Do you have one of those shiny new cameras with the “live view” feature on it? You know, where you can see in real time what your camera sees through its lens? A lot of people seem to assume that it is mostly useful for recording video on your camera, and it is darn useful for that, but there are a myriad of things a still photographer can use live view for as well.
Purple Finch: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 500mm F4L IS, 1.4x Extender II, 2.0x Extender II @1400mm :: 1/800th of a second at F14, ISO 800 :: Live view used in place of mirror lockup function to reduce vibration during exposure
An excellent use of the live view feature on your camera is to help you focus. Many photographers rely on the autofocus feature of their camera but it’s been demonstrated that manual focus will often result in more accurate focus than the camera’s autofocus system especially under difficult conditions. Manual focus isn’t optimal if you’re photographing action, but if you’re photographing a landscape or some sort of still life or macro shot, you can often improve on the camera’s attempt at autofocus by doing it yourself. Many cameras offer the ability of zooming in on the live image 5x, 10x or more which really allows you to fine tune your focus.
Depth-of-field, or the amount of the image that is in focus in front of what you’ve focussed on and behind what you’ve focussed on, can be very difficult for photographers to imagine. And even though many cameras have a depth-of-field preview button (usually found somewhere around the lens mount) use of this feature while looking through the viewfinder leaves you with a very dark image that makes it hard to see your subject let alone what is and what isn’t in focus.
Instead, turn on live view and engage a feature called exposure simulation. Compose your image and adjust the aperture you want to use. Depth-of-field is controlled through the aperture setting along with the distance to the subject. When the depth-of-field preview feature is engaged you can watch in real time the effects that selecting different apertures has on the image’s depth-of-field on a nice bright display. This allows you to get creative by pre-visualizing how much of your scene is or is not in focus.
Funnel Web spider with grasshopper prey :: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 180mm F3.5L Macro Lens @ 180mm, Canon MR-14EX Ring Flash :: 1/100th of a second at F10.0, ISO 100 :: Live view used for fine focusing
White Balance (the colour of light in a scene) is another setting that is hard to visualize ahead of time. And unfortunately, it is something the camera often has difficulty figuring out on its own. One situation that I’ve found where almost all digital cameras have difficulty calculating the proper white balance is when the subject is in the shade on a nice sunny day. Digital cameras seem to uniformly choose a white balance setting that is too cool (too much of a blue cast). Switching on live view can allow you to dynamically use the camera’s features to adjust the white balance until you verify the white balance that you’ve chosen will render the images the way you’d imagined.
I’ve heard it argued that you shouldn’t rely on the live view preview on the back of your camera for setting white balance because it isn’t a calibrated display, and that’s true, it isn’t. But in my experimentation it is darn near close enough that I am very comfortable using and relying on it.
If you’re really lucky, not only do you have a camera with live view, but you’ve got a camera that can overlay a histogram on top of that live view. Why? Because you can see at a glance if you’ve got areas of over or under exposure and make the necessary adjustments to the exposure by adjusting the ISO, aperture and/or shutter speed to make the image you want to make instead of the image your camera’s meter imagined making for you.
The final benefit I’ll mention is primarily a benefit to Canon DSLR shooters with cameras introduced from the 40D forward but strangely isn’t found in their pro line of cameras. That feature is the use of live view as a mirror lockup replacement. Mirror lockup is often used by photographers who are working with long telephoto lenses or extreme magnification macro photography. The mirror slapping up and down in the camera as it makes an exposure causes enough vibration to produce soft images.
Mirror lockup is the solution but it requires pressing two or more buttons and is inconvenient to use, especially for consecutive shots. However, shooting stills through live view mode on these cameras basically simulates mirror lockup (since the mirror is already locked up for live view to work) and a simple shutter activation is all that is required. Unfortunately other brands of cameras (and pro Canon bodies) slap the mirror back down and then do a regular exposure when an image is made in live view mode. Silly? Yes, but such is life.
Oil on water :: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 180mm F3.5L Macro Lens @ 180mm :: LED illumination :: 0.4 of a second at F5.6, ISO 100 :: Live view used for fine tuning white balance
Of course, there are trade offs with live view. In most instances, you are going to want to use your camera on a support to really take advantage of it and of course it takes power to drive that fancy LCD display on your camera so your battery life will suffer. But, in my opinion, when the situation allows for it, there is no better way to get the image correct in the camera than by using live view.
Live Photos was introduced in iOS 9 as a special feature for the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. It’s also the default camera setting for the iPhone SE, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7Plus.
The way Live Photos works is to capture a MOV video file every time you snap a photo with your iPhone. The MOV file includes three seconds of video and sound, so when viewed on a supported device, the image seems to come to life.
Pretty cool, but there are some downsides.
For one, all that extra data makes for image file sizes that are roughly double that of a standard photo. If you snap a lot of pictures, that can quickly add up and cause you to run short on storage space.
If you take low light pictures, Live Photos can result in grainy images because the camera is forced to continue shooting video so it can’t use a longer exposure to capture more light. Turning the feature off can result in a significant improvement.
Finally, if you upload your iPhone photos to software that doesn’t support the feature, you can end up with a collection of photos plus unrecognized files. Using the software to delete the photos on your iPhone –as is typically done after import– leaves a mess of blank video files on the iPhone that then must be manually deleted (see below).
Orphaned Live Photos MOV files on iPhone after the associated photos were deleted (Credit: screen . [+] capture by Brad Moon)
So how do you turn off Live Photos?
Unlike many iOS features, there’s no Setting for Live Photos. Instead, you have to open the Camera app itself. At the top of the frame there are a series of icons. The one in the center –a circle with concentric rings– is the toggle for Live Photos. If the icon is yellow, Live Photos is active. Tap the icon and it turns white to indicate Live Photos has been turned off.
The yellow icon means Live Photos is on, white means Live Photos is turned off (Credit: screen . [+] Capture by Brad Moon)
That’s it. With the preference located with in the Camera app itself, it’s much more convenient for toggling Live Photos on and off, as needed. Whichever setting you leave it on remains, even after you quit out of the camera app.
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The iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max use three rear cameras along with a LiDAR sensor for improved low-light photography. Here's how to take advantage of those lenses to take better photos.
Apple’s iPhone X and 11 line of phones are capable of taking high-quality photos, but the company has upped the ante with its latest iPhone 12 lineup. Most notably, the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max include three rear cameras for telephoto, wide, and ultrawide shots and a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensor to help you take pictures under a variety of challenging conditions, including low-light conditions, from up close, and from far away.
Before getting started, make sure you are running the most recent operating system in order to get the newest software features for your camera; iOS 14.3, for example, introduces the ProRAW feature that allows you to shoot in the RAW format. Go to Settings > General > Software Updates and allow the latest update to download and install if needed.
The ultrawide camera on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 13mm focal length, an ƒ/2.4 aperture, and a 120° field of view. The wide camera has a 26mm focal length and an ƒ/1.6 aperture. The telephoto camera on the iPhone 12 has a 52mm focal length and an ƒ/2.0 aperture, while the one on the 12 Pro Max has a 65mm focal length and an ƒ/2.2 aperture.
The iPhone 12 Pro has a 2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out, 4x optical zoom range, and digital zoom up to 10x while the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 2.5x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out, 5x optical zoom range, and digital zoom up to 12x.
The wide and telephoto lenses come with dual-optical image stabilization to compensate for shaking during picture taking. The iPhone 12 Pro Max takes this to the next level with sensor-shift optical image stabilization for even better image quality.
Open the Camera app, and you’ll find several options for taking a photo, with Photo mode open by default. In Photo mode, you can easily zoom out to 0.5x, zoom in to 2x or 2.5x depending on your phone, or stay at the normal range by tapping the appropriate button on the screen.
If you need to adjust the zoom more precisely, move your fingers apart or pinch them together to move in smaller increments, or press down on one of the three zoom ranges to open a dial that you can move. You can digitally zoom all the way to 10x on the iPhone 12 Pro and 12x on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
With the controls at the top, you can set the flash to automatic so it turns on when the scene is too dark for natural light, or you can turn it off to use only available light. If the flash is set to automatic, and the flash icon changes to yellow, that means the flash will turn on.
You can quickly capture video in Photo mode without having to switch to Video thanks to the QuickTake feature. Press and hold the shutter button to instantly start taking video. To free up your finger without stopping the video, slide the shutter button to the right, then release it.
The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max can also use the phone’s three cameras to capture outside the current frame. Position your phone in portrait or landscape mode. Zoom in past the 0.7x mark. The screen shows you the area outside of the shot you’re framing. This feature is designed to help you decide if you need to reframe your shot or switch to a different camera lens to grab the photo you want.
Added for the iPhone 11, Night mode allows you to take high-quality photos in low-light conditions. You don’t even have to do anything to activate Night mode; if the iPhone detects low light, a moon-shaped icon will appear on the screen indicating that Night mode is on.
To take pictures in low-light situations, the phone extends the shutter for several seconds longer than normal. This ensures that the lens brings in the right amount of light to get a better image. The number next to the icon indicates how long you need to hold the phone in place before the camera takes the picture.
