DSLR Photography Advice

What Do the Camera Buttons Do?


When you upgrade from an entry-level camera to a DSLR or a high-end camera, you can be confused since they have a lot of dials, buttons and parts which a beginner-level one does not include.

Most of the commonly used features in DSLR cameras or high-end cameras are easily access through the set of buttons. The following tips will be very useful to help you remembers the different buttons in many advanced DSLR model.

(NOTE: You should not forget that the button settings are not the same for all DSLR cameras or high-end cameras, so please find out the specific structure of buttons in the user guide)

  • The first is the shutter release – one of the most important buttons which is often a button of a large size located on the camera top panel, near the position that you put the right index finger to keep the camera. In case that you hold down this button, but don’t see anything happen, you may encounter one of the following problems. First, the focus of the camera is not right on the targeted subject, which happens sometime under inadequate lighting conditions. Hold down the button halfway to have your camera pre-focused, then fully hold down it to capture the image. Second, if the flash is being charged or a photo is being saved, you cannot use the shutter button to shoot the next photos until you completed the two above tasks.
  • If you see a “+” and a “-” icon, it represents the exposure compensation button. You control it to adjust the exposure manually.
  • The aperture button is commonly designed in the style that is partially similar to the closed shutter. You control it to adjust the aperture manually.
  • The self-timer button is often designed in the shape that is similar to a stopwatch. The buttons enables you to capture a delayed image. The duration that you want to delay the shot can be adjusted in the menu of the camera.
  • You won’t find any markings with the lens release button. It is commonly positioned directly to the right of the lens mount. Hold down and keep this button first before trying to unscrew the lens from the DSLR camera.
  • You often see a trashcan shape with the delete button. You can delete a single or multiple images using this button.
  • A “play” icon is to represent the playback button, as you often see with a DVD player. This button is used to view the stored images.
  • The menu button enables you to get access to the different menus of the camera. You often see the “MENU” or a lined paper shape with this button. And it can be on the button or next to the button.

Differences Between DSLR Cameras and Point and Shoot Cameras?


Q: How does a DSLR camera differ from a point and shoot model?

DSLR cameras are often powerful than point and shoot ones and certainly, the speed of a DSLR is faster and you’ll have more features with DSLRs. While you often fully use the automatic mode with most point and shoot models, you’re going to be able to manually control a lot of certain settings with DSLR models. The size and price of a Digital SLR camera is often more than with a point and shoot model. Because it does not allow you to change the lens, a point and shooting model is known as a fixed lens camera at times.

Obviously, you will have to spend more to buy DSLR models than with point and shoot models. There are also a larger number of available accessories with DSLRS, for example, external flash units or interchangeable lenses.

The most important aspect to differentiate a DSLR from a point and shoot camera is the way of framing a photo. For a point and shoot model, you will see that the lens and the viewfinder is offset from each other. Consequently, you won’t see the image from viewfinder greatly match with the image from the lens, if there is a viewfinder with the camera. Commonly, the LCD screen is often used in these small cameras for framing a photo. Meanwhile, you can often have the direct image preview via the lens with a digital SLR thanks to the inclusion of a number of mirrors and prisms which transfer the image from the lens back to the camera viewfinder.

The cameras with extremely large zooms are becoming more and more popular, which has the similar look like a DSLR camera but there are not interchangeable lenses with these cameras. They well combine some of the features between point and shoot models and advanced DSLR cameras. Sometimes, these cameras are considered point and shoot ones as they have the easy-to-use feature like a point and shoot models. Or they are also known as cameras using fixed lens, as you can see the lens permanently attached to the body of the camera, unlike the ones which can be interchangeable in DSLRS. “Fixed lens models” is also a common way to define point and shoot cameras.

Another kind of a transitional model refers to DIL (digital interchangeable lens) model. There is not any mirror in a DIL as you often see in a DSLR. Therefore, DIL cameras are commonly not as thick as DSLR cameras. The similar aspect of these two types is that they both use lenses which can be interchangeable.

Look for a larger number of answers to common camera questions on the common FAQ site.