Camera Body

Cross section of a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera with a flip mirror
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The viewfinder is the hole in the back of the camera that a photographer looks through to aim the camera. Some viewfinders use a mirror inside the camera to look through the lens (TTL). Other viewfinders are simply holes through the body of the camera. Viewfinders that look through the lens (TTL) allow the photographer better accuracy when composing their images.

Shutter Release

The shutter release is a button that raises a shutter inside the camera for a specified amount of time to allow light to expose the film.

In a SLR camera, this button also raises a mirror that allows the photographer to use the viewfinder to look through the lens itself. Many SLR cameras also allow a remote release of the shutter via a cable or IR remote.

In automatic cameras, the shutter release also causes the film to advance to the next exposure. In manual cameras, there is a "film advance lever" that must be turned in order to advance the film and the exposure counter.


An opaque piece of metal or plastic inside your camera that prevents light from reaching the film or digital sensor. The shutter is opened, or released, by the shutter release button. The amount of time the shutter stays open is controlled by the shutter speed setting.

Shutter Speed Control

The shutter speed control is the point on your camera where you set the amount of time the shutter will remain open. On automatic cameras, this is generally accessed through a menu and displayed on a screen on the back of the camera.

In manual cameras, the shutter speed is generally controlled and displayed on a knob on the top of the camera. The shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second but is generally shown as the denominator only. For example, 1/60 of a second is shown as 60.

Film Speed Control

The film speed control allows you to calibrate your camera's meter to your film speed so that you will get an accurate exposure reading.

The film speed may be set electronically through a menu or via a knob/button on manual cameras. On manual cameras, the control is often integrated with a film speed indicator on the top of the camera. On automatic cameras, the control and film speed indicator are generally separate with the film speed being indicated on the electronic menu display on the back of the camera.

F-Stop Control

On automatic cameras, the F-Stop control is on the camera. For older manual cameras, the F-Stop is controlled on the lens. The F-Stop controls allow you to set the size of the aperture within the lens.

Film Compartment

In film cameras, there is a compartment in the back of the camera to hold the film. This compartment has a space for the film canister, sprockets to guide the film across the exposure area, a pressure plate to tighten the film, and a take up reel to wind the film. When the roll of film has been completely exposed, automatic cameras use a small motor to rewind the film. Manual cameras require the photographer to turn a small "rewind knob" to manually rewind the film into the canister. If the film is not rewound before the back compartment is opened, the film will be exposed to enough light to ruin the images.


Most cameras now include a built-in flash. Some are simple light bulbs built into the front of the camera. On SLR cameras, most built-in flashes pop-up out of a protective storage area on the top of the camera. External flashes can often be attached via the "hot shoe mount" or, in the case of manual cameras, an small connector port on the front of the camera that accepts a cable attached to a distant flash.

Hot Shoe Mount

The hot shoe mount is a point on the top of most SLR cameras where an external flash can be connected. It is called a "hot shoe" because it has electrical contact points and guide rails that fit over the bottom of the flash like a shoe.

Lens Ring Mount

On cameras that allow interchangeable lenses, there is a metal ring on the front of the camera where the lens will attach.

This ring contains electrical contact points to connect the lens controls to the camera body. There is a small button or lever to the side of this mount called the "lens release button" that releases the lens from the body.