Digital Photography Lesson 2: How to Use a Point and Shoot Camera

Back to the List of Computer Tutorials

Introduction

The camera we are showing here is a Fujifilm Finepix A150.   These cameras are considered entry level compact digital cameras. They have a limited set of features, but take good pictures and are easy to use.  They are in the $85-$120 price range.   Other cameras will have many of the same controls and features, but they might be located in a different place on the camera.

Back to top

How to Turn On the Camera

camera showing the power button

Press the on/off button down and then release it. You should hear the camera power up and see the indicator lamp light up. The lens will open and project from the body of the camera.

camera showing the indicator lamp and view screen 

How to Know if it is Ready

You should see the monitor screen prepare for images. When you move the camera, you will see what the lens sees.  If you press the shutter button down half-way, the indicator lamp should glow solid green when the camera is ready to shoot.

Try This:
Turn on the camera and wait a few seconds for it to power up. Notice the lens preparing to focus. Gently wave the camera around and see what the monitor screen sees. Press the shutter button down half-way and watch the indicator button. Turn the camera off and watch what happens to the lens.

How to Turn On the Monitor Screen and Use the Viewfinder

Most point and shoot cameras have monitor screens that automatically come on when the camera is turned on. If your particular camera has a viewfinder, there will be an option for turning on your monitor screen. The viewfinder uses no power and traditionally is the preferred way of framing a photograph. The monitor screen can be used alone or in conjunction with the viewfinder to decide if you like the picture and want to keep it or delete it.   The picture below shows a different camera that has both a viewfinder and a monitor screen.  The Fujifilm camera we've been featuring has only the monitor screen.

Canon camera showing the viewfinder

How to Use the Selector Button

The selector button is used for scrolling through the menu, selecting options. They will move the highlights up or down, side to side so you can execute functions.

Camera showing the toggle button

Try this:
Turn on your camera. Point the camera at something in the room. Depress the shutter button halfway, this will activate the focus sensor. Press the shutter button down all the way.  Listen for 2 beeps and take a picture! You will see the resulting photo immediately in the view screen. Let's decide to delete the photo. Press the selector button with the little trash can picture on it - the top one which is labeled above as the low light/erase button. A menu will appear in the monitor screen. Pick ok by toggling left and then click ok. The picture will then be deleted from your camera.

 

The selector button has the following options:

Macro Button  (flower symbol)
Allows you to get up close to an object and stay focused.
Self-timer Button (clock symbol)
Allows you to set the timer for a photograph.
Low light/Erase Button (trashcan symbol)
Allows you to set the camera for low light situations/is used in combination with other buttons to erase photos you don't wish to keep.
Flash Button (lightning bolt symbol)
Is used to set the flash.
Menu/OK Button (in the center)
Allows you to select from the menu on the view screen.

 

Try this:

Find a small object and place it on the middle of your table. Turn on your camera and press the macro button on the selector button. This will allow your camera to focus very closely on that object.

 Notice that your view screen will have a flower symbol on it. That means the camera will focus closely. Snap your picture. Repeat several times.

Pressing the macro button again turns off macro mode.

How to Use the Flash

The flash is used in low light situations, or in daylight to fill in shadows. This is more important with digital photography because of the way the camera views the subject. To activate the flash, push the toggle button that shows a lightning bolt. Pressing this button changes the flash mode. Each time you press it, it will change to the next mode in this order:  Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro, and Red Eye and Slow.  The main ones you will want to use are auto and red-eye reduction.  Toggle to whichever choice you wish and select okay by depressing the menu/ok button. You always have the option to leave the flash on auto mode and let the camera decide when to use the flash.

Camera toggle button showing flash button

Try this:

Find a relatively dark area. Take a picture to see if the flash is automatically used.  If the area is dark enough, the camera should sense this and use the flash.

Find a bright area. Take a picture to see if the flash is used.  If not,  press the flash button on the selector button until you see the lightning bolt symbol on the monitor (forced flash). Take another picture to see if the flash is used.

Try taking a picture of someone in a dark area so that the flash is used. Try this again using the red-eye reduction mode.

Pressing the flash button again repeatedly until you return to auto mode with no icon on the monitor screen.

Important!

Keep some spare batteries handy if you plan to take a lot of pictures.

Interesting Tidbit

Turning your camera upside down to take a photo changes the position of the flash, and the uplighting effect can smooth shadows on a person's face.

Vocabulary and Glossary

Macro Button  (flower symbol)
Allows you to get up close to an object and stay focused.
Self-timer Button (clock symbol)
Allows you to set the timer for a photograph.
Low light/Erase Button (trashcan symbol)
Allows you to set the camera for low light situations/is used in combination with other buttons to erase photos you don't wish to keep.
Flash Button (lightning bolt symbol)
Is used to set the flash.
Menu/OK Button (in the center)
Allows you to select from the menu on the view screen.
Rechargeable batteries
Batteries that are designed to accept a charge again and again.
Battery charger
A unit that is designed to plug into an outlet and charge batteries.
Wrist strap
A strap that is included with your camera designed to help you keep your camera safe.

Back to top

More Information

Tips and tricks to help with your flash photography:
http://www.digital-photography-tips.net/flash-photography.html

Extending your camera's battery life:
https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-extend-your-cameras-battery-life/

Back to top

Brought to you by the Clinton Essex Franklin Library System
and supported by Federal Library Services and Technology Act funds,
awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Google
WWW cefls.org