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Mastering Your Digital Camera

Lesson 2 of 51

Setting Up Your Camera

Chris Weston

Mastering Your Digital Camera

Chris Weston

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Lesson Info

2. Setting Up Your Camera
Find what you really need to know about inside your camera's extensive menu. Find the general setting and playback options in your camera and learn what features to turn on and why.


Lesson Info

Setting Up Your Camera

So you've got your new camera, you've taken it out of the box, and now you need to set it up. You pick up the manual. That's where the excitement dissipates as you're confronted with hundreds of pages of complexity and confusion. So let's get rid of that and let me take you through the bits. You really need to know. There are three common menu headings set up shooting and playback. Now the exact terms used and layouts will depend on both of make of your camera on whether it's a DSLR or mirror system. So the manual isn't completely redundant, so keep it handy. Thanks. Jump. In this lesson, I'm going to cover the general set up and playback options. These are the settings I apply to all my cameras, irrespective of the subject I'm photographing. The important shooting menu options all relate to the main camera functions, exposure focus, etcetera, and I teach and expand on these in the relevant modules. Right? Let's get started. One of the great benefits of digital photography is that your...

camera can tell you lots of information about the images you take, and this could be a really big help in making sure you get the perfect picture every time, especially when it comes to things like exposure, focus and sharpness and color. The menu option for revealing this information is generally referred to as display options or display settings. The information I most want to see off the hissed a gram and highlights alerts. Now the benefits of these I discuss in lessons eight and nine of module five of this course. Suffice to say, both of them will be a really big help with perfecting exposure. I also turn on the option to overlay the focus point on the image playback. This helps me see exactly what area of the frame camera focused on when the picture was taken. Next, I turn on the electronic composition grid, which helps with how I framed objects in the scene, especially when applying very simple compositional aids such of the rule of thirds. And I also turned on the Elektronik virtual horizon, which helps to make sure the camera is straight and level at least with those times I wanted to pay. As well as customizing the information feedback, you can customize the camera itself by assigning different functions to many of the dials and buttons. Now, this will always be personal preference and there's no right or wrong here. Instead, let me tell you what I do just to give you an idea of the concept, I change the back command dial to set lens aperture on the front command al to set I s O I said the A f lock button to exposure lock only and change the function of the on button toe a f lock. I have one button set to focus area mode and another set to drive mode so I can change either of these settings very quickly and importantly, without taking my eye from the viewfinder. Now, as I said, how you assigned and reassigned buttons is really determined by the type of photography you do on your personal style. And it's something that will grow with you as your photography develops. At this stage, it's simply good to know that you could do it on your manual. Be useful when the time comes. So what else sound? I turned all the sound options to the minimum volume or off. Now, this is because for me a noisy camera may disturb my subjects. Andi just as a constant beeps emanating from my car dashboard annoy the bejesus out of me. I don't want my camera doing the same thing. Next, if your camera has dual card slots, you need to tell it how to prioritize them. My preference is for overflow, which means when the first card fills, the camera automatically switches to the second card. Alternatively, you can assign slot to to be a backup card, so every time you take a picture, the camera stores it on both cards simultaneously. This is beneficial if you're worried about card failure, but it does necessitate using two cards of the same capacity. Finally, if you're shooting in raw plus J peg mode and more about that in the next lesson, you can store the raw files on one card on the J Peg files on another, which makes organizing them later on just that little bit easier. Next, the lights add a copyright signature to every image I take, and even if you're not a professional, had suggested doing this, especially if you post pictures on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, because it helps to prove your ownership of the image something else you will find here is the format function. Now I format all my memory cards before I use them, because it's a more complete way of clearing all the data from the card, and it reduces the potential risk of future files becoming corrupted. However, be aware that formatting a card deletes everything on that card. If their stuff on the card you want to keep, then use the delete button instead to get rid of unwanted image files. Finally, I set sensor cleaning to activate only when I turn the camera off. Now, this is because sensor cleaning takes time, and I want to be ready to shoot in an instant again. This is because I'm photograph wildlife, and I don't want anything to delay my ability to shoot from the hip. But if rapid response isn't a concern, then at the beginning of the end, well doesn't really matter too much. That covers the most important set up and playback menu options. Everything else well, like my father flying about clouds, rub your manual look up. Whatever is pressing you do whatever it tells you to do. No

Class Description


  • Set up your camera with confidence
  • Better understand shutter speed, aperture, and ISO
  • Capture perfect exposures in camera
  • Get sharp, focused images quickly
  • Understand white balance and the difference between RAW and JPEG
  • Quickly and confidently capture images “in the moment”
  • Become a better photographer by building an understanding of basic photography techniques


CreativeLive is partnering with Chris Weston to offer you his Complete Photography Master Course.

Turn terms like aperture, shutter speed and ISO from a bunch of obscure photography jargon to a toolset that you can easily manipulate to capture great photos. Led by landscape photographer Chris Weston, this class covers everything beginners need to know to master photography basics from exposure to focus.

Turn that camera dial off of auto and learn how to properly expose a photograph. With a few basic camera settings, get the most image quality and the best colors from your mirrorless or DSLR camera. Then, master focus modes and techniques for sharp photographs.

Learn the basics of photography in a series of short, memorable lessons. Chris' straight-forward teaching style is great for newbies that find the task of learning photography daunting, while the to-the-point lessons make it possible to spend just a few minutes a day mastering your camera with easy photography tips and techniques.


  • Beginner photographers
  • First time DSLR or mirrorless camera users
  • Any photographer that wants to get off automatic mode to shoot better photos


Named one of the world's most influential wildlife photographers, Chris Weston takes a contemporary approach to photography. After launching his career in 2001, the Fujifilm ambassador's images have graced the pages of top publications like BBC, The Times, Outdoor Photography, Practical Photography, and Digital Photography. As a photography educator, Chris has written over 20 photography books, along with leading photo tours and online workshops.


mark jacobson

What a marvelous course! What a marvelous teacher! When I went to college, my father would always ask me about my professors, more than the courses themselves. He was passionate about learning and although too busy with earning an income to go beyond an undergrad degree, continued to read 50 books a year. I still remember how he'd get almost visibly excited when I'd tell him about some special professor who taught with such enthusiasm and, more than just passion, evident delight and joy in the subject. 'Ah they're the best, son. How wonderful you have such a teacher." Well, he passed away decades ago but if he were still around I'd get a kick out of telling him about Chris Weston, the 'Prof' of this course. He's one of the very special ones: a teacher who's loved and lived his vocation--his avocation--since he was a boy--and still is as excited about it now as he was then. The result: a course that seems to be more a labor of love--of pouring far more energy and thought into the details then one typically finds in these courses--than anything else. Bravo Chris! I'm already on to your next one.


Chris is an amazing instructor who dissects theory giving amazing analogies that bring concepts to life. I have rarely been able to sit through most video course for more than a half-hour but watched this one from beginning to end. A good refresher course if you've been away from the camera for awhile or there are some concepts that still illude you. I highly recommend this course and look forward to watching his others. Thank you for the clarity and great explanations.

Sky Bergman

This was an amazing class. I have looked at a number of basic photography classes. This one was by far the best I have seen. Chris is an exceptional teacher. He breaks things down into digestible information and then inspires you to be creative. Thank you!