When you first pick up a camera, the number of parts, buttons and functions may seem intimidating. In this article, we’ll go through a list of camera parts common to SLRs, DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras, and some on bridge and compact cameras.
Each of these parts has a role to play in capturing and recording an image, so it’s important to know each one, how they work and how they contribute to the capture process. We’ll name each and give a brief explanation of their purpose below.
The viewfinder is the slot through which you will view your image as seen through the lens (in SLR and DSLR systems) or through the image sensor or processor (in the case of a mirrorless camera). You will use the viewfinder to frame your image and determine which parameters need to be changed to achieve the correct lighting for the image you are capturing.
Traditional SLR or DSLR systems use a pentaprism to reflect light from the lens into the viewfinder’s lens. Due to the additional adjustments such as ISO, Exposure, and aperture made, the image you see is not representative of the final image.
A mirrorless camera’s viewfinder consists of a small LCD screen that shows the image as it will be captured. Aperture, exposure, and ISO settings are also included here.
The LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) Screen displays a live preview of the image being captured along with information such as aperture, ISO, exposure, a histogram, battery level and storage capacity, among others.
When shooting, you will be able to use the rear LCD screen to see a ‘Live View” of what you’re shooting. You will be able to find an ‘Lv’ button or similar with any make you use.
The flash on certain models will usually be a built-in pop-up flash. It is used to artificially illuminate a scene where the ambient lighting may be inadequate. Built-in flashes are engaged manually in manual mode or automatically in other modes, depending on your selection.
The hot shoe on a camera is a secure mounting point for external flashes and other accessories. The hot shoe will have connection points which are used to control the externally mounted flash or other external accessories.
The lens focuses light from the scene onto the camera’s image sensor. Lenses can have either plastic or glass lens elements on the inside, and allow you to change the focus, zoom level and the amount of light entering the system via the aperture.
The image sensor in a camera captures light from the lens and converts it into digital information the camera uses to recreate an analogue image into a digital one which can be read and modified by a computer system.
Image quality and size depends on the size of the image sensor. Generally, a larger sensor will produce higher quality, larger images with more detail in the highlights and shadows. A smaller sensor will produce slightly lower quality, smaller images with less information in the highlights and shadows.
Part of the lens, the aperture is a mechanism that can be adjusted to control the amount of light being allowed through to the sensor. The aperture resembles the human eye in form and function, in that it opens up to let in more light – as would the human iris open for more light in a dark environment – and closes to reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor – as would the human iris when the environment is bright.
The Shutter, controlled by the shutter speed, is a mechanical device that controls the amount of time that the sensor is exposed to light. A larger number, e.g. 1000 (or 1000th of a second), will result in a shorter amount of time and less light reaching the sensor, and a smaller number, e.g. 50 (50th/half a second), will increase the amount of time the shutter is open, resulting in more light reaching the sensor.
The shutter release button initiates the capture process by releasing the shutter to open position, allowing light to pass through and make contact with the image sensor. When in autofocus mode, depressing the shutter release button halfway activates the autofocus motor, which adjusts the lens to focus on the selected subject. Fully depressing the shutter release button will release the shutter, capturing the image to the camera sensor.
The mode dial allows you to select and switch between the desired shooting modes. This will include modes such as Manual (M), Full Auto (A), Aperture Priority (Av), Shutter Speed Priority (Tv) and Program mode (P) to mention a few. These modes will be common to most manufacturers.
The memory card is the storage media for the camera, storing images and videos you capture. The size and type of memory card (generally referred to as an SD card) will determine how many photos and videos you can store as well as how fast the card is able to write the images and video to the card. Generally, you will want a large SD card with UHS speed class 3 and above for your camera.
The battery powers the camera and allows it to operate. The size and capacity of the battery defines how long the camera can be run for, and how many shots the camera will take before requiring a recharge or fresh battery.
As a general rule, it is best to have 2 or more batteries for your camera. This allows you to charge the depleted battery and carry on shooting in the meantime.
That’s it for this basic guide to the parts of your camera. It’s always a good idea to know and understand all the parts of your camera. Check in next week for another article from the team here at Luks.