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Friday, January 18, 2013

Time to Click: Advanced Buttons

More and more advanced buttons and functions today!

Basic Digital was always the hardest class to teach for me, because I never had the time to explain all the buttons. In truth, I will never have the time because every camera is slightly different... and new things keep getting added! Really, honestly your manual is still your best guide to what each icon, and button represent.  At the same time, your manual is probably the worst way to learn what each button does!

Before we dive into some of the more advanced buttons... I want to make sure each of you understand that more then one function may be available with each button.  There are 3 standard ways to get into those additional functions...regardless of camera type.

1. Selective button. Hitting the same button over and over to change the function.
2. Command wheel. Hit and hold the button, and then spin a command wheel, to change the functions (typical on bridge and DSLR cameras)
3.Arrow or "cross key" selection. Where you use the arrow keys to select - typically in menu selections and not "button" selections... but not always.

When your discovering your camera and trying to get into different options be sure to see what happens if you press the same button multiple times, or spin a wheel.

Now to start with our buttons! Granted most of these will be available on bridge, or DSLR camera's it doesn't mean that point and shoots WONT have any of these options... some of these are found on all cameras still and others you will have to check YOUR camera for!

Command Dial: Cameras can have 0, 1, or 2 different wheels. On cameras with 2, one typically controls the shutter, and one controls the aperture. The "main" wheel will also control other push and hold button selections.

View Finder: On DSLR this is almost always a true through the lens look. An "optical view. You may also have a digital LCD view, or a mirror-less view... or you may not have a viewfinder at all.. you may simply have a LCD on the back of your camera where you shoot from. If you do have the optical view, I suggest you use it rather then the "live view" from the LCD... not only will you be able to see it better in all kinds of light, but you will use less battery power not running the LCD all the time!

Tip: You may find a small dial located right next to it. This is called a Diopter Correction dial. If you wear glasses or contacts you can use this to correct the viewfinder to your eye. It doesn't have anything to do with your image focus, but could make it more comfortable for you shooting.

LCD: (liquid crystal display) You may already know that this is the backside screen that your used to shooting with, or reviewing your images on. Many camera's use this for the shooting information, battery and other display information. However, some use monochrome LCD's for this. When your camera has an additional monochrome display, it is typically on the top next to the shutter button. The information stays on for quick review and changes, but it uses less battery power then your full color display on the back. 

Focus Switch: Found only on cameras with interchangeable lenses... it will typically be a switch with two options AF (auto focus) and M (manual, meaning you would focus by turning the focus ring on your lens). Sometimes you will have the option on your lens as well. Unless you doing macro work, you will probably be just fine with auto focus! 

Remote, Self Timer:  A remote allows you to  trigger the shutter without touching your camera. The self timer will do the same thing if a remote isn't an option. If you want to do self portraits, or portraits with you in them,  low light images with long shutters where pushing a shutter could cause camera shake.. these are really good controls to know!
Tip: If your self timer has a number in the icon, that indicates how many seconds you have before your shutter fires.

Continuous, Burst or Single Frame shooting: Exactly like it sounds like, these options control how many times your shutter fires - while your holding down the shutter button. On the single option even if you hold the button down it will only fire once, where on the continuous mode it will continue to fire. Burst modes typically have a limit on how many frames they will take before stopping. The ability to take multiple images quickly is really handy if your shooting kids or pets. However, keep in mind it does not refocus for each shot. Good if your subject is on the same focus field, bad if they are moving up and down a sports field, or walking towards you like during a wedding. 

AF: (AF-S and AF-C) Auto Focus modes: (you may have a button or a switch..)
Single-servo autofocus (AF-S) For  subjects that are not moving. On any camera you focus your shot by depressing the shutter halfway. This "locks" the focus and without releasing the shutter you press it the rest of the way down to take your shot. With -Continuous-servo autofocus (AF-C)
The camera focuses continuously while the shutter-release button is pressed halfway; if the subject moves, the camera will engage predictive focus tracking to determine the final distance to the subject and adjust focus as necessary. Perfect for sports, weddings, kids, pets... you know things that move! 

Area Focus Sample switch with icons

Area Focus: This controls your auto focus area. Many times you may want to control where your camera is focusing.. but you may not want to, or be able to use a manual focus mode. You can choose from your entire screen which is good for scenic and group shots (top image full white square) and allows your camera to select focus points. Center focus (top image, bottom icon small square) which is perfect for portraits, macro, product, and such things where your subject will be in the middle of your composed image. Or, choose the middle icon Selective focus (shown above with a small square with other squares around it).  You will see where your camera is focusing on SLR cameras through your viewfinder.

View from viewfinder: Highlights red on focus area.
With Selective Focus, you use your dial, arrow keys or cross keys to highlight the focus area you want your camera to focus on. By selecting where you want your camera to focus you can have better composition (framing) of your images... say if you want to do an image where the subject is to the far left.

Now... of course I haven't covered all the buttons that you could have. Like I said when we started, there are simply so many of them and differences between camera's! However, I bet you are looking at your camera thinking I have missed a couple of REALLY big ones... like Flash!  I really didn't forget! Next week there will be adding to our series with flash posts, and even more digital 101 information coming your way!

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