Configure Your Camera for Fantastic Photos
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Configure Your Camera for Fantastic Photos

Quick start guide to the best settings for your compact or DSLR camera so that you get great results as soon as possible
4.1 (5 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
124 students enrolled
Created by Paul Cooper
Last updated 12/2015
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  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 4 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Confidently use the automatic modes on your camera.
  • Know which camera settings will produce the best quality images
  • Understand how to change the exposure if the camera gets it wrong
  • Compose a photograph to create a fantastic image
  • Understand how to download their photos to a computer and store them
  • Know how a camera works and understand sensor resolution
View Curriculum
  • You will need to have a digital camera - either a compact or DSLR.
  • It doesn't need to have manual mode. This course teaches you how to get the best from an automatic camera.
  • A manual for your camera would be handy - As this course uses generic terms rather than camera specific menus, you'll be able to look things up and identify the correct settings on your own camera.

This course is designed for new photographers, or those who have a new camera (both compact and DSLR).

You may be overwhelmed by all the buttons and menus, so this course will quickly show you which are the most important settings, and which you can forget about.

By configuring your camera to give you the best possible quality, you'll then be able to concentrate on the more creative aspects of photography.

You'll finish this course with a clear understanding of basic photography principles, and know which settings on your camera need to be 'tweaked' to get the results you want, even when using the 'automatic' modes.

The main areas covered by this course are:

  • How does a camera work
  • ISO sensitivity
  • Lenses
  • Memory cards
  • JPEG file size and quality
  • Digital zooms
  • Image stabilisation
  • The factors that affect exposure
  • How to use exposure compensation
  • The rules of composition
  • Getting your subject in focus
  • Downloading photos to your computer
  • Storing and indexing your photos
  • Image editing
Who is the target audience?
  • This course is for new amateur photographers with no previous photography knowledge
  • It's for photographers who have a new compact camera and want to understand how to get the best out of it.
  • For photographers who are overwhelmed by all the buttons and menus on their camera, and just need to know which are the important settings.
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Curriculum For This Course
Introduction to the "Configure Your Camera for Fantastic Photos"
1 Lecture 01:33

This course aims to show you the most useful settings on your camera, so that you can start producing fantastic photos as soon as possible.

Regardless of manufacturer, or type, there are some settings that are common to all cameras, and so learning how to set these will improve the quality of the photos that you produce.

Topics covered include:

  • Camera basics
  • Important tips about ISO sensitivity, Lenses and Memory cards
  • Setting the JPEG file size and quality for best results
  • Which camera features you should 'set and forget'
  • Which settings you need to change for each photo
  • How to get the correct exposure using automatic
  • How to compose and focus your photos
  • Downloading, indexing and editing your photos

If you are new to photography, or have a new camera with a bewildering array of buttons and menus, this course will show you the important settings to configure so you can start producing fantastic photos.

Preview 01:33
Module 1 - Camera Basics
5 Lectures 09:12

Module one is all about the basics...

How does a camera actually work?

What is ISO sensitivity

What do you need to know about lenses and memory cards?

This module will provide an overview of the main points that every keen photographer should know.

Knowledge that will stay with you and be relevant for many years to come.

Preview 01:20

This lecture is an overview of how a camera works. Despite massive advances in technology, the basic operation of a camera still follows the same scientific principles from over one hundred years ago.

Having a working knowledge of camera technology will make the following lectures much more enlightening for all students.

Preview 01:52

A camera's sensitivity to light is indicated by an ISO value.

But what does this number mean, and how does the sensitivity affect the image quality?

This lecture will explain the advantages, and disadvantages, of increasing the ISO value, and why it is sometimes necessary.

Preview 02:01

Is Lens quality more or less critical than the number of megapixels in your camera? This lecture will explain.

Also, what does the focal length mean? And what's the difference between a wide angle and a telephoto lens?

Preview 01:51

Memory cards come in all shapes and sizes, from incredibly cheap to super expensive.

But what is the difference, and which is the best option to consider when choosing a memory card?

This lecture will explain the differences and why you need to consider the write speed before selecting a memory card for your camera.

Preview 02:08

Camera Basics
4 questions
Module 2 - Set and Forget
5 Lectures 09:11

Module 2 is all about those settings on your camera that you need to look at probably just once.

The settings that you can adjust for maximum image quality, and then leave them alone.

It's what I like to call 'Set and Forget'.

Introduction to Module 2

The best digital cameras all have settings that reduce their file size and photo quality to that from a much lower specification model. This lecture will explain why file quality is important and show you which settings to change so that you always record maximum quality.

File size and quality

Digital zooms are one of the specifications that manufacturers use to make their cameras look better - on paper!

This lecture will explain what a digital zoom is, and why you shouldn't use it.

Digital zoom

Almost all photographers (though not all will admit it) have forgotten to put a memory card in their camera before a shoot. This lecture will show you how to ensure that this doesn't happen to you by making a simple selection on your camera.

