Time and date setting

All digital cameras record the time and date and embed it in the photo’s EXIF data. It’s important to set the time and date correctly on the camera because it’s used later on when you want to search for photos on your computer or sort them in chronological order.

Reset (camera)

More advanced digital cameras have many shooting and setup options – so many, that you can sometimes forget what you’ve set them up to do. To get back to the default settings you need two options: 1) Reset shooting settings; 2) Reset custom settings.

Q (Quick) menu

A useful feature on some cameras which puts all the most commonly used camera settings on a single screen. You can then use the cursor buttons to quickly select the setting you want and change it. It’s a pretty common option across all cameras, though the name may be different.

Navipad/multi selector

A control that’s practically universal on digital cameras. It’s a circular controller on the back of the camera with up/down/left/right buttons which can be used for positioning the autofocus point, menu navigation, camera settings and more.

Mode dial

Just about all digital cameras have these or an equivalent and you use it to set the exposure mode, such as full auto, program auto exposure, scene modes, movie mode and so on. More advanced cameras add PASM modes – Program AE, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual.

Image size setting

Digital cameras offer a choice of image sizes. Normally, you’d choose ‘Large’, which gives you the maximum resolution offered by the sensor. But most cameras also offer ‘Medium’ settings (around half the pixels) and ‘Small’ (around a quarter the pixels).

Image quality setting

As well as saving JPEG photos at different sizes, cameras also offer different quality settings like ‘Fine’, ‘Normal’ and ‘Basic’. Fine produces the best picture quality and is the one to go for if you can. If your camera shoots RAW files, this is where you’ll find the RAW option.


Accessory shoe on the top of more advanced cameras that’s designed for sliding in an external flashgun, though these days it may also be used for electronic viewfinders, wireless remote control units and more.

Focal plane mark

A small marking on the top plate of some cameras which indicates the position of the focal plane – the sensor surface – inside the camera. You’re unlikely to need this unless you are using manual macro photography setups based on precise focus and magnification values.

Fn (function) button

One or more buttons on more advanced cameras which can be used for quick access to useful settings such as picture style, white balance, ISO setting or more. They will have default settings already which you may find useful, so you don’t have to change them.


Programmable hardware inside the camera (somewhere between hardware and software) that handles the camera’s controls, functions and features. Camera makers sometimes release firmware updates to fix bugs or add new features.