Tap that icon, and the Night mode scale appears at the bottom, allowing you to manually set the exposure. Swipe the vertical line on the scale to adjust the exposure time, typically anywhere from one to three seconds. However, you can get exposure times as high as 30 seconds if your iPhone is on a tripod.
HDR and Live Photos
In the upper-right corner is the icon for HDR (High Dynamic Range). With this option enabled, your phone takes several photos at a time and blends them together to bring out the best features. Tap the HDR button to turn it on or off. Next to HDR is the Live Photos option, which records 1.5 seconds before and after you snap the photo to capture a quick video clip. Turn this feature on or off with a tap.
To see more controls, tap the up arrow at the top middle of the screen. In the panel at the bottom, you can control the flash, Night mode, and Live Photos. Tap the aspect ratio button to change the photo’s ratio to square, 4:3, or 16:9.
By tapping the +/- button, you can increase or decrease the camera’s exposure by swiping the dial. Tap the timer button to set a timer for three or 10 seconds before images are captured.
Tap the color icon to apply a filter to your photo, such as Vivid, Vivid Warm, Vivid Cool, Dramatic, Dramatic Warm, Dramatic Cool, Mono, Silvertone, and Noir. The HDR button allows you to toggle the feature on and off.
In Time-Lapse mode, you can shoot videos that speed up the action when you play them back. Capture storm clouds rolling in, your progress as you get your hair done, or a drive on a winding road, for example. You’ll likely want to keep the phone steady and supported, so a tripod may be best for longer captures.
You can zoom out to 0.5x, stay at 1x, or zoom in to 2x or 2.5x with the rear cameras by tapping the appropriate button. Tap the arrow at the top to display the Exposure scale at the bottom if you wish to adjust it. Tap the Rotation icon in the lower right to switch between the front and rear cameras. Tap the Shutter button to start the process and then tap it again to stop it.
Slow-Mo mode can be used on the front and back cameras to slow down the action. You can zoom out to 0.5x, stay at 1x, or zoom in to 2x or 2.5x with the rear cameras by tapping the corresponding button, or zoom in to 6x by moving your fingers apart on the screen.
Tap the number in the upper right to switch the frame rate for Slow-Mo between 120 and 240 frames per second. Tap the Rotation icon in the lower right to switch between the front and rear cameras. Tap the Shutter button to start and stop the video, or move the button to the right to lock it in place.
Optimizing your D3500’s menu doesn’t have to be trial-and-error.
By Spencer Cox 16 Comments
Last Updated On April 13, 2020
For many photographers, especially first-time DSLR users, the menu settings on the Nikon D3500 can be confusing and overwhelming. Even though the Nikon D3500 is easier to understand than some other advanced cameras, it still has dozens of menu options to work through. How do you even begin to set everything correctly?
Hopefully, this article will give you a good place to start. Below, I’ve explained every single important camera setting on the Nikon D3500, including my recommendations as to how to set this camera. Keep in mind that there is more than one good way to set the Nikon D3500. These are simply the settings that have worked great for me. Hopefully, you find them useful in clearing up any confusion you may have.
Playback Menu Settings
Some of the D3500’s playback settings are quite important when you are reviewing images:
- Playback folder: ALL (because it lets you review every photo you’ve taken on the D3500’s memory card, not just the recent ones from the same folder)
- Playback display options
- None (image only): Checked
- Highlights: Checked (enables the ability to have overexposed regions of a photo blink black and white)
- RGB histogram: Checked (see our article on histograms)
- Shooting data: Not checked
- Overview: Checked
The playback settings I skipped are one-time things that don’t matter for setting up the Nikon D3500, such as creating a slideshow.
Photo Shooting Menu
Next up is the Photo Shooting Menu, which includes many of the D3500’s most important settings. I’ve made sure to add notes to clarify why I pick some of the more complex settings below:
- Image quality: NEF (RAW) will give you better image quality than JPEG, but also result in larger files that don’t look as good straight out-of-camera (they’re too dull before post-processing). See our article on RAW vs JPEG if you aren’t sure, since a number of D3500 users may prefer JPEGs
- Image size: Grayed out when shooting RAW; pick “L” for best quality when shooting JPEG, or “M” or “S” for lower resolution and smaller file sizes.
- ISO sensitivity settings
- ISO sensitivity: 100 (this simply matches whatever ISO you’re using)
- Auto ISO sensitivity control: ON (though turn it OFF for tripod-based work where you always want the same ISO; see our article on Auto ISO)
- Maximum sensitivity: 3200
- Minimum shutter speed: Auto for regular handheld photography (but select a manual shutter speed that will freeze action if you are shooting fast motion)
- Frame size/frame rate: 1920×1080; 24p (though use 60p if you want slow motion)
- Movie quality: High quality
- Microphone: Auto (this only affects the in-camera microphone)
- Wind noise reduction: ON (also only affects the in-camera microphone)
- Manual movie settings: ON (enables the ability to adjust shutter speed and ISO manually for videos when in manual mode)
Setup Menu (Wrench Icon)
- Format memory card: Only click “YES” when you want all the photos on your memory card to be deleted. This is irreversible. It’s a good idea to format a memory card when you switch it to the D3500 for the first time, or you’ve finished offloading all your images onto the computer and you want a clear card.
- Date stamp: OFF
- Monitor brightness: Default of 0 – unless it is annoyingly bright indoors, or difficult to see outdoors.
- Info display format: For both the “Auto/Scene/Effects” and “P/S/A/M” options, I like the look of the second graphic (black text, white background), but that’s a personal preference.
- Auto info display: OFF (can pop up annoyingly when you half-press the shutter button, and you can turn it on/off anyway by just pressing the “INFO” button)
- Auto off timers: I prefer “Normal” on this, but it’s totally personal preference, and you can customize each option individually
- Self-timer delay: 5s (may change depending upon your needs for the photo, if you want a longer or shorter delay after pressing the shutter button)
- Number of shots: 1 (also may change, if you want the camera to take multiple images in a row when self timer shooting is enabled)
- Assign AE-L/AF-L button: AF-On (this is a highly recommended setting – it decouples autofocus from your shutter button. So, you’ll focus by pressing the AE-L/AF-L button instead, also known as back-button focusing. This may seem strange at first, but once you try it, I doubt you will go back!)
- Shutter-release button AE-L: OFF (locks your exposure when you half-press the shutter button; I rarely want that, personally, but some photographers may prefer it On)
- AF activation: OFF (highly recommended so that you fully switch over to back-button focusing, rather than having both the AE-L/AF-L button and the shutter button trigger autofocus.
- You will no longer be able to focus by half-pressing the shutter button once you implement the two “highly recommended” camera settings. Instead, you must focus by pressing the AE-L/AF-L button.
- Output resolution: AUTO
- Device control: ON
Hopefully, the settings above gave you a good idea of how to use the Nikon D3500 and set everything correctly. Again, the specific recommendations above are simply what work for me, and your own needs may be different – which is why so many settings exist in the first place.
Lastly, note that the settings you most recently adjusted will appear in the “Recent Settings” menu, which is good for adjusting things like Auto ISO settings more quickly than finding them within the larger menu.
I hope these recommendations will help you get the best results out of your Nikon D3500! If you have any questions about why I suggested some of these particular camera settings instead of others, please feel free to ask in the comments below.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a high-end DSLR photographer. These top 10 photo tips are timeless, tried and true—from framing to focus, from perspective to panning.
TIP 1: Get Closer
Get closer and fill the frame with your subject right off the bat.
Is what’s in the background truly adding to your photo? In some instances what’s behind or aside your main subject may help tell the story—a travel location, hanging with a gang of friends—but when it’s not, cut it out! Take a step closer or use the zoom lens. Hone in on the details, expressions and textures that make your subject special.
TIP 2: What Lurks in the Back(ground)
Distracting lines, too much clutter, reflections, objects coming out of your subject’s head—any of these can turn a great photo into one that’s not so great, or one that may require retouching. Before you press the shutter, scan all areas of the frame. Spy something you do not want? Reposition yourself, or the subject, until you get an even better frame-up.
When capturing a photo, always be aware of the background to make sure you don’t have objects that detract from your subject, such as a tree sticking out from your subject’s head.
When capturing a photo, always be aware of the background to make sure you don’t have objects that detract from your subject, such as a tree sticking out from your subject’s head.
Ever tried this—if you normally frame your subject by looking through the viewfinder, consider making a quick check by dialing up Live View. A glance at this larger display shows exactly what your photo will look like once the shutter is pressed. Sometimes just moving your eye away from the camera to look at the LCD view gives a fresh and more objective glance.
TIP 3: Focus, Lock, Then Recompose
All Nikon cameras have the ability to lock focus on a subject. To use: frame your image, focus on your subject, then press the shutter release half way down and hold it there. Now you may reframe your shot (reposition your camera) to create a more interesting composition while preserving focus on your subject (provided that subject has not moved).
TIP 4: A One and a Two and a Rule of Thirds
Do a little test: pick a stationary subject that’s set against a clean background. While looking through the viewfinder, mentally divide your framed scene into thirds, or take advantage of the camera’s vertical and horizontal compositional gridlines. Take your first photo by placing your subject dead center.
Next, slightly move the camera to position your subject where the lines intersect at the upper left hand corner, then take a photo. For a third capture, move the camera to place your subject in the lower right hand section of the frame where the lines meet.
Now look at each shot on the LCD. What emotion does each image evoke? As a general rule, dividing your scene into thirds, then placing a subject where the points intersect, will make a more pleasing image. A photo where the subject lands dead center of the frame is seldom interesting.
Select your subject, use the camera’s Focus Lock, then reframe by moving the camera to reposition your subject to one of the intersection points.
TIP 5: Steady Girl
Seems obvious, but it’s worth a mention—holding a camera properly helps ensure sharper images because you can minimize camera shake. If your camera has a lens that sits out from the body, use your left hand to support that lens from underneath. Then firmly grip the camera body with the right hand, placing the index finger on the shutter. For point and shoot cameras, make sure you have a firm grip. Use the wrist strap as an added security against dropping the camera.
Use Nikon’s VR (Vibration Reduction) image stabilization system for sharper images. Be sure your gear has this switched to ON. Get your grounding, brace your elbow at your sides (if possible), take a calming breath and click.
TIP 6: Look Into My Eyes
Unless you’re going after the David and Goliath vibe with your photos, consider taking things down a level. Small subjects? Sight things up to their eye-level.
To photograph children at their level, use your camera’s vari-angle LCD, or position yourself so you’re at their height.
Not only will your image have a more pleasing and realistic head-to-toe balance, but the grins will look wider and you gain more control over what lands as a background.
To photograph children at their level, use your camera’s Vari-angle LCD, or position yourself so you’re at their height. Another benefit to dropping to a new level—noticing that poor lighting or shadows are falling into the frame may be easier to detect and correct.
TIP 7: Peter Knows About Panning
Never, never tried panning? This is a simple effect that adds drama and movement to a still image. It works best when photographing motion that will pass in front of the camera, for example a horse race or a merry-go-round.
Set the camera to Shutter Priority (S) mode, then choose a slow shutter speed such as 1/15 second. Then, while holding down the shutter release, follow your subject by moving your camera in the same direction. Experiment with different shutter speeds to alter the effect. It may take a few tries to dial-in a favorable look.
If you shoot raw as we recommend, Canon’s sophisticated Picture Style options have little obvious benefit. Picture Styles enable you to adjust the saturation, sharpness and contrast of your JPEGs. These settings are easily altered using an image-editing program. However, they still have their uses….
16. Accurate preview
Picture Styles are useful as they provide you with a better preview of the pictures you have just taken, enabling you to visualise how the picture will look once you’ve processed the shot on your computer. The Landscape option is one of our favourite Styles, as it gives you punchy-looking pictures in most situations.
17. Get in the right mode
Note that you need to shoot in your camera’s P, Tv, Av, M or A-DEP mode in order to use Picture Styles.
18. Experiment with Picture Styles
Picture Styles give lots of choices. Use the Monochrome Picture Style to work out what subjects are best for black and white conversion (although shoot in raw and the images will still be recorded in colour).
Paradoxically, keeping the colours will give better-looking results when you convert to black and white using photo-editing software.
19. Customise your own Picture Styles
There are a range of Picture Styles, but you don’t always have to use the presets – you can customise them to suit. Saturation and contrast can be tweaked, while in Monochrome you can add traditional filter effects or toning.
You may need to pick the Style from the main Menu, rather than using the Style key, then press the Disp. or Info button to access the various sliders.
20. Program shift
The P (or Program) mode is more useful than most people give it credit for. It sets the aperture and shutter speed for you, setting the values depending on the light level and your lens.
However, P isn’t about just pointing and clicking – you can change the shutter speed or aperture as you use it (just rotate the thumbwheel behind the shutter button). This is handy when you want to fine-tune what your EOS is doing automatically.
- Learn more:The A to Z of Photography: Program AE
21. Av appeal
Av is a great all-round mode for taking creative photos. You set the aperture using the Main Dial and the camera sets the shutter speed, taking into account the Metering mode and Exposure Compensation you have set.
22. Av for speed
Av mode is just as useful for setting a specific shutter speed as it is for dictating the aperture. It’s simple: if you want a top shutter speed, you simply turn the Main Dial until you see the number you want appear in the viewfinder (achieved by you widening the aperture). It’s a much more flexible mode to use than the similar Tv option – where you set the shutter speed, and the camera sets the aperture.
23. Easy ways to adjust exposure
There are lots of exposure modes and metering options on your EOS, but the simple way to check exposure is to take a picture and then look at the result on the LCD, whatever settings you have used.
You can then use Exposure Compensation to make the next picture you take lighter or darker to suit. With popular EOS models you press the Av+/- button then rotate the Main Dial behind the shutter. A negative setting makes the picture darker, a positive one makes it lighter.
24. How much Exposure Compensation?
If the subject is predominantly black, the camera will tend to overexpose the shot, so use a negative setting. With a predominantly white or light scene, set Exposure Compensation to +1 or +2 for a good balance.
- Learn more:The A to Z of Photography: Exposure Compensation
25. Partial Metering
Subjects photographed against a bright background or dark backdrop will need Exposure Compensation to avoid appearing as shadowy silhouettes. You could also switch the Metering mode to one that just measures the brightness from the centre of the screen. We find that Partial metering works well in most situations.
26. Other metering modes
Two other Metering modes to try with your camera are Evaluative and Centre-weighted. Evaluative is pretty intelligent, but not infallible, while Centre-weighted can be easier to predict and adjust for.
27. Focus Lock
One of the handiest DSLR features, Focus Lock gets the autofocus (AF) to focus on a specific part of a scene. Access it by using the One-Shot AF mode, then gently press on the shutter release for the AF system to spring to life – it will then lock when it has homed-in on its target. Keep your finger half-pressed down and recompose your shot, then press the button fully.
Phil Hall is an experienced writer and editor having worked on some of the largest photography magazines in the UK, and now edit the photography channel of TechRadar, the UK’s biggest tech website and one of the largest in the world. He has also worked on numerous commercial projects, including working with manufacturers like Nikon and Fujifilm on bespoke printed and online camera guides, as well as writing technique blogs and copy for the John Lewis Technology guide.
Photographing sports and action is all about speed. Discover how to set up your camera to capture sharp, detailed photos full of excitement and drama.
Action and sports photography is challenging but very exciting. The key to getting good pictures is to set your camera up properly before the event begins, so that when things kick off you can forget about your settings and focus on the action.
The following camera settings are an excellent place to start. They work well in all situations and will help you get sharp, detailed photos with plenty of atmosphere and interest.
Use a Fast Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is the single most important thing to get right in action photography. If yours isn't set fast enough then you'll be left with blurry, disappointing shots that no amount of Photoshop post-processing will be able to salvage.
A fast shutter speed is essential to freeze motion. Image by johnthescone.
Start by putting your camera into Shutter Priority mode and choosing a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second. This is a good starting point and should be fast enough for most sports and action.
If possible, take a few test shots before the main event starts so that you can check how sharp they are. If that's not possible, periodically check your photos as you go. If you spot any blurring, switch to an even faster shutter speed. You may need to go as high as 1/1000 of a second for really fast sports like motor racing.
Open Your Aperture
To help you reach the high shutter speeds required, you'll need to open your aperture up nice and wide. If you have a very fast lens (such as the f/2.8 and f/4 lenses that professional sports photographers invest in), then you may be able to get away with coming down from the maximum aperture by a stop or so.
Use a wide aperture to capture enough light and blur the background. Image by Huskies Football.
However, if you're using a cheaper lens with a maximum aperture of f/5.6 or smaller, you'll need to open your lens up as wide as it will go to let in as much light as possible. This is particularly true when shooting indoors, as the lighting can be poor.
If you're using a zoom lens it's tempting to crop in as close as possible on your subject, but your lens's aperture is narrowest at this end of the zoom range. It's better to set your lens around the middle of its range as a good compromise between filling the frame and letting in enough light.
An added benefit of using a wide aperture is the shallow depth of field it produces. This blurs any background distractions and focuses your attention firmly on the players, producing an image with more impact and drama.
Increase Your ISO
Because you're using such a fast shutter speed, your camera might struggle to properly expose the scene even with the aperture fully open. If this is the case then the only thing you can do is increase your ISO speed.
You should use the lowest ISO setting you can get away with, but there will be situations where you'll have to push it higher than you'd like. This is frustrating but remember – it's better to have a noisy photo than a blurry one.
Use Burst Mode
By definition, action and sports move quickly, and it can be difficult to keep up. Use your camera's continuous shooting mode (often called burst mode) to take 4 or 6 shots at a time, giving you a much better chance of capturing a good image.
Use burst mode to capture the definitive moment. Image by Angel.
Bear in mind that shooting in burst mode will fill your memory card much faster than taking individual shots, so make sure yours has plenty of capacity, or take a spare along. If you're running out of space, use half time or time-outs to delete some of your bad shots.
Shoot in JPEG
You might be surprised to read this piece of advice – after all, for most types of photography it's generally accepted than shooting in RAW will give you better quality images, and allow you to do more tweaking in your editing software.
However, when photographing sports and action events, speed is more important than anything else. Using JPEG mode lets you to capture more pictures at a time in burst mode, and fit more images onto your memory card.
Admittedly the image quality won't be quite as good as if you'd shot using RAW, but this is more than compensated for by the increased chances of getting that killer shot.
Perfect Your White Balance
When shooting outdoors, your camera's automatic white balance will usually do a pretty good job of adjusting to the light. However, many action sports take place indoors under artificial lighting, and this can confuse your camera, producing shots with a noticeable greenish-yellow tint.
When shooting indoors, adjust your white balance to avoid colour casts. Image by AJ Guel.
Rather than leaving things up to your camera, set your white balance to Fluorescent or Tungsten/Incandescent – take a few test shots before the event begins to check which one looks best. If you've got time, you could even set up a custom white balance to make sure your colours come out spot on.
Turn Your Flash Off
For most sports, you won't be able to get very close to the action – that's why the professional photographers need such long lenses. Being so far from your subject means that your flash will be practically useless, and will do nothing but drain your battery. Turn it off before you start shooting.
There are some rare circumstances where you can get close enough to the action for your flash to be of some use. However, the bright bursts can distract players so it's often better to leave your flash off to be on the safe side.
Tweak Your Focusing
Focusing on fast-moving subjects can be very tricky, so it's important to set your camera up to be as responsive and accurate as possible.
Adjust your focusing to maintain perfect clarity even on fast-moving subjects. Image by Timo Kuusela.
Start by switching from multi-point to single-point focusing, and use the focus point at the centre of the frame. Now, when you compose a shot, your camera will focus on whatever's in the centre rather than trying to keep everything acceptably sharp. This is faster and also lets you tell your camera exactly what you want to focus on, rather than letting it guess.
By default, your camera will probably use "one shot" focusing, where you half-press the shutter button to lock the focus. The problem with this is that your subject can move before you have chance to take the photo. Instead, use Continuous Focusing mode (called "AI Servo" on Canon cameras) – this continually refocuses to keep the subject sharply focused at all times.
Action photography can be a tricky subject, but these camera settings will increase your chances of snapping some fantastic shots. The principles behind them are easy to apply to any sport, allowing you to quickly adapt and get back to concentrating on taking great photos.
The new year brings opportunity to invest in new gear and turn your interest in photography into a valuable skill. If you’ve upgraded from your old point-and-shoot camera or smartphone to the Canon EOS Rebel T6 or EOS Rebel T7 lens kit, this quick guide will show you how easy it is to get started. With a few basic tips, you’ll be ready to capture any photo-worthy moment.
1. Setting up your camera
In the excitement of trying out your new Rebel T6 or Rebel T7 lens kit, you want to start taking photos as soon as possible. Before you start snapping away, however, take a few moments to set up your camera.
- Insert a fully charged battery and new memory card (SD, SDHC or SDXC) into the card slot/battery compartment on the bottom of your camera.
- Attach your EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II lens by removing the lens caps and body cap, and aligning the white squares on the lens and camera until it drops into place. Then twist the lens until it clicks to lock it into the camera. Set the lens focus mode switch to AF (autofocus).
- Set the camera switch to ON.
- Press the MENU button to display your menu screen. Using the cross keys (▲ISO, ▼ WB, ◀ Drive/Self-timer, ▶ AF) and the SET button, navigate through the menu options to set the date/time and language preference. You can also set the LCD monitor brightness, activate the grid display, and disable the camera beep and automatic flash.
Turn the camera Mode dial to A+ (Scene Intelligent Auto). Press the shutter button halfway to activate autofocus, and then press the shutter button completely to take your first photo.
2. Taking Photos
If you’re a first-time DSLR user, the Mode dial will help you take the best photos while you’re learning how to use your camera. In the A+ and CA (Creative Auto) modes, you can simply frame your subject and let the camera do the rest. Choose one of the Special Scene modes — like Portrait, Landscape, Sports, or Night Portrait — to automatically apply optimized settings based on specific conditions. When you’re ready for more control over the full range of camera features, turn the Mode dial to one of the three Creative Zone settings: Program (P), Aperture-priority (Av), or Shutter-priority (Tv).
3. Using the viewfinder/LCD Live View screen
You have two options for composing photos on your DSLR camera: looking through the optical viewfinder and checking the LCD monitor’s Live View. The viewfinder display in both modes can show you a grid overlay and indicators about AF points, photo settings, and battery/memory card usage.
Press the camera icon button to switch between the optical viewfinder and Live View mode.
4. Recording videos
Use your camera’s Movie Shooting mode and built-in microphone to record high-quality videos. Set the Mode dial to Movie Shooting and press the camera icon button to record. Exposure settings are automatic unless you go through the Movie Shooting menu, where you can configure settings for movie recording file size, wind filter and exposure.
5. Sharing photos and videos
Instead of relying on your phone’s camera to capture special moments, use its Wi-Fi®/Bluetooth connection. Download Canon’s Camera Connect app to use your smartphone as a remote Live View monitor and shutter release. Using Camera Connect, you’ll also be able to share your EOS Rebel’s photos and videos instantly with family and friends on social media sites.
6. Changing a lens
Working with DSLR lenses may be a new experience after years of taking photos with a point-and-shoot camera or smartphone. The EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II lens, included in the Rebel T6 double zoom lens kit, is a general purpose lens that lets beginners capture a variety of subjects, from people to landscapes. Its compact size is ideal for travel and everyday use.
The EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III telephoto zoom lens, also included in the Rebel T7 double zoom lens kit, is better suited for taking photos from long distances, such as wildlife and sports photography.
With your new Rebel T6 or T7 camera, you’ll keep your resolution to become a better photographer and capture all the memorable moments throughout the year.
One of the biggest improvements with the Galaxy S9 and S9+ is the redesigned camera, with the latter scoring an impressive 99 overall on DxOMark. But with an abundance of features and enhancements, tweaking the camera’s settings for optimal performance can be a little confusing.
Though the settings menu for your S9’s camera may seem a little intimidating at first, its bark is actually worse than its bite. From the dual aperture modes to the new Super Slow-Mo camera, there’s a setting for everything, so we’ll go over the optimal configuration below. To adjust these options, just open your camera app and tap the gear icon in the bottom-left corner.
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- Picture Size: Leave this on 4:3 (12 MP) to get the highest resolution possible for photos.
- Video Size: Set this to UHD (60 fps) for maximum quality and frame rate. Keep the “High efficiency video” toggle turned off for better compatibility.
- Timer: Leave this set to Off. You can always turn it on when you need to be in a group shots.
- HDR (Rich Tone): Leave this set to Auto for best results.
- Tracking AF: Leave this set to Off. Turn on only if you’re taking action shots of a person or subject.
- Super Slow-Mo: Leave on Multi-take to maximize your chances of capturing your target at the right time.
- Picture Size: Leave this on 4:3 (8.0 MP) to get the highest resolution selfies.
- Video Size: Set to QHD 2560 x 1440 for crisper, more detailed videos. Keep the “High efficiency video” toggle turned off for better compatibility.
- Timer: Leave this set to Off. You can always turn it on when you need to be in a group shots.
- HDR (Rich Tone): Leave this set to Auto for best results.
- Save Pictures as Previewed: Leave this set to Off so that your selfies accurately depict your face. Otherwise, turn on to make pictures match what you see in the camera viewfinder, but this flips images around.
- Shooting Methods: Set all three toggles to On to make it easier to take selfies by either tapping the screen anywhere, showing your palm, or touching the blood pressure sensor on the back of your phone. Note that the “Tap Screen” toggle disables manual refocusing.
- Face Shape Correction: Set to Off for more natural selfies.
- Edit Camera Modes: This setting lets you add or remove the modes that are available with either camera. So if you never use Hyperlapse, for instance, you can toggle it off here.
- Motion Photos: Leave set to Off to save space. Otherwise, enable the feature to get Live Photos-like images that come embedded with a 2-second clip of video.
- Video Stabilization: Leave set to On to keep your videos nice and smooth.
- Grid Lines: Set to “3 x 3” to help yourself practice with the rule of thirds.
- Location Tags: Turn this On if you want to save where you took a photo or video, or leave it off if you you’d rather keep your data private.
- Review Pictures: Leave set to Off. Enabling the feture will instantly take you to the Gallery app after taking a photo, so leaving it turned off saves the extra step of going back to the Camera app each time you take a picture.
- Quick Launch: Leave set to On. This feature is a great way to open your Camera app from the lock screen by quickly pressing the power button twice.
- Voice Control: Lets you instantly take a photo or video by issuing voice commands. Set according to your preferences, but note that it might be less effective in noisy environments.
- Floating Camera Button: Lets you add an extra camera button on the screen for easier access. This setting is especially handy if you have small hands.
- Hold Camera Button to: Set it to Take Burst Shot so that holding down the shutter button captures a series of images rapidly.
- Press Volume Keys to: Set to Zoom to use your volume rocker to zoom in and out. Alternatively, set to Take pictures to use the volume rocker as a shutter button.
- Reset Settings: Leave this setting alone unless you want to restore the stock configuration.
And there you have it! With these settings enabled, you can take full advantage of what your S9’s camera has to offer. If you have any further questions or recommendations, be sure to let us know by posting in the comment section below.
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