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What are the Most Important Camera Controls?

What are the Most Important Camera Controls?

When making the switch to a DSLR camera or an advanced camera from a beginner-level camera, you may be overwhelmed with the large number of camera buttons. Most of the buttons on the DSLR camera lead to shortcuts to commonly used features. It certainly takes some practice and time to learn how to use each of these buttons, but once you get the layout of the camera buttons figured out, you'll be amazed at just how much time these buttons can save. Use these tips to learn the function of the most important camera buttons on your DSLR or advanced camera, starting with the vital shutter button.

camera controls

Shutter Button:
This is the most important of all of the camera buttons. Typically, the shutter button, also called the shutter-release button, is a large button along the top of the camera, near your right index finger as you hold the camera. Using the shutter-release button on a digital camera is quite different than using one on a film camera. The difference is important to understand. If you don’t press the shutter button in the right sequence, photos will be improperly exposed and focused. Pressing the shutter button down correctly helps prevent camera shake. Even the slightest movement during the record time of a shot can cause blurred images.

Two Step Process
Using a digital camera shutter release button with a film camera, the shutter button is pressed down in a single step. However, it’s a two-step process with a digital camera. When the shutter button is pressed half-way, exposure and focus are locked as long as you hold it in that position.

Controlling focus and exposure
Use the first stage of pressing the shutter button to gain more control over where the camera actually focuses and exposes. Once locked correctly, take the photo. When focus and exposure are achieved, keep holding the shutter release button down halfway if you must recompose. Some digital cameras have a setting that lets you lock focus and exposure independently.

Confirming focus and exposure lock
An indicator on the LCD, electronic viewfinder or a light on your point and shoot camera from near an optical viewfinder glows steadily to confirm the lock. Once the camera confirms focus and exposure, then fully depress the shutter button to take the shot. All digital camera manuals contain instructions about this important technique. Practice until you get the rhythm of the sequence and using it becomes second nature. If you press the shutter button and nothing happens, one of two problems probably has occurred. One, the camera is in an auto-mode and cannot focus properly on the subject, which sometimes occurs in low light situations. Press the shutter button halfway to allow the camera to pre-focus. Then press it the remainder of the way to shoot the photo. Two, if the camera is recharging the flash or saving a photo, the shutter button will not shoot additional photos until those tasks are completed.

Nikon Camera

Exposure Compensation Button:
This button usually has a "+" and a "-" on it. You can use it to manually set the exposure for the photo.

Aperture Button:

This button is usually marked with what looks like a partially closed shutter. Use this button to manually set the aperture.

Nikon 7500

Self-timer Button:
This button is usually marked with what looks like a stopwatch. You can use it to shoot a delayed photo. The amount of time the shot is delayed usually can be set on the camera’s menu.

Lens Release Button:
This button has no markings, and is usually located directly to the right of the lens mount on your DSLR from Press and hold the lens release button first before attempting to unscrew the lens from the DSLR camera.

Delete Button:
This button is usually marked with a trashcan icon. Use it to delete one or multiple photos.

Playback Button:
This button is indicated by a "play" icon. Use it to view your stored photos.

Menu Button:
This button gives you access to the mirrorless camera’s various menus. It’s usually marked with "MENU" or a lined paper icon, either on the button or near the button.

Don’t be dissuaded by the fear that you might not be able to figure out all the controls. Sure, you’ll probably fumble around a bit at first but the awkwardness won’t last forever.
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