Here are ten tricks you can use to optimize your camera by using features you didn’t know about or didn’t know how they worked! These menu images apply to a Canon T2i, but any Canon or even Nikon DSLR will have similar options within its own menus.
1. Change your histogram to RGB
Setting your histogram to view as RGB allows you to see exactly which colors are clipping or are too dark. Sometimes, especially in landscape photography, only one or two colors are actually being blown out. If you are only using a brightness histogram, you wouldn’t know it!
2. Format Your Memory Card After Every Project
Formatting your card after every shoot, project, or whenever it gets full reduces the chance of corruption. Simply erasing files individually adds a small amount of left over data each time, leading to possible problems later.
3. Set Auto Focus to the Back Button
Under the custom functions, you’ll find a screen similar to this one to change the functions of the shutter button and AE lock button on the back. Setting the AF button to the back button will allow you to focus once and keep that focus for every shot until you need to change.
4. Set LCD Brightness to 4 or 5
Under normal indoor conditions, the default LCD brightness should be 4 or 5. Outdoors, you may need to increase it so you can see it better. The scale on the right allows you to see the difference in values. You will want to be able to tell a difference between each one, so that the whitest value is not blown out. Trying to determine a picture’s exposure by the LCD is really not recommended. The histogram is a much more accurate representation.
Some of your favorite items may be deep in the menus and difficult to get to. Adding these to the “My Menu” favorites tab makes it easier to access them.
6. Release Shutter Without Card
If you don’t have a memory card in the slot, you don’t want to start taking pictures! This option will prevent that from happening just in case you forgot to insert your card.
If you have the space on your computer, you NEED to be shooting in RAW with your DSLR. This is basically an equivalent to a digital negative, allowing so much more manipulation after the picture is taken. Exposure, black point, brightness, white balance, and many more can be adjusted in post processing without any loss in quality (to a certain extent). You can also shoot in RAW + JPEG to make processing easier during editing. The JPEG will be used for previews which are much faster and smaller to view and share.
8. Turn Image Review Off
This is more of a personal preference, but if you have confidence in the photos you are taking, you shouldn’t have to check each photo immediately after you take it.
Unless you know a lot about color space, you should set yours to sRGB. You will also want to go in to your PC or Mac’s display settings to make sure it is also set to sRGB. Thirdly, you can go in to your editing program’s settings and do the same. This streamlines all the colors in every step of the photography process. Printing is also another consideration; you’ll want to look in to your printing company’s policies as to what your color space should be when you send them an image.
10. Use a Neutral Picture Style
Even though you shouldn’t be guessing exposure by the image on the LCD, using a neutral picture style allows you to see more dynamic range. The CineStyle preset is a very flat picture style that is also great for shooting video. The histogram will also display this extended dynamic range, so you can adjust exposure accordingly to get the most out of a RAW file. Mainly, this is done by reducing any contrast that is added to the RAW by the camera processing, keeping it as original as possible.
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