The Beginner’s Guide to Digital Camera Settings


You’ve got a digital camera, it’s loaded with pictures of your cat. You know that there are settings on the camera, but you don’t know what they all mean. You try to shoot in auto mode and it just doesn’t look right…what do you do? Well, this guide is here to help you understand what each setting does and how it affects your photos!


The Mode setting tells the camera what type of picture you want to take. The most common modes are Auto, Portrait, Landscape and Sports.

Auto mode is great for getting started because it does all the thinking for you. Auto detects the scene and adjusts settings accordingly so that your photos will always look their best without any input from you (but without giving up control completely).

Portrait mode is used when shooting portraits with soft backgrounds, like this one:

Landscape mode works well when taking landscape shots like this one:


The aperture is the opening in your lens that allows light to reach your camera’s sensor. It’s measured in f-stops, which refer to how much light passes through. A small f-stop number means more light can pass through; a large f-stop number means less light does so.

Aperture affects several aspects of photography:

  • Depth of field (DOF) – This refers to how much of an image appears sharp or out of focus depending on what you’re shooting and how far away from it you are standing when taking a photo. Shallow DOF means only objects close up are sharp; deep DOF means everything looks sharp regardless of distance from camera lens

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is the amount of time that your camera’s shutter remains open. It’s measured in fractions of a second, and it can be set to any length between 1/8000th and 30 seconds. The longer your shutter stays open, the more light passes through to reach your sensor–but it also increases the chances that something might move during that time (which would cause blur). If you’re shooting a moving object like someone walking or running, try using a faster shutter speed so that they don’t look blurry when they move across frame.

ISO Speed

ISO is a digital camera setting that controls the light sensitivity of the sensor. In other words, it tells your camera how much light it needs to capture an image. The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive your camera’s sensor will be; this means you can use faster shutter speeds (like 1/30th of a second) in low-light situations without having to worry too much about blurriness or motion blur from hand shake. The lower your ISO number is set at, however, the less sensitive it’ll be; this means that if you’re using faster shutter speeds like 1/60th or even 1/200th when photographing outdoors during daytime hours then there might be some noise present in your photos due to not enough light being gathered by each pixel on its own (hence why photographers often recommend using high ISOs only during nighttime).

White Balance

White balance is used to correct for color casts in your photo. A color cast (or tint) occurs when an image’s colors are not true to life, but rather tinted with a different shade or hue.The good news is that most cameras come with preset modes for common situations such as daylight or cloudy skies; however, sometimes these don’t work perfectly for every photo so there may be times when manually adjusting this setting is necessary.*

Manual Mode

Manual mode gives you full control over all settings. Set the camera to Manual mode and then choose your shutter speed, aperture, ISO and white balance manually. Adjusting these settings will allow you to take control of how your images look without needing any additional equipment.

To take a picture in Manual mode:

  • Set the shutter speed by rotating its dial until it displays 1/60th or higher (this is called “shutter priority mode”). This means that if there’s enough light available for an exposure of 1/60th second or faster (such as during daytime), then nothing else needs adjusting; otherwise adjust either ISO or aperture accordingly.
  • Adjust aperture by rotating its dial until it reads f/8 (this is called “aperture priority mode”). This means that if there isn’t enough light available at f/8–or whatever number corresponds with whatever lens opening was selected–then adjust ISO instead until shutter speed falls within range again before taking another shot!

Digital cameras can have a lot of settings.

Digital cameras can have a lot of settings, but it’s important to know what they do so you can make an informed choice.

You may be wondering how to use these settings and change them. It’s easy! Just follow these steps:

  • Press the button on your camera that says “menu” or “options.” This will bring up all of the options available for your camera at that moment in time, including any custom ones you’ve created yourself (if any).
  • Select whichever one interests you by pressing on it with your finger until its name appears in big letters across the screen (or hit select if there are multiple options).


I hope this article has helped you to understand some of the basics of digital photography. If you’re just starting out, it can be overwhelming to learn about all the different settings on your camera. But don’t worry–we’ve covered most of them here! The most important thing is just to remember that there are many ways for you to control how your image looks. Once you know which ones work best for each situation (and why), then all those buttons will start making sense too!


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