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How do I set, use and optimise my camera

This article is unfinished, and I hope I can finish it ASAP, due to my busy time.  I'll kept it short this time, and will make it more readable as time goes by :)

General settings

I turn off noise reduction for long exposure as I don't want to wait after each long exposure.

I photograph JPEG.  Having capabilities to take RAW is good, however JPEG is more than good enough for me.  I almost always use Fine Large JPEG, however if I'm running out of storage (I used about half of the storage when shooting less than half event), I'll change to Fine Medium JPEG.  Fine Large JPEG appears to have nearly the same quality as Fine Medium JPEG up sampled to the same resolution at about half the storage space required.  Anyway, one of the reason why don't I use RAW is its painstaking workflow.  I can't enjoy and share my picture directly after shooting, since I will need to open and convert them to JPEG beforehand.

I turn off beeps!  They are the biggest annoyance to people.  Especially on funeral ceremony or prayer, camera beep is intolerable. 

I set my camera to use AI focus which is absolutely needed to automatically track subjects. Manual focusing is only used in the dark, when the AF can't correctly focus.

I set my camera to capture many frames.  I almost always took 2-3 consecutive image at one press of shutter.  Just in case the first picture is blurry, the 2nd and 3rd usually saves me.  This provides me with better chance of non blurry picture.

I set my camera to Automatic White Balance in general shooting, just watch for AWB error.  However I usually use other WB setting when trying to create a mood while shooting.  For example when shooting under boring light, I usually use Cloudy or Shade white balance to create warming effect.  While at night landscape, I usually use Tungsten or Fluorescent to create a beautiful dark bluish sky instead of totally black in Daylight or even brown in Cloudy or Shade setting.

I turn off automatic dust cleaning, which is almost useless   My camera's automatic dust cleaning feature doesn't really work.  My sensor is as dusty after the the dust cleaning function works.  Anyway, it is also a waste of battery!

Using rear curtain sync or 2nd curtain sync is a must.  This way, the flash fires when the rear curtain is almost closed, creating good effect.  Well, the camera maker should have on by default.

I turned off the rear LCD all the time, even for reviewing the image I just shot so I won't see it too often.  I don't bother to review my images unless I have some free time, however most event will not wait!  Well, that's the advantage of shooting in automatic...  It saves battery too. 

I leave my camera always on when I'm outside shooting.  It wont deplete the battery, since I've tested it to stay on for a week without depleting the battery.   So few hours of shooting don't do any drain on the battery!   FYI, switching the camera on and off will drain your battery quicker than entering stand by mode.  The drain will be more with automatic dust reduction system set to on.  You can try this by turning on and off the camera thousand times and then measure the battery!

Using automatic and preset

I use portrait (face picture on the PASM dial) when taking people's picture.  Portrait tends to soften the image therefore hiding pimples while brightens face.  Girls (especially Asian) loves this!  Give it a try to your girlfriend.  I bet she'll love it.

  a picture by 10 years old
a picture by 10 years of boy

That picture was taken by a 10 years old boy in Portrait mode!  He borrows my camera and took this picture of his lovely sister.  It looks very fine to me. 

I use macro (flower picture on the PASM dial) when shooting small things, when the camera is in macro mode, it carefully lock the subject to make it super sharp.  Caution: do not use it for photographing people, since macro will make all the pimple on people's face visible!  Your girl will hate it!

I use P for landscape and others things more difficult.  I only use P when I wanted certain effect such as controlling colours, composing in a unique way where the full auto focus can't focus on the spot I wanted, the I'll use P so I can get the desired effect.   

My suggestion is: I need auto and preset setting that can be overridden such as focus point should be override able, and exposure control also should be changeable so I can control the brightness of the image.  However it needs to reset itself when the camera is turned off and changes mode (unless a button is pressed to save setting).

Why do I use auto and preset?  I need my concentration and creativity in composing, not fiddling with camera.  P, Macro and Portrait are the best.  They save my concentration and creativity.   However when some situation is even too difficult for P, I'll then use Tv, Av or M.   

Using Time Priority, Aperture Priority and Manual

Notice: EV and brightness are a different concept, however on this article I'll use EV and brightness interchangeably, so reader who don't know photography knew can understand this article easier.  For people who are interested EV can read in EV concept by Ken Rockwell.

Tv is used when I shot using Tele in the dark with varying lights. Tv proves to be invaluable, since I can use it to lock the exposure time I wanted that I can shot sharp, and leave the rest to the camera.  On Tv mode, the camera will adjust its aperture opening in some constraints so the image will be on that degree of brightness.

While Av is useful when I want to create certain effect such such as controlling DOF, removing or inducing falloff.  For example when I use P, the camera will reset it's aperture to desired value, with this mode the aperture stays!  In Av mode, the camera will adjust the exposure time to archive that degree of brightness.

For me, M is almost never used.  I use M to meter the light.  That is, setting the aperture and time, then press the shutter halfway will bring the meter online.  It shows at which stop our exposure and aperture are.  Usually I shot at -2/3 stop. 

M is unique compared to other modes.  Other modes uses the EV as a guide on what exposure where the photographer wanted to photograph, the camera will adjust its settings in some constraints so the image will be on that degree of brightness.  

While on manual, the EV indicator will tell the photographer the level of exposure that the image is going to be.  you will know the EV level of a scene by looking at that meter, and as usual EV 0 means as bright as it should be, -2 means dark and EV +2 means bright!  So adjusting exposure and aperture and guessing the exposure is no longer a pain.  This saves you from external meter and means more chance to shot than fiddling the camera. 

This picture was taken in Manual mode after I read how many stop car's window tinting provide.

overexposed manual
a heavily overexposed image

I admit I forgot to set aperture, timing and ISO in the manual mode, therefore resulting in this highly overexposed image, probably by more than 2 stops.  This is one of the reason why do I hate using manual, once I forgot to change the exposure mode, the image is destroyed.

Conclusion

I think that explains the way I set, optimise and use the camera.  That way allows me to take the picture shown on my Gallery, w, which I hope you'll love as there are no greater pleasure for me than people loving my works... 

Well, besides from having my investment value uprising and watching my business growing which is an exception, that having people enjoy my works is my greatest pleasure.

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