A few notes on camera requirements for Photo I

Many students have concerns about what type of camera is required for the course. The simple answer to this question is that you must have a 35mm Single Lens Reflex camera which permits manual control of the camera's shutter and aperture.

This means that simple "point and shoot" cameras will not be acceptable. You can do a great deal with a "point and shoot" camera but it does not permit you to vary aperture and shutter to control exposure and image properties in your photographs. The simplest example of a "point and shoot" cameras (also called "fixed focus") are the paper throw away cameras now available in stores.

Single Lens Reflex cameras or SLR's come in many different styles from many different manufacturers. The most important information for your camera is contained in its User Guide. Be certain to bring this guide with you when you come to class. You may be using an older style camera such as the one illustrated below:

If you are using an older model camera please be certain to check that it is in good working order before coming to class. It is not uncommon for someone to bring an older model camera to class expecting that it will work even though it has been stored in a closet for many years. Cameras whcih sit idle may not function properly. In order to check your camera you should do the following:

A. Have the batteries tested to make sure that they are in good shape. At the same time make certain that your battery terminals are clean. You may want to take the batteries out of the camera and have them checked at a local camera store - or you may want to take your whole camera with you.

B. Check to make certain that all the mechanisms on the camera are in good working order. Look for loose screws, broken buttons, etc. If you discover any potential problems take your camera to a local camera store and ask about the costs of repair.

WARNING: Be cautious about turning in your camera for repair without a written estimate of repair costs and a written assurance of when the repair will be completed and the camera returned to you.

C. One of the best ways to test your camera is to actually use it. Try shooting a short roll of film and have it developed to be certain that all aspects of your camera are in good order. To minimize this cost you may ask to only have the film developed and not printed. Your actual negatives should allow you to determine if your camera is functioning properly.


There are qualified camera repair people in the vicinity of Saint Mary's College (please go to the bottom of the Course Outline) but it would be best if your camera was ready to go when you arrived on campus for classes.


Be certain that your camera permits you to control the aperture and shutter of your camera. An all automatic camera will NOT permit you to do this. You may need to check your user guide to determine this. It may also be determined by looking for shutter and aperture controls on the camera itself. An example of each is presented below:

The left image is of a shutter controller on an older model camera . The image on the right is the aperture selection ring on the lens of the camera.

More contemporary cameras are almost entirely electronic. If you are buying as camera for this course please be careful to determine whether it allows for manual setting of shutter and aperture. These cameras frequently do not have mechanical controllers for shutter and aperture. Instead these controls are generally accessed through a small "LCD" screen on the camera. Example of this type of camera are pictured below: