Photographs enable us to capture events and moments in time and preserve these for years. This is made possible by the use of photo Cameras. A Camera is a technological device for obtaining photographic images of objects of interest.
This device is made up of three basic elements: the mechanical element (the Camera body itself), the optical element (the Lens), and the chemical element (the Film [although there are also digital cameras that don't make use of the traditional film]). All the other numerous parts and components that make up a camera simply function to support or enhance any of the above mentioned core functions.
Listed below are 15 functional components of a Camera, following which I will explain the function of 10 of them.
1. The Camera Body
5. The Shutter
7. Shutter Release Button
8. Shutter Curtains
9. Shutter Speed Control Knob
10. Film Cavity
11. Film Rewind Knob
12. Film Sprockets
13. Flash Shoe (Accessory Jack)
14. Focusing Ring
15. Self – Timer Button
(1) The Camera Body: All the internal mechanical, optical, and chemical parts of a camera are held together by the Camera body. This serves to protect these very sensitive parts. The Camera body also serves as a framework against which the other parts of the Camera articulate to function properly.
(2) The Lens: The Lens is undoubtedly the most important component of the Camera (considering the main purpose of a Camera). The lens takes the beams of light bouncing off an object and focuses this light on the image plane so that a real image is formed that can be photographed. The greater majority of the modifications and refinements that have occurred in the camera since its invention have centered on or around the Lens, and that underscores the importance of this part of the camera.
(3) The Film: This is a thin roll of light -sensitive plastic which is placed at the image plane of the Lens. When the Camera is ready to take pictures, several devices combine to ensure that the film is exposed to the image formed by the lens. When the film is exposed to the image coming from the lens it records the image, and we have pictures! Before and after use, the film is stored in a light-tight film holder. Unknown to most persons, there are no black and white or color cameras. We only have black and white and color films. It is the film that determines whether a picture will come out as black and white or colored.
(4) Viewfinder: This is a part of the Camera that helps us decide which object we want to photograph. It helps us point the camera in the correct direction and indicates what will or will not appear in the final photograph. Viewfinders are of two types: (1) Those that work independent of the lens, known as aim-and -shoot cameras; (2) Those that show exactly what the lens is seeing, found in SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras.
(5) Shutter: The shutter determines how long the film is exposed to light or to the image coming from the lens. Shutters are of two types: the one located just behind the lens, called the leaf shutter; the second type is located in front of the film plane, it's called the focal plane shutter. The shutter consists of two metal sheets or “curtains” which remain shut or closed when the camera is not in use. But when the shutter release button is depressed, one of these curtains slide open to allow the image from the lens to hit the film. After a brief moment, the second metal sheet of curtain will slide in to close the opening. The interval between the opening and closing depends on the speed we selected using the shutter speed knob.
(6) Aperture: This is an opening, or hole, at the center of the lens. The function is to cause images to be brightened or dimmed uniformly. This is achieved by increasing or reducing the size of the hole, using a knob called the Aperture Ring. When the opening is enlarged, more light passes through the lens, causing the picture to brighten. Conversely when the opening reduces, less light is let in, thus dimming the image or picture.
(7) Flash Shoe (or Accessory Jack): This is the hook to which one may attach a flash, if one chooses to use a flash and the camera supports it. This accessory is located just above the Viewfinder.
(8) Focusing Ring: When we are looking through the Viewfinder, it is the Focusing Ring that is used to bring the object into focus. It is more like an adjuster.
(9) Film Cavity: This is the location where the roll of film is placed in the camera. This cavity is secured from light. It is a sort of dark chamber whose job is to ensure that the only light reaching the film is the one coming through the lens, and even then only when the shutter is open. This is important since the film cannot differentiate between the light coming from the lens and the one coming from other sources. Without this cavity lights from the surrounding area would easily hit the film and distort the picture quality.
(10) Film Rewind Knob: This knob is used to return all the exposed roll of film back into their casing. This must first be done before removing the exposed film from the camera; otherwise the negative will be ruined! Some modern cameras perform this function automatically once we've taken the last exposure.
Summary: A Camera helps us preserve memories. Understanding how the various parts of this devise work will help us get the best from our Cameras.