Photography For Dummies

Photography For Dummies

by Russell Hart, Dan Richards

View All Available Formats & Editions

Say "cheese"! Taking great pictures is a snap when you follow the tips, tricks, and techniques packed inside Photography For Dummies, which takes you all the way from choosing the right film to using your computer to turn your photos into greeting cards or Web-ready online images.

Whether you're taking photos for fun or profit, you'll find expert advice on all the

…  See more details below


Say "cheese"! Taking great pictures is a snap when you follow the tips, tricks, and techniques packed inside Photography For Dummies, which takes you all the way from choosing the right film to using your computer to turn your photos into greeting cards or Web-ready online images.

Whether you're taking photos for fun or profit, you'll find expert advice on all the angles -- from taking family pictures to action, sports, and travel shots -- alongside hundreds of color and black-and-white examples that show you how to make your good pictures great, and your great pictures even better.

Geared for novice photographers armed with automated point-and-shoot cameras, Photography For Dummies takes you step-by-step through the entire photographic process, from choosing the right film and photo processing to using your camera's special features. And when you're ready to take the next step in photography with digital cameras, you'll find all sorts of helpful information right here, all explained in clear, easy-to-understand language.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In an approach typical of other titles in the "Dummies" series, this book provides a straightforward, fairly comprehensive review of amateur photography with a point-and-shoot camera. Award-winning photographer Hart begins by advising novice photographers that they do not need a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera to take good photographs. He correctly assumes that most amateur photographers use these small cameras rather than SLR cameras, and his book's strength lies in the depth and breadth of its coverage of point-and-shoot cameras. Hart defines the types of point-and-shoots available today, then discusses their parts and operation. Excellent chapters cover lighting, composition, and technique as well as digital photography with advanced photo systems. Finally, Hart offers sound advice on purchasing cameras, along with helpful information on web sites, troubleshooting, manufacturers, retailers, and a glossary of jargon. One of the few manuals for amateurs who simply want to improve the quality of their photographs, this book will be a solid addition to most collections of popular photography in public libraries.--Raymond Bial, Parkland Coll. Lib., Champaign, IL

Product Details

Publication date:
For Dummies Series
Product dimensions:
7.41(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.93(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Getting to Know Your

In This Chapter

* Installing batteries

* Loading film

* Turning on the camera

* How to hold your camera

* What to do if you accidentally open the camera back

* Rewinding do's and don'ts

Your point-and-shoot camera is practically an invitation to just start taking pictures. A wonder of automation, it uses advanced electronics and tiny motors to quickly execute the many separate steps that photographers used to have to do manually each time they wanted to take a picture. Point-and-shoots autocratically advance the film from shot to shot. They automatically compute the correct exposure — the exact amount of light that your film needs to properly record the subject — and adjust camera settings accordingly. They automatically turn on the flash in dim light. And they automatically focus the lens.

Actually, your particular point-and-shoot may not perform every one of these functions. And which ones it does perform depends partly (though not entirely) on what type of point-and-shoot you have. So I begin this chapter — a chapter otherwise devoted to getting you started taking pictures as quickly as possible — by describing the four different types of point-and-shoot cameras. The good news: You really don't need to know what kind of point-and-shoot camera you have to make it point and shoot. But knowing what kind of point-and-shoot you have can actually help you make better pictures. That is, after all, why you're reading this book — right?

Point-and-Shoot Cameras

Like people, point-and-shoots have more in common than they do differences. This is especially true of the way you operate the cameras — what you push, slide, or twist to make them do specific things. But while they're operated in pretty much the same way, point-and-shoots differ both in the way the image is captured and in the mechanical and electronic complexity they bring to the job. Those differences make it possible to divide these cameras into four main types.

