Get to grips with your camera’s settings

    | Photography Tutorials | 10/07/2009 14:26pm
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    It’s all very well knowing what all those buttons on your camera do, but would you be able to adjust them all in a dark room in order to get yourself the perfect shot?

    Obvious though it sounds, key to getting the most from your kit is knowing how it’s going to react in different situations and being able to adjust settings quickly to get the result you want. If you only pick up your camera at the weekend, the chances are that it’s going to take a while for you to settle back into the saddle and you’ll probably find that the shots you take on a Sunday are better than those on a Saturday. Carry your camera with you as much as possible – the more you shoot, the faster you’ll be able to react to situations.

    Obvious though it sounds, key to getting the most from your kit is knowing how it’s going to react in different situations and being able to adjust settings quickly to get the result you want.

    If you only pick up your camera at the weekend, the chances are that it’s going to take a while for you to settle back into the saddle and you’ll probably find that the shots you take on a Sunday are better than those on a Saturday. Carry your camera with you as much as possible – the more you shoot, the faster you’ll be able to react to situations.

    The easiest way to begin getting more familiar with your kit is to develop a ‘default’ setting – a set-up which allows you to put the camera to your eye and quickly apply any adjustments in order to grab a shot. For instance, many photographers prefer to leave their cameras in Aperture priority, with evaluative/matrix metering and one shot autofocus. Get into the habit of returning your camera to the default when you put it down.

    One of the key control is exposure compensation. Do you know, without looking at the LCD, which direction to turn the control dial in order to apply negative compensation and reduce the exposure? If not, make a mental note (you’ll often hear Marcus muttering ‘left is less’ to himself on a shoot…)

    If you apply any exposure compensation, make sure you reset it to zero before you start shooting a different subject or move onto another location. It’s all-too easy to add exposure compensation on top of exposure compensation and end up with grossly over or underexposed pics. Reset to the default!

    Focus point selection should also be instinctive. You’ll find that using the centre sensor, locking on the key feature and recomposing will often lead to better pictures, but there are times when you may want to choose an off-centre point (such as shooting full-length portraits).

    Finally, learn how to switch between the three key exposure modes (Aperture priority, Shutter priority and Manual) and the three metering modes (overall/scene, centre-weighted and spot/partial). You should be able to do this without taking your eye away from the viewfinder.

    The more familiar you become with changing frequently used controls, the more satisfying picture-taking will become.

    JPEG advice

    To keep your workflow simple and preserve image quality, make sure there aren’t any image adjustments taking place in-camera, such as sharpening or saturation.

    If you’re simply printing out at home or putting your pics on the internet, select sRGB as your colour space – but if you’re planning to sell your images to stock libraries go for Adobe RGB instead.


    Posted on Friday, July 10th, 2009 at 2:26 pm under Photography Tutorials.

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