Getting the Most from your Digital Camera

Archived course

This course comprises five half-day sessions.


So you’ve had your digital camera for a while but you haven’t yet figured out how to use all the features that it comes packed with, even though they can improve your pictures immensely. You probably don’t have a proper printed manual, and the electronic one, if you’ve found it, is several hundred pages long and looks as impenetrable as a space shuttle pilot’s guide. And once you’ve taken some pictures, do you simply take the memory card to your nearest photo kiosk and get them printed?


If so, this course is for you. Bring your camera and its connecting cables (and charger!) along and learn how to take pictures like a pro! Also learn some basic photo-editing steps using computer software to improve your pictures, turning even some you might have discarded into keepers!

Please read the course details for important information about what to bring with you.


While one or two topics covered are more relevant to more advanced cameras, most of the topics covered apply equally well to most types of digital camera, from straightforward point-and-shoot models right up to the most sophisticated DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera.

The course puts emphasis on practical picture-taking, and provides hints and tips for taking better pictures.

The only prior knowledge needed is basic operations (copying, moving, deleting files) using a recent Windows operating system (Windows XP, Vista or 7).

During the course, we will cover the following topics and more:

  • Introduction to digital cameras
  • Setting up your camera
  • Understanding memory cards
  • Resolution and quality – understand these terms and make sure your pictures look great
  • Automatic shooting modes – letting the camera do the work
    • Portraits, Landscape, Sports and Night-time
  • Downloading and organizing photos – getting your pictures onto the computer
  • Information display
  • Understanding optical and digital zoom – what they are and when to use them
  • Focus – making sure your subject is not blurred
  • Exposure control – making sure your pictures are not too bright or dark
  • Semi-automatic and manual modes (*)
  • Understanding your camera’s histogram
  • Using the flash gun
  • White balance
  • Image stabilisation
  • Understanding noise
  • Basic editing tools and techniques – introduction to photo-editing software
  • Printing – making sure your pictures look good when they’re printed

(* Some basic cameras do not support these more advanced modes. If your camera is one of these, the information is still useful and will give you some ideas about what to look for if you should decide to upgrade your camera.)

Equipment to bring

Students should bring along their own digital camera, complete with the associated battery charger and the cable for connecting the camera to a computer. Make sure you have a fully-charged battery and a plenty of space on your memory card – ideally there should be no pictures on it at the start of the course.

It would useful to have your camera’s full user manual available (either printed or in electronic format) in case we need to refer to it. A printed “Getting started” guide is usually provided with your camera, while the full manual is often provided as an electronic document on the disk supplied with your camera.