Photography News | Issue 36 | absolutephoto.com
Why is photography such a popular hobby? Probably because it offers just the right balance of challenge and reward. You need to develop your technical skills in hand with your artistic outlook; a mix of creativity and science. But we all have to start somewhere, and that’s the purpose of PN ’s newCamera School section. This series takes you back to basics, covering all aspects of shooting, from the fundamentals of exposure and focus, all the way to
advanced camera functions and how to shoot in particular styles. So whether you’re just starting to push your camera out of auto mode, or need a refresher on all things camera related, you’re in the right place. This month we’ll look at the primary functions of your camera, outlining the exposure, drive and focus modes. We’ll return to these subjects in much more detail in the comingmonths, but fornow, consider this a bit of basic orienteering… Lenses choices One of the great freedoms of shooting with a CSC or DSLR is changing lenses. Using different focal lengths gives a different view on your subject; for instance wide-angle lenses have greater field of view and so are useful for capturing expansive views, while the smaller field of view that telephoto lenses produce makes them a great fit for capturing small or distant subjects, like wildlife, sports and action.
Camera School This brand-new series will give you all the important information that you won’t find in the DSLR’s or CSC’s manual, so stick with us and you’ll soon be shooting like a pro…
Words & pictures by Kingsley Singleton
Exposure modes The range of exposure modes varies frommodel to model, but you’ll find core options on most CSCs and DSLRs: auto, program (P), aperture-priority (A/Av), shutter-priority (S/Tv) and manual (M). In auto all camera settings are decided by the camera, based on its reading of the subject, so you have the least amount of control. In program (P) mode, the camera still sets an automatic exposure, but you have a little more control being able to set parameters like the ISO sensitivity and white-balance. Aperture -priority (A or Av) and shutter-priority (S or Tv) provide full control over the aperture of the lens or the speed that the shutter opens and closes (Tv stands for time-value) and the camera’s metering system will decide the other based on the amount of light in the scene. Manual mode (M) allows full control over the shutter speed and aperture settings, but there’s still a light meter or histogram to help you if required. Some higher end cameras have a button to set the exposure mode, while some CSCs, like Fujifilm’s X-Series cameras, use a dedicated aperture ring and shutter speed dial instead. The ring and dial have an ‘A’ as well as other values, so when the shutter speed dial is set to A and the aperture to a number you’re in aperture-priority; if it’s the opposite way around you’re in shutter-priority; if neither is set to A you’re in manual, and if both are set to A you’re in auto mode. Meteringmodes The camera bases its exposure settings on which metering mode it’s in. Options will include multi- zone, which reads everything visible through the lens; centre- weighted which biases the reading towards the middle of the frame; and spot, which only uses a very small part of the view from which to read the light. We’ll cover all of them in an upcoming issue.
Drive modes You can also fire the shutter in a number of ways, dependent on the subject or the look of picture you want to create. The default mode is single, which creates one exposure per release of the shutter. However, you can also shoot in continuous drive mode, which will keep taking pictures until the shutter button is released. Other drive modes include self-timer, which adds a delay between triggering the shutter and the exposure being recorded, remote control, multiple exposures and plenty more besides.
Nextmonth In the next issue we’ll start to look at how the camera’s different exposure settings (aperture, shutter speed and ISO) work with one another and the metering system to create a picture. Focusingmodes Your camera has several different focusing modes allowing it to lock onto the subject in different ways depending on how, or what, you’re shooting. As well as manual focus, which uses the focusing ring on the lens, there’s autofocus, which is split into mode and area. The AF mode is usually split into single and continuous; single locks on and stays at that setting, while continuous stays active, allowing you to shoot more quickly. The AF area decides the number and position of focusing points; you can use anything from a single point locked to the centre of the view to every AF point available, wherein the camera will pick the most suitable for the subject, and even follow it across the frame in tracking mode. If you’re shooting in live view mode, you can also expect some form of face detection where the camera will identify human faces in the frame and lock onto them.
ISO sensitivity settings The camera’s sensitivity controls how responsive the sensor is to light. The trade-off for more sensitivity is that you’ll introduce interference (digital noise). ISO is stated numerically with each doubling corresponding to a doubling of sensitivity. So, at ISO 400, the camera is twice as sensitive to light as it is at ISO 200, and therefore a shutter speed twice as fast can be used with the same resulting brightness.
DSLR or CSC?
version, which allows them to be smaller and lighter. Each has its benefits, but the advantages apply to both: interchangeable lenses, large sensors producing more detailed images and exposure options for creative shooting. Whichever you have, the Camera School will show you how to use it.
Much is made of the pros and cons of different camera designs, and particularly the differences between digital single-lens reflex (DSLRs) and compact system cameras (CSCs). In truth they have more similarities than differences. Their architecture is different, DSLRs use an internal mirror and optical viewfinder (the reflex bit) and CSCs an electronic
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