6 ways professional photographers use their cameras


Professional photographers use their cameras every day, so they get to know it really well and understand the best way to set it up and use it. In their latest guest blog post, the team at Photoventure spoke to pros in many different fields to find their six most useful tips for using your camera effectively.

1. Back-button focusing

6 ways photographers use their cameras: Back button focus

By default cameras are set to focus the lens and activate exposure metering when the shutter release button is half-pressed.

This works well in many situations, but if you’re waiting for a moving subject to come into the frame, or for the composition to improve, you have to keep your finger on the shutter release or the focus may change from what you see in the viewfinder when you press it home.

It’s also easy to press the shutter release too far in your enthusiasm and take a sequence of unwanted shots.

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Consequently, many pros use a technique called ‘back-button focusing’, which uses a button on the back of the camera (often labelled AF-on) to control focusing.

Splitting the shutter release and focus control enables you to take a shot without refocusing the lens.

It’s especially useful when there’s a danger of another object coming between the camera and the subject because the lens won’t shift focus unless you press the AF-on button.

Your camera’s manual will explain exactly how to set-up your camera for back-button focusing, but the option you need is usually located in the Custom settings menu.

2. Advanced exposure modes

6 ways photographers use their cameras: Advanced exposure modes

In changing lighting conditions aperture and shutter priority offer a convenient way of ensuring that exposure is correct whilst still retaining control over the most important aspects of the image.

Shutter priority is a good choice when you’re shooting sport or action as it determines whether the subject will be rendered sharp or blurred.

When depth of field is more important, however, aperture priority is the logical choice as you set the aperture while the camera sets the shutter speed.

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For the ultimate in control, manual exposure mode is the way to go.

This allows you to set both the aperture and shutter speed, giving you control over depth of field and sharpness/blur.

It’s especially useful in high contrast situations as you set the exposure for the subject (using information gathered from the spotmeter) and you can shoot knowing that it will be correct whatever’s going on in the background.

Music photographers rely on manual exposure mode because once the exposure is set for the subject when the stage lights are in the right position, they just have to wait for the composition and lighting to look right in the viewfinder and fire away.

3. Spot metering

6 ways photographers use their cameras: Spot metering

Although the default evaluative or matrix metering systems of modern cameras generally work very well, many pros like to take control over exposure a little more and use spot metering to meter for very precise areas within the scene.

The advantage of this approach is that they can ensure that the main subject is correctly exposed whatever the lighting conditions.

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They can also meter from a mid-tone area to get the maximum range of tones in a high-contrast situation.

Spot metering is especially useful if your subject is backlit as many multi-area metering systems would be tricked into underexposure by the light in the background.

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