This is all done in the name of versatility, because these cameras are designed to
be all things to all photographers. Most professional photographers also like to
work quickly and altering the way all these functions work on the camera allows it
to be optimised for different types of photography.
For those with compact cameras, the situation is much simpler. It is very unlikely
that anyone will have any problem with the way their camera is set up by default.
However, once you become familiar with the camera, you may begin to wonder if it
has to do things the way that it does. Because it's all under the control of a computer,
you may well find that your camera can do some things differently.
Probably the most noticeable of a camera's operations is what happens immediately
after you have taken a photograph. Many cameras will display the image you have just
taken and some will offer the choice to save it to the memory card or delete it.
At this point, a few cameras will wait indefinitely until you press the "save" or
"delete" button before allowing you to take another picture. This can be annoying
if you just want to get on and take the next picture.
On the other hand, you may want to always check out the picture you have just taken
but your camera doesn't even show it to you unless you change to display mode and
then back to take the next picture. Again, this can become annoying. If your camera
is doing either of those things, or something else that you think could be done better,
there might be a solution.
Amongst your menus, you might find an option called "preview" or "review". This setting
controls what happens after the picture is taken. There are no standards in this
area so the choices you will have is entirely down to the whim of your camera manufacturer.
All you can do is try the different settings available and see what suits you best.
Remember, none of this will have any effect on the pictures your camera takes and
you are highly unlikely to have an option for doing anything stupid like deleting
your pictures without warning.
Another operational setting you might have is the "power down" time. Because digital
cameras can drain their batteries so quickly, most are set by default to go into
standby after a fixed period when no buttons are pressed. You may be able to alter
the time or switch the function off altogether so you won't have to "wake up" the
camera before taking a picture.
Frame numbering is another option that is purely operational as it doesn't affect
your pictures, only their names. But that has been described in more detail in another
The most obvious operational control is the one that selects the "mode" that your
camera is in. Even the simplest camera is likely to have distinct "picture taking"
or "capture" and "display" or "playback" modes. Others may include things like video
and audio recording modes. The mode your camera is in will have a fundamental effect
on its function and the result of pressing most of the buttons on your camera is
usually entirely dependent on the mode it is in.
The more expensive compact and the slr cameras are very likely to have the controls
mentioned above, plus many others. Modern day digital cameras have become very sophisticated
in their operation and this leads to lots and lots of options in the way you control
It is usually only after some use that people start to think about the way their
camera operates. If you come to realise that some aspect of the way your camera operates
is not exactly to your liking, it is well worth delving into the menus (and manual)
to see what options you have. You might be pleasantly surprised.