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Before you begin shooting and putting your camera to use, it’s always good to know what exactly makes your camera tick. If you’re a beginner to photography, it is important for you to have a technical understanding of your gear as it will help you set up the essential foundations you need to begin shooting. This article will teach you all the necessary basics from the focal length of your lenses to shutter speed and aperture.


How Does a Camera Work?

Focal Length

When talking about lenses, one of the first things that come to mind is the focal length. The focal length simply defines the effective view of the lens, and it is always measured in millimeters (mm). So, when you’re looking at the numbers on any lens, the lower the mm number, the wider the angle or field of view, and the higher the mm number, the tighter the angle.




The aperture of a camera is the opening of a lens’ diaphragm through which light passes. It opens and closes accordingly to control the amount of light that is coming into the camera.


Opening and closing your aperture also affects your images from an artistic standpoint. If you’re shooting with a wide open aperture, your foreground will be more in focus than your background; whereas if you were to shoot with a closed aperture, everything in the scene (foreground and background) would be sharp.


The blurry quality that end up getting in your images when shooting wide open is called bokeh (BOW-keh).


The shutter on your camera is what controls the duration in which the sensor inside your camera will be exposed to light. Using different shutter speeds when taking your images will not only control how long your sensor is exposed but it will also render different visual effects. The longer or slower your shutter speed is, the more motion you are able to capture. The shorter or faster your shutter speed, the more action you are able to freeze or stop.



Raw & JPEG Images

Once the image hits the sensor, it is run through what is called the buffer inside the camera which then processes the image into a JPEG before it is stored in the memory card. Shooting JPEG means the image will be raw processed and converted while in the buffer, while shooting RAW means the image will skip processing and transfer directly from the buffer to the memory card.


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Photography 101