35mm point-and-shoots

Granddaddy of the point-and-shoot movement, the 35mm point-and-shoot uses 35mm film — the film that comes in the funny-looking little cassette with the perforated tongue sticking out at you. You grab that tongue of film to start the roll through the camera, as this chapter explains in detail. 35mm point-and-shoots come in every form from cheapo check-out counter specials to expensive, full-featured models that rival 35mm single-lens reflexes (those professional-style system cameras) in their sophistication.

Advanced Photo System point-and-shoots

The next generation of point-and-shoot camera, Advanced Photo System (APS) models usually look just like their 35mm counterparts. They take a special, smaller-than-35mm film cassette that not only lets manufacturers create smaller cameras, but that also simplifies film loading, improves the quality of photofinishing, makes storage and reprinting easier, and (most fun) gives you a shot-by-shot choice of three different print sizes, which you actually select with a switch on the camera. See Chapter 14 for complete details on the Advanced Photo System.

One-time-use point-and-shoots

They're everywhere. From drugstore counters to Disney World, one-time-use cameras are by far the most popular type of point-and-shoot, outselling reloadable models by more than six to one. These inexpensive (usually $7 to $15, depending on the type) models are in some respects the ultimate point-and-shoot. You don't have to figure out how to insert film, for example, because they come preloaded with a roll. (In fact, you can get them in both 35mm and Advanced Photo System versions.) The same goes for batteries, also preinstalled. You needn't master any pushbuttons except for the shutter button and the flash button, if your model has a flash at all. You don't even have to remember to bring your camera along, because you can buy a one-time-use camera on the way or on the spot. After you finish shooting a roll, you just give the camera to the photofinisher — no rewinding necessary. And last, but not least, one-time-use cameras are the only cameras with complete instructions printed on them! (See the sidebar "The pros and cons of one-time-use cameras" for details.)


The Pros and cons of one-time-use cameras

Did you accidentally leave your regular point-and-shoot at home? Don't want to subject it to sand or salt spray? Is someone else in the family using it? Don't want to risk theft? Then get a one-time-use camera. One-time-use cameras are worry-free and convenient, and now come in many varieties: underwater models, sports models, panoramic models; models with or without built-in flash; 35mm or Advanced Photo System models (see figure). (One-time-use Advanced Photo System models now give you a shot-by-shot choice of the system's different print shapes!) And here's good news: According to Kodak, more than 80% of one-time-use cameras are recycled, including the battery, flash, and most of the plastics.

For all their fun and convenience, one-time-use cameras don't offer the automation, versatility, or quality of most reloadable point-and-shoots. They don't have a film-winding motor, for example, so you have to advance the film manually each time that you take a picture; you simply turn a grooved thumbwheel to the right until it stops. And unlike most reloadable point-and-shoots, a one-time-use camera can't decide when flash is needed. (Some models don't even have a built-in flash because they're intended for outdoor use.) You have to decide if flash is necessary, and then if it is, push a flash-activation button that is usually on the front of the camera. For more on one-time-use cameras and flash, see Chapter 7.

Yet the point-and-shoot simplicity of a single-use camera makes it the ultimate test of your photographic eye. Because you have little or none of the control possible with reloadable point-and-shoots, the success of a picture depends almost entirely on nontechnical things: the moment that you capture; the colors, tones, shapes, and textures that describe it; and the effectiveness of your composition.


Even if you're planning to shoot outdoors with a one-time-use camera, I suggest getting a model with a built-in flash. (See the figure in the "The pros and cons of one-time-use cameras" sidebar.) Firing the flash when you're shooting in bright light helps lighten dark shadows, for more flattering pictures of people. (See Chapter 7 for details on using flash.) And having flash available lets you keep shooting when outdoor light gets low or you move into deep shade.


Don't buy and shoot with a one-time-use camera simply because you're too intimidated by your regular, reloadable point-and-shoot. Read this chapter, and your regular point-and-shoot won't scare you anymore!

