22 Main Parts Of A Camera & How They Work

Jeff Picoult

By Jeff Picoult

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For those who see photography as nothing but a passing interest, we assume you can get away with any lack of expertise. But if you are seriously looking to turn your passion into a business or take your photography skills to the next level, it’s a must to understand how your own camera works. 

parts of a camera

Our article will offer some insights into the main camera components and accessories and how they (literally) fit into the picture.

Top 22 Important Parts Of A Camera

The viewfinder and focusing screen let you frame your subjects before capturing the shot. The lens and mounts help control lens changes for varying effects, while the shutter and aperture allow you to master light exposure. 

Right when you snap your shot, the light enters the image sensor and becomes processed in the image processor, transforming itself into final digital images. If necessary, you can use the flash and red-eye reduction to light up low-light scenes and avoid red pupils in portraits.

With autofocus and buffer, it’s easy to capture sharp images with rapid flow without slowdowns between shots. The tripod mount is another bonus if you want to stabilize your camera for precise framing! Once it’s all done, use the communication ports to transfer your work to the computer or similar devices.

1. Viewfinder


A viewfinder, the rectangular part on the camera’s back, is similar to a “window” that lets you observe and frame the subjects before you take the shot. Some viewfinders can be digital, with clear displays of ISO settings, aperture, shutter speed, etc., before you press the button.

2. Pentaprism


Think of the pentaprism as a special mirror inside your camera. It’s positioned at a 45° angle behind your lens and reflects light from that lens to the camera’s viewfinder. 

Before pentaprism, photographers had to look down to take pictures, which explains why their perspective was always limited to the hip level. But now, these devices have changed the game and are now a defining feature of any SLR (single lens reflex) camera.

3. Built-in Flash

Built-in Flash

A small light on the top or front of your camera will pop up and fire a light burst/flash when triggered; that’s what we call a built-in flash. Note that this flash only activates when you take a picture so that you can see your subject better.

4. Flash Button

Flash Button

This flash button is very handy for cameras with built-in flashes, as it opens up the flash before you snap a shot. Some cameras also let you adjust the flash’s intensity; you just need to hold down this button and tweak the exposure settings to your liking.

5. Lens Mount

Lens Mount

The lens mount is a mechanical connection that lets you attach different lenses to your camera. It’s quite like a handshake between your camera and its lens! 

Each camera brand has a unique lens mounting design. So, to ensure quality performance, you should only use lenses that match your camera’s mount.

6. Lens Release Button

Lens Release Button

This button is like the “unlock” switch for your camera’s lens. 

It is usually close to the lens mount on the camera’s front. Although attaching the lens is a breeze, you must press this button to detach it safely.

7. Focusing Screen

Focusing Screen

Some liken it to a canvas where your camera’s mirror can project the image. Its glass surface helps you achieve different focusing effects, from crisp and sharp shots to bokeh effects or dreamy blues.

8. Mode Dial

Mode Dial

This dial at the camera’s top right is your go-to for switching between different shooting modes! 

It acts like a little wheel that lets you choose between scene-based, automatic, manual, and semi-automatic settings, giving your shots much more flexibility.

9. Image Sensor


They are, no doubt, one of our key camera equipment! When you snap a picture, light enters the lens aperture and lands on your image sensors. These sensors then convert that light to a digital version of the subject you’re capturing.

Specifically, each image sensor is packed with pixels in both DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Those pixels soak up the light and turn it into electrical cues of varying intensity levels, depending on the amount of light they receive. 

10. Image Processor

Image Processor

The electrical signals in the image sensors are sent to the camera’s image processor, where they are transformed into the final digital versions with all the colors and tones. 

Essentially, a digital camera’s sensor, processor, and memory work similarly to how film works in an analog camera. The only difference is that for film, the image storage and sensor are combined in one physical, chemical-covered material!

Camera sensors often come in various resolutions. Let’s say your DSLR or mirrorless camera has a 23-megapixel sensor. This means about 23 million light-sensitive, separate pixels proceed to encode the image! The processor then turns it into a 23-megapixel visual photo.

Sensors also vary in type. From our observations, high-end cameras often have full-frame image sensors, equivalent to the size of an analog camera with a 35-mm film frame. Meanwhile, other cameras have smaller, cropped sensors like APS-C, providing narrower perspectives from certain distances. 

11. Condenser Lens

Condenser Lens

Want to improve image quality? 

Use a condenser lens to correct aberrations or color fringing! It often comprises two compatible convex lenses to speed up the adjusting process. 

12. Shutter

adjust camera shutter speed

We want light for our images, but not too much. Hence, the metal shutter is a gatekeeper that controls how much light reaches our camera sensors and determines how long the camera’s “eyes” stay open. 

You activate it with the shutter release button, then adjust settings (particularly the shutter speed) to manage your exposure. 

13. Aperture

camera lens aperture close up

Imagine the aperture as the opening of the lens. A larger aperture allows more light in, just like how the widening pupils in your eyes let in more light! 

Aperture is often measured in f-stops. The lower f-stop number represents a wider opening, while a higher number implies a narrower opening.

This sounds a bit like the shutter speed we discussed above. But they’re not similar, though both affect the brightness of your image. 

