©Verte Photography All Rights Reserved

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Time to Click: Buttons and Functions 101

You can't get very far in understanding your camera if you don't understand some of the common symbols, icons, and buttons. Plus, even if you know what they are... you might not know when to use them! So here I come... with plenty of information and helpful tips to get you on your way to being more successful with your camera!

First and foremost... if your just joining us, I can not stress to you enough how important it is for you to go back over the rest of the Time to Click series and catch up with the rest of the class! Trust me, you will learn something! Everyone does!

Now, on to today's post.

Every digital camera is different - so it will be up to you to find each item on your camera. I suggest you pull it out and review as we go. If you get stuck or can't find something, PLEASE leave me a message or email me directly and ask!

First. Turn your camera on.
Find your zoom: This could be a toggle button with the icon T and W (Telephoto: zoom in. Wide: zoom out) or this could be you physically moving the lens left to right.
Find your shutter release: What takes the image. Where your index finger rests when holding your camera.
Find your Playback button: This allows you to view what is on your card

Now, do you have a Mode Dial? It would look something like...

If you don't have the dial, typical of P&S and some Bridge styles, you can find most of these icons and functions in a menu option... Look for a "scene mode" or one of the symbols that is a button you may be able to press over and over again to cycle different modes.

Auto (also shown as a green square, Green Camera or camera and "Auto" as shown above)
P: Program
To learn the difference - there there is a BIG difference check this post!

S: Shutter Control (sometimes listed as Tv or Time Value)this is like your eye lid and controls how fast or slow the shutter opens and closes. If you want to stop action like at a baseball game you need a fast shutter speed, or leave the shutter open for a long time to expose a low light situation like holiday lights without a flash. (We will cover all S, A, and M modes in depth later, don't worry!)

A: Aperture control (also listed as Av): This would be like your iris that dilates to control how much light can come into your eye. This also controls your "depth of field" what you want in focus or not...to create images like:

M: Manual: Controls both Aperture and Shutter.

Now even if you don't have S, A and M modes - your camera still will have some kind of pre-set modes called (Scene Modes) that will help you take better images depending on your situation. Depending on your camera you might have TONS of them! (sometimes its listed under the word scene and you have to use arrow keys in the menu to select what you want)

Standard Scenes or "quick modes": Starting from left to right...
The Portrait Head: Controls A settings, to blur the background or foreground of your subject. (sometimes this will command your flash on as well)
The Mountain: Controls A setting, where everything close and far would be in focus (the opposite of the head)
The Flower: Macro Mode / A control: usually allows for either closer focus range, or a more shallow depth of field then the portrait head (less in focus the father you get from your subject).
The Running Man: Shutter control, stopping action Sports Mode. Great for kid sports!

The person with a star: This is a version of a slow sync function! It commands your flash to expose for the person, as well as leaving the shutter open for something in the background like sunset or city scape at night. TIP: Be sure to use a tripod with this function! Also, be sure to warn your subject not to move until you tell them since the shutter may not be closed when the flash is done.

You may also have... any number of others.... this is from an old list from a Panasonic camera.... since point and shoot camera's are made to be simple manufacturers tend to pack a lot of scene modes into them. The idea is that you can select the image of your situation and get better results then the normal program function. Bridge camera's vary in thinking, typically the more manual options you have, the less "easy" modes you will find!

A few to touch on...
Snow, sand, water, beach modes: All three of these situations reflect a TON of light around, typically causing an over exposure situation. (too much light) You can select any of these modes (almost interchangeably, if you don't have one use the other) and get a better result. Typically its controlling the aperture to allow less light in.

Fireworks,  Night scenery, Candle light, Museum Mode, Starry sky, and Party modes: Any "low light" situation you will want to use a tripod for. For most settings they will be leaving the shutter open longer (very slow) in order to create a good exposure. These are all compensating for less light, no flash situations. If you try to hand hold your camera, it may appear blurry due to camera shake. (it may look like your image is rocking side to side)

Kids, sports, pets, and Baby modes: These are usually controlling your shutter as well. Only by making it faster, in order to stop action! These modes may or may not command your flash, or allow you to do so.

Soft Skin, Food Mode: (sometimes also your museum and candle modes): These are typically working not only to give you the best aperture and shutter combination, but the best White Balance as well! If you don't understand White balance here are a few posts to get caught up on!
Light 101
Balance, White balance

There are always some "fluff" or fun features found as well, like the panoramic mode, the transform mode, and the frame mode.. if your curious what they do, use them! If you don't notice a difference, then look it up in your manual! Most of them you will figure out easily once you know what to look for!

Now, there are a lot more buttons on most cameras... it would be insane of me to try to cover every little button! It's a good thing for you I am a little whacky some days! Tomorrow, I will be reviewing some additional buttons and functions for  you to find! Be sure to come back and check it out! Until then, remember I love to hear your thoughts, struggles, and feedback! So leave a comment and let me know if I can help you!


  1. What a great title to you blog! I love photography and my goal this year is to delve a little deeper into the technical aspects more than I have in the past.
    It's pretty great that you're willing to share so much and answer questions!

    Visiting through the GYB linking party.

  2. Thanks for visiting! If your looking for technical aspects this year the blog will be full of them!

  3. Fantastic advice - I have passed your blog onto my husband (he takes all my photos for me) - as he does just tend to point and click!

    Really enjoying following your blog.

    Kate x