Digital point-and-shoots

Unlike the other types of point-and-shoot cameras, a digital point-and-shoot neither contains nor accepts film. How can it capture photographs without film? The same way video camcorders do: With a permanently-installed electronic light-sensing "chip." But unlike most camcorders, a digital camera stores photographs as digital files that can be downloaded directly to a computer for retouching, e-mailing, and printing out. Yet in terms of actual operation, digital point-and-shoots are essentially like film-using cameras — and again, most of the shooting advice in this and other chapters applies to them as well. For specifics on working with digital models, see Chapter 15.

The Parts of Your Camera

Here are a couple of things to remember whenever you feel you're not quite getting the hang of operating your camera. First, for all its pushbuttons, dials, windows, and flashing lights, your camera is basically a lightproof box. It's lightproof to protect the film inside from any light other than what the lens gathers from the subject and uses to form a picture on the film's surface. And second, the camera is basically an extension of your eye — a window on your subject. In fact, to view your subject you look through a little window on the camera back called the viewfinder. For more about what you see when you look through the camera's viewfinder, read Chapter 5.

Now for those pushbuttons. When it comes to the design and location of your point-and-shoot's controls, little standardization exists. In pictorial terms, two very different-looking controls in two very different places may do pretty much the same thing. But whatever the control configuration, all but the least expensive models usually have an LCD panel — a digital display on the top or side of the camera — that indicates what settings you're making. Figures 1-1 and 1-2 show the location of camera controls and other basic camera features for a typical Advanced Photo System point-and-shoot and a typical 35mm point-and-shoot. The purposes of these controls and features are spelled out in Part II, and you can refer back to these figures for help in locating specific parts and buttons. But your camera may be different from the models shown — and the only way to know is to check your camera manual.


Your camera manual shows you which controls do what, and where they are. Sometimes it loses a little in translation, but your manual is an important photographic tool. It doesn't tell you how to take better point-and-shoot pictures; that's the job of this book. What it does tell you is where to find and how to operate the camera controls that can help you take better pictures.

Batteries: The Pluses and Minuses

Point-and-shoot cameras are chock full of little motors that do everything from advancing and rewinding your film to zooming your lens. These motors are highly efficient, but they consume quite a bit of electricity. Makers of kids' toys have a simple solution — just use more batteries. But because a point-and-shoot camera must remain compact, manufacturers have devised a different strategy: use smaller, more powerful, longer-life batteries.

Lithium batteries

Many, if not most, point-and-shoots are powered by special lithium batteries. Made for use in cameras, these cells are shorter than the familiar AA battery, but a lot more expensive.

The most common type of lithium battery, a three-volt cell that goes by proprietary designations such as KL123A, CR123A, or DL123A (a 123A is always in there), costs as much as $7. The shorter, thinner three-volt CR2 lithium battery — not as common but used by more and more ultracompact point-and-shoots — costs about the same. What's more, some cameras need two three-volt lithium batteries. And some take double-barreled six-volt batteries, either the 223A or, infrequently, the bigger 2CR5. These batteries cost a whopping $13. Their prices can go even higher, depending on what the market will bear — and in tony or touristy areas, it will bear a lot.

Fortunately, lithium batteries last longer than AA cells. (See the section "The good old AAs," later in this chapter.) But the number of pictures you actually get out of a lithium battery depends on the power needs of your camera; the more motorized it is, the fewer the rolls. Most models give you within the range of 10 to 25 24-exposure rolls per battery, assuming that you use flash about half the time. (Lithiums also don't conk out in freezing weather as fast as regular AAs, a good thing if you like taking pictures in the snow.)


When you need to buy a new battery, always bring the old one — or better yet, your camera — to the store. Given all the different types of batteries, not knowing which type you need can drive clerks crazy. And by bringing your camera to the store and putting in the new battery there, you're immediately reassured that the new battery brings your camera up to snuff.

Unfortunately, lithium batteries are hard to find in out-of-the-way places. Suburban camera shops carry them (though even in the suburbs, you may have trouble finding the CR2). But if your camera loses power in Timbuktu, you're in trouble. Even if you can find the right lithium battery, you may have to pay a black-market price for it.