For example, if it’s bright and sunny, you might use a narrower aperture (higher f-stop number) and a faster shutter speed to avoid overexposure. But for low-light situations, it would be best to use the aperture wider (lower f-stop number) or a slower shutter speed to capture enough light.

14. Grip


Can you see that comfortable, curved part on the cam’s right side?

Yes, that grip is designed to fit nicely in your hand and provide a secure hold while you shoot. You should find it easy to grasp and control your camera, though that sometimes depends on the grip’s texture. 

15. Remote Control Sensor

Remote Control Sensor

The sensor lets you control your camera from afar.

Once your camera is connected to a remote control, it interprets the infrared signal from the remote as a command to activate the shutter or other programmed functions. 

16. Connectivity Ports & Memory Card Slots

Connectivity Ports & Memory Card Slots

These are where your camera stores and transfers photos and clips to the computer or similar devices. 

Some cameras even have double memory card slots, which can be handy but not always necessary since you simply need bigger SD cards for cameras with one slot. 

Also, we suggest choosing memory cards with great write speeds. They will prevent your camera from freezing up, a common issue when it’s straining to write photos faster than your card can handle!

17. Hot Shoe & External Flash

Hot Shoe & External Flash

As said earlier, most digital cameras have built-in flash. 

But many photographers don’t use it much, except for rarer occasions like low-light parties or fashion shoots. In fact, most professionals in portraiture and commercials often rely on their external flash feature for better control over lighting. 

That external flash attaches to the camera’s top via an electro-connection brace (a.k.a. the hot shoe, though not all cameras include it in their designs). You can also use the hot shoe to connect other accessories like the viewfinder.

18. Autofocus System

Autofocus System

The system lets you quickly and smoothly capture photos with an automatic focus on specific targets, whether moving or standing still. That way, you don’t have to spend too much time adjusting the focus manually. 

Manual, single-shot, and continuous focus are a few common autofocus modes. 

Some top-quality cameras even have up to 1000 detection and phase detection autofocus points for their sensors. As a result, it only takes them less than a millisecond to capture incredibly sharp images, even of extremely fast-moving subjects like birds or animals! 

19. Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction

Sometimes, the pesky red-eye effect occurs when the flash directly illuminates the back of a person’s eye. Light enters the eye, reflects off the blood vessels in the retina (the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye), and exits back through the pupil, appearing red in your flash photo!

Here’s where the clever red-eye reduction enters the scene. 

When you activate this mode, the camera fires a brief pre-flash (often very faint and silent) just before the main flash. This sudden burst of light from the pre-flash triggers a natural reflex in the eye.

The pupil constricts, becoming smaller and fully constricted by the time the main flash fires to capture the image. Now that there’s much less light to reflect off the retina, the red-eye effect disappears almost completely. 

20. Buffer


A buffer is like a waiting room for your photos before they are filed away for safekeeping. In more technical terms, this temporary storage area holds multiple captured images before they are written to the memory card. 

Since the camera isn’t waiting for each image to be written to the memory card, you can take photos in rapid succession. This feature is particularly helpful when capturing fast-action moments, like sporting events or wildlife photography. Your overall shooting workflow also improves as a result! 

21. Batteries


Like with other devices, batteries power everything in the camera, from the image sensor that captures light to the viewfinder that displays your photo settings. 

Primary, single-use batteries (like AA alkaline batteries) come pre-charged with chemicals that react to produce electricity. However, once the chemicals are depleted, the battery is completely dead and needs replacing. 

Secondary batteries (e.g., Li-ion) are not the same, as they can be recharged multiple times thanks to their reversible chemical reactions.

22. Tripod Mount

Tripod Mount

Many of us want to connect our cameras to a tripod for stable and precise positioning. 

Luckily, all cameras have a threaded socket on the bottom for that purpose. There’s also a detachable plate that attaches to the bottom of your camera using the same screw thread as the camera socket!

Most tripod heads allow you to tilt the camera up/down and pan it side-to-side for precise framing.

Extra Accessories For Your Camera

  • Camera Bag: This protects your camera and lenses while traveling or storing them. It comes in various sizes and styles, such as backpacks, slingshots, or hard cases.
  • Light Diffuser: Softens the light from your flash for a more natural look.
  • Circular Polarizer: Reduces glare and reflections to improve color saturation or darkens skies.
  • Lens Hood: Blocks stray light from entering the lens, reducing flare to improve image quality.
  • Cleaning Kit: Essential for keeping your camera sensor, lens, and viewfinder clean. 


Navigating all the parts of a digital camera might seem daunting at first. But with some practice, you’ll get the hang of it in no time!

Once comfortable with the camera, you can make the most of its features for every shoot. Plus, if anything goes wrong, it will be quite a breeze to troubleshoot the issue yourself before seeking professional help.

Remember to keep your camera clean and well-maintained, and feel free to contact our team if you need further assistance or have any other questions.

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Jeff Picoult

Jeff Picoult


Jeff Picoult is a seasoned photographer, who blends artistry and innovation. With a humble approach, he captures moments resonating with depth and emotion, from nature's beauty to the energy of sports.

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