Get to know your Digital Camera

Getting to know your digital camera once you unpack it out of box.  Lots of buttons and bows…oh yes that would be bottons, knobs, symbols and more.

So now you have unpacked your camera, charged your battery and set the date.  Before this, if you have a new DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera then you would of had to connect your lens to the body, following the manuals instructions.

So lets get to know more about the buttons and settings

camera mode dialIf this is your first SLR camera, I would suggest that you start out in the auto or “P” Program setting in these settings the camera will take care of most of the lighting and shutter speed and as you get more comfortable with your camera we will move towards understanding the uses of the other settings.

So beginning in auto you are giving the camera control of most all the settings to get the best result the camera thinks that you are looking to achieve.


Holding your camera

Now you just spent a lot of money on your camera and you surly want to do your best to not drop it, and you want to have the most steady hold for the sharpest of photos.

So the best suggested way is to hold the grip with your right hand and then you place your left had flat under the lens and grip lens, then you can easily set your distance and crop your scene and if for any reason you need to let your camera go with your right hand you will have hold of the lens with the other ensuring good grip on your camera at all times and in doing so will have less chance of dropping it. And vise versa having a good solid hold on the grip with your right hand will also help.

Now to take your photo hand held

  • With holding your camera in both hands horizontal and looking through the view finder
  • Bring your elbows tight and close to your body
  • Bring your feet apart with one slightly in front of the other and lean slightly forward.  This will create your own personal tripod
  • Now frame your shot and watch that your fingers are not skirting the front of the lens

How to focus a digital camera

  • Gently press the shutter button half way down to focus, hold it down and compose your shot. (Do not lift your finger off the shutter button as this will cause you to loose your focus point and you will need to re-focus)
  • Hold your breath slightly or exhale, pause and press the button gently down all the way

Check your playback and see the image you just took.

For vertical or portrait orientation images you hold the grip or right hand on your camera to the top and again place your left under the lens for support and so that you can easily adjust distance and follow the steps above to take your photo.

Other ways to steady yourself while taking handheld photos

Some other ways that you can steady yourself more while taking hand held photographs is to

  • Lean on a fence
  • Against a tree
  • Basically steadying yourself against anything that will not move, look around its amazing what you can improvise with
  • You can also set and frame your photo and place your camera on a solid structure and set the self time (we will cover that more later)

If you have stopped your car to take a photo you can fully open your window and with the car shut off you can lean on the edge of the open window. A trick here you can put a short piece of pool noodle that has a slit in it over the partially raised window making it easier on your hand as well as minimizing slippage

A word of warning make sure that if you place your camera on something that is not a tripod and you use your self-timer, make sure it is on something secure. Your can wrap your strap around something for a bit of extra security.  Cameras are costly so use your best judgement.

18 thoughts on “Get to know your Digital Camera

  1. Hi Monika,
    Interesting article. I am a photography enthusiast myself so I really enjoyed reading it. Leaning against something to steady oneself is a great idea to reduce camera shake. I can tell you that I’ve taken so many pics with my DSLR only to find that it’s a blurry mess.

    1. Hi Ian,

      Yes photography can be a fun hobby and can also be a lot more. But it can be frustrating when you try to capture an image for it to turn out blurry. A good place to start is to hold your camera as still as possible as I mentioned in making your personal tripod. This will also help with aim and shoot camera’s.

      Keep checking back to my site as I will continue to be adding more helpful tidbits.

      Feel free to drop me a note if you have any questions.


  2. Thanks for the great info! I am consider buying a slr camera would like to make the right choice when doing so. do you have any suggestions on good brands and models. I don’t want to spend 1000’s of dollars but I still want a good quality camera. Is that a possibility?

    1. Hi Weston,

      Looking at buying a dslr camera can be a big step. There is a vast price range and features to consider. I will be adding a section on choices and what to look for in a dslr camera in the coming days, so please check back.

      What subjects and style of photography do you wish to learn about, this will help me to make a recommendation to you.



