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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Set Up Your Camera For Best Field Use

Get the most from your camera by having it dialed in for nature photography

This Article Features Photo Zoom

 With today’s LCDs, this isn’t necessary, and a short review time is pretty much worthless. Sure, you can always press the playback button to look at your pictures, but that requires an extra step rather than simply having your image show up immediately after the exposure. Pressing an extra button can definitely interrupt the flow of your shooting. I recommend that you change your default setting to eight seconds or so, depending on what’s available in your camera, which gives you the ability to do a quick review of your shot. This control is usually found in the camera or shooting menu.

I like to immediately see what my picture looks like. I don’t do this for every shot, but I certainly like being able to do it as needed in order to get a quick check on exposure and white balance. Plus, I can quickly see if I like the composition—that’s such a great feature of shooting digital. If you want the review time shorter, simply press the shutter release lightly, and the LCD review goes away.

Use 1⁄2-Step
Exposure Levels
Whenever you use Exposure Compensation or auto bracketing (which is great for HDR, or high dynamic range, work), you set your camera to change exposure in steps as you take several shots. The default for many cameras is 1/3-steps, which is 1/3 ƒ-stops or shutter-speed steps, but usually you also can choose 1⁄2-steps. I recommend the latter.

Some photographers find the 1/3-step valuable, but for most of us, this is a waste of time and energy because of the extra shots we have to take and deal with later. With 1/3-steps, you must take three exposures for every full ƒ-stop change, for example, while you only need two with 1⁄2-steps. I shoot a lot of pictures in a year and have never had a need for anything other than 1⁄2-step changes.

I also think it’s a waste of time and energy for most photographers to use anything other than full stops for ISO settings. I know some photographers will find an esoteric use for this, but I’ve never found a need for this and have yet to meet an outdoor photographer who needs anything other than full stops for ISO settings (i.e., 100, 200, 400, etc.). The smaller steps just take added time and thought, taking you away from your photography and getting the shot, with little real benefit.

Check Out Your Camera

So get your camera out and see how it’s set. Try the settings noted in this article, and you may find your camera handling better, which will lead to better photos, as well.


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