Understanding How Your Digital Camera Works
With so many cameras available, figuring out how all the specifications and options translate into your everyday use is complicated. For our first lesson in the Basics of Photography, we’re going to learn how cameras work and make sense of what that means in terms of choosing a camera to buy and how it affects your photographs.
Your camera is made up of many parts, but there are a few in particular that we want to look at as they are the most important. We’ll go into much more detail in a bit, but here’s a basic overview of the parts we’re going to look at:
The body is the housing for your camera. While it has little effect on the quality of your photos, it does affect things like ease of use and comfort.
The lens is the eye of the camera, and it’s a very complex instrument. Different lenses can provide many different features, so it’s important to know the differences between them. In future lessons, we’ll also discuss how lenses work and how that affects your photographs.
The sensor is basically the digital equivalent of film, in the sense that—like film—the sensor is exposed to light that comes through the lens and it records that exposure. The exposure is then processed and saved to flash memory (generally an SD or Compact Flash card). The caliber and size of the sensor are also very important, as these things significantly impact the quality of your photos.
The flash card is where you save your images, and it’s a component most people don’t think about too much when buying a camera, aside from choosing an amount of storage that suits their needs. Flash cards range in read and write speeds as well, however, and a slow cards can significantly degrade your camera’s performance. We’ll take a look at what card classes mean and the minimum speed you need for different purposes.
The battery matters in a camera just like any other electronic device. While this is a simple part to understand, we’ll dive into it a little more deeply to figure out actual, practical battery life for cameras and when cameras with less-powerful batteries may be a better option.