How to Operate a Digital Camera

By Editorial Team

Updated December 13, 2019

Digital cameras let you experiment without wasting film.
i Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

Buttons on your digital camera do not have to stir fear and anxiety. It is actually pretty difficult to delete a photo on your camera accidentally. Each digital camera includes its own distinct functions and capabilities. However, some general principles apply to most consumer digital cameras. Experimenting with the various functions won't break the camera and is a good way to learn how to operate your camera. See the manufacturer's manual for more specific information on your particular camera.

Power on your camera and look at the back of your digital camera. Locate the menu, delete and mode buttons. Icons vary by manufacturer, but the menu button may have a "Home" icon and the delete button frequently includes a "Trash" icon over it.

Locate and push the arrow buttons on your digital camera to explore how they function. Some scroll through pictures and play them back for you, while others will make more menus appear on your screen. It may be necessary to press a "Play" button or turn a dial to enter playback mode.

Find a photo you wish to delete on your digital camera. When you are absolutely sure you have the correct photo, push your "Delete" button. A confirmation message will appear to reduce the possibility you will accidentally delete a photo. Press the "OK" or "Set" button to confirm.

Explore the playback mode. This mode offers choices such as a slideshow or thumbnail view while the top button can offer frames. If you have a zoom, you can also press this button to zoom in on a digital photo. This will not affect the printout of the picture.

Pushing the menu button will give you a variety of choices such as recording, setup and other functions. Push the right button to advance and down or "Set" button to select. Scroll to exit to leave the menu or just click "Menu" again. Be sure the proper boxes are checked, especially for features like anti-shake or red-eye reduction.

Push and hold a round button located on top of your digital camera for up to eight seconds to take a digital photo. Repeat a few times until you adjust for lighting, distance and activity level.

Ensure your batteries are charged or that you have fresh batteries if you are using disposable AA batteries, as these will be quickly used up. The battery meter is found on your view screen to the left or on the top of the readout.

Open the memory card slot. Push the card in gently to eject it. Pull the card out of the memory slot. Insert into a reader or printer.

Press the video button or dial to select the video mode in cameras with that capability. Video playback is typically found in the same section as picture reviewing features.

Use the main "Menu" to add a special touch such as "night" or "scenery" photography. Some cameras include a dial or buttons for different modes.


Practice using your camera and getting comfortable with it and its settings before the need arises. Take pictures both at day and night and in different lighting so you know what the results will be. It is a good idea to use more than one memory card for longer sessions. At higher quality settings a memory card fills up quickly.

The number of pictures a memory card holds depends on the picture quality and the size of the card. The remaining space is normally displayed near the battery information in the screen on your camera. Rechargeable batteries will keep costs down in cameras that use AA or AAA batteries.