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Your camera has so many buttons and dials that it can be overwhelming. In this post, you will learn all the parts of your camera so you can quickly dominate using it.
You finally bought your first camera and think to yourself, “Yes! My pictures are going to look like they are from National Geographic.” You take the camera out of its box, hold it in your hands, feel the weight and start examining it. In disbelief, you start to notice that this fancy new digital camera has a multitude of buttons, knobs and dials.
Now you panic and wonder what the return policy is. Taken aback by the number of small parts on this camera you feel anxious that you will never be able to learn how to use this thing. Exasperated, all you can think is you are stuck with the low-quality pictures that your phone takes. After all, that is one button and people like those pictures, right?
Take a breath in, you CAN learn this, breath out. If you read this post to the end I promise you will know what all those tiny camera parts are for. You may not need them all in the beginning but you can refer back to this page as you learn more photography skills.
Let’s get you on your way to those National Geographic quality pictures.
Why is Understanding the Parts of Your Camera Important?
With so many small parts on the DSLR camera, it can be very overwhelming to learn what they all do. Without having an idea of what each button does when you go to learn how to improve your photography you will continue to feel that overwhelm.
You can think of examining them now, like looking over a table of contents. It gives you a very good idea of where things are going. Having an awareness and an idea of where each thing sits in the grand scheme of things allows you to absorb more when it comes time to learn that part in more detail.
Absorbing more on each lesson will help you learn how to use your camera and take better photos quicker and get you to share those pro-level photos with your friends and the world sooner. This gives you more options and opportunities faster, potentially even monetizing your photography if you so wish. After all, like a house, if you don’t have a solid foundation the walls of knowledge will collapse around you, leaving you squished like a bug.
Below we will briefly examine each button and knob. Don’t worry about remembering it all. As you progress with your photography skills you will become familiar with each part more and learn the sometimes multiple functions these dials and knobs have in more detail.
Parts of a Camera and Their Functions
These parts of your camera are based on the Nikon D5300. Your DSLR camera will have similar buttons and knobs but they may be in a different location. Please refer to your user manual if you are unsure. Here is a list of sites for a few brands linked to their User Manuals with camera diagrams:
Below you will find a pictured DSLR Guide walking you through ALL the parts of your camera.
Top View of Camera
- 1. Mode Dial: This sets your chosen shooting mode. Examples, sport, landscape, auto, manual and so many more.
- 2. Live Switch: Switches between the viewfinder and sees the live preview on your LCD screen.
- 3. Info: Toggles the LCD display on and off.
- 4. +/-: This allows you to change the aperture.
- 5. Record: Starts to record video, when pressed again stops recording video.
- 6. Off/on: Turns camera on and off.
- 7. Shutter: When pressed halfway it will set focus. Fully pressed will take a picture.
- 8. Hot shoe: This is where you add an external flash for better lighting control. Mostly used in Studio.
- 9. Popup flash: This is the built-in flash and pops up with a button as needed.
- 10. Mic (built-in): When recording this is the camera’s default mic if you do not attach a better-quality one.
- 11. Built-in speakers: This allows you to hear your video recording on playback without having to download it to the computer or playback it on an outside device.
Side Views of Camera
- 12. Flash: When pressed it pops up and activates the built-in flash.
- 13. Fn: This allows you to change the ISO. Can be programmed for other functions.
- 14. Lens release: This allows you to unlock the lens so you can take it off.
- 15. Lens line up: Visual indicator of where to line up the lens to put on the camera.
- 16. Release type: Brings up a menu to choose shutter release type. Examples are a remote, timer, and multiple pictures.
- 17. Panel: Door opens to reveal slots for:
- Mic external and often better quality than the built-in mic
- a/v/usb: to hook up to a tv or computer monitor
- Remote: hook up a remote with a wire.
- HDMI: Second type of hook-up for a tv or monitor.
- 18. Memory card slot: Where you insert the memory card which stores the photos you take.
Bottom View of Camera
- 19. Battery slot: Where the battery goes.
- 20. Tripod/mount screw hole: Where you screw the plate that allows you to mount your camera to a tripod.
Back View of Camera
- 21. Infrared sensor: This is one of two sensors for a wireless remote.
- 22. Menu: Brings up an extensive internal menu for things from playback options to editing photos in-camera.
- 23. Viewfinder: The place you can look through to frame your photo.
- 24. Diopter Adjustment Control: Fine-tune what you see in the viewfinder so you don’t need to wear your glasses.
- 25. i: This allows you to choose options such as where your focus will be and if you are shooting still life or moving subject
- 26. ae-l/af-l: Lock your selected focus and/or exposure selection.
- 27. Dial: Used to change selection when many options. For example the number on your iso or aperture or the scene mode option.
- 28. LCD Display: Mini digital screen that shows everything from what you are photographing to menu options.
- 29. Play: Brings up your photos to review on the LCD display.
- 30. Ok: Selection button when choosing an option.
- 31. Arrows: Joystick to move you in the menu or around the screen.
- 32. Zoom in: Zooms in on both pictures already taken and live mode display.
- 33. Zoom out: Zooms out of the picture and live display. Also displays more information about a menu option when available.
- 34. Trash: Delete button
- 35. Indicator light: Lights up to let you know if the memory card is being accessed.
Front View of Camera
- 36. Light: Auto Focus-assist light, self-timer light and red-eye reduction lamp.
- 37. Infrared Sensor: Detects the wireless remote.
Lens of Camera
- 38. Auto/Manual: Switch focus mode from auto to manual.
- 39. VR-on/off: Turn the vibration reduction on or off.
- 40. Focal length changer: This twists to change focal length.
- 41. Focal length unlocks: Unlocks the focal length twist.
- 42. Manual focus: This ring spins and adjusts focus when in manual focus mode.
- 43. Lens cap: Lens cap attaches here to cover and protect the lens when not in use.
Whew! That Was A Lot.
You can breathe a sigh of relief. You are now aware of all the parts of your camera. Soon you will be able to use all parts of your camera blindfolded.
If you forget you can always refer back to this page or download the cheat sheet below. Next up you will learn a few basic things to be aware of before taking your first pictures.
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