Understanding Digital Camera Features

Digital cameras come with many features that can affect the quality of your pictures. All digital cameras have a set of standard features, while the more advanced cameras also include additional features. I will discuss some of the important features that affect your pictures, and recommend settings that you should use.

Picture Size

Digital cameras usually allow you to adjust the size of a picture. The size of the pictures is usually specified in pixels and usually in the format length x width. For example, a 6 megapixel picture will be indicated as 3000×2000.

There are many reasons you may want to select a smaller picture size. One reason is to fit more pictures on you memory card. The smaller the picture, the less storage space it needs. The second reason is to target a specific output device. You may want to take smaller pictures if the pictures will only be sent via e-mail or displayed on the Web.

I recommend that you always take pictures at the highest possible setting. The price of flash memory cards is ever decreasing so you can always buy more memory. If you do need to shrink the picture to send in an e-mail, then you can always do that in a photo editor.

Picture Compression Quality

Most digital cameras save the pictures in a JPEG format, which uses lossless compression. This reduces the size of the picture. The more compression you use, the smaller the picture.

Increasing the compression also has a downside. The picture quality deteriorates as the compression increases. Square blotches of pixels, known as JPEG artifacts, begin appearing with an increase in compression.

The compression setting is indicated differently between cameras. Some digital cameras use stars (more stars means less compression), while others use acronyms, such as SHQ for super high quality. Read your digital camera manual to determine how the compression quality is indicated on your camera.

I recommend to always using the least amount of compression when taking pictures. As with resizing a picture, you can always apply more compression with a photo editor. Use the best quality picture also provides better enlarged prints, as the JPEG compression is not noticeable.

It should be noted that if your camera can save pictures in a RAW format, the compression quality doesn’t affect that format. For more information regarding JPEG and RAW, please read JPEG or RAW Format.

White Balance

For most people who use a digital camera, the Auto setting is what they set their camera to. This is fine, but sometimes may not produce the desired colours in the picture. For more accurate colour, you may want to learn about white balancing.

Digital cameras have the ability to adjust their white balance to a specific light source. This simply offsets the colour of the light source to keep the colours as true to life as possible.

Digital cameras usually have a standard set of white balance options such as daylight, cloudy, tungsten and flash. More advanced digital cameras include other settings such as shade, fluorescent, and custom.

Although you can take great pictures on the automatic setting, you may want to learn about white balancing to get even more true to life colours. Just remember to modify the settings once your lighting changes.

For more information about white balance, please see Understanding White Balance.

Movie Mode

Depending on your digital camera, it may also have a movie feature. This can be handy if you don’t have a digital video camera with you. The videos that are captured by a digital camera are much lower quality than a digital video camera.

You may be limited to the amount of video you can take, whether it is in time or file size. Still it can come in handy for those once-in-a-lifetime shots.

I have used the video feature a few times on my digital camera, but rarely use it as it takes up a lot more memory than several pictures.


I discussed some of the most popular features of a digital camera in this post, as well as provided my recommendation on how to use each feature. The recommendations, however, were my own opinion, so you should try out each feature is decide how you want to use them yourself.

4 Responses to “Understanding Digital Camera Features”

  1. George says:

    I have the Nikon D3000 for three months now. I love photography and this camera it’s perfect for me. With 2 or 3 upgrades it can be untouchable . Good post

  2. peter says:

    cool post. to be honest i am not sure i got every point completely. but, wanted to chip in and leave a note anyway. are you a freelance journalist by trade?, because your blog is really good.

  3. Rachael Slim Pen Camcorder Kehl says:

    Hello I got across your blog when I was looking for better camera and I noticed your info is clearer and has served me to choose the good step in buying this camera.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have a digital camera with a feature to record movies, but the only problem, it does not record any audio. I don’t see why they place the feature on the Olympus X-760 camera for. 🙁

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