Camera manufacturers continue to invent new ways to make photography easier for us. One of these ways is to have a wheel of preset functions to dial in when we encounter varied photographic situations. For most people, they either don’t fully understand what the wheel symbols mean or they simply misunderstand what they mean.
Photo by Ben Alman; ISO 3200, f/3.2, 1/100-second exposure.
Let’s explore each of them so you can be more confident when using your camera and achieve the exact results you’re looking for.
WHAT DO THE SYMBOLS ON MY CAMERA’S FUNCTION WHEEL MEAN?
First, I’d like to give you a quick tutorial on the basics of an exposure. This remains the same for film as well as digital cameras. The physics of photography require two things to achieve a proper exposure. Yes, both. Not one or the other. The law of physics require they both to work in conjunction with one another.
The first is an aperture. An aperture can be explained as how large the hole is when it opens up to allow light into the camera. Think of it in the same way the human eye functions. Aperture sizes range from very small to very large. Large apertures are used in low light conditions to increase the amount of light coming into the camera. Conversely, small apertures are used to limit the amount of light coming into the camera. Apertures are expressed as “F”, followed by a number. For example, F2.8, F4, F5.6, F8, F11, etc. The SMALLER the number the LARGER the hole. The LARGER number, the SMALLER the hole. This seems counter-intuitive but true.