Pack an extra

If your point-and-shoot takes lithium batteries, you should always keep an extra one (or two, if that's what the model requires) on hand. To prolong the battery's shelf life, keep it in the refrigerator, in its original packaging inside a baggie. (Never freeze it.) Just avoid putting the battery straight into your camera from the refrigerator; give it a half hour to warm up.


Take an extra battery with you to weddings, graduations, bar mitzvahs, or any other occasions that you want to photograph. These events are flash-intensive, and using flash a lot reduces the number of pictures you get from a battery. If you take an extra battery along, you don't have to stop shooting if the one in your camera peters out. Just be sure to refresh your memory about how to install it, in case you need to do it fast. (See "Loading batteries," later in this chapter, for the details.)

Recycling woes

As a battery weakens, your camera's flash takes longer to recycle — to recharge itself for the next flash picture. (See Chapter 7 for more on flash recycling.) This sluggishness becomes a practical problem if, as with most point-and-shoots, your camera won't let you shoot until the flash has mostly recycled. Have you ever tried to take a picture right after turning on the camera or to take flash pictures in quick succession, only to find that when you press the shutter button it just doesn't respond — and you have to keep pressing and pressing to get it to fire the camera? Sometimes the problem is due to the camera's inability to focus, but more often than not, it's caused by an overly long recycling time — the direct result of a low battery.

You can turn off the flash (which otherwise powers up automatically every time you turn on the camera) to sidestep this problem. But I think flash is one of the most valuable photographic tools on your point-and-shoot, and I encourage you to use it generously — even outdoors! So please read Chapter 7 for ways to deal with flash recycling woes and to find out about the flash-ready lamp, which alerts you when the flash is ready to fire again.


If your camera's shutter button won't let you take a picture, don't keep bearing down on it. The camera may still be recycling the flash, preventing you from shooting to reduce the chance of a bad picture. Release the pressure, wait a few seconds, and then press again.

The good old AAs

Some point-and-shoots use AA (or AAA) batteries, the same size that goes into most battery-powered gizmos. These models tend to be the less expensive variety, and they economize further by avoiding the need for special lithium cells. If you have such a camera, be sure to use alkaline AA (or AAA) batteries rather than the standard cheapo batteries. Alkalines last many times longer than regular batteries. Some models actually accept both AA alkalines or three-volt lithiums. Now there's a great idea, especially if you're going to Timbuktu. (Pack extra AAs anyway.)


If your camera takes AA batteries and you feel guilty about throwing them away, you can get rechargeable AA cells. Some digital point-and-shoots actually come with rechargeables and a charger. (A few models use video-style rechargeable batteries, avoiding the problem altogether.) Purchase an inexpensive plug-in AA, recharger and at least two sets of cells — four cells if your camera takes two batteries, eight cells if it takes four. That way, you can alternate charging them and always have a freshly charged set.

Loading batteries

If you've ever had to figure out where to stick batteries in your child's latest electronic acquisition, then loading batteries in your point-and-shoot shouldn't be a challenge. Turn off your camera when you install the batteries; otherwise, it may go crazy opening and closing its lens. (Some cameras turn themselves off after you install new batteries, so you have to turn them back on to shoot.)

With big point-and-shoot models, you typically have to open a latched cover on the camera bottom to install batteries. On more compact models, the battery compartment is often under a door or flap incorporated into the side or grip of the camera (see Figure 1-3). Sometimes you have to pry open such doors with a coin. This design is annoying when you don't have any change and break a fingernail trying to do it.

AA batteries and digital point-and-shoots

AA batteries have found a new home in digital point-and-shoot cameras, which usually need four of them. (Check out Chapter 15 for more on digital point-and-shoots.) The reason digital point-and-shoots don't take the kinds of lithium batteries used by film models, as far as I can tell, is that these newfangled cameras have enormous power needs — so special lithium batteries would make them prohibitively expensive to operate. As it is, most models eat alkaline AAs like they're going out of style.

