Backside: Function Button: Top Row


Sony® A6500 Fast Start


Lesson Info

Backside: Function Button: Top Row

Next up on the camera is the function button. On the camera we have controls and features in three different places. If it's really important, there's probably a button on the outside of the camera that does that feature, or controls it. Then there is the menu, where everything is, and so if you wanna find the full list of everything the camera can do, it's gonna be in the menu system for the most part. Now, between these two, is the function, which is kind of the quick menu, the shortcut menu. There's a number of different names that other companies, or names that you might wanna call it, and so I just kind of think of it as the shortcut menu. Things that you might wanna get to on a regular basis. Now, a number of the customized buttons are programmed to do something particular. For instance, we talked about white balance and the focusing mode. You may wanna reprogram those buttons to do something else. How do you get in to change white balance, and focusing mode, and some of these ot...

her critical, core features in a camera, and it's gonna be right here in the function menu. Let's go ahead and take look at what what the function button does, and there's gonna be a whole group of things in here. It's got a dozen items in here that you can adjust. Let's go through these. Some of these we've talked about before, and we'll go through them very quickly. Some of them we're gonna talk more about in the menu system. First up, over here on the top left, is the Drive Mode. This controls what happens when you press down on the shutter release of the camera. Number of different options in here. Let's go ahead and take a closer look at what some of these options are doing. Continuous shooting, for any time you're shooting action and so forth, will have four different options; low, medium, high, and high plus. The thing to know about this is the high plus, which does get you 11 frames per second, and you can use continuous focusing in all of these modes, it is a last-shot review, so when you're looking in the viewfinder, or on the LCD at the back of the camera, as you are panning with your subject, moving it around, it's not showing you a live view of the image. It's showing you a review of the last image it shot, which will make tracking moving subjects a little bit difficult. If they're not moving around much, it's just a person standing in place juggling, let's say. You know they're not gonna be moving, but their hands are moving, then you could use that 11 frames per second pretty easily. But in most cases, I would use the normal, high, eight frames per second for shooting action, because you get a live view between those images. It'll just be easier to track those. The buffer size that you're gonna be able to get is gonna be about 300 JPEGS, and about 100 RAWS. Be careful of shooting too many, but that's a pretty big number to be there. The other thing is that in order to get these frames per second, you do need to be in what's called E-Front Curtain Shutter. We're gonna be talking more about that in the menu system, that's an Electronic Front Shutter Curtain, not using the mechanical shutter curtain, in order to get those frame rates. The self timer has the option of two, five, or 10 seconds. You also have the option of shooting continuous shots, so if you were gonna do a group shot that you were gonna be in, you might wanna have a 10 second self-timer, but because there are people who blink during the shot, you wanna shoot a couple of different shots, so that you have a couple of different versions, in case someone's not looking at the camera. So there is a three-continuous and a five-continuous shot for doing those self-timer shots. Give you a couple chances to get the right image. We'll also have exposure bracketing. There's a number of ways that we can bracket. In under-exposure bracketing you'll see if it's turned on with the BRK. You can shoot with this in the single or the continuous mode. The continuous mode means that when you press down on the shutter release, the camera will quickly change exposure through all of the set number of exposures, and then come to a stop. It allows you to shoot through them very, very quickly, which is often a nice way to do it. The number on the bottom right there is the number of pictures that you're gonna get in the series, and so you'll see three, five, of nine as an option. Then we'll have exposure increments, and that's how big a difference is there from one exposure to the next? If you had a very tricky exposure situation, maybe in architectural photography, there's lights behind the building that are on, but the building's kinda dark, and you're not sure what the best exposure's gonna be, you could shoot a series of images with different exposures set, and so that's a good option. A lot of landscape photographers will use that particular feature. There are other types of ways of bracketing. For those of you shooting JPEG, and you wanna get just the right white balance, there is a white balance bracketing mode. I don't think too many people use this, to be honest with you. But it is there and it is available if you do need it. We do have another type of DRO bracketing, Dynamic Range Optimizer. What this is doing is it's going in and it's tweaking the highlights and the shadows to get a better image, or at least what the camera thinks is a better image. All of this is something that you could totally control in RAW after the fact by controlling your highlights and shadows with the sliders and whatever controls your system uses. This is available, might be useful for JPEG photography. Then, of course, we have single shooting, which is how I would leave the camera normally set up. Just wanna show you real quickly, on the back of the camera, about some of these settings. I'm gonna