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Author Topic: Digital cameras - what settings are most important to you?  (Read 1970 times)
PeterAit
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« on: April 20, 2013, 03:30:02 PM »
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I  am struggling to learn my new D600, criminy it has a 300 page manual! It seems that today's advanced cameras have way too many settings, a "glut of options" if you will, and 90% of them I will never use. So, I was thinking that there could be a list of "most-used" settings, and these would be explained at the start of the manual and made easily available in the camera's settings. Here's my list - and I am omitting the program mode that is, at least in my experience, always set with a dial.

- Exposure compensation +/-   
- ISO
- Flash mode (on, off, auto)
- Auto vs. manual focus
- White balance
- Live view on/off
- Display mode (whether the display has a lot of information or just a minimum).
- Format memory card.

Any other ideas?
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Peter
"Photographic technique is a means to an end, never the end itself."
View my photos at http://www.peteraitken.com
Raymond Bleesz
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2013, 07:30:21 PM »
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Yes, the info in the manuals can be overwhelming--and I have been a Nikon user since '76 (f2's)--the digital manuals more complex than the older film cameras. Nikon is somewhat better than some other companies I might mention regarding digital manuals & camera usage, but as a recent D600 user, I might mention the text "Nikon D600 for Dummies" as an alternative learning tool.

Usage of course is your best learning tool, and every day either using the tool or reading up on material lessens your anxiety.

Raymond in Colorado

PS: an idea--for security purposes, shoot program mode first if time is of question----then if time allows go for Manual and read your "meter" for what you want. This suggestion my work.
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k bennett
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2013, 08:34:53 PM »
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I need to be able to choose Aperture Priority or Manual mode, and then quickly and easily set the aperture and exposure compensation, or the aperture and shutter speed. I need to be able to see an exposure meter in the viewfinder, preferably with all the relevant data displayed. Quickly set ISO while camera is up to my eye. Thumb button for focus.

Other than that, I just shoot raw files on AWB. I will change from single to continuous AF when needed, and from continuous advance to self timer sometimes. Nothing else is really useful.

I do feel your pain on the set up and the manual. It usually takes me a few hours working through the settings on a new camera to make sure the custom functions are set  up properly. Luckily that's a one-time operation. Good luck.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2013, 09:09:10 PM »
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Peter, you have my sympathies.

The process of learning your camera is a bit like peeling an onion.
The outer layers of the onion represent the fundamentals and the inner layers the progressively more discretionary controls.

I would not necessarily try to learn the entire camera in a week but I think the fundamentals (likely what you have listed) can be mastered in a day.
The rest can be gradually added over weeks to months.
In six months no control should be foreign to you - even those that you think you will never have a need for.

Obviously, depending on whether you are shooting RAW or JPEG, or perhaps both, certain controls have more relevance than others.
As a small example: I shoot RAW only so white balance per se is not crucial apart from the fact that it is consistent - so, no AWB for me. If I was shooting JPEG only then probably AWB becomes much more useful.

Your style of shooting and subject matter also determines what controls have higher priority to master.
I do shoot a lot on a tripod, so live view and DOF preview are key to getting optimal focusing and DOF.
Also, I almost always shoot in M mode and make manual exposure corrections for ETTR.
However there are a few ways to skin this cat, so each to his own.
Clearly if one is a street photographer or does weddings my way of shooting is pie in the sky.

Good luck Peter.

Tony Jay
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2013, 09:48:15 PM »
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Hi,

My camera has three presets, so I have three sets of settings:

1) Auto everything, Program mode, auto ISO, wide AF antishake

2) Precision work, Aperture at f/8, base ISO, center AF, antishake

3) Tripod work, no AF, base ISO, Aperture F8, antishake off, mirror pre release with 2s self timer

I only shoot raw.

Best regards
Erik
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2013, 11:23:58 PM »
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Thom Hogan offers an excellent series of books that supplant the terse manuals provided by Nikon. Excellent value, IMHO. He's just released one for the D600.

www.bythom.com

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jonathanlung
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2013, 12:49:34 AM »
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To put this in a bit of context, I always shoot raw, in M, with spot metering. In order from most important to least:
Aperture, shutter speed, plane of focus
Flash on/off and flash power (and direction and zoom) -- on the flash unit itself
"Lens" (Obviously the lens itself, but I shoot a lot of non-chipped Nikon lenses and I want the metadata to correctly reflect which lens I have attached and my aperture setting)
ISO
WB
DOF preview
Cropped area
Virtual horizon
Live view

On my quick menu, I have Date/Time (for checking the current the time), battery info (for # of shots taken -- not actually for battery used; I get a couple thousand on a charge and I only have enough memory cards to shoot about 800 backed up), and remote flash control. I wish my camera had physical controls for remote flash control. This is my biggest gripe about physical controls.
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Rob C
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2013, 03:47:00 AM »
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Both the first digi camera I bought (D200) and its newer version, the D700 are set up to shoot RAW and with the minumum of any automatic functions possible. In effect, I keep them as close to my string of film Nikons as I can, if only to avoid confusing myself (easily done - on or off the heat of the moment).

As I only have a single lens with af, it's easy to ignore that individual case, especially as I seldom use the focal length.

Exposure is always on Matrix (which I find pretty damned good) and perhaps the only electronic trick I have employed is the auto ISO one, which is great for dark rooms and brighter subjects such as performers, where I can set the desired aperture and shutter speeds and Nkon does the rest. As Mr Easman almost said.

Frankly, I suspect that all of those additional electronic tricks are useful, but only for younger people with no long history in film. The rest of us? We simply don't need any of it because we already have established ways. Unfortunately, we all end up paying for those 'extras' in hard cash. Just like cars, where it's almost impossible to buy basic transportation.

Rob C
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2013, 04:57:26 AM »
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Both the first digi camera I bought (D200) and its newer version, the D700 are set up to shoot RAW and with the minumum of any automatic functions possible. In effect, I keep them as close to my string of film Nikons as I can, if only to avoid confusing myself (easily done - on or off the heat of the moment).

As I only have a single lens with af, it's easy to ignore that individual case, especially as I seldom use the focal length.

Exposure is always on Matrix (which I find pretty damned good) and perhaps the only electronic trick I have employed is the auto ISO one, which is great for dark rooms and brighter subjects such as performers, where I can set the desired aperture and shutter speeds and Nkon does the rest. As Mr Easman almost said.

Frankly, I suspect that all of those additional electronic tricks are useful, but only for younger people with no long history in film. The rest of us? We simply don't need any of it because we already have established ways. Unfortunately, we all end up paying for those 'extras' in hard cash. Just like cars, where it's almost impossible to buy basic transportation.

Rob C

You are half right Rob.

I am, photographically at least, a product of the digital age.
I don't use most of the modes and gizmos becuase I understand how to expose, how to maximise or minimize depth of view, and how to shoot in low light.
Nearly all the time I sit with my camera in manual mode.

I have taught several individuals now the photographic fundamentals starting with the photographic triangle.
Understanding how ISO, shutter speed, and aperture work together is a true revelation to them as well as the trade-offs involved.
Whether one uses matrix or spot metering (my personal choice) making that individual manually set up the rest to get an appropriate exposure always elicits amazement when they suddenly realize they can do a much better job than the camera in making all the exposure decisions as evidenced by the results.

At the end of the day modern cameras are still boxes painted black on the inside that emit light from one side and have a photosensitive medium on the other. The same controls that really mattered before matter still.
It is true that one needs to consider white balance but not a lot else is critical.

A lot of the control features include things for those who don't know photography well enough to set the camera up appropriately for themselves.
Once they know then paradoxically it is back to the fundamental controls.

Tony Jay
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MarkL
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« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2013, 07:25:15 AM »
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The problem is that the DX/FX DSLR camera is a jack of all trades tool used for just about every type of photography which is why they need so many features, it is even worse now than for 35mm slr cameras given MF prices. It would be nice to hide menu items though, I have never shot even one jpg on a dslr and I see nikon picture control everything all over my D800E.

While is is annoying the menu is full of stuff we will never use if it wasn't here some group of photogs would complain saying it was only a simple fimware change. I even remember reading someone saying they couldn't believe the D800 has no articulating screen because ALL dog photographers would welcome it...
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2013, 08:14:22 AM »
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My short list
- color space to AbodeRGB
- raw to lossless 14 bits
- auto iso with max iso at 6400 and minimum speed at one stop faster than 1/focal length
- Back up mode ensure photos will be stored to both memory cards
- easy exposure compensation making it possible to apply exposure correction without pressing the +/- icon
- grid in viewfinder
- fn function to display virtual horizon
- circular AF focus points
- focus with AF-ON button only (pressing release doesn't trigger AF)

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: April 24, 2013, 06:54:18 AM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

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thierrylegros396
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« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2013, 12:46:15 PM »
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My G15 settings are:

Raw+jpg
ISO 80
Auto WB
AF center
Meter Evaluative
Grid and Live Histogram in Display
Compensation set to -2/3Ev (or -1/3Ev) for summer, but +2/3Ev to +1Ev for snow.
Fn set to ND Filter
Front Dial set to Stepped Zoom
Antishake On

Set by default to Aperture Priority f6.3, because in P Mode the program choose large apertures, so easy switching possible !
Time is set to 1/320S so Manual Mode is 1/320S f6.3 by default ideal for Sunny Days.
C1 preset for Landscape Av, f6.3, 35mm, Raw+L, No Flash, ND filter Off
C2 preset for waterfalls Tv, 1/5s, 35mm, Raw+L, No Flash, ND filter On

Scene is preset to High Speed Mode (10FPS).

Video set to Standard

Really well implemented camera menus.
Just said that the Display has so much contrast !
Please Canon add a contrast setting !
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Telecaster
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« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2013, 05:16:50 PM »
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The thing that drives me up the wall is a camera having useful capabilities that are undocumented. I've been using an Olympus OM-D EM5 for the past six weeks with great results and mostly great pleasure too. But the number of really handy features getting no mention at all in the manual seems to get larger by the day. Granted, the camera has been out for over a year and has had a firmware upgrade or two. But most of this stuff has been there since v1.0. Good thing you can crowdsource all the nooks & crannies these days.   Grin

-Dave-
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Mike D. B.
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« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2013, 05:45:10 AM »
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- ISO setting
- exposure compensation
- aperture
- mirror lockup

I wish my Canon 5D had a dedicated mirror lockup button.  Ideal would be a mechanical mirror lockup function (no battery drain).  I also wish for an aperture ring on the lenses, but I won't see that unless I switch to Nikon and use AIS lenses.  Often, I'm tempted.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2013, 05:32:17 AM by Mike D. B. » Logged

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