The big power drain in these cameras is their external, video-style color LCDs — in effect, little flat-screen TVs. These mini-monitors are designed not just for video-style playback of pictures that you've already shot, but also for viewing and composing your subject while you're shooting. With some models, you have to use the monitor for shooting and every minute it's on, even if you're not actually taking pictures, it's sucking your batteries dry. So if your model makes you shoot with the color LCD, turn the camera on only when you're ready to take pictures. Turn it off as soon as you're done shooting. This habit extends the life of the batteries.

Other digital point-and-shoots have both a regular window-type viewfinder and a color LCD. If your camera has both and you want to get more life out of your batteries, shoot with the regular viewfinder and save the color LCD for playback. Oh, and if you're taking your digital point-and-shoot to an occasion — or on a trip — pack at least two changes of batteries.

Actually, you can do something else about that digital drain: Get lithium AA batteries. They look the same as regular AA batteries, but they last up to three times as long. Alas, they're also three times as expensive as alkaline AAs. But you don't have to change them half as often, which means you're less likely to see a great photo opportunity disappear before your eye's as you struggle with batteries. Lithium AAs are especially valuable with digital cameras that have color LCDs, but you certainly can use them in your regular film point-and-shoot if it accepts AAs.

When you use flash with digital point-and-shoot cameras that have external color monitors, they consume batteries even more quickly. But the ten or more, seconds digital point-and-shoots often make you wait before taking the next shot isn't usually battery-related: During this interval, the camera is processing the information from the light-sensing "chip" that actually captures the image.

More annoying are camera-bottom battery covers that you open by loosening a screw. (You need a coin for this type, too.) And most annoying are battery covers that aren't hinged. They come off completely when you unscrew them. If you have one of these covers, don't change batteries when you're standing over a sewer grate, in a field of tall grass, or on a pier!

Whether you're loading four AA cells or just a single lithium, make sure that the batteries are correctly oriented as you insert them. You'll find a diagram and/or plus and minus markings, usually within the compartment or on the inside of the door. The bump end of the battery is its positive (+) terminal; the flat end is its negative (-) terminal. The batteries also have plus and minus symbols on their sides. AA (and AAA cells) usually don't go in all facing the same way; you may have to reverse every other cell. Always follow your camera's diagram.


If you don't install batteries in their correct orientation, your camera won't start up when you try to turn it on. If this happens, remove the batteries, reinsert them correctly, and then try to turn the camera on again.

If your camera doesn't turn on and you're sure the batteries are correctly installed, then the problem may be that the batteries have lost their punch from sitting on a shelf too long. Which brings me to the battery icon. If your camera has an LCD panel, the icon tells you when battery power is low.

After you turn on your camera or load film, your camera may display a battery-shaped icon, usually in a corner of the LCD panel, if it has an LCD panel. (See Chapter 4 for more on the LCD panel.) If the icon's shape is fully darkened, the battery has sufficient power. If it's half darkened, you've already used a good portion of its juice — and may have noticed already that the flash recycling time is increasing. If the icon is barely filled in and/or blinking, you need a new battery. (See Figure 1-4.) Many models won't display the icon at all until the battery is on its way out.

Some models may display battery status all the time. And other models may have a pushbutton battery check. Pushing the button makes a light glow. But however your camera displays battery status, if it does, check the status regularly. If you're planning to shoot a special event or going on a trip, check it before you go. If the battery needs replacing, do it now.

By the way, changing batteries when film is in the camera is perfectly okay. The LCD panel goes blank during the change. Even though the LCD is battery-dependent, the camera "remembers" how many pictures you've taken — or how many are left, depending on your model — and restores the display after you power up again. Models with mechanical counters remain unaffected. The camera ordinarily doesn't remember specific settings that you previously made, however. (See Chapter 4 for more on setting camera modes.)


