Your virtual tour begins on the top-right side of the camera, shown in Figure 1-7. There are six items of note here, as follows:
✓ On/Off switch: Okay, I'm pretty sure you already figured this one out, but just move the switch to On to fire up the camera and then back to Off to shut it down.
By default, the camera automatically shuts itself off after 30 seconds of inactivity to save battery power. To wake up the camera, just press the shutter button halfway; you don't need to use the On/Off switch. You can adjust the auto shutdown timing via Setup Menu 1, covered later in this chapter.
✓ Mode dial: Rotate this dial to select an exposure mode, which determines whether the camera operates in fully automatic, semi-automatic, or manual exposure mode. The little pictographs, or icons, on the dial represent Image Zone modes, which are automatic settings geared to specific types of photos: action shots, portraits, landscapes, and so on.
Canon uses the term Basic Zone to refer collectively to the Image Zone modes and Full Auto mode. (That's the one represented by the greenish rectangle on the Mode dial.) The more advanced modes (P, Tv, Av, M, and A-DEP) get the label Creative Zone. I think that having all those zones can be a little confusing, especially because the modes in the Image Zone category are often referred to generically in photography discussions as creative scene modes or creative modes. So, just to help keep things a little simpler in this book, I use the generic terms fully automatic exposure modes to refer to all the Basic Zone modes and advanced exposure modes to refer to the Creative Zone modes. And note that none of the exposure modes affect focusing; you can use autofocus or manual focus in any of the exposure modes, as outlined earlier in this chapter.
✓ Main dial: Just forward of the Mode dial, you see a black dial that has the official name Main dial. This dial plays such an important role in choosing camera settings that you'd think it might have a more auspicious name, but Main dial it is.
✓ ISO button: You use this button, in conjunction with the Main dial, to adjust the camera's ISO speed, which determines how sensitive the camera is to light. Chapter 5 details this critical exposure setting.
✓ Shutter button: You probably already understand the function of this button, too. But check out Chapter 2 to discover the proper shutter-button-pressing technique — you'd be surprised how many people mess up their pictures because they press that button incorrectly.
✓ Red-Eye Reduction/Self-Timer Lamp: When you set your flash to RedEye Reduction mode, this little lamp emits a brief beam of light prior to the real flash — the idea being that your subjects' pupils will constrict in response to the light, thus lessening the chances of red-eye. If you use the camera's self-timer feature, the lamp blinks to provide you with a visual countdown to the moment at which the picture will be recorded. See Chapter 2 for more details about Red-Eye Reduction flash mode and the self-timer function.
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Although we usually tend to think of the digital camera as the best thing since sliced bread, there are both pros and cons with its use. Nothing is available on the market that does not have both a good and a bad side, but the key is to weigh the good against the bad in order to come up with the best of both worlds.