01. How do cameras work?

Cameras, no matter how much they cost or what brand they are, all work in roughly the same way.

Understanding the simple mechanics of how cameras work will help you realize just how similar they are and how you can get the best possible results out of yours.

Right from digital compact cameras to DSLRs, Karl explains how they work and what the different parts and setting on the camera actually do.

In this photography class we cover the following:

  • The fundamentals of photography
  • How cameras work
  • Understanding light
  • Camera optics
  • Aperture
  • Shutter speed
  • Recording medium for photography

To learn more about some of the concepts discussed in this class, take a look at our Photography Quick Start Guide.

If you have any questions about this class, please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Hi Mark. I joined 2 days back, and already love your course. I own a fujifilm xh1 (2 months old), which is a crop sensor. Shall I upgrade to a different full frame camera or rather invest in other equipment?

    1. Hi Chirag, I wouldn’t think about upgrading yet, you can do a lot with a crop sensor. Work through the courses and practise and in a few months time you can maybe make that decision. Regards Karl.

  2. Hi Karl. My main stumbling block is confidence. Asking people if I can photograph them. The embarrassment of not being completely confident with use of the camera etc. Sometimes I walk around thinking..what can I photograph! Sometimes I don’ t see things that excite me enough to photograph. Sometimes I want to be a mega pro with a huge portfolio behind me but realise that I am a real beginner..and nearly 50, This may sound silly to a pro like you but these are the feelings I have. Not sure you can help with this but just wanted to feed back to you. I am very impressed with your site and your clear communication.

    1. Hi Tim, this is normal for anyone new to photography. Personally I wouldn’t recommend photographing strangers when you are still new to photography as there is too much to think about. It’s much better to build your skills and confidence with friends and family that are happy to help out. I’d also look at landscapes, macro, architecture etc as these are all stress free and without people. Start working with a tripod too as it opens up a lot more creative opportunities and it makes you think about your pictures and composition too (not for people though as it’s too slow). So first figure out the shot you want to take, angle etc, then put the tripod in position. As you work your way through these courses you will see the accessories and techniques that will be the most useful. Also try to watch the modules in the number order as I’ve designed the courses to make the most sense that way. Once you are confident with your camera and results then moving on to street photography and photographing other people becomes much easier.

  3. Hi Karl, I just joined yesterday. I am just completely enjoyed to learn all about photografy from you ! Thank You!

  4. I cannot believe the information here are for the fee required. Thanks Karl Taylor for sharing them with us.

    1. Hi Folarin, thank you very much. There is of course loads more and also two live shows per month, at least two new course modules per month and replays on all the live shows. We can only keep providing all this great content with the support of people like you so thank you too.

  5. Hey, Karl team.. i renew my account and payment of 14$ has been debited but still when I login, I’m landing in a page where it says “Please update your subscription”. Even though the account details are correct I tried updating the account details again and 1$ has been debited. But the issue was not solved. Then I tried one more time to update the account details, again 1$ has been debited. Still the issue is not solved. Total of 16$ has been debited. Still I can’t access the education website. Please help me by solving the issue. Thanks

  6. Hi Master, I finally subscribe… The stuff available here are priceless. Started learning..
    Thank you soooooo much… Love you master..

  7. Hi Karl,

    I just signed up today as your new student. Currently i own Nikon D750 and now going to switch to Sony A7R iii in a week with Sony FE 24-105 F4 G OSS lens. I don’t find any information regarding mirrorless camera on your website as they gradually going to revolutionize the modern day photography, to be precise they already did. Just two days ago Major camera industry player Nikon announced their two mirrorless cameras i.e Nikon Z7 and Z6. I think since your site has a lot of great materials about contemporary photography it is high time that you add some info about mirrorless cameras as well. That would be much appreciated.

    1. Dear Abdul, in about two months from now once you have hopefully worked your way through the ‘essentials’ section and then through the following levels you will look back and realise that your comment wasn’t actually relevant and that there is not really any reason to mention mirroless cameras in any category different to any other camera. You will also hopefully recognise that there is very little difference to todays cameras compared to those of 40 years ago. If you stick with us and with an open mind you will have the opportunity to become a much better photographer than you realised and you will come to realise that it had very little to do with the camera but everything to do with understanding photography and light. I wish you all the best in that journey, Karl.

  8. Hi Karl, just joined this morning! I have been looking through your stuff and I am just completely AMAZED! I can’t wait to learn everything you have to teach. Thank You!

  9. Hey Karl,
    I have a Nikon D-40 and really need to get the studio lighting figured out. I’ve tried using my current camera in the small home studio I have and I seem to be missing the mark, I am hopeful I can learn from you. Thanks!

    1. Hi Brian, Work through the courses in order and get the basics of exposure, apertures, shutter speeds (time) and ISO sorted out first, then in ‘Travel & Landscape’ and others in the Advanced section your understanding will grow. When you are ready jump into the first 15 chapters in ‘Portrait’ section which cover lighting in depth.

  10. Karl, thank you for your videos. I’ve been learning through practice and taking shots but I am working on my technical skills to improve my images so I’m going back to the basics through your courses. Loved being able to see the mechanics of the camera in this first video – normally I try and keep my lenses or caps on at all times without exploring inside so I don’t get dust on the sensor.

    1. Hi May, yes that makes sense but sometimes they do need a clean so don’t be afraid if they do. We have a video showing how to do it. Also yes it’s a good idea to start at the beginning even if it’s just to recap it can be useful. I hope you enjoy working your way through and do join us on some of the live shows too, everyone seems to find them very entertaining! All the best Karl.

  11. Hi Karl, I have been looking at different pro photographers sites for awhile, and when I found yours I knew I found gold. Joined today and excited to learn from you. Thank you for your expertise and teaching methods.

  12. Hi Karl, I just joined last night. Really enjoy your classes and tutorials on YouTube, so looking forward to getting lots out of your training. ???

    1. Cheers Todd, you won’t be disappointed, there is far more professional level content here than on our social media, plus our live shows and other member benefits

  13. Hey karl, been watching you and a few others on youtube for a little while. I just got back from a 10 day holiday/photo shoot in Northern Territory, Australia, look forward to going through the full course so on my future travels I get an even better result in my photos

  14. Hi Karl.

    Been watching you on YouTube for a couple of days. Impressed! Signed up and looking forward to picking your brain.



  15. Hi Karl.
    Just want to say hello/Slainte (Ireland) to you and I am delighted to sign up on your program here.
    I look forward to unraveling the big mystery of understanding photography in greater details.
    Your training program here is just perfect for me. I look forward to developing my skills here and hope you will like the photos as time goes by. Thank you, Karl.

    Kildare, Ireland

  16. Hi! Karl , Thank you so much for your clear , crisp teaching . Love the way you teach and educate. It practical and very informative. Everything stem from your deep experience and passion. A big thank you once again from INDIA.

  17. hi karl.
    I have bought a couple of your courses in the past and gotta say I loved them. photography has always been a passion of mine and I am forever learning. I now intend going for it in a big way and will be paying serious attention to all your stuff.

  18. Hi karl … as i m confused to choose either mark 3 or mark 4 …
    Frankly speaking only photography is main concern for me for next 2 year …
    Give me idea to choose 3 or 4

    1. Hi Reetesh, the Mark 3 will do everything that you need, I use this camera and it is an excellent camera. Yes the mark 4 will have a few extra features and slightly better resolution but nothing that is going to make a huge difference to your photography. The difference saved would be better spent on good lenses.

  19. First i read ur basic introduction nd reference Guide carefully nd understand essential 6 requirements of Photography… nd thn this first Lacture of urs sir ….

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