Ever Wonder What This Symbol on Your Camera Means?

Take a look at your camera, and there’s a good chance it’ll have this symbol: Φ — a small circle bisected by a long line that looks like a hieroglyph of Saturn. If you’ve always wondered what it means, today’s your lucky day: it’s called a “film plane mark” (or “focal plane mark”, depending on who you ask), and indicates exactly where the film (or sensor) plane is inside the camera body. One reason the mark is useful is that macro photographers often want to determine the exact distance between their subject and the film plane, and the mark can make this calculation much easier.

(via via Reddit)

P.S. For a complete list of common camera symbols, check out this page on

  • DP

    This is my first time here and I cannot believe how ridiculous most of these posts are. How old are you guys? 12? Where is the professional attitude? You (not you in particular) should all stop this childish bickering and get back to talking positively. This is about photography, not about calling people names just because they say something stupid. Stay with the reason you are really here; to share knowledge and grow as a photographer. Let’s be mature. Try not to let stupid words make you retaliate like 2 kids fighting. JMO

  • 9inchnail

     So the Brits spell “serious” without an “i”? Did not know that.

  • 9inchnail

     Totally, dude.

  • 9inchnail

     Cool story, bro.

  • 9inchnail

    He’s the soup nazi of photography.


  • 9inchnail

     Maybe you didn’t search properly. Consult the manual of your PDF reader.


  • 9inchnail

     I’ve known this for years and never had any use of for that “knowledge”. If your not into macro photography, you’ll hardly ever need to measure the distance that exactly.

  • Richard

    Now that we’ve established that it’s displayed in the graphic diagram on my Canon camera, please show me the page in the manual that tells me what it is and how to use it. Thank you.

  • Miki

    i still wonder how EXACT this mesuring is…

  • Lady_darjeeling

    Thank you, DP! This is my first time on this site and I was just thinking about unsubscribing. I want to learn to become a better photographer, not feel like I’m in a battle-zone. It has certainly deter me from asking any questions!!!

  • Knur

     for example > Pro photographers.

  • Knur

    Wow, 60 comments about something obvious. 

  • Rob LaRosa

    Duh. Oh yeah, the sun is hot too, FYI

  • Simon Snow

    I think it is also useful for doing panoramas. I believe you want your camera to rotate around the focal point which you can calculate using the location of the focal plane and some other lens details :D

  • gabe sturdevant

    Camera is in “Professional” mode too. 

  • Suman0102

     If you have to declare that you’re an owner of a DSLR, perhaps you’re not the kind of person anyone should be taking photography tips/comments from. Just my 2cents.

  • Veston Di Donato

    Hey man, not every Canon shooter is a buttmuncher!
    I mean, yeah, we’re superior to Nikon in every way, shape and form, but just because we’re better doesn’t warrant all the hate!
    Also, if you’re in middle of a shoot and you start worrying about what a little symbol on your camera means, you might be doing it wrong.
    This comment is satirical in nature, so please, no butthurtness.

  • Veston Di Donato

    I’m with you there.  Love the people who come into our repair department complaining that their autofocus on their D60 w/ 18-55 lens isn’t working.  I take a look at the camera, switch the lens from M to AF, and hand it back to them.  Thank you Nikon, for making me a miracle worker.

  • Veston Di Donato
  • Veston Di Donato

    I didn’t know Spider Man was British.  

  • Veston Di Donato

    Because you’re awesome?

  • Veston Di Donato

    It’s what broke-a** college students call toilet paper.

  • blourque

    welcome to the internets~

  • Ouch!

    John, It is related. His point is that the photographer didn’t know how to use gear properly – like those that don’t know the film plane symbol.  Blowing out the background has nothing to do with qty of people.  Although ‘bokeh’ does have to with aperture (f/1.8), descent bokeh can be achieved with most lenses, largest aperture settings, lighting, background, shutterspeed, etc. not just lens.  Spider-Man was just using his British humor – which nobody gets. :)

  • John O’Nolan

    As someone who is British, I would count myself among the very most likely people to “get” British humour… which this wasn’t ;)

  • Cub3636

    Same look of the photo and almost the same text was on the Japanese blog site a few days ago. What a coincidence ?  How come the picture looks so close ?  Write the very original otherwise take certain time to look as the original topic. Now you are known name amongst the Japanese photographers.

  • EZ

    With such a curt post of “If you just found this out now, it’s because you didn’t RTFM” is it that hard to imagine why anyone would react poorly and call you out for acting “like a total dick”?

    If you want people to treat you nicely, I suggest setting the example. It won’t always work, but it will work more often than not doing so.

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  • Tam Nguyen Photography


  • Tam Nguyen Photography

    For those of you who still want to debate on whether on should RTFM, I’ve written a response blog post here

  • Tam Nguyen Photography

    For those of you who still want to debate on whether on should RTFM, I’ve written a response blog post here

  • Tam Nguyen Photography

    For those of you who still want to debate on whether on should RTFM, I’ve written a response blog post here

  • Neil

    Wow. I knew that!

  • Anonymouseass

    Whoring ur blog? Pft.