If you have a roll of film in the camera, be sure to leave the old battery in it until you're ready to put in a new one. Left too long without a battery, the camera may forget how many pictures have been taken.

Models with quartz date capability, which allows them to imprint the time and/or date on your prints, generally do not use the camera's main battery to keep time. They use a tiny button cell — a watch battery — that either comes with the camera or is factory-installed. This battery usually lasts many years. You can replace it after it dies, though some models may need to be returned to the manufacturer for this service. Check your manual! (And see Chapter 3 for the pros and cons of putting the time or date on the front of your pictures.)


If you don't use your camera for long periods of time — a couple of months or more — remove the batteries to prevent the possibility that they start to leak corrosive fluids. (Just remember that you lose the frame count — but then you shouldn't be leaving film that long in the camera anyway!) Leakage, most likely with AA batteries, can seriously damage your camera's innards. The solution: Take pictures more often!

Loading Film

Probably the single greatest source of photographic anxiety, loading film is much easier than it used to be — and, thanks to point-and-shoot innovation, easier than most people think. The Advanced Photo System's near-foolproof film cassette and drop-in automatic loading makes something easy even easier, and I get to those advantages shortly. (Also see Chapter 14 for more on the Advanced Photo System.)

But first, here's all that you ever need to know about loading film into a 35mm point-and-shoot. Nothing gives away an amateur like tentative or prolonged film loading. Master this stuff, and you'll look like a pro.

Most 35mm point-and-shoots have automatic film loading. After you close its back, the camera automatically advances the film to the first frame. But what cows people is the film leader — the little strip of film that protrudes from the cassette's lightproof lip (see Figure 1-5). The leader starts out perforated on both sides (as is the film inside the cassette), but tapers to a short half-width strip with perforations only on one side. After the cassette is in position inside the camera, you pull the leader across to the film take-up spool, which automatically engages it after you close the camera back.

Here's how 35mm loading works:

1. Open the camera back.

You do this with a latchlike sliding switch (usually marked with an arrow or the word open) on the side or back of the camera. Sometimes you have to hold down a locking button as you move the switch; this double catch lessens the chance that the back would accidentally pop open and ruin your film when you're shooting. The back clicks open on the latch side; lift it up so that you can put in the film. (The camera can be off or on when you load the film.) (See Figure 1-6.)

In the middle of the inside, of the camera is a rectangular opening though which you can see the back of the lens. This rectangular opening is where each frame of film rests as you shoot it. On either side of this rectangle are two chambers. The large, empty one is where the film cassette goes. With some models, it's on the left; with others, it's on the right.

2. Nestle the film cassette into the empty chamber.

You can't just drop the film cassette in. Notice that the cassette has a small cylindrical protrusion at one end, called the spool hub. This protrusion must fit into a small recess in the film chamber. Notice, too, that there's a little spindle extending into the film chamber, from the top or bottom. You have to slip the flat end of the cassette — the end opposite the spool hub — over this spindle as you fit the cassette into the chamber. The process sometimes takes a little nudging and wiggling.

3. Grasp the leader and pull enough film from the cassette so that the leader's front edge lines up with the film tip mark in the opposite chamber.

The film tip mark is often, though not always, colored orange or red. Pull gently on the leader, keeping a finger on the cassette itself so that it doesn't lift out of the chamber. Lie the film flat across the rectangular opening to see if it reaches the mark. If it doesn't, pull it out a little more.


After you get more comfortable pulling film out of the cassette, use your thumb to press against the top edge of the film and push it along its path, as shown in Figure 1-7. This technique helps you gauge how much film to pull out. Just be sure not to press against the rectangular opening.

With compact cameras, you don't need to pull the film out more than a few perforations' worth; with bigger models, rarely more than 1/2 or 3/4 of an inch. But you don't have to be especially precise about the amount of film you pull out. Some models seem more able than others to handle excess film. None, however, can grab the leader if it's physically too far away. So err on the side of more film rather than less.

