A Guide to Using Your Digital Camera


From step-by-step tutorials to helpful hints, the Readers.com family is always up for trying new things. Join us each month as we consult the experts in fields ranging from social media to antique hunting in our Hobbies & How To’s series, and hopefully learn a thing or two along the way!  

Digital Camera Tips for Beginners

It’s been awhile since you’ve seen that old Instamatic of yours. For that matter, it’s been an even longer while since you’ve been able to buy film at your local pharmacy. Cameras have all gone digital, and now that you got one as a holiday gift, it’s time to throw on a pair of bifocals and get snapping. Here’s what you need to know:

Get Focused

Unlike your old Instamatic, you’ll need to power on your new camera before you can use it. And forget squinting into that tiny viewfinder — digital cameras sport a high resolution display that shows exactly what’s in the picture. It may look a bit blurry at first, but if you press the shutter button partway down, the auto-focus will do its thing. Press the shutter button the rest of the way and snap. Press the play button and scroll through all of the pics you just took. Delete the ones you don’t like by selecting the trashcan icon. No one has to see all those pictures of your thumb (and no more wasted film!).

Share the Love

Your camera stores your pictures on a tiny, postage-stamp-sized SD card. If your computer has a card reader, you can swap the card from your camera to the computer and copy your pics to your hard drive with a copy or move command. If not, your camera probably came with a USB cable you can use to connect it directly to your computer, so you can easily email your photos to family or upload them to Facebook.

Bells and Whistles

Check your owner’s manual. Your new camera may sport most or all of these bonus features!

  • Red Eye Filter: This causes your flash to go off twice, which can eliminate those “devil eyes” caused when a camera flash reflects off the inside back of the eyes.
  • Smile Filter: With this feature enabled, your shutter won’t snap until it detects a smiling face.
  • Built-in Shutter Timer: You finally get to be in those family pictures. The timer will count down, leaving you enough time to place your camera on top of your TV and run over to your loved one’s side.
  • Burst Mode: Use this to auto-snap a rapid succession of pics of your grandson riding a bike for the first time. You can decide which shots will go in the family album later. Or you can use the…
  • Video Mode: Your camera may be able to shoot brief videos, including sound.

Create Some Keepsakes

If you want prints of your pictures — anything from wallet size to huge posters — start out at Shutterfly.comSnapfish.com, or Walmart’s photo center.

You can upload your photos and pick up prints from your local store later the same day. You can also create calendars, photo jewelry, and other keepsakes. My wife loves the coffee cup I created for her using a group headshot of our two dogs and myself. (Talk about your ugly mugs…)

For more information on using your digital camera, visit these resources: