digital still cameras

Turning on the Camera

If your camera has a lens that extends automatically from the camera body, remove the lens cap from the front of the camera. This is important, because the camera lens will extend when the power is turned on. If it has to fight against the lens cap, the lens motor could be damaged.

Then use the dial on the camera to turn it on.

On the Canon Rebel, use the large On/Off switch at the top right of the camera body, to the right of the Mode Dial. On the Canon PowerShot G1, the dial is on the top right. Turn the outer ring of the dial from Off to the red camera icon.

On the Canon PowerShot G5 and Pro 1, the power switch is the second dial from the right. With your thumb, move the dial to the red camera icon - it will flip back to its resting state afterwards, but the camera will be on.

Taking A Shot

As described in the introduction, digital SLR cameras generally do not let you frame shots on the LCD screen, while non-SLR cameras do. Regardless which kind of camera you're using, set the camera to fully automatic mode before beginning. On the Canon Rebel, turn the main Mode dial to the plain square icon. For the G1, G5, and Pro 1, turn the main mode dial to "Auto." Automatic mode will cause the camera to set focus, aperture, and shutter speed settings automatically.

Camera top

To set PowerShot cameras to auto focus and exposure, use the Mode dial on the top right of the camera. Turn the dial until the word AUTO (in green) lines up with the black line to the left of the dial. Automatic mode on the Rebel is indicated in the photo in the Power-On section above.

To take manual control of exposure and focus settings, see Other Settings.

Digital SLR: Use the viewfinder to frame your shot. In Automatic mode, the image should stay in focus as you move the camera. Twist the lens body to zoom in or out.

Non-SLR: Pull out the LCD screen from the back of the camera to see what the camera is framing for a shot. Alternatively, keep the LCD closed and look through the viewfinder on the back of the camera. Keep in mind that using the LCD screen will drain the battery more quickly. If you want to leave the LCD open but conserve battery power, tap the Display button on the back of the camera to temporarily turn it off.

The shutter button is almost always at the top right of the camera body, and is a large-ish button. To take a picture, press the shutter button on the top of the camera halfway down. Pressing the shutter button halfway tells the camera to set focus and exposure settings for the area inside one or more small rectangles seen in the viewfinder or on the LCD. You may also hear a beep or other sound from the camera, indicating that the camera is ready to shoot. This process is called pre-focusing.

When the rectangle(s) turn green, or a light flashes inside them, the camera has focused on and set exposure for the shot properly. Press the shutter button the rest of the way in to take the shot. While most modern cameras are fast enough to let you press the shutter button all the way down right away, without pre-focusing, it's good practice to slow down and pre-focus first. You'll get better results if both you and the camera have time to think about the composition of the shot.

Regardless the camera type, the new shot will appear on the LCD screen for two seconds (by default). This gives you a chance to review your shot before taking more, so you can make any necessary exposure or framing adjustments. If a shot comes out badly, you may want to delete it immediately, by pressing the trash can button on the camera (see Erasing Images). If you don't want to wait two seconds, you can press the shutter button again to quickly take another shot. If you never want to wait two seconds, you can change this duration (or turn it off) in the camera's menu.

The number of pictures remaining on your flash card will be displayed in the smaller view window on the top left of the camera (on the Rebel, the Info window is below the viewfinder on the back, rather than on top of the camera).

Remaining battery life also is displayed in the Info window. If the battery icon is completely black, the battery is fully charged.

Quick Tour of the Canon Rebel

Rebel back

Basic functions of the Canon rebel. Most of these functions are covered elsewhere in this tutorial.

Rebel lens