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Your digital camera's settings

Preparing your camera to take the pictures you want.


The camera settings you select can have a profound effect on the final image.
The camera settings you select can have a profound effect on the final image.

ALL BUT THE MOST BASIC DIGITAL CAMERAS HAVE SETTINGS YOU CAN CHANGE

A very simple, inexpensive, point-and-shoot digital camera may be fully automatic with no setting options at all. Such a camera may be all that some people need to get the pictures they want, but those of us who want to take the best possible photographs will use a camera with setting options that can be changed to suit a given photography situation.

Most of you already own such a digital camera - one that, to some degree, can be "programmed" by you so that it will take pictures as you want them to be taken. Depending on your camera's features, you may be able to change resolution, file format, degree of zoom, focus, white balance, shutter speed, aperture, whether to use flash and what kind of flash, and so on.


Understanding what happens when you change settings and knowing when to change them for a given photography situation will help you to master your camera's controls and go a long way towards improving your photography.

In this section, we explore setting options that apply to most digital cameras, from those at a rudimentary level to the "big guns" - the multi-featured cameras used by professionals.

This pocket-size (3/4-inch thick) Nikon S1 is relatively inexpensive, but it is still jam-packed with features, including the ability to customize several settings.
This pocket-size (3/4-inch thick) Nikon S1 is relatively inexpensive, but it is still jam-packed with features, including the ability to customize several settings.

You won't always have lots of time to capture a picture. Become familiar with your camera's settings so you can quickly change them to suit the scene.
You won't always have lots of time to capture a picture. Become familiar with your camera's settings so you can quickly change them to suit the scene.

While you will find detailed information here that you can apply to improving your picture-taking, you may find that your camera's controls differ from those we describe, or that your camera does not have a feature or setting option that is discussed here. That is to be expected. The variety of designs of digital cameras is enormous. Each one may have a different way of selecting a feature or changing a setting.

We encourage you to thoroughly read your camera's manual to learn of its capabilities and limitations, and how its particular settings are selected. You will probably find that you can easily achieve the settings goals that we describe here - just in a different manner that is suited to your camera.

Now, let's get started. Choose a heading from the list below. We suggest you begin with Choosing a file format.




Related topics...

Choosing a file format

Image resolution

White balance