  3. I have friends who are into photography and I’m really sure they will like this website that you made. Not only it is thoroughly explained, it also has supporting images that people can refer to when they’re not sure of what to do. I also like how clean your site is, which makes it easier for us visitors to not get lost and find what we’re trying to located. I hope you add more things here because it’s a nice blog, cheers!

    1. Thank you Nico for your kind words

      Yes I will be continuing to add more information and more tidbits to my site to help the beginner photographer to understand their cameras better.

  4. Hi Monika,
    I recently got interested in photography and was planning to look for information about it. I posted a few photos and got some comments about using a great angle, focus looks good, etc and got curious because I didn’t consciously do any of these things.
    “Hold your breath slightly or exhale, pause and press the button gently down all the way”: didn’t know it goes this far.
    I look forward to your tips in photography. If you could do a post for beginners that would be great.

    1. Hi Dira,
      Thank you for your comments.
      Photography is an art and in such everyone sees things differently and creates their own image of what is their vision. It sounds like you have a natural eye and as such you captured something amazing.

      Please check back as I will be constantly updating and adding more information, tip and tricks for the novice to get more out of their photographic experiences.

  5. Hello there,

    If only these points that you post here are disclosed in the manual. Thank you for reminding how costly cameras are. The last thing we want to encounter a problem is being dropped. I believe you do care a lot on DSLR and any other cameras in general. I remember I own a Canon DSLR but haven’t been using for years. Back then, I wasn’t even aware that the suggested setting prior to using it is to program at “P” or auto after. So much naivety.

    1. Yes there is always something to learn and I am hoping to help people like you that have put their dslr cameras away to get them back out and enjoy photographing again with them.

      Thank you for your comments

      If you have any questions down the road feel free to send me a note and I will help the best I can.


  6. I’m a hobbyist photographer and I must say these are some helpful tips for the beginner. One must take the time and effort to learn about your camera’s settings and figure out how to use them to your advantage. I think it’s also important how you hold the camera since the way you hold it can help reduce camera shake.

    1. Thank you for visiting my site.. I am glad that you found my photo tidbits helpful..

      Camera stablility and knowing a few of the different tricks you can use can definately be helpful in different situations you encounter.

      Feel free to contact me if you have any questions I can help you with.

  7. Are there any good digital SLR cameras you can recommend, I am a photographer of nature and wildlife with the old SLR cameras.

    I use a Rebel Canon camera, but wish to upgrade to a digital which would be good for photographing nature and wildlife?

    What are the best lens for digital SLRs for nature and wildlife, I am interested in going digital but overwhelmed by so much new technical information?

    1. Hello Jeffrey,

      Thanks for your comments and questions.

      Canon Rebel series cameras are really good, and if you already own additional lenses for the Canon system I would recommend you stay with Canon. You are already familiar with the Rebel so I would probably suggest that if you want to upgrade to move to the Canon Rebel T5i or if you want a bigger move there is also now at T7i system. A recommended wildlife starter lens would be a 70-200mm 2.8 as a minimum and as your budget allows I would move up to 150-400mm. In Canon these would be pretty pricey you can go off brand to Sigma for Canon, which is a great brand for glass.

      I hope this helps

      Feel free to contact me again if you have more questions.

  8. Hi Monika,

    Thank you for a very informative post on taking photos. I’m not great at taking photographs, as my artistic daughter likes to remind me. My photos are often at an angle, poorly focussed, or I’ve clearly moved! Your suggestions for stabilising my arm using a tree or something that won’t move is a great one! Both my children do martial arts and often want me to photograph them. How would I best do those types of shots where they are moving all the time?

    1. Hi Megan,
      Thanks for your comments. To answer your question when photographing your subject moving or if you might be moving (like shooting out of a car window) I suggest setting your camera to the sport or action mode setting on your camera (here is the link to where I have explained it in more detail)
      In this setting your camera will increase the shutter speed which in turn will help to freeze the action in your shot. Please let me know how this works for you the next time your photograph your childrens martial arts events. Feel free to comment with any other questions you may have about photography that I may be able to assist with.

    1. Hi Brian
      I appreciate you dropping by my site. My intention is to help beginner photographers to get more out of the cameras and I hope that I am achieving that.

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