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What's Up With Those Knobs & Dials? Part 1

I was photographing details of cameras I'm working on selling (and others I'm not selling) on my new website UsedFilmCameras.com. The resulting photos reminded me- I doubt many people wouldn't know what the numbers, marks, and colors mean.

So I thought it would be fun to start a little series explaining all that stuff means.

So here goes:

Here's a shutter dial from a lovely Nikon F3 given to me from my old friends John & Phuong (not for sale.)


So the numbers in white are fractions of a second. That's one of the things that makes photography confusing!

The red number "60" is the same as the white numbers..... except: 1/60th of a second is the shortest speed this camera can sync with flash.

The orange numbers aren't fractions. They are whole numbers. If you meant to expose for 1/8th of a second and moved the dial to the orange 8 you'd ruin your exposure.

Bulb is an old term that now means that the shutter remains open as long as you hold down the shutter. The term is a holdover from the olden days with flash powder.

T is for "time" instead of holding down the shutter for the length of a long exposure, with "T" you click once to open the shutter, then click a second time to close the shutter.

A is aperture priority. You select the aperture on the lens, and the camera will choose a shutter speed.

Oh, and X... I have no idea ;-)

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