A Short Course Book
Curtin's Guide to Digital Cameras
And Other Photographic Equipment

Camera Controls

The Kodak EasyShare has a touch-sensitive screen where you can make menu selections using a stylus.

Click to see a PDF poster of typical digital camera icons
There are two ways to change settings on a camera—using menu commands or a combination of buttons and dials. Menu commands are usually slower and harder, especially in bright light when you can't read the monitor on which they are displayed. Buttons and dials are easier because you can get familiar enough with them to use them without looking, but at first their functions are harder to remember.

Most camera use both approaches, putting the most frequently used functions on buttons and dials and less frequently used ones on menus. One recent addition to the button/dial family is a compass point-like button. Pressing any of the four points moves the menu highlight up, down or sideways or lets you scroll through images in playback mode. A button or joystick-like lever in the middle of this "button" acts like the Enter key on a computer by completing commands.

To operate the camera, you perform the most common procedures with controls on the top, back, and side of the camera. Icons indicating the current settings are often displayed on the monitor or a separate LCD panel.

As you change settings, it is sometimes easy to forget what you’ve done or it’s time consuming to reset them to their original values one at a time. In these situations some cameras have a button or menu command that lets you quickly reset the camera to its original factory default settings.

The buttons and dials vary from camera to camera but here are some that are fairly common on all but the simplest point and shoot models. In some cases the same button will perform different functions in shooting and playback modes.
  • Going digital saves you money in the long run since you don’t have to buy rolls of film and pay for their development and printing.
  • It saves you time because you don’t have to make two trips to the store to drop off and then pick up your pictures (although you can do this with the memory card).
  • Digital cameras instantly show you how your pictures look so you’ll no longer have those disappointments a day or two later when your film is developed.
  • You can view images before they are printed and if you don’t like what you see, edit them to perfection or save money by deleting or not printing them.
  • Digital photography doesn’t use the toxic chemicals that often end up flowing down the drain and into our streams, rivers, and lakes.

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