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Outdoor Photography: Anatomy of a Digital Camera

At first glance, digital cameras can be intimidating. Use this guide to take the guesswork out of the features on your camera.

by: The Backpacker Editors

1. Sensor:
Electronic component that collects light, the quantity of which is measured in megapixels. More megapixels means more detail in large prints, but fewer pictures per memory card.

2. Viewfinder:
A significant difference between compacts and DSLRs; only the latter shows you exactly what the lens is seeing.

3. Color LCD:
This screen is your camera's data center. It acts as a viewfinder, shows captured images, displays camera settings, and provides advanced info about your images.

4. Mode dial:
This common feature lets you choose between manual and auto modes; depending on the "scene" you pick (portrait, for example), you'll get default settings for exposure, focus, and flash.

5. Lens:
18 to 35mm is the wide-angle zone, 70mm and higher the telephoto zone. In a compact, the typical zoom range is 35mm to 108mm, but if scenics are important, look for 28mm at the wide end.

6. Battery:
The power source for your camera.

7. Memory card:
A data storage device that allows you to record your photos while being power-free and environmentally friendly.

8. Flash:
Gives you the added light you may need when taking a photograph. A fill flash can also soften harsh shadows.

9. Tripod mount:
Used to mount the camera to a three-legged stand, called a tripod, that helps keep your camera steady when taking photographs.

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