Touring Through a Digital SLR

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Now is the time to explore the innards of your digital SLR as a way to better understand how to use all the nifty features your digital shooter includes. At best, these sections give you a better handle on why, sometimes, the results you get when you press the shutter release aren't exactly what you expected. At worst, you can find more convincing excuses to give when you goof.

In some ways, the basics of a dSLR have a lot in common with the conventional film SLR, or indeed, any film camera. All these picture-grabbers share some fundamental components, which I list in the general order of their arrangement inside your camera, as shown in Figure 2-4:

Film Camera Components

i A lens — consisting of one or more optical components made of glass, plastic, or ceramic — which captures light and gathers it to a point of focus inside the camera.

i A viewing system that lets you see what the camera sees so you can compose your image and perform other functions such as evaluating depth-of-field.

i An aperture, or opening, inside the lens that you can (usually) adjust in size so that more or less light is able to sneak through into the camera.

i A shutter or other mechanism to control how long the light passing through the lens can expose the film or sensor.

i A light-sensitive component, either film or — with digital cameras — the sensor, which captures the illumination admitted through the lens by the aperture for the time duration allowed by the shutter.

i A medium for storing the captured image until it is removed from the camera. With a film camera, that medium is the film itself. For a digital camera, the storage is a solid-state film card.

Some of these components for film and digital cameras, especially lenses, are very similar. Indeed, many digital SLRs can use the same lenses built for their film counterparts. So, in this guided tour of the dSLR, I concentrate on the pieces and parts that are different. In the sections that follow, I explain each component listed here.

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