Tech & Gadgets

How The Camera Works

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Most of us love taking photos because each time we take a photo, we also keep a memory.? To take the best photos, we need to explore every function of our camera so we can maximize its use. Understanding how our camera works is the key to have quality photos.


All cameras, whether an ancient film camera or the modern DSLR, work in pretty much the same way. Photographs are taken by letting light fall onto a light-sensitive medium, which records the image. Traditionally, this has been film, but more recently, it tends to be a digital sensor. The more light that falls onto the film or sensor, the lighter the image.

For a clearer image of how the camera works, here is the step-by-step process:

  • Light reflects off the object being photographed. This light reflects off the object in all different directions and hits the lens from different angles.
  • The lens focuses these rays of light to a point behind the focal point forming a real image.
  • The film is placed at the point where the real image is projected to.
  • The shutter temporarily moves from in front of the film and allows light to hit the film (for traditional cameras) or the digital sensor (for modern cameras).
  • Light hits the film causing chemical reactions that “expose” the film (for traditional cameras) or the digital sensor (for modern cameras).
  • The shutter then closes, and finally the film is advanced so an unexposed piece of film (for traditional cameras) or the digital sensor (for modern cameras) is ready for the next picture.

The Basic Parts

The three parts that all cameras have are: shutter speed, ISO, and aperture.

Shutter Speed. The shutter speed is the amount of time a gate called the shutter allows light to pass through the lens to the film or digital sensor. A correct combination of “exposure settings” ? shutter speed aperture, and film speed or electronic ISO “sensitivity” (amplification) ? will give bright, contrasting pictures. The shutter speed itself must be kept within certain limits for overall sharp photos, and can be thoughtfully adjusted to blur specific parts for artistic effect.

ISO. ISO, on the other hand, is short for International Standards Organization that is?the main governing body that standardizes sensitivity ratings for camera sensors. It is a term that was carried over from film. In changing ISO setting, you are adjusting your camera?s sensitivity to light. ISO settings can be anywhere from 24 to 6,400 (or higher), and these numbers have a direct relationship with the device?s sensitivity. A lower setting makes it less sensitive and a high setting makes it more so.

Aperture. Aperture, simply put, is ?the size of the opening in the lens when a picture is taken.?When you hit the shutter release button of your camera a hole opens up that allows your cameras image sensor to catch a glimpse of the scene you?re wanting to capture. The aperture that you set impacts the size of that hole. The larger the hole, the more light that gets in ? the smaller the hole the less light.

Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO are the three factors that determine your picture?s exposure. Finding the right balance between these three settings is key to getting the perfect shot. Now that you know the basics, you?ll be able to take a better photo next time.

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