Features of digital cameras

There are many, sometimes confusing, functions and features of digital cameras. Quite a few of these features are designed to allow the photographer to control the cameras exposure settings. The ability to control these settings are important because of the way cameras work. All photography, involves light being reflected off of objects and then being captured by a digital image sensor or film. If too much light hits the sensor, the image will be overexposed and the picture will look too bright, the colours will also appear washed out. If not enough light hits the sensor the image will be underexposed making the image appear dark.and It will be difficult to see the details in the picture.
camera feature control dial
Most modern or high end digital and digital SLR cameras have a variety of small pictures on a rotating control dial that indicate the various exposure settings and features that the camera is capable of using.

Common exposure setting features of digital cameras

Fully Automatic Mode

Just about all digital cameras use some type of automatic mode for determining the correct exposure of pictures. On some cameras you will see the term Auto or AE which stands for Automatic Exposure. Full automatic exposure mode makes all the decisions for you and is one of the most widely used features of digital cameras. The electronics in the camera work with the image sensor to evaluate the light, select the correct ISO and perform the white balance. Then set the aperture and the shutter speed to get the best exposed image. Most cameras will also automatically control a built-in flash and have it fire when the lighting conditions make it necessary.

Programmed AE/Program Mode (P) Program Mode

This mode is similar to fully automatic mode but it lets you change some settings, such as whether or not the flash will fire.

Aperture Priority mode allows the photographer to set the size of the aperture, also known as the f-stop, and then have the camera decide what shutter speed will be used to take a correctly exposed image.

Shutter Priority mode allows the photographer to set the shutter speed and then have the camera decide the size of the aperture's opening to take a correctly exposed image.

Portrait Mode

Portrait mode sets the camera up for minimum depth of field so that the background of the portrait will have a soft and less distracting look.

Landscape Mode

Another of the features of digital cameras that is very popular. The landscape mode is the reverse of the portrait mode. It sets the camera up for maximum depth of field so that everything in the picture will be in focus. This mode works best when using a wide angle lens.

Macro or Close Up mode

As the name would suggest, this mode is used when taking pictures of very small objects or larger objects very close up.

Sports Mode

Sports mode is used to stop motion when taking pictures of fast-moving objects such as athletes at sporting events. On some cameras, this mode works in conjunction with the cameras auto focus mechanism to keep moving subjects in focus.

Burst Mode

In this mode, the camera is set to continuously take pictures while the shutter release button is held down. This mode can often be used while the camera is in sports mode to take action shots.

Night Portrait Mode

This mode is used to take pictures of people under low light conditions, such as dawn, evening and night. When the subjects are in the foreground, a slower shutter speed will be used to lighten the background and a fill-in flash will fire to illuminate the foreground objects.

Manual Exposure (M)

Manual exposure mode allows you to select the shutter speed and the aperture so that you have control over the amount of light, the amount of motion and the depth of field in your pictures


The ISO selection Allows you to select the correct "film speed" or the light responsiveness of the cameras sensor.

Auto Depth of Field (A-DEP)

The auto depth of field setting is used so that the camera's automatic focusing capability evaluates various locations within the field of view and then selects the aperture setting that will provide enough depth of field to keep everything in focus.

 Flash off

OK, as far as features of digital cameras go it's not a biggy but as the name would suggest, this mode turns the flash off so that it does not fire automatically.

Exposure Compensation

Exposure Compensation lets you override the camera's automatic exposure setting, usually in 1/3, 1/2 or 1 f-stop increments.

Exposure Lock

Many cameras have this capability. It lets you maintain the previous exposure value for additional pictures.

Common non exposure features of digital cameras


On digital slr cameras the viewfinder automatically adjusts to accommodate the use of different lenses as the view itself is directly linked to what the lense is directed at.

TTL metering

Through the lens exposure on DSLR cameras that measures the amount of light falling on the scene in the viewfinder. Then suggests the correct shutter speed and and apperture to set manually. Or sets the right combination internally if in auto mode.


Focusing is used for selective focusing on certain areas of a scene. For example to focus in on a face in a crowd.

Self timer

The self timer function enables  the photographer to set a shutter release delay, This is particularly useful when taking self portraits,

Tripod bracket

Located on the base of the camera this allows the camera to be mounted onto a tripod in order to be kept still during long exposures or when using slow shutter speeds.

Shutter release

Again as far as features of digital cameras go it doesn't seem like a biggy but you wouldn't be able to take a picture without it. This is the button you depress to expose the film or light sensitive plate to light by means of the shutter speed and aperture settings.

Lens release button

This allows interchangeable lenses to be safely mounted or removed from the camera. Filter thread Located at the front of the lens inside the rim this is where a filter or filter mount can be screwed into the front of the lens.