Top Deck: Mode Dial
Camera controls. In this section, we are gonna be diving into all the buttons and dials on the outside of the camera, and I'll be giving you some good examples of what to do and how to set them and so forth. So let's dive in and see what we got here. So to start with, basic controls. These are controls that we're gonna be using in many different places. First off, when you turn the camera on and off, the camera has an image sensor that automatically cleans the dust off, and so you should have very few problems with dust. Now, it is still possible that you could have something a little sticky stuck to that sensor, I will talk about cleaning later on in the class in the menu section. But that sensor will be doing that cleaning every time you turn the camera on and off. The shutter release is how you take photos, but it's also how you wake the camera up from it sleeping. The main command dial on this camera is kind of on the back right shoulder of it, and it doesn't have any labels, doesn...
't have any icons on it, and so it's something that you're gonna be using for a wide variety of settings on this camera, we'll be using it for just about everything. And so you can grab it right there in the back of the camera. Now, on the back of the camera we have something called the multi selector. And there is an OK button in the middle, which is essentially our enter button when we get into the menu and we wanna highlight something we want the camera to do, we're gonna hit OK to confirm that that's what we want it to do. The multi selector is a way to navigate up, down, left, and right. And I'll warn you, I sometimes forget the name multi selector because every camera out there has a different name for it. Sometimes I call it the mouse or the up-down, or the left-right keys. And so we're gonna be using that for moving our focusing point around, we're gonna be using it for navigating in up and down the menu, and then diving into certain topics and making selections and hitting OK, and so we'll be using that for many, many different things in the camera. We're gonna start on the top of the camera, where many of the most important controls are. The shutter release button, as we mentioned, obviously for taking photos. But when you press halfway down, there's a number of things that go on. First off, it wakes the camera up if it has been sleeping. It starts the metering system, and it starts the auto focus system. And if you were somewhere else in the camera, if you were playing back images, if you were in the menu system, anywhere, and you press halfway down on the shutter release, the camera will return to the shooting mode. And so if you ever get lost in the camera, just press halfway down on the shutter release and that's gonna kick you right back to the shooting mode of the camera. And of course, when you press all the way down, that's when you take photos, and we'll be talking lots about that in this class. Now, one of the things that some of the more advanced photographers out there enjoy is something called back-button auto focus. And that is where they want to remove the focusing option when you press halfway down on the shutter release. They want to be able to focus separately with the back button and then shoot pictures. And so the whole shooting and auto focus operation are separated. And there's some good advantages to doing that. And if you wanna do that, you can go in to the Custom menu into the AE-L/AF-L button feature and you can reassign that function to that button on the back of the camera so that it controls the auto focus on the camera. And so this shortcut is gonna be like many I'm gonna be giving you throughout the class. I know that a lot of you are ready to go with your cameras in hands, and you wanna make these changes right away, and this is something that we're gonna get to in the menu system. So if you just kinda wanna wait, you don't wanna deal with this right now, we're gonna come back to this and we're gonna talk about it when we get through into the menu system, and so if you do wanna jump in and change that to auto focus you follow that shortcut going into the Custom menu, into groups F, which is dealing with the controls and then you can turn the shutter AF off in that case. The mode dial on the top of the camera is arguably one of the most important controls on the camera, it controls how shutter speeds, apertures, and in many other cases, lots and lots of other features are set on the camera. So let's take an in-depth look at the mode dial. So first off we have a number of Auto modes, and we have a number of manual modes, and you'll see there's different displays, and the way the menu presents information is gonna be slightly different depending on whether you're in one of the more automatic modes, or one of the more manual modes on this. We're gonna start off easy and get a little bit more complex. And so the simplest mode on this camera is the full Auto, the little green camera mode. And so in this mode, the camera is figuring out exposure, which means it's figuring out shutter speeds, apertures, it's automatically turning on the focusing system and setting up all the parameters for that. The flash is gonna pop up, which I do find somewhat irritating, 'cause flash is really only effective on subjects that are pretty close by, and the camera doesn't understand that. All that it knows is it's dark, and it's gonna try to help out with the flash. And so there'll be a next setting we talk about, we'll address this, which is kinda nice. And then there's a lot of buttons and dials on the camera that normally do something, are now locked. And so there's what I would call child safety locks on the camera. And it's my hope, it's my sincere hope, that if you do watch this entire class, that you will never need this green Auto mode again. This is gonna be perfect for when you wanna hand the camera off to somebody else in your family or a friend and you want them to shoot photos, but you don't have time to explain how to work your camera. This just puts the camera into point-and-shoot, super super simple shooting mode. And so the reason I don't like it is because I know what this camera is capable of, and there is nothing that the camera is doing in the Auto mode that you can't do yourself. And probably do better with a little bit of photographic knowledge. So the next step addresses the complaint I had about the first one. Which was the flash pops up all the time. And so this is the same as the full-Auto mode, it's just the flash is not going to fire. Now, what it tends to do is it tries to give you a little bit faster shutter speeds, and it will do so by raising the ISO of the sensor a little bit, and so it's gonna try to accommodate for not using a flash, and so if you were in a museum, and you didn't want the flash to fire, you could put it in the flash-off mode and the flash is just simply not gonna pop up at that time. When you do have it in the full Auto mode and the flash pops up, and you push it back down, it's just gonna pop back up again. And so if you're tired of that flash popping up, that's what this no-flash mode is here. Let's look at the Scene mode next, the Scene mode is where the camera will now have additional information about what are you really trying to shoot here, is this action, or is this a landscape-type shot. And so let me do a little display with my camera here, let me first off put it into the Scene mode because you wanna be in the Scene mode so that you can select your different scenes. So you see I have my camera in the Scene mode here. And so to change the Scene mode on this, it's pretty simple, we're just gonna go up here to the dial. Actually, I'm gonna press down halfway on the shutter release to kinda wake the camera up, and then I'm gonna turn through the dial system here and these are pretty obvious scenarios that you might want to use. And what the camera is doing in each of these is it's adjusting the way the camera reads the light, it's changing the shutter speeds, apertures, ISO, the sensitivity of the sensor. It might be changing the focusing, and it could be diving in and changing a number of other features in the camera. Now, as I said before, there is nothing the camera is doing that you can't do yourself if you know what you're doing. And so if you don't know what you're doing, this is a really simple way of getting the camera tweaked a little bit towards one scenario. Now, the problem that I have with it is that for something like sports photography, it gives you a little bit faster shutter speeds, but sometimes they're not as fast as you might need if you're shooting some really fast-speed action on that. And so it's a good, fairly simple mode that's kind of a break-in mode for somebody that's slowly getting into photography. But I think one of the joys of using a camera like this is being able to get in there and manually adjust your shutter speeds and apertures, and get things set exactly the way you want them. But this is a quick and easy mode for doing that. And if I can go back on the back of the camera to show you one other thing about this, and we'll talk more about this as we go through the class, is you will see on-screen controls, and we do have touch screen here. And so we can go through this, and it's a somewhat limited touch screen and so in this case here, we can just simply go back and forth. I don't know, can we select? We can't select them directly up there. But we can use those arrows, and so if you do see arrows on the back of the camera, you will be able to use that if you like touch screens. Alright, so in the Scene modes, the camera is optimized for any specific scene that you designate. The flash may or may not fire, depending on if it's appropriate. For instance, on the Action mode, it's not going to fire, because usually people with an action are too far away. But in the portrait, it is probably gonna fire in that case. You can shoot in JPEG or RAW, we'll be talking more about that later on in the class. And as I say, there's nothing you can't set yourself here. The next mode I wanna talk about is the Effects mode, Special Effects mode. And so up in the top right of your screen you're gonna see a warning that you may see from time to time in this class, and that is the camera is recording a JPEG image. So for all of you shooters who like to use the RAW image, the camera is only gonna record a JPEG image, and you can see on the left side of the screen all the different options. And these are filters, and so anyone who likes Instagram or something like that you're gonna get a lot of those looks. So I did a quick little test shoot of what these things look like, and this is kinda fun. This is the play-around mode of the camera. And so this is probably not for your serious photography, at least for most people, it's where you wanna get an image that looks a little something different and you don't wanna take the time and hassle of downloading it to the computer and Photoshopping it and tweaking it in that way. You wanna do it right in-camera, have it ready, be able to have it visible and ready to go right there. And so I encourage you to get in here and play around and see what it looks like. It's not the most important feature for taking high-quality photos but it can be a little bit of fun when you are looking for an image that just looks a little bit different. And so that's one of those fun Auto modes, give it a try. Okay, it's time to get into a little bit the more serious modes, and the first one is the Program mode. Now, this is actually quite similar to the full Auto mode, minus the child safety locks, minus the flash popping up all the time. And so as a moderately serious photographer, the P mode would be a good simple mode for anyone to use because in this case, the camera's gonna give you the correct shutter speeds and apertures, and so it's gonna take care of that. And everything else is up to you, if you wanna change the metering system, or the focusing system, or any of the items in the menu system, you are perfectly welcome to go and do that. So in the Program mode it's setting shutter speeds and apertures. Now, where you're gonna see that is in the viewfinder. And so as you look in the viewfinder, at the bottom row, you're gonna see a line of information. On the left, you've got your shutter speed listed first, 'cause that's oftentimes the most important number to know about. Then you're gonna have your F number, which is your F-stop, or your aperture number. And then way over on the far right, you'll see another number, and that's usually going to be the images left that you have on that memory card. And so we'll talk more about what you see in the viewfinder as we move through the class. But those are the numbers that you're gonna see controlling the program. Now, the program is kind of nice for general picture-taking but when you get kind of specific, like you wanna shoot a portrait with shallow depth of field, or there's somebody moving very quickly and you need a faster shutter speed, there is a very interesting option. And this is called Flexible Program. By turning the back dial of the camera, you can adjust the shutter speeds and apertures for that given lighting scenario. Now, it's something that's gonna constantly adjust as the light changes. So let me do a little demo here with my camera, and let's get my camera into the program mode. And so in the program mode, in here right now in the studios here, let's see I got my camera set at ISO 800, we'll get into ISO a little bit later, but for those of you who know about it, that's where I'm at right now. And the camera is setting a shutter speed, as you can see as I move the camera around, it changes, because the light and what's coming into the frame is constantly changing. And so I'm at F5.6, and it's giving me a shutter speed that varies a little bit around here. And so if I want, what I can do, press halfway down on the shutter release to activate that. As you saw, folks, that does go to sleep somewhat quickly, and you can change that if you want in the menu system, so we'll get into that a little bit later on as well. But for right now, those numbers, if you said, hey, I don't like those numbers, I want more depth of field, you can turn the dial so that I'm getting more depth of field. Now, it's not specifically locked on F16, that may change depending on how bright or how dark the light gets. But we can kind of adjust to more depth of field, or we can go to faster shutter speeds depending on what's important. But there is a little quirk here, and I cannot explain why it is the way it is, but I can explain what it is. And so what happens is you go back and forth and you'll notice over here on the left side the star by the P means that you have adjusted it from the Program mode, so straight letter P there, that means that's what the camera recommends as your basic generic setting. Anything with the star is something where you get to tweak it. But here's, let's go to lots of depth of field, and each click moves it one number. And if I get to the end of the line, which is right here, and I click over a bunch of times, and I come back. Well that's actually came back pretty good. Let's go back to the other end. So I come back several clicks, nothing's happening, there's nothing happening right now and this frustrates me when I use a Nikon camera. And that's because I came too far to the right and so I need to go back to the left. And so if you're turning this in the Program mode and nothing is happening, there's nothing wrong, it's just a little quirk of the system and I don't know why it does this. You just need to keep turning a lot more in that one, in another direction. And so it doesn't do it so much on the stop down side, but it definitely does it on the wide open side, it just doesn't seem to be doing anything and it should be doing the adjust, but I just go back to the left and I fix it. So just be aware of that, it's a quirk I found and I would love to get to Nikon to get them to fix that, 'cause I don't think it's right, I don't know why it does that. So that is the Program mode. And as I mentioned, in the viewfinder you'll notice that little star, or the asterisk by the P letter that lets you know that you've made some sort of adjustment to the Program mode. Next up is the Shutter Priority mode, this is where you get to control the shutter speed. So if you have a specific event, let's say an eagle coming into the river here, and you want a fast shutter speed, like 1/1000 of a second, that would be a good time for using Shutter Priority. If you wanna use a slower shutter speed, 'cause something's moving and you wanna blur the movement of that subject, you could do a one second exposure or any other number that you wanted, or was appropriate for that situation. And so the shutter speed will be changed by of course adjusting that main dial on the camera. So let's do a little display here, because there's a little quirk on this one that you need to know about as well. And so with the shutter speed dial, if I wanna take a picture here, at let's just say an eighth of a second. And I'm generally pointed over towards our little prop stand. And so there we go, and so we get a decent result on that. And so we can select shutter speeds within a certain range, and our aperture, the camera's controlling the aperture, we're controlling the shutter speed on the left. But if we set a shutter speed that is so fast that our aperture is not fast enough, it's gonna blink at us. And when you look in the viewfinder, you're gonna see something blinking at you, and let me take a look through this camera. And the aperture is blinking at me, as well as the question mark on the far right hand side which is a very subtle but important warning that you don't have an appropriate aperture for this type of picture. So back on this camera, if I set a shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second in here we're in a studio that's moderately lit. This is blinking 5.6, my exposure indicates that I am way underexposed, I'm gonna go ahead and take a photo. And that photo, as you can see, is pretty much perfectly black. And so the mistake I made is I set a shutter speed that was faster than my camera can handle. So I'm gonna bring this back down to something where the camera is not blinking, which is right here at 25th of a second. If I shoot a photo, then I'm gonna get a decent exposure in there. So be very wary of anything that blinks, that is your automatic warning, something is going wrong. And so Shutter Priority, it's good for specific shutter speeds, but make sure that you have an aperture that is appropriate for the speed that you have chosen. Next up is Aperture Priority mode. And I don't like to play favorites, but I will tell you this is one of my favorite modes here. It's because it's very simple, and it's a very safe mode to use. And so I like using Aperture Priority because I can set an aperture of F22, and I can get great depth of field for a landscape shot, or an image where I want everything in focus. If I have a wide open aperture available on my lens, like 1.4, I'll set it to the whitest setting when I want really shallow depth of field, and so one of the great creativity controls you have in photography is being able to control that aperture. And so of course you're gonna be able to change that by just changing the aperture on the back of the camera. And so let me just show you on the back of this camera real quickly, that the aperture does not have that same quirk that the shutter speed has. And so if I set this all the way down to 36, the camera just senses I need one second, and I can't go beyond 36. And if I go to the other end of the extreme, 5.6, the camera will go up to 1/40 of a second. And the reason I don't have the same problem here that I did in shutter speeds is because any camera, and this camera in particular, has way more shutter speeds than it does aperture options. And so there's a relatively limited number of aperture options, so it's really not that hard to get from one extreme to the other. And so this is one of my favorite modes when you kinda know what you're doing, but you're not really sure what the next shot's gonna be, it's a very simple safe mode because wherever you have this, you can shoot a photo and it's gonna be the proper exposure, as far as the amount of light, you know, whether it's the right combination of shutter speed and aperture, well that's for you to control with that dial on the back of the camera. Alright, another of my favorite modes here is the Manual mode, and this is where you get to control shutter speeds, and apertures, yourself. Now, this camera is somewhat limited in the sense that it only has one general control dial. And that dial is gonna be used for controlling both shutter speeds and apertures. And so there is a little modifier button on the top of the camera. It's got a plus minus, and it's got a little aperture symbol right in the upper right corner right beside it. And in order to change apertures, you're gonna need to press down on that plus minus button while you turn the dial on the back of the camera. And then you're gonna be looking at the light meter, which is in the viewfinder right here, and you'll be adjusting that so that you get an even exposure. Now, I like using manual exposure as much as I can because it's really good for a couple of scenarios. Number one, it's good for tricky lighting. Anytime you have unusual lighting that the light meter may make a mistake on, it's really good. But the best reason for using manual photography, or manual exposure, is consistent results. If you wanna shoot a bunch of pictures that all have the same level of lighting to them, and they're all under consistent lighting, like daylight, or any sort of consistent lighting indoors, you're gonna get nice, even exposures by setting the same shutter speed and same aperture for all of your photos. Now, when you get into manual exposure, and you start changing your shutter speeds, you can range from 1/4000 of a a second, down to 30 seconds. If you wanna do a nighttime photo, perhaps, beyond 30 seconds, you wanna do a two minute exposure, the camera has a couple of options. The first option is a bulb mode, so let me explain bulb. Bulb is a long time exposure that will leave the shutter open as long as your finger is pressed on the button. So if you wanna just leave your finger on the button for five minutes, well then that's how long the exposure's gonna be. Now, pressing the button on the camera is not a great idea because you're gonna cause movement with your hand on the camera. So this is a good time to be using a cable release. The other option for doing a long time exposure is something called time. You might just see this by two dashed lines in the camera depending on which display you're gonna be looking at. Now, time is very similar to bulb, but it's slightly different in that it's one press to start, and one press to stop. And so it's a little bit easier on your fingers because you can just wait and use a stopwatch and figure out how long you want it, your long exposure. And so if you're doing a two minute exposure, you press it once, you wait two minutes, and then you come back in, you press the shutter release on the camera, or the cable release, and then you can stop the exposure at that time. And so that's gonna be something that would be exclusively used usually for nighttime or very very dark photography. Generally I wouldn't recommend leaving the sensor open for longer than 10 minutes, they tend to heat up and they get a lot of noise and the images don't look real good, so don't try to do a five hour exposure. That would be pushing the limits of the camera. So an example of a bulb or time exposure shot was here in Rome, I wanted to get a lot of the cars' tail lights, and there just wasn't enough cars coming down that street in 30 seconds, so I left it open for about two minutes. So let me do a little demon on manual exposure. And so ideally when you are photographing with this camera you'll be looking through the viewfinder, but we can also look on the back of the camera and we can work with it here as well. It's not quite as good, but it will work for our demonstration purposes. And so you can set your shutter speeds right here. And you can see it go back and forth, and we're gonna set a shutter speed, I'm gonna go with 1/2 of a second, which is right there. And then to change apertures, let me just tilt this camera back so you can see what I'm doing a little bit. There's a plus minus button on the top of the camera, and so you have to press and hold this, let me make sure the camera's awake, press and hold this and turn the dial. And now you can see that it's changing the apertures, and what I wanna do is I wanna get the light meter here on the back of the camera to zero, alright? And so right there is where we're at zero. And so I got, the camera looks like I think I got it pointed up at some light, so I'm gonna redirect it towards our prop table here, and see what the correct aperture is for this setting. And right there is the proper exposure, so now I'm gonna take a photo. And we're getting a pretty even exposure. I'm gonna redirect this camera, and one of the things that you don't need to be too worried about, and let's readjust, is getting it perfectly straight on. Because some objects are a little bit brighter, some objects are a little bit darker, we've got a white background, so I'm gonna say this one might be a little bit whiter, so I'm gonna have it to the right of the zero, shoot a photo, and you can see that looks pretty good there even though it was two notches over from the zero. And so you're gonna wanna play around with that as you get into photography. And so you'll see a similar type system for the exposure inside the viewfinder and if I said I wanted to have an aperture of F8, I could set the aperture first at F8, right there, and then taking my finger off of the plus minus button, I just come in and I adjust my shutter speeds, and I'm going the wrong direction, so I gotta reverse it. And so one of the things that is a little frustrating to be aware of is you'll notice that the direction that these numbers are going, or this indicator here, is exactly the opposite that my thumb is going. And so as I move the thumb to the right, the indicators are going to the left. And so be aware that is reversed, I don't know why. But it is reversed, and so take a, right there in the middle, F8 at 1/30 of a second, at least in here, in the studio, and we're getting an even exposure. So practice that on your camera, you wanna become very skilled at doing manual exposure. Alright, so that's the mode dial and that's gonna be kind of the key ingredient and you wanna have that set as the first item on the camera whenever you're going out to do anything.