Empty slot release lock

Image stabilisation (sometimes called vibration reduction) is a really useful feature that can help reduce the number reject photos through camera shake. This module will show explain which settings to use so that you improve your success rate.

Image stabilisation
Module 3 - Setting the Exposure
3 Lectures 08:41

This module is all about exposure: How bright, or dark, your photos are.

You'll learn which three factors affect the exposure, and more importantly, a really useful technique called exposure compensation that you can use to control the exposure when your camera gets it wrong.

Introduction to Module 3

The brightness, or exposure, of a photo is determined by three factors - all explained in this lecture.

Three factors that affect exposure

This lecture is all about exposure compensation - a feature that is one of the most powerful tools on your camera.

Used correctly, this setting allows you to over ride the exposure set by the automatic modes on your camera and is one of the most important things you can learn.

Exposure compensation
Module 4 - Taking a Photo
4 Lectures 08:41

Module 4 is all about actually taking a photo. You've already learned how a camera works, which settings give the best image quality, and how to set the exposure - all technical points that are important, but not creative.

In this module you'll learn how to actually hold the camera correctly, how to compose a photo, and how to make sure your subject is in focus.

Introduction to Module 4

Many photos are ruined by camera shake - simply because the photographer didn't stand correctly.

This lecture will show you how to hold your camera firmly so that your photos retain maximum sharpness.

First of all... stand correctly

Knowing where to put your main subject in the frame is a major consideration when taking a photo, and can make the difference between an average shot and a fantastic one.

This lecture explains some of the common faults with composition, and shows a really useful trick known as the rule of thirds that provides a great starting point for composition.


You can take a photo with perfect composition and lighting, but if your main subject is out of focus then it will end up on the reject pile.

This lecture explains the different focusing modes available and explains when you should use each one to ensure that you get a fantastically sharp photo.

Getting your subject in focus

Taking a photo
2 questions
Module 5 - Downloading, Storing, and Editing.
4 Lectures 12:37

Taking a photo is only the start... In this module you'll learn how to get your photos from camera to computer, and then index them in a way that means you'll be able to find them in the future.

You'll also learn how, using free software, you can edit your photos to improve the composition, exposure, and colour - and even add special effects with filters.

Introduction to Module 5

There are three main ways to transfer your photos from your camera to your computer, and this module will show you each of them. After all, there's very little you can do with them on your camera, so the first step in any post production work is the downloading process.

Downloading from your camera

After a while, you'll end up with hundreds, or thousands, of photos - and it becomes difficult to find specific images.

This lecture will show you how to setup a folder structure that is simple, but effective, and how using freely available software you can index your photos in a way that makes retrieval easy at any point in the future.

Storage, Indexing and Backup

Although it's always best to get the correct result 'in camera', sometimes a little bit of 'tweaking' at the post production stage can really improve a photo.

This lecture will show you how a free software program can be used to change the exposure, composition, and colour of your photos, as well as applying filters and carrying out basic retouching operations.

Image editing
Module 6 - The Main Points
1 Lecture 01:47

This lecture is a handy summary of the main points covered in this course. Use it as an 'aide memoir', and then refer back to the full lectures for more details. Over time, the main settings will become second nature to you, but until then, this summary will be a handy resource.

A handy summary of the main points covered in this course
Module 7 - Next Steps
1 Lecture 01:28

Using your camera as outlined in this course, using the automatic settings with a little bit of 'tweaking', will get you some great results. But, there will come a point when you will want to progress further. This lecture will explain how to recognise this point in your photographic journey, and what the next steps are.

Next steps
About the Instructor
Paul Cooper
3.9 Average rating
36 Reviews
558 Students
2 Courses
Photographer at Bailey Cooper. Director of Qualifications at Master Photographer's Association.

Since founding his own photography business in 1995 Paul has gained many awards - including the top accolades of UK Photographer of the Year from the Master Photographer's Association AND from the British Institute of Professional Photography.

Paul has served as the Commercial Sector Chairman of the MPA/BIPP's qualification team and has previously received a Presidential Award from the MPA for his services to the Photographic Industry. As a result his work is marketed worldwide and he is in regular demand as a photographic speaker and judge both in the UK and internationally.

Paul shoots commercial images for advertising and packaging, press and PR images for the newspaper and magazine industry, and lots of 'people' shots: Fashion shoots, corporate portraits, and family groups are all undertaken with the same flair and creativity that stems from Paul's passion for photography.
In 2011/2012, Paul was elected National President for the Master Photographer's Association - a title that he was honoured to receive. Currently, Paul is the MPA's Chairman of Qualifications for Associate and Fellowship submissions. He was also delighted to be asked to undertake the role of Chairman at the BIPP's 'Open' competition judging for 2013, and was presented with an Honorary Fellowship from the Master Photographer's Association in 2014.