press the function button to get in, and then I'm gonna go over to our Drive Mode and hit this button here, and we'll go up and down to select the different options in here. What you wanna pay attention to are arrows. Arrows are really important, because they allow us to go in and make subtle adjustments to the high settings. We can go to the right and we can set this at low, medium, high, high plus. Now we can choose how many frames per second that we are shooting, and I'm gonna leave this on-- I don't want it on high plus, 'cause I don't get the live view between them, so I'm gonna go on high. If you wanted to go to the self timer you could go to the right and change between two, five, and ten seconds. As with all the other features down here, you can just go left and right to control the different options, and then go up and down for the major selections, and I'm gonna leave it on single shooting right there. Okay, very good. Alright, so that's the Drive Mode. Next up is the Focus Mode, and if this seems familiar, that's because we were talking about it a short time ago in a previous section, so we're not gonna get into this. Normally I would leave it in single-shot, but I switch it to continuous any time I'm shoot action photography. Alright, a new one here. Focus Area, this one's very important, and there's a lot of different options in here, so let's talk about the focusing system in where and how we focus on different subjects. This camera has 25 different contrast AF points, which means it's looking for contrast, lights and darks, in order to focus. What these areas are really good at is accuracy. When they are focused here, it is absolutely, positively in focus. It does a very, very, very good job of that. The camera also has 425 phase detection auto-focus points. These areas are very good at working very fast, and they're able to predict where the lens needs to move to for a subject to be in focus. Combined between the two of these, you're gonna have a very, very good focusing system, cause it's using two different systems in order to quickly get where it needs to be, and then really hone in on getting the correct accuracy. We're gonna be able to move focusing points around in many, many different ways. Here are the five primary ways that we can choose in where we focus. Let's go through these. The wide area is just looking at almost the entire area, and one of the things you'll notice when you use this is that when you focus with single focus, the camera will focus in on a subject, and it will show you with green brackets where the camera has chosen to focus. It's looking at the entire area, and in general, it's choosing areas that has good, strong contrast, where it can focus easily, and it's choosing subjects that are very close to you. If you are wanting to be creative in choosing to focus on somebody in the distance and having somebody in the foreground that's out of focus, this would be a bad choice. For simple, basic focusing, this one works just fine. Next up is the zone focusing, and this is where it's gonna choose a series of nine boxes that you can direct and move around on the frame. This is very good for action photography where your subject is a little bit erratic in their movement and you don't want a really small box on them, but you do want a larger area. I'm gonna go ahead and change my camera into this zone focusing, so I'm gonna press the function button, come over here, and actually I better change it out of manual focusing. It won't do that very well in manual focusing. I'm gonna change it to continuous right now, just cause that gives me a lot of options available. Now I'm gonna come over here to focusing area. Got wide, zone, and if I choose zone here, I can then move the area up, left, and right. This camera does have a touchscreen that is available. I wanna see if it can be done over here. We can use the touchscreen to move this area around as well. Feel free to use either one of those systems for changing that focusing point around. Next up, this is my least favorite option here, it's the center, with no option of moving it around. This just locks it in the middle. If you wanted it simple and no chance of moving it around, then this would be a good option, but I like having options, being able to move it around, which is why I like the next one quite a bit. Flexible Spot gives us three different options; a small, a medium, and a large size box, depending on how big our subject is, and how steady we are, and what lens we're using, and so forth, and so you can figure out which one of these you like. I often like the medium size one here, just as a general purpose one, cause that's something that we can move around quite a bit. Then finally we have-- We can also move this around this around with the touch-area as well, using the touchscreen to direct where we want it to be. Then we have this Expand Flexible spot. What this is is it's basically a small spot, and if it can't find the that it's looking in, it will look to a larger area. It's trying to go for the small area, but it will go for the big area if it needs to. Playing around with the focus is a little bit tricky, and I wanna show you, additionally, one other thing on here. I'm gonna go in, I'm gonna change it to the Focus Expand option, or the Flexible Spot, excuse me. Now I can move this around. There's this little phrase down here. Select focusing point on, off, so once I get it honed in-- Let me get it up here on the timer clock. I got it up there in the left. If I press the center button I've now turned off where to move the focusing, so it's gonna focus up there. The directional control back here has been changed. Now my button is changing the display, but what if I wanna move the focusing point? I gotta go back in and select that focusing point, and now I can move that focusing point around. I can shoot a photo and I can move it