Knowing the ins and outs of your camera means understanding all the camera parts in detail.
In this article, you’ll learn about all the camera parts and their functionalities. We’re going through the main components of a digital camera, see how they work to help you out knowing your photography device better.
Once you’ve learned the basics of how every single camera part works you’ll have a greater control over your photos. In fact you’ll have a deeper understanding of how things like the exposure triangle work and you’ll be able to make better decisions when taking your photos.
Knowing how the different parts of a camera work is also super important if you’re looking to buy a new camera or lens.
- Camera Shutter
- Focusing screen
- Condenser lens
- Lens Aperture
- LCD display
- Electronic components
- Memory Card
- Autofocus system
- Zoom elements
All DSLR cameras are equipped with an optical viewfinder at eye level. Most available bridge and compact systems are also equipped with eye-level viewfinders.
As one of the most important camera parts, it is often rectangular-shaped and is present on the back of the device. It allows you to see what the lens sees. Mirrorless cameras are equipped with Electronic Viewfinder instead.
When referring to a camera, a photographer generally refers to the body without the lens. The body is the actual “container” of all other components. It’s where you find all the dials and buttons and where you attach your lenses.
Different bodies have different levels of comfort, size, weight, and buttons layout. A DSLR can differ significantly from a Mirrorless body since it’s usually bigger. This is an important factor to consider when buying a new camera.
Light enters through the lens. This light, however, cannot reach the digital image sensor unless the shutter is released, by pressing the shutter release button. As soon as the shutter is opened, light floods in, and the sensor is exposed to it. The time that the shutter remains open is known as the shutter speed and is typically measured in fractions of a second. For example, a 1/60 shutter speed means that the shutter is open for one-sixtieth of a second.
Camera Parts: Pentaprism
A pentaprism, as the name suggests, is a five-sided reflecting prism that redirects light by a constant 90 degrees even if the beam of light is not at an exact 90 degrees to the prism. Two of the five faces of the pentaprism are coated to act as mirrors, and allow for this redirection of light to occur. In DSLR cameras, a mirror and pentaprism system is used to direct the light the coming through the lens to the optical viewfinder. This system is one of the main reasons for DSLRs and mirrorless being larger than their compact counterparts and is one of the most important camera parts.
The focusing screen is a thin translucent material found in a camera, that allows one to view the frame image through the optical viewfinder. Depending on the type of photographs being taken, several focusing screens are available. For low light photography, plain screens are preferred, and for wide-angle lenses and architectural images a screen with a grid etched on it is preferred. Most professional cameras also offer the photographer a choice of screens, that may be fairly easy to replace.
Two similar convex lenses form the condenser lens. The condenser lens’ role is to correct any aberration or color fringing that is typically encountered with traditional lenses.
One of the most vital components is the digital sensor. This sensor is what captures light entering to create an image that we can see. Modern digital cameras use a CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) or CCD (charge-coupled device) imager to capture images. The size of the sensor plays a big role in the overall quality of the image, with larger sensors being able to reproduce colors more accurately and create sharper images.
The lens is attached to the body and allows the light into the body and the control of the focus elements. You should consider a lens as the eye of the camera.
Prime lenses will have a fixed focal length while zoom lenses have variable focal lengths and allow you to shoot at different distances from the subject without changing the lens.
The aperture of a lens is formed by blades that open and close according to your settings and let more or less light into the camera through to the sensor. It’s fundamental to know how the aperture works to be able to control the exposure of your image and produce a brighter or darker photo.
The aperture is also fundamental since it affects the depth of field and determines the sharpness of an image and the focus area.
The display is an integral element of digital cameras. It helps users tweak numerous camera settings such as shutter speed, exposure, ISO, and so on.
Most modern cameras also show how the image will appear before the shutter release is pressed, without having to look through the viewfinder.
Camera Parts: Electronic Components
A camera’s electronic components can be categorized into three elements – controller, photo capture components, and user interface components. The photo capture elements, naturally, take care of the image recording aspects. The user interface elements allow the user to interact and control the device. The controller handles all the electronic elements, ensuring that they work in tandem.
Memory cards are where you store your digital images. They come in several different sizes and speed. These days memory cards are fast and capable of storing 64 or even 128GB of data. Buying an expensive and fast camera but using a cheap and low quality memory card will reduce the efficiency of your hardware and compromise your photography experience.
The ability to automatically and quickly focus on a subject is one of the major advantages that digital DSLRs and mirrorless have over their traditional counterparts. The autofocus sensors, one of the most important parts of modern digital cameras is what makes this feature possible. It works in tandem with a computer present inside the device, commanding the lens to automatically adjust its focus to get clear images.
Reflex and Relay Mirror
The reflex mirror is a crucial element of any DSLR or Mirrorless camera. It is positioned at a 45-degree angle to appropriately reflect the light entering through the lens to the viewfinder, allowing you to see what the lens captures.
Zoom lenses allow a user to shift between different focal lengths and capture subjects located at varying distances. It is possible to modify the focal range of a lens by turning the lens ring.
Like in the case of most electronic gadgets, batteries are a crucial aspect of a camera. A long-lasting battery is always preferred since it allows for more photographs to be taken over extended periods of time.
Camera Parts Video Explanation
What’s Inside a Camera
In this first video, Photographer and Youtuber Peter McKinnon has the brilliant idea of opening a damaged Canon to take a peak inside. You can jump to minute 2:45 if you want to skip the intro.
It’s pretty interesting to see how such a complex (and expensive) device looks inside. I invite you NOT to do it at home unless you want to risk damaging your camera 😉
Read more details about camera parts here.
Hopefully this list of camera parts will be useful for you to better understand your device and the different elements it’s made of.
To improve as a photographer, you have to know your tools and their parts. A digital camera is a complex system of hardware parts that work together with the software to help you create amazing images.
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Stefano Caioni is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Founder and editor of Pixinfocus, his passion for photography helps him explore new places and live new adventures. Thanks to photography he reconnected with the outdoors and was able to travel the world and take photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth.