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Camera Basics Revisited

Camera Refresher:

Mostly, adjustable cameras have similar features. The pictures given below will help you to find your camera controls easily. But, we will also show a few illustrations of the ‘point and shoot’ cameras since their controls are similar to that of the digital cameras.

Check the Film:

You will need to ensure that there is film in the camera. The only way to make sure of this is by winding the rewind lever about 6-8 times. If the rewind lever tightens, the film is inside the camera. If it does not, there is no film.

Make sure that you have set the film speed on the dial before you put in the film. Many cameras also have a shutter speed dial which can be set by lifting and turning it. But when it comes to the automatic ‘point and shoot’ cameras, there will be a window on the back. This slit allows you to check the film that you have inside. The slit will simply look black if there is no film.

Check the Batteries:

Check your camera’s battery. If the battery is dead, the camera will usually work at only one speed, i.e. usually 1/90th. If the camera doesn’t work, try to clean the battery before you buy a new one. A pencil eraser can help you with this. Batteries tend to oxidize; therefore you need to clean off that coating so that they make a good connection. A battery is usually located at the bottom of the camera, under a round, slotted screw. When it comes to the ‘point and shoot’ and digital cameras, the battery compartment is on the right side.

If you have tried everything and the camera still doesn’t work, then buy new batteries. Even after that, if your camera is still inoperative, take it to a good camera shop.

Loading the Film:

You need to open the camera’s back to load it. Many cameras simply require you to lift the rewind knob for opening the back. Some cameras tend to have a latch on the left that one should press to lift the rewind knob. Also, other cameras have a sliding latch on the left side of the body.

Place the film cartridge inside the chamber once it’s open and push down the rewind knob to lock the cartridge in place. After that pull the film to the right side and insert into the shot. Close the back after this and advance the film three frames.

The use of Flash:

For using the flash, you have to mount it on the ‘hot shoe’ mount above the prism. The orange colored number ‘60’ on the shutter speed dial is an indicator for the fastest shutter speed you can use with a flash. One can use any shutter speed at, or below the speed indicated in red.

Primary Settings:

One should notice that the wind lever is ‘open’. By doing this, one turns the internal light meter on. If the lever is pushed inwards, it shuts off the battery and saves battery power. The light meter can be read by looking inside the viewfinder. One will usually see pointers that require to be lined up, or see blinking LED lights. Red indicates that you must change the aperture or shutter speed and green is for showing proper exposure. Usually, the shutter speed is set first and then the aperture is adjusted. The aperture ring can be seen in the photo, it has 5.6 inline with the yellow line.

The round button on the right side of the lens is used to unlock the lens for removal. There is a clear filter at the front of the lens. That is a Haze filter which helps to reduce the haziness and is kept on the lens at all times since photographers don’t use lens caps, except for when they are traveling.

The Self Timer is located towards the left of the lens. There is a white stripe on its lever. Crank the lever downwards; push the shutter button and dash to the front of the camera to take a self-portrait. The timer usually takes ten seconds to wind down and trigger the shutter.

The lever for the Depth of Field is placed above and towards the right of the Self Timer. It is either a lever or a round button. Lowering it will close the aperture so that you can determine the approximate depth of field, i.e. sharpness.

Aiming the flash directly at the subject should be avoided. Instead, if the flash is aimed upwards, the light will bounce off the ceiling and spread. This will result in a softer and more evenly lit picture without harsh shadows.

‘Point and shoot’ and digital cameras have flashes which cannot be bounced. In this case, putting a piece of Mystic tape over the flash head will soften the light. Putting a piece of toilet paper or very thin napkin over the flash head can also work very well.

Protection and Maintenance of the Camera:

Cameras are rarely kept in their leather cases which come with them. These cases are inconvenient and discourage the use of cameras. Just putting a Haze filter on the lens can do that job.

We often don’t want to use the lens cleaning fluid. Therefore, you can simply breathe moisture softly on the glass and then gently wipe with a lint-free napkin.

Make sure that you write down the hints and follow them for at least a few rolls of the film. These hints can help improve your photography skills.

Please remember that when you push the shutter button, never jab or punch it. Just squeeze the button. By doing this, any camera movement can be eliminated and the chances of taking a sharp photo are improved. You may also want to pay attention to your breathing and breathe out gently when you squeeze the shutter. Putting it simply, punching the shutter release is the biggest reason for fuzzy photos.

Camera Hints:

  1. Always read the directions.
  2. Use only one film and film speed at least for the first 5 or 6 rolls until you completely understand how it works.
  3. Always stick to one good processor.
  4. Take notes on the first few rolls. When you make mistakes, you will be immediately able to correct them.

One must have complete knowledge of optics, photography, light, composition, etc. before you start the advanced courses.

It is very important to have the information provided in the basic photography lessons. They provide a firm foundation and help you take really fine photographs.


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