External Camera Controls on the Canon EOS Rebel T3/1100D - dummies

External Camera Controls on the Canon EOS Rebel T3/1100D

By Julie Adair King, Robert Correll

Scattered across the exterior of your Canon EOS Rebel T3/1100D are a number of buttons, dials, and switches that you use to change picture-taking settings, review and edit your photos, and perform various other operations. Here’s a basic introduction to the external controls.

Topside controls on the Canon EOS Rebel T3/1100D

Your virtual tour begins on the top-right side of the camera, as shown in the following figure.

The tiny pictures on the Mode dial represent special automatic shooting modes.

The tiny pictures on the Mode dial represent special automatic shooting modes.

The items of note here are

  • On/Off switch: By default, the camera automatically shuts itself off after 30 seconds of inactivity to save battery power. To wake up the camera, press the shutter button halfway or press the Menu, Disp, or Playback buttons (these are located on the back of the camera). You can adjust the auto shutdown timing via Setup Menu 1.

  • Mode dial: Rotate this dial to select an exposure mode, which determines whether the camera operates in fully automatic, semi-automatic, or manual exposure mode when you take still pictures. To shoot a movie, you set the dial to Movie mode.

  • Main dial: Just forward of the Mode dial, you see a black dial that has the official name Main dial. You use this dial when selecting many camera settings.

  • Flash button: Press this button to open the built-in flash if you are in an advanced exposure mode (P, Tv, Av, M, or A-DEP). You can reconfigure the flash button to serve as an ISO speed button.

  • Shutter button: When you’re using autofocusing and autoexposure, you can mess up your picture if you don’t press this button in two stages: Press halfway, pause to let the camera set focus and exposure, and then press the rest of the way to capture the image.

  • Flash hot shoe: A hot shoe is a connection for attaching an external flash head. The contacts on the shoe are covered by a little black insert when you take the camera out of its shipping box; when you’re ready to attach a flash head, remove the insert to reveal the contacts.

  • Focal plane indicator: Should you ever need to know the exact distance between your subject and the camera, the focal plane indicator is key. This mark indicates the plane at which light coming through the lens is focused onto the negative in a film camera or the image sensor in a digital camera.

Back-of-the-body controls on the Canon EOS Rebel T3/1100D

Traveling over the top of the camera to its back, you encounter a smorgasbord of buttons and controls. The following figure gives you a look at the layout of the backside controls.


Starting at the top-right corner and working westward (well, assuming that your lens is pointing north, anyway), items of note are:

  • AF Point Selection/Magnify button: When you use certain advanced shooting modes, you press this button to specify which of the nine autofocus points you want the camera to use when establishing focus.

  • AE Lock/FE Lock/Index/Reduce button: As you can guess from the official name of this button, it serves many purposes. The first two are related to still-image capture functions: You use the button to lock in the autoexposure (AE) settings and to lock flash exposure (FE). When using Live View and Movie modes, this button serves only as an autoexposure lock.

    This button also serves two image-viewing functions: It switches the display to Index mode, enabling you to see multiple image thumbnails at once, and it reduces the magnification of images when displayed one at a time.

  • Speaker: When you play a movie that contains an audio track, the sound comes wafting through these little holes, which lead to the camera’s internal speakers.

  • Aperture/Exposure Compensation/Erase button: When you work in M (manual) exposure mode, you press this button and rotate the Main dial to choose the aperture setting, better known as the f-stop. In the other advanced exposure modes (P, Tv, Av, and A-DEP), you instead use the button and dial to apply Exposure Compensation, a feature that enables you to adjust the exposure selected by the camera’s autoexposure mechanism. Sporting a trash can icon (the universal symbol for delete), use this button to erase pictures from your memory card during playback.

  • Live View/Movie button: Press this button to shift the camera into Live View mode and, when shooting movies, to start and stop recording. (For the latter, you must first set the Mode dial to Movie mode.)

  • Quick Control/Direct Print button: You press this button to display the Quick Control screen, which gives you one way to adjust picture settings. As for the Direct Print button, it’s used to print directly from the camera to a compatible printer.

    Disp button: Use this button to toggle the Shooting Settings display on and off and to change displays when reviewing photos and movies.

    Set button and cross keys: The preceding figure points out the Set button and the four surrounding buttons, known as cross keys. These buttons team up to perform several functions, including choosing options from the camera menus. You use the cross keys to navigate through menus and then press the Set button to select a specific menu setting.