camera features and functions

These topics are applicable to most DSLR cameras despite the camera brand or model. Even models made by the same
manufacturer could have different menu items and slightly different controls. The location of the controls will differ
from camera to camera even from the same manufacturer.
The Menu System
You can access the LCD menus by pressing the Menu button on the back of the camera. Your camera may have a second
menu system for setting the most common shooting options. The menu items may change depending on the setting on
the Mode Dial located on the top of your camera. The menu systems on most cameras have the following functions that
you should be familiar with when you first start using your camera:
Setting the Date and Time – Some cameras can automatically account for time zones and Daylight Savings time.
Formatting the memory card – Always format your memory card when you first put it in your camera. It’s est to
have several smaller capacity cards (8gb is a good size) instead of one huge card. If a card fails during a vacation, you
o ’t lose all of your pi tures. Whe tra elli g, it’s a good idea to a k up your i ages to a porta le de i e su h as a
laptop so you have a second copy of your work.
Set the Power-off Time – This will automatically turn the camera off after a set period of time to conserve battery
use. Normally pressing the shutter will turn it back on.
Metering Mode – Set how you want the camera to evaluate the exposure setting. Most cameras can be set to:
Evaluative metering: A general purpose mode suited for most scenes.
Partial metering: Effective when the background is much brighter that the subject.
Spot metering: This is for metering a specific spot of the subject or scene. Metering is confined to a small area
at the center of the viewfinder.
Center-weighted average metering: The center of the scene is checked and then averaged for the entire scene.
This is mainly used by advanced photographers.
Single, Continuous or Timer Mode – Set your camera to take a single shot or several shots with one press of the
shutter. You can also use a built in timer or a remote control. A remote control is usually sold as a separate item.
Set the Image Quality – Most cameras will record in RAW or JPG format. Some cameras will also record in TIFF
RAW –RAW files contain uncompressed and unprocessed data with all the detail available to the camera sensor.
This allows the photographer to adjust images with a computer using all the data supplied by the sensor.
Processing software may or may not come with your camera. Adobe Lightroom for PC and MAC and Apple
Aperture for MAC are just two of the software choices available commercially.
JPEG – JPEG files are processed within the camera. These files are smaller than RAW but do not contain all the
data see y the a era se sor. What you see o your a era’s LCD display is a JPEG i age. JPEG files ay e
processed by computer software but not all the image data is available.
TIFF – TIFF files were designed for use by graphic artists for desktop publishing. These files contain data that
allows the image to be resized with almost no loss of detail. These files tend to be very large and are not
commonly used in cameras.
Note: Some cameras are capable of recording an image in both RAW and JPEG. Of course this takes up more space on
your card.
Set the Auto Focus (AF) Point – Most cameras enable you to change the point or area on which the camera will
automatically focus. There are many options from a single point in the middle of the viewer to areas that almost fill the
view finder. This function varies greatly depending on the camera so you should consult your camera manual to see
what options you have.
Set the Auto Focus (AF) Drive Mode – You can change the auto focus mode to suit different subjects such as group
photos, animals and sports. The following are terms used by Canon. Be aware that auto focus modes change from
manufacturer to manufacturer so consult your manual.
One-Shot – Suitable for still subjects. When you press the shutter button halfway, the camera will focus only
once. If you keep the shutter half pressed you can recompose the shot without the camera refocussing.
AI Servo – Suitable for moving subjects. When you press the shutter button halfway the focus will be adjusted
AI Focus – Suita le for he you a ’t de ide which mode to use. Depending on the subjects movement, the
camera will switch automatically to One-Shot or AI Servo.
Revert the Camera to Default Settings – This allows you to reset the camera if you have made changes you want to
get rid of. This allows you to safely experiment with some of the settings.
Spend some time with your manual to learn more about the abilities of your camera. Try some of the features as you
learn how to use the more advanced functions of your camera. Remember, you can always restore the factory settings.
The Mode Dial
The Mode Dial is usually located on the top of the camera. Most DSLR cameras have five standard shooting modes as
well as other custom functions. We are all familiar with the Automatic or Full Auto function which is usually a
designated by a green box. This ode e ulates a poi t a d shoot a era. The other four functions and their uses
allow for more creative photography.
Manual Exposure (M) – Both the shutter speed and the aperture may be adjusted as desired. Watch the exposure
meter in your view finder to be sure you have a proper exposure. See below for an example:
Aperture Priority (Av or A) – You may set the desired aperture and the camera sets the shutter speed automatically
to obtain the correct exposure. A higher f stop (a smaller hole) will make more of the foreground and background fall
into acceptable focus. On the other hand, a lower f stop (a larger hole) will do the opposite. Be sure to check the
exposure meter for a correct exposure.
Shutter Priority (Tv or S) – Allows you to set the shutter speed and the camera will automatically set the aperture to
obtain the correct exposure. A faster shutter speed can freeze the action or a moving subject. A slower shutter speed
can be used to create a blur effect creating the impression of motion. Check the exposure meter for a correct exposure.
Note: Tv on Canon cameras stands for time value.
Program Mode (P) – The Program or Auto Exposure mode allows the camera to automatically set the shutter speed
and aperture for a proper exposure. You can change the shutter speed and aperture combination set while the camera
maintains the same exposure. This mode allows more changes to camera settings than the Automatic mode.
Some cameras also have the following functions on the Mode Dial. The camera is set to some preset conditions as
designated by the symbol on the dial. Some symbols may be different depending on your camera.
Portrait Mode – This mode blurs the background to make the human subject stand out. It may also make flesh
tones and hair look softer that the Automatic mode.
Landscape Mode – This is good for scenery, night scenes, or to have a everything in focus from near to far. The
greens a blues are usually more vivid than in Automatic mode. The flash may be disable in this mode depending on your
Close-up Mode – Great for shooting flowers or small things close up. Best used with a macro lens or a zoom lens
with a macro setting.
Sports Mode – Great for shooti g a
o i g su je t. It’s est to use the e ter auto fo us poi t to fo us.
Websites of interest: – This is a website featuring a tutorial for DSLR cameras in general. A very good site with
interactive features that explain the workings of your camera. NOTE: This is not specific to Canon cameras. – This website explains the difference between RAW, JPEG and TIFF image formats in very simple
terms. – The Kamloops Photo Arts Club website.
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