Camera Battery

Refresher On Your Camera

Most adjustable cameras are quite similar. You should be able to use these pictures to find the controls on your camera. However, we will also use a typical “Point and Shoot” camera in a few of the illustrations. Their controls are quite similar to digital camera controls.

If you are ONLY concerned with digital cameras then visit Know Your Camera, I strongly recommend you follow my lead if you really want to learn photography, by focusing on your photography skills.

Check for Film

Make sure there is film in the camera. There is only ONE way to be sure, wind the rewind lever (see pic, turn in the direction of the black curved arrow) about 6-8 times. If it tightens up you have film inside. If it winds easily, no film.

Before you put film in be sure to set the film speed on the dial. On this camera it is the shutter speed dial. It’s just set by lifting the dial and turning. If you have a totally automatic “point and shoot camera you should have a window on the back. A slit that allows you to see what film you have inside. If there is no film the slit will simply look black.

Camera Battery

Check the Camera’s Batteries

Check the battery. If it is dead your camera will usually operate at one speed (usually 1/90th). If the camera won’t work, try cleaning the battery before buying a new one. A pencil eraser does a real good job. These batteries tend to oxidize and you need to clean that coating off so it makes a good connection. (The battery is usually found on the bottom of the camera, underneath a round, slotted screw). On Point and Shoot, and digital, cameras the battery compartment is on the right hand side.

If the camera still doesn’t work, get new batteries. If it STILL is kaput, take it to a good camera shop. For a quick primer on Film and Batteries visit Film Types.

Loading Film

To load the camera you need to open the back. A lot of cameras require you simply lift the rewind knob to open the back. Some cameras have a latch on the left (see red dot in the pic, the latch is just below it) that you must press to lift the rewind knob. Other models have a sliding latch on the left hand side of the body.

Once open, place the film cartridge in the chamber, as shown, and push the rewind knob down to lock the cartridge in place. Then, pull the film to the right and insert into the slot. Close the back and advance the film three frames.

Using a Flash

If you want to use a flash you mount it above the prism on the “hot shoe” mount. (See the mount at left edge of picture) You must set the shutter speed at the correct speed or below. The orange number “60” on the shutter speed dial (May be slightly different on your camera) indicates the fastest shutter speed you can use with a flash. You may use any shutter speed at, or below, the speed indicated in red. More on flash below.

Initial Settings

Notice that the wind lever is “open”. Doing this turns the internal light meter on. Pushing the lever inward shuts off the battery, saving battery power. You can read the light meter by looking inside the viewfinder. You will usually see pointers, that need to be lined up, OR you’ll see blinking LED lights. Green indicates proper exposure and Red means you must change the aperture or shutter speed. We usually set the shutter speed first, and then adjust the aperture. You can see the aperture ring in the photo, it has 5.6 inline with the yellow line. To learn more about exposure control click Exposure Control.

The round button to the right of the lens is used to unlock the lens for removal. At the front of the lens you will see a clear filter. It is a Haze filter, which helps reduce haziness AND is kept on the lens at all times since we don’t use lens caps (except when we pack for traveling).

camera timer


The Self Timer is located (in the photo) to the left of the lens. It has a white stripe on the lever. Crank it downward, push the shutter button and dash in front of the camera to make a self-portrait. It usually takes 10 seconds for the timer to wind down and trigger the shutter.

The Depth of Field lever is located above and to the right of the Self Timer. It is either a round button or a lever like this. Depressing it will close the aperture (to wherever you have set it) so you can determine the approximate depth of field (sharpness).

We try to avoid aiming the flash directly at the subject. Instead, aiming the flash upwards – bouncing the light off the ceiling – will spread the light and give a softer, more even lit picture without harsh shadows.

For more info on Flash Photography visit Flash Photography.

Point and Shoot and digital cameras have flashes that cannot be bounced. I usually put a piece of Mystic tape over the flash head to soften the light. You can also put a piece of very thin napkin or toilet paper over the flash head. It really makes a difference.

Camera Protection and Maintenance

We hardly ever keep our camera in the leather case that usually comes with it. These cases are too cumbersome and they discourage camera use. If you put a Haze filter on the lens you’ll protect it just as well.

And, we are reluctant to squirt lens cleaning fluid on the lens elements. Better to simply breath moisture SOFTLY onto the glass and gently wipe it with a lint-free napkin.

Please write down the Hints and try to follow them for a few rolls of film. These hints will improve your photography quite a bit.

PLEASE REMEMBER… when you push the shutter button DO NOT jab or punch that button. SQUEEEEEEEZE it. By doing so you eliminate any camera movement and improve you chances of making a sharp photo, you may want to even pay attention to your breathing and gently breath out as you squeeze the shutter. In other words, punching the shutter release is the biggest cause of fuzzy photos.

Camera Hints

  1. Read the directions!!!!!
  2. Stick with one film (and film) speed until you thoroughly understand how it works …. at least for the first 5 or 6 rolls.
  3. Stick with one good processor… forever.
  4. Take notes on the first 5 or 6 rolls. when you make mistakes you’ll immediately be able to troubleshoot your mistakes.

You should have a solid knowledge of photography, optics, light, composition, etc. before you start going into the advanced courses.

If you have forgotten the basics, I strongly urge you to start at the beginning with Photography 101. I cannot stress too much how important it is to have the information provided in the basic lessons. They provide a solid foundation and will definitely help you make really fine photographs. MAKE fine pics, not just take ’em.

Here is a diagram of controls for a typical SLR. See how many match your camera.