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Change Settings on Your Digital Camera

Your digital camera has many settings. You have settings to change shooting mode, ISO settings, and so on. Most digital cameras have a dial that you use to change shooting modes and lots of other switches. The figure shows the top and back of a Canon EOS 7D.

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To capture great images of your world, you need to know how to change the following settings:

  • Shooting mode: The default shooting mode for most cameras is Automatic. You may also have a P (Programmed) setting — if your camera has a P mode, the camera automatically sets both the shutter speed and aperture.

    You can change either setting to suit the scene you’re shooting or to suit your artistic vision, and the camera changes the other setting for a correctly exposed image. Most cameras have the shooting mode on a dial.

  • Shutter speed/f-stop: With most cameras, these settings are located on the same dial. Which setting is functional depends on the shooting mode you choose. If you shoot in Shutter Priority mode, you change the shutter speed to the desired setting.

    If you shoot in Aperture Priority mode, you choose the desired f-stop. If you shoot in Program or Manual mode, the settings appear on different dials or, on some cameras, as options on menus.

  • ISO setting: The ISO setting determines how sensitive your camera is to light. When the light gets dim, you have to increase the ISO setting to get a blur-free picture without a tripod. You also need to increase the ISO setting when the shutter speed is too slow to stop action or when you need to use a smaller aperture for a greater depth of field.

    Some cameras use a combination of button and dial to change the ISO setting, and other cameras have a menu command to change ISO.

  • Auto-focus mode: The auto-focus mode you use depends on whether you’re photographing a stationary object or one in motion. Some cameras use a combination of a button and dial to change auto-focus mode; other cameras use a menu command.

  • Drive mode: When you shoot stationary objects, you use One-Shot drive mode. When you shoot a sequence of images, you shoot in continuous mode. Some cameras have these options as buttons, while others use menu commands.

  • Exposure compensation: Use this option to increase or decrease the exposure to suit the current lighting conditions. On most cameras, you use a button and dial to increase or decrease the exposure.

  • Flash exposure compensation: Use this setting to increase or decrease the power of the built-in flash. On most cameras, this is a menu setting. Your camera may also have a feature that controls supported auxiliary flash units. If this is the case, you can increase or decrease the power of auxiliary flash units.

Your camera has other buttons and features that are not associated with picture-taking settings, but are useful.

  • Info button: Cycle through the types of information that can be displayed on the LCD monitor with your pictures. The information you can display varies by manufacturer of your camera.

    You can display exposure settings, a histogram, and a histogram for each color channel, as well as different combinations of information. You can also display the number of images you’ve photographed or display nothing but the image.

  • LCD monitor: Your LCD monitor isn’t really a control, but it functions like Mission Central. The LCD monitor displays images and camera settings and is also integral when changing settings through your camera menu.

  • Viewfinder diopter: If your camera has a viewfinder diopter, you use it to adjust the viewfinder to compensate for your vision. With most cameras, you move a dial until the focus points in the viewfinder are crystal clear. If you take pictures with your glasses on, make sure you wear them when you adjust the diopter.

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