half pressed feature is really important, here is why: when your taking a picture in auto mode the camera will guess what you want to focus on but its not always right. Lets say your taking a picture of a model in front and to the right of a tower, so the tower is in the middle. The camera will keep focusing on the tower as its big and in the middle but then leaving your model blurred. You can just point the camera at your model, then half press the shutter release button to focus on him/her and then while holding it half pressed you can move back to having your tower in the middle again. You will have kept the focus set to the model and if you release the button and try again it would focus back on the tower.

As a little side note. Nikon and Canon use a AF point system which means you can set where the camera will focus to within the camera without using the shutter release method.

2. Main Dial or Configuration selector

Depending on which option you have selected this cog dial will allow you to change the value of that option.

3. ISO

You can press this and then select an ISO that you need or set it to automatically select the ISO.

4. Power On/Off

If I have to explain this… Well you should know its the switch that activates the mini black hole that sucks in everything into your cameras memory card. Use with caution.

5. Mode Dial

Here you can select all the modes that are available for your camera. Starting from A-Dep we will work our way around (of course more detailed explanations will be available for each mode later).

A-Dep : Auto Depth of field - This mode allows the camera to automatically set the depth of field without any fuss. What is depth of field?

M : Manual Mode - Full manual mode giving you complete control over all the cameras functions!

AV : Aperture Priority Mode - Turns everything on Auto except Aperture and ISO.

TV : Shutter Priority Mode – Turns everything on Auto except Shutter speed and ISO.

P : Program Mode - When used will set all the settings automatically but then gives you the ability to change things depending on your situation. (maybe auto mode makes the image too light and you can adjust it within P mode)

Green Square : Full Auto Mode - All the configurable functions in the camera are under the cameras control and you can’t change anything.

Persons Head : Portrait Mode - Auto mode that will configure the camera for portraits

Island with Tree : Landscape Mode - Auto mode that will configure the camera for landscapes (including night scenes)

Flower : Macro Mode - Or also known as “close-up mode” is an auto mode that will configure the camera for really really close up shots.

Running guy : Sports Mode – Auto mode that will configure the camera for shooting Sports or moving objects.

Guy with a Star : Night Portrait Mode - Auto mode that will configure the camera for night portrait shots.

So we now know where some of the basic functions are for the Canon 450D which hopefully wont be all that different form Nikon’s or Sony DSLR’s. If your using a point and shoot camera however you might not have any of these options at all and if you do they could be hidden in some menu. Simply consult your manual for these modes and hopefully you have them.

In part two I will finish off the rest of the Canon 450D and then after that we can move on the more technical side of photography explain Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.

If I have made any mistakes please let me know!

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