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Fine Tuning Settings for Your Digital SLR Camera

There are several important settings on your dSLR that don't fit easily into other categories, but that you should be aware of sooner rather than later. They may be on their own tab or integrated into another menu:

  • Retouch: Some cameras let you retouch photos on the memory card. You’ll enjoy being able to quickly produce finished photos in-camera, whether you don’t like using your computer or you’re on location and need to mock something up right away. You can find those settings on the Retouch menu.

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  • Shooting profiles: More advanced cameras let you create, save, and load different shooting profiles with different settings. For example, you may have one ready for portraits and another for casual photography with your general-purpose zoom lens.

  • Custom functions: Canon places many of their most esoteric options into a group called Custom Functions, which are then further divided into groups and numbered. More advanced Nikon cameras may have a Custom Settings menu that works similarly to Canon's Custom Functions.

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  • Autofocus: The Canon EOS 5D Mark III in particular has a plethora of autofocus menu choices. This is one thing that separates professional cameras from amateur models.

  • Copyright: Enter your name or organization in your camera's Copyright information, if possible. This information gets embedded into your photos and helps to secure your rights.

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  • Focus tuning: You can fine-tune focus on more advanced cameras. You might need this option if a lens repeatedly focuses in front of (front focus) or behind (back focus) where it should. That indicates it needs to be sent to a service center and recalibrated. In the meantime, you can correct its vision.

  • Exposure/bracketing settings: You often have the ability to fine-tune the way your camera sets exposure and controls auto exposure bracketing. Take advantage of these advanced settings to customize the way you like to work.

  • Display: You may be able to select different screens that you want available when you press your camera's Display button. Toggle the options to make them part of the display rotation.

  • Custom controls: You may be able to customize some of your camera’s buttons and dials, which is handy at times. Do you want to change ISO when you press the Function button? You can (probably) do that!

    Be kind to other people's cameras. If you customize someone else’s controls, put them back when you're done shooting. Use the camera’s reset feature if it has one.

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  • Custom menu: Canon in particular has a my Menu option that lets you customize to hold all your favorite menu options. You can even set up the camera to display my Menu (or rather, you’re my Menu) first.

  • Recent menu: Nikon helps you find options easier by offering up those that you used most recently.

  • Firmware: Firmware is what runs your camera. The cool thing about dSLRs is that you can change and update the firmware to smooth out bugs or introduce new features. Visit the manufacturer’s website to see what the latest version for your camera is (look in the support area, download center, or on a page devoted to your camera), then check that against what your camera shows.

    Update if necessary. Updating involves either putting the firmware file(s) on your camera’s memory card or connecting your camera to your computer. C (for camera) firmware is 1.00 and L (which has lens distortion control data) firmware is 1.006.

    Please read all applicable instructions before starting. Be careful when updating your camera’s firmware. Do so with a full battery. If something goes wrong, you may have to take your camera to be serviced in order to revive it.

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  • Flash options: Some cameras have very few flash options. In this case, you can choose between automatic and manual. If you choose the latter, you can set the flash strength (something unheard of in an entry-level dSLR; features like this set this little D3200 apart from the competition). Other cameras enable you to set up wireless flash, use high-speed sync, and many other advanced flash options.

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