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Throughout the development of photographic technology, things have gotten simpler for camera users. So simple in fact that all you have to do today in order to get a great picture is to pull out your phone and snap it.
But one of the things that separate a real photographer from a Sunday shooter is the ability to master a camera. If you think of your camera as an instrument, you will realize that it takes skill and, most of all practice to make it bring out the best in you.
In terms of camera settings, digital photography has added quite a few new things on the need- to-know list that photographers had before it. However, some things never change, regardless of technology. Here are the six camera settings you should have no excuse not knowing. No matter what camera you use, knowing these settings is vital.
It might seem awkward to start with this one, but the truth is that it can affect the results of a day’s shooting. Having the LCD brightness set too high can lead you to believe that your photos are properly or overexposed, when in fact they are underexposed. Also, if you are out one night photographing the Milky Way, a bright LCD screen will pretty much numb your natural night vision and that will also affect the way you perceive exposure.
Most of the times, leaving your camera on Auto-ISO settings will produce decent results. After all, they got cameras doing stuff that’s a lot harder. But there is always a chance of poor reading from your camera, especially in more difficult situations like concerts, Christmas lights and snow. It will either boost the values sky high, in which case you will end up with a lot of noise, or it will underexpose by setting the ISO to a minimum value. Learn how to adapt the ISO settings and make it on of your top priorities when changing a location. You should be able to do it in the dark.
Relying on exposure compensation basically means letting the “brain” inside your camera do most of the heavy lifting. It will allow you to shift a half-stop quicker than going over to Aperture or Shutter priority.
Focusing via back button
This is a trick that I learned from photojournalists. Even though modern AF sensors are amazing, incredibly accurate and fast, they can still go wrong. No matter how expensive the camera or the lens, things can get confusing. This often happens in either very low or very powerful lighting conditions. Now, if you use standard focusing, by half-pressing the shutter release, 85-90% of times it will deliver. But why risk missing a perfect shot because your auto focus decides to have a mind of its own? By assigning this function to the back focus button, the camera will fire and focus exactly where you want it to.
Continuous high mode
This is another of your camera’s functions that you need to be able to find with your eyes closed. You can rarely predict when you will need it the next second, so knowing exactly where to go to turn it on is crucial.
The shooting modes
Last but not least, we’re going to talk about the shooting modes available on any camera. Amateur and enthusiast cameras have preset shooting modes like Portrait and Landscape. The more advanced models are not fitted with these preset automatic modes. But you will find the Manual, Shutter priority, Aperture priority and Program Mode. You might also find C1, C2 and C3. These later settings are entirely customizable and I strongly advise you to get acquainted with them. It is often said that pros only use the Manual mode. It isn’t true and just to get the facts straight, using Manual mode entirely can be very time consuming, and time is often a luxury you don’t have as a photographer. Get used to working with all the exposure modes on your camera. Gradually you will learn what to use and when.