Customise your DSLR

Here are some of the best customisations you can make to your camera quickly and easily

Setting up your camera with a few customisations will improve not only how easily you can use your system help you to deliver consistent images, it can reduce your personal irritation as well. Simple changes, like assigning frequently used controls to function buttons or turning off the focus beep sound, go a long way to making you a better photographer.

1. Customise dials/buttons

Options differ from camera to camera, but often let you assign a frequently used control such as spot-metering to a custom function button on the camera and decide whether the command dial or aperture ring on the lens sets the aperture.

2. File number sequence

Avoid the risk of overwriting by setting the file numbering to continue from the last number used when a new card is inserted.

3. AF-L/AE-L button

Set this button to lock both the focus and the exposure, just the focus or just the exposure. Use AF-L when youre tracking a moving subject and want to set the exposure at the moment the picture is taken. AE-L is good for backlit subjects as you can lock the exposure then focus on a different point.

4. Auto bracketing

Theres more to bracketing than just exposure – you may find that your camera offers auto-bracketing for flash and white balance too.

5. Exposure compensation

Usually available in 1/3, 1/2 or 1-stop increments. 1/3-stop increments are best for everyday use as they allow the subtlest alterations, but if youre shooting subjects that require bigger exposure adjustments (e.g. silhouettes), you may prefer larger increments.

6. Beep

Turn off that beep that goes off every time the autofocus locks on! If your camera has a custom function that prevents you from taking a shot when the focus isnt locked on, you shouldnt need an audio alert anyway.

7. Autofocus

Common settings include whether the focus area is normal or wide and whether the camera gives priority to subjects in the centre area or those closest to the camera.

8. Centre-weighted area

Some SLRs offer a choice of diameters such as 6, 8, 10 and 13mm for greater precision when using centre-weighted metering.

9. Viewfinder grid display

A nifty device that helps you compose shots according to the rule of thirds and check that youve aligned the horizon correctly.

10. Self timer delay

If you’re shooting a sunset or landscape using self-timer you may wish to set a short delay such as two seconds in order to avoid passers-by or lighting changes ruining your shot. If you want to appear in the photo a ten-second delay may be more appropriate.