No matter how long you’ve had your digital camera, there’s always something to learn. And if you’ve just bought your first camera body, the learning curve can seem impossibly steep. But it needn’t be a painful slog. In this tutorial we’ll help you get the most from your DSLR by explaining some of the key camera features found on almost every camera body. Learning these camera features early on in your development will ensure you avoid some of the common camera mistakes and get much better shots as a result.
Camera features on the front of your camera body
01 Red-eye reduction
To stop the flash bouncing off the subject’s retinas and causing glowing red eyes this lamp will emit a burst of light to make the subject’s pupils shrink before the flash is triggered. The lamp also acts as a handy self-timer countdown indicator.
02 Focusing ring
In Auto Focus mode this ring rotates until the camera has focussed on the subject. In Manual Focus mode you can rotate the focus ring with your hand to focus on a specific subject.
03 Zoom ring
Rotate this ring clockwise to zoom out for a wide-angle view. Rotate it anti-clockwise (counter-clockwise) to zoom in for a close-up on your subject.
04 Flash button
When shooting using the Creative Zone or manual modes you can tell the built-in flash to pop up by pressing here.
05 Focus mode switch
Leave this set on AF (Auto Focus) if you want the camera to control the focusing. Flip the switch to MF (Manual Focus) when you want to control the focus yourself. In MF mode you can still use the AF points in the viewfinder to tell you when the subject is in sharp focus.
06 Image Stabilizer switch
The lens’s IS (Image Stabilizer) is designed to stop blur caused by camera shake (which is especially noticeable when you’re zoomed in on a distant subject. Nikon IS lenses have a similar VR (Vibration Reduction) switch.
07 Built-in microphone
Most cameras such as the Canon 500D (pictured above) can now record video. Sound to go with it is recorded through a microphone like this (though it will also record camera handling noises like the zoom ring being rotated!).
08 Depth of Field preview button
By pressing here, you can get the camera to stop down to the lens’s current aperture setting. You can then preview how much of the shot will be in focus by looking through the viewfinder or by checking the Live View display.
New camera anatomy: 12 key camera settings to get you started right
16 new cameras we’d like to see in 2013
99 common photography problems (and how to solve them)
How to use a camera: exposure modes made simple
10 reasons why your photos aren’t sharp (and how to fix them)