4. Now press the whole film strip flat against the rectangular opening, double-check that the cassette is snugly seated, and then close the camera back with firm pressure until it clicks.

The camera's take-up mechanism and winding motor should engage the film and advance it to the first frame. The camera's frame counter or LCD panel then displays the number 1.

If nothing happens after you close the camera back, your camera may be the type that must be turned on to advance the film. Turn it on. If it still doesn't advance the film, try pressing the shutter button once. (A few inexpensive models may require that you push the shutter button repeatedly until the number 1 appears in the frame counter.)


If you pull too much film out of the cassette when loading it — or not enough — the camera may not advance the roll to the first frame (see Figure 1-8). If this happens, you must open the back and reload the film.

Fortunately, a 35mm point-and-shoot tells you (after you close the back and it attempts to engage the leader) if you pulled out too much film — or if you didn't pull out enough. It gives you this warning, if it has an LCD panel, by blinking an icon of the film cartridge and/or the number 1 or an E (for empty). Models without LCD panels simply fail to move their mechanical frame counters to 1.

To fix the problem, open the camera back. Pressing the film flat against the camera, check again to see whether the leader lines up with the film tip mark. If it's short, just pull out a little more film and close the camera back again.


If you pulled out too much film, take out the cassette. Hold the cassette between the thumb and fingers of one hand and point the spool hub toward you. Grasp the spool hub with the thumb and forefinger of your other hand and rotate it counterclockwise to draw the leader back into the cassette (see Figure 1-9). This rotation may not appear to have an effect until the coil of film inside the cassette begins to tighten up. Continue to turn the spool hub until the half-width portion of the film is a few perforations away from the cassette's lip. Rotate it slowly, so that you don't accidentally pull the whole leader back into the cassette.

Now load the film as I describe earlier in this section. If you pull out too much film again, just repeat the process.


Do not rotate the film cassette's spool hub in a clockwise direction. It puts up a lot of resistance if you try, and doing so may cause damage to the film.

Some 35mm point-and-shoot brands use a drop-in loading system that is fairly foolproof, as such things go. The cassette slips into a shaped compartment on the bottom of the camera. You do have to pull out the film leader a bit so that the camera can engage it after you close the door, but the compartment is shaped so that you can clearly see how to insert the cassette.

Counting up — and down

After you load the film, the camera automatically advances it from one shot to the next. If your camera is an inexpensive model, you may have to advance the film by rotating a thumbwheel after every shot. You can't overwind: The wheel, which is located in the upper right of the camera back, stops when the next frame is lined up.

Most 35mm models count exposures upwards — 1, 2, 3, and so on, all the way to the last frame on the roll. (Rolls of 35mm film come in 12, 24, and 36-exposure lengths.) Displayed either by a mechanical counter under a small window (usually on the camera top) or by the camera's LCD panel (if it has one), the frame number is actually the number of the frame that you're about to shoot (see Figure 1-10). If it says 18, you've taken 17 pictures and are about to take number 18. To know how many pictures are left on the roll, you have to know the length of the roll, and deduct this number from it. If you've forgotten the length of the roll that you loaded, don't worry: With almost all 35mm point-and-shoots, a narrow vertical window on the camera back lets you read vital statistics off the side of the loaded film cassette, including the length of the roll. (See Figure 1-11.)

By contrast, some 35mm models count down — 24, 23, 22, and so on, all the way to 0. The number that they display actually tells you how many frames you have left on the roll.


If you mistakenly open your camera in the middle of a roll (thinking it's empty or that the film has been rewound), close it immediately. Your cue to close the camera is if you see any actual film at all; if the film has been rewound, it should all be back inside the cassette. (See the following section.)


Read More

Meet the Author

Russell Hart, an author, teacher, and professional photographer, is the technology editor at American Photo and a contributing editor at Popular Photography magazine.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >