Your Camera uses many buttons and icons. The picture below is typical of many cameras. The icons used are common to many camera manufacturers.

The icons in the picture on the right are common to many makes of diital camera. As you can see the main controll is the circular directional D pad. Below is a simple explanation of what they do.

The MENU button switches the camera into a mode where you change the camera's sttings. Many things can be adjusted, like image size, quality, sharpness, colour, ISO, metering mode, etc.... It's the most important button on the camera. It may be reresented by an icon of horizontal lines looking a little like a sheet of writing paper. Often the menu button is in the centre of the D pad and doubles up as an OK button.

The PLAYBACK button is a triangle pointing right like a play button on a CD or cassette player. It may have a square around it (as in the picture). It switches the screen between shooting mode (displaying what it sees through the lens) and playback mode (displaying images taken). In playback mode, pressing the D pad left or right cycles through the images on the card and whilst in this mode most cameras let you use the zoom controll to magnify the image whilst using the D pad to moce around the entire image. 

On a modern Digicam without a viewfinder,  DISP or display, changes the display, usually by removing information and icons to enable the user to see the screen. Some cameras include a Histogram as part of the display which is a basic map of the image, showing both under and over exposed areas and is a series of peaks (over) and troughs (under) that looks like mountains. On an older camera with a viewfinder, it turns the LCD screen off and on to save battery life,similar to the EVF/LCD button.

EVF stands for Electronic viewfinder. and is an electronc version of a traditional viewfinder. It's really a mini LCD made to resemble a viewfinder. It zooms in and out with the optical zoom. If your camera has an EVF and the LCD is unuseable in bright sunlight, you can use the EVF. 

Some cameras (particularly Fuji and those based on Fuji designs such as GE and Agfa) have a FUNCTION or F  menu where the most frequently changed settings, such as image size and white balance.

The icon on the right of the D pad looking like an electric flash is the FLASH button. This can be on a seperate button, or one of the four directions on the D Pad. 

The flower icon is the MACRO setting, for close up photography. On many cameras it is coupled with a LANDSCAPE icon (Mountain), and you toggle between the two modes. Some cameras even have a Super macro that lets you get as close as 1cm to your subject.

The dustbin Icon is the DELETE button. It's used to delete images from the camera, either immediately after taking a picture or in playback mode.

The timer icon at the bottom of the D pad resembles a stopwatch. This is the self timer mode so you can press the shutter then put yourself in the picture, and is often coupled with with a BURST MODE Icon, Burst mode is where the camera takes multiple shots in succession.

Some cameras have a HELP button, usually marked by a i sign or a question mark.  When in menu mode and it is pressed it will offer an explanation of the setting that is highlighted in the menu. It's worth using the help system if you're unsure of what your cameras buttons do.


 Mode Dial and Scene Icons.

Most of todays cameras have multiple scene modes and each has it's own icon. These are either found on or via the Mode Dial or through a dedicated button you press to access the mode settings. We'll look at the most common icons and what they represent. Using the picture to the left as an example, we'll show you what they represent. Many cameras now give an explanation of each mode.

PORTRAIT mode is represented by a picture of a head and shoulders. Some cameras have a NGHT PORTRAIT mode, and the icon has a star in the corner. A picture of a sun behind a body or face is a BACKLIGHT Portrait mode, used where light behind the subject would normally produce a dark subject against a well lit background.

SPORT mode or ACTION mode has an icon of a runner. It's used for photographing moving subjects like cars, football and athletics.

LANDSCAPE mode is used for shooting scenery and buildings, and uses a mountain as an icon. A star in the corner represents NIGHT LANDSCAPE mode.

MACRO (close up) is usually represented by an icon of a tulip. The same icon may be used for leaf or flower mode, though two tulips may be used for flower mode, or as in the photo, a different  flower icon to represent flower mode.

SNOW mode uses an icon of a snowflake, and is used for photographing snowy scenes. Sometimes it's coupled with BEACH mode, which uses a palm tree icon.

TEXT mode utilises a page for it's icon, and is used for photographing pages of text from books, magazines and newspapers.

FIREWORK mode uses a picture of stars with a streak. If used with a tripod it's efffective, but if you're using the camera handheld, the settings utilised usually produced blurred images.

MUSEUM mode is used for photographing items in museums or behind glass.

KIDS mode is usually represented by either a smiling face or a child. Flash is usually disabled to protect their eyes, and it's optimised for children who are never still. BABY mode is similar, and, as it's name suggests, uses an Icon of a baby.

AUTOMOBILE or CAR mode uses an icon of a car and is used for taking images from a moving car.

CANDLELIGHT mode is not just for photographing candles, but is for scenes lit by candles.

SUNSET mode is an icon of a setting sun, and is optimised to enhance the red tones of a good sunset.

SETUP mode is represented by a spanner icone, and is not a shooting mode, but lets the user change settings like time, date, image preview time and more.

SCN is scene mode, and selecting this displayes all the icons on screen. The D pad toggles through the modes.

P, A , S and M  Modes.

P mode or PA is programme Auto mode, a picture taking mode whereby many settings can be configured by using the menu button.

A is usually APERATURE priority control, and in this mode the user chooses how wide the shutter opens. A wide aperature lets in more light, whilst a small one lets in less light. The more light let in, the brighter the overall picture - setting it too large overexposes the image, whilst a small aperature underexposes and gives a dark image. In this mode, shutter speed is set by the camera and changes according to the Aperature set by the user for optimal results.On cameras without corresponding P, S and M modes A is Auto mode (See Below).

S mode is SHUTTER priority, and the user sets the shutter speed. A fast shutter gives a sharp image, and a slow speed (often called a 'Long Exposure') needs to be used with a tripod to minimize blur. Aperature is controlled by the camera for the best results.

M is MANUAL mode and in this mode, shutter and aperature can be altered independantly. If you know the best settings for your subject, then this can produce great results. For example a wide aperature and a fast shutter are great for photographing fireworks without a tripod.

Other Modes.

MOVIE mode is represented by an icon of a movie camera.

AUTO mode can be either a picture of a camera or the word AUTO. This is the simplest mode and is point and shoot. In Auto mode, very few options can be changed. Most camera's auto modes take excellent pictures, and some even select the best scene for you.

CUSTOM mode is usually with represented with a C, and and is used to store your favourite settings. Use the menu button whilst in this mode to set custom settings and save them so that when you need to, you can switch to custom mode. It's useful if you do a lot of work that requires a particular setting you need to access often, for example if you're a wedding photographer you might set this mode for overcast settings.

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