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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Understanding Your Digital Mirrorless or SLR Camera

Moving Beyond Auto Mode

2-Session Studio Arts Workshop

Sunday, September 6 and 13, 2020 - 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1V00EW
$255 - Member
$275 - Non-Member


  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • For multiple registrations, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses.


More and more photographers are moving away from compact cameras to either digital SLRs or mirrorless cameras. Both provide a full range of ISO, shutter, and aperture controls, which makes the process of taking pictures much more interesting, and the results far better. These cameras have better sensors than their compact counterparts, producing images that are clearer, sharper, and embodied with more delicate tones and colors.

Learning to use an SLR or mirrorless camera is not complicated. During the first session, features such as ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and depth of field are described and illustrated, and participants learn how to control them on their cameras. Screen sharing over Zoom should make everyone’s camera accessible. Shooting modes such as shutter and aperture priority will be demonstrated and students guided in their use. Technical information on resolution, raw vs. jpeg files, white balance, and auto focus modes are also covered.

In the week between sessions, students are encouraged to do some shooting on their own (the instructor will offer some suggestions). A selection of photos can be uploaded before the second session, which will feature a conversation over Zoom about everyone’s photos and the choices made in the field. Gentle suggestions for possible improvement will be offered. Some additional concepts will be introduced in the second session.

The class is suitable for anyone with a digital SLR or mirrorless camera who wants a solid introduction to its features and potential. We’ll share our screens using Zoom. The instructor has illustrated notes for most camera types with the specific settings we’ll be looking for. To enhance the screen sharing experience, class size is limited to 7 participants.

NOTE: Participants will need their camera and lenses, a card for their files, and a fully charged battery. It may be helpful to have the camera manual as well.


  • The instructor is Eliot Cohen.
  • 2 sessions, 3.5 hours each
  • This studio arts program is a Zoom Meeting to allow for patron and instructor interaction.
  • There is another Digital Mirrorless or SLR Camera workshop on Oct. 31 to Nov. 7.


  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.