How Well Do You Really Know Your Camera?

Digital cameras today are sophisticated pieces of technology. With all those buttons, menus, options, and features comes a steep learning curve and a good investment of time to master the equipment. So today, rather than give out advice on how to operate your camera, I’m asking a list of questions to get your gears turning.

I’m not really asking you to answer the questions directly — it’s just kind of a way to test your own camera knowledge. If you read through these questions and you either don’t understand what it’s asking or you don’t know the answer, you may not know your camera as well as you thought you did.

These questions are really aimed at the digital SLR users, so if you’re a compact camera user some of the questions won’t directly apply. Even so, a good chunk of them can be answered with any digital camera. Film users will probably have even less questions that are applicable.

CAMERA CONTROLS

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  • Exposure Mode
    What exposure modes are available on your camera? Manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, program, auto, presets? Do you know how to use them?
  • Drive Mode
    What drive modes are available on your camera? Single frame, continuous, bracketing, timers? What uses do these have in different situations?
  • Focus Mode
    What options do you have for focus control? Single shot, automatic, continuous, manual? Why would you use one over the other?
  • Metering Mode
    Which metering modes does your camera have? Segment pattern, weighted, spot? Do you know how each of these responds to different lighting conditions?
  • Flash Mode
    What are you telling your flash to do when you release the shutter? Auto, fill flash, red-eye removal, slow-sync, wireless?
  • Flash Control
    How are you controlling your flash? Through the lens (TTL), manual, some other type of integrated control?
  • Camera Sensitivity
    What ISO ranges can you use? What sensitivities does your auto setting use? At what point does the noise become too noisy?
  • White Balance
    What are your options for setting white balance? Auto, presets, temperature, measured? Do you know how to set a measured white balance?
  • Exposure Compensation
    Do you know how to compensate for exposure when using auto or semi-auto exposure modes? Are you using your histograms?
  • Exposure Lock
    Can you lock your exposure? Can you do it without locking the focus? Can you lock it across multiple shots?
  • Flash Compensation
    Do you know how to control your flash intensity separately from your exposure? Do you know why you would do this?

CAMERA SETTINGS

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  • Image Quality
    What resolutions and qualities are available? Can you shoot JPEG, RAW, or both? What are you typically set to?
  • Color Mode
    Which color modes are available? ProPhoto RGB, Adobe RGB, sRGB, others? Do you color manage your workflow?
  • JPEG Processing
    What processing adjustments are available for JPEGs? Sharpness, saturation, contrast, hue, etc? Have you adjusted these to give you better results?
  • Bracketing Order
    Are you bracketing 3 shots or 5? What order is the bracket set up for?

CAMERA FEATURES

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  • Diopter Adjustment
    Can you adjust the diopter of your viewfinder? Have you lately?
  • DOF Preview
    Do you know how to preview the DOF? And do you know how to interpret the results?
  • Mirror Lock
    What steps do you need to take to lock your mirror in the upright position?
  • Sensor Cleaning
    Do you know how to enter the sensor cleaning mode? Have you ever cleaned your sensor?
  • Image Stabilization
    Do you have image stabilization capabilities? Is it in-camera or on-lens?

So what am I missing here (this one you can answer)? Did I skip over some of the basics, or do I not know my camera as well as I should? I’d also like to hear from the Canon and Nikon users since I’m sure there are specific questions that would apply to different camera models.