A useful mode if you’re shooting in a theatre or museum, but one that’s only available on compact cameras with in-lens shutters and mirrorless cameras with electronic shutters. On compact cameras you can get the same effect by turning off the focus ‘beep’ and shutter sounds.
This is a big topic! It hardly needs saying that cameras are complex in design terms and filled with complex technology too. Inevitably, then, this list of topics related to camera features is very long indeed and extends over several pages.
The length of time the shutter is open during the exposure and usually quoted as fractions of a second. Each shutter speed is half as long as the one before, for example 1/30sec vs 1/60sec. This exposure ‘halving’ is the basis for balancing up lens aperture and ISO settings. A few cameras have external shutter […]
Exposure mode where you choose the shutter speed and the camera selects a lens aperture to give the correct exposure. You get to choose the shutter speed manually, but the camera still takes care of the exposure automatically. On Canon cameras this is called Tv (time value) mode.
The mechanism that control the length of the exposure. On some smaller cameras this may be in the lens (a ‘leaf’ or ‘in-lens’ shutter), but on DSLRs and mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses, it’s a ‘focal plane’ shutter directly in front of the sensor.
The camera waits for a set delay before firing the shutter. This gives the photographer time to get in position for a group shot – but it’s also useful for tripod shots or long exposures where you want to fire the shutter without jogging the camera.
Automatic mode designed for beginners where the camera applies the settings that best suit the subject you’re shooting (landscape, portrait, action etc). Some cameras can analyse the scene in front of you and choose a scene mode automatically. Experts don’t normally bother with scene modes because they’re designed solely for those who don’t really want […]
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.
Some cameras now let you process RAW images and save them as new JPEG files on the memory card. That might sound a bit pointless when you could shoot JPEGs in the first place, but it does mean you can try out different white balance settings, picture styles and more.
Usually when you take a picture the camera will process the data captured by the sensor into an image file. More advanced cameras can save the image in its unprocessed state – a RAW file – so that you can do the processing yourself later on your computer.
A very useful option if you need to take pictures in a theatre, church or museum where it’s important to make no noise. Some Nikon DSLRs have a Quiet mode, though you can’t completely eliminate the noise from a DSLR’s shutter or mirror mechanism.
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.
An override option in program AE mode which shifts the shutter speed and aperture combinations in favour of faster shutter speeds or smaller apertures. This is often quicker than swapping to aperture-priority or shutter-priority mode if it’s for a single picture.
In this mode, the camera chooses combinations of shutter speed and lens aperture automatically to give a good compromise between safe shutter speeds (no camera shake) and reasonable depth of field (smaller apertures).
Cameras usually offer a range of picture ‘styles’ such as ‘Standard’, for neutral results, ‘Vivid’ for richer colours, ‘Portrait’ for gentler tones and more. These are applied to JPEG images saved by the camera. If you shoot RAW files you can choose the picture style later on.
A set of four exposure modes that distinguishes a serious camera from simple point and shoot models. It stands for Program AE, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual modes. You’ll find these on many better compact cameras and all DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.
Extra-wide image sometimes shot in one pass with specially designed cameras but more often these days made by stitching together a series of overlapping frames taken in quick succession as the camera ‘pans’ across the scene. Many cameras can now do this as you shoot.
Image stabiliser which moves physical elements within the lens, or the sensor itself, to keep the image steady during the exposure. This is superior to ‘digital stabilizers’ which use image processing techniques to reduce blur, but which also lead to a loss in quality.
Camera makers use special noise reduction processing techniques to reduce the appearance of noise in photos, but the drawback is image softness and haziness and a kind of ‘watercolour’ effect where areas of fine, subtle detail are smudged beyond recognition. Bad noise reduction can do as much harm as image noise – or more.
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.
This is the most sophisticated form of light metering used by cameras. The light values are measured at many points across the frame and compared to ‘known’ scenes so that the camera can work out what the subject is likely to be and the best way to expose it properly.