around, but once once I hit this center point, it kinda locks it and turns it off, so now, in order to move it, I gotta go back in to change this around. It's a little bit of a pain to move around a lot on a real frequent basis, but that's kinda the way it is. Alright, we do have some more options in here. We have something called lock-on auto focus, and this is for action photography. We're gonna do a little demo with Drew here in just a moment. We can choose any one of the modes that we've talked about before. We can choose a wide area or a zone area, just kinda depending on the size of our subject. We'll try a couple of different options here. These options are not going to be available when you are in anything other than the AFC mode. Let me show you on the back of the camera real quickly. I'm gonna go into the function button, and I'm gonna go into the wrong mode to show you what you shouldn't do. In the AF single mode, I now come in, over to the focusing area. You can barely see down here. Let me just move this over, find a dark area down here. You can barely see that it's shaded out down here, which means it's there, but you can't select it. I'm gonna go into the function, I'm gonna change it over to AFC, and now I'm gonna come back into the focusing area, and now it's available. Left and right arrows, so I can choose different areas here. We're gonna have Drew-- Drew, why don't you come up, stand right in front of the prop stand. I'm gonna choose a wide area. Actually, let's go with the zone here. I've got a large zone. Let's move this zone right down to the middle, and it's actually on facial recognition which I wanna turn off right now. Let's turn of-- No, wrong button, John, wrong button. Smile and face detection, we're gonna turn that off for right now. If you could just walk towards me. You can see-- That's far enough, and then walk back. You can see that even though I'm kinda panning around, he's on the left and the right side of the screen. Take two steps forward and then two steps back. It's tracking him all that time. I'm gonna try this once again, just in a different mode, just for fun, cause I think we have the time today. I'm gonna change this to flexible spot. Let's do the expand flexible spot. It's hard to keep track of these names. Alright, I'm gonna lock this on. Let's have you do the same thing. Come towards me, move a little bit to your side. Lost him there, found him again. Walk back. Even if you stay still, Drew stays still, but I pan around, the camera is tracking his action all in there. This is not facial recognition, this is just an object. Drew, thank you very much. I'm gonna try it in a different way. What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna hold an object here in front and let's see, focus halfway down, and it's just tracking that subject. Whoops, it lost it, it lost it. I'm gonna have to reacquire it here. Let's see if it tracks it forward. No, it lost it there. As you can see, folks, it's not perfect, but it is pretty good. If you are tracking subjects moving forward and backwards, that is a good option to have, is having that lock-on AF system, and then whatever acquiring box you wanna have, whether it's a small or a medium size. They all seem to do a pretty good job. Then, kind of as a separate one, is gonna be the facial recognition that we're gonna be talking more about as we get into the menu system, and we'll do some more testing with that. That is where you can focus, and so some very good options in there. As I said, when it does lock on that focus it gives you those little green boxes that tracks that subject, that let's you know where that information is. As an aside, if you don't like those green boxes in there, I'm gonna show you how to turn that off when we get into the menu system. Alright, next up we have exposure compensation. If you wanna make your pictures brighter or darker when it's in a program mode, aperture priority, or shutter priority mode, you can come in here and you can set the camera to take photos that are a little bit brighter, or a little bit darker. The minus side is the dark side, and the plus side is the brighter side. In case you're wondering why this doesn't work in manual, it's because the camera doesn't have control of any of the exposure settings. In program, aperture priority, and shutter priority, it has some sort of control over the brightness of your image, and it just adjusts that particular setting. This is something I would normally keep set on zero unless you particularly wanna change it to something else. Next up is the ISO setting, which is the sensitivity of the sensor. It is essentially the third way that we control how bright or dark our images are. This is gonna be one of those settings that you are changing with shutter speeds and apertures on a regular basis. I always like to do a little test on the camera to see how good it is at different ISO settings, cause as you move it up higher in number, you're gonna get more noise. This camera has a tried and true sensor that Sony's been working with for a couple years now. At all of the lower ISO settings, one through 800, you're gonna get really, really clean images. I think it's still very clean at 1,600. As we get into the higher settings is where we're gonna start noticing that noise. We do get a lot of that noise, that color molting effect, especially up at 51,000. 25,000 is not very good either, and so I think the high-end for most people, that ceiling that you're gonna wanna go up to, is somewhere in the 6,400 to 12,800, if quality is pretty important. If you have to go up higher, you gotta go up higher. There's settings there for you, but you try to avoid those if you are trying to maintain high quality in the images. Next up is our metering system. This is how the camera reads the light coming into the sensor. We have a number of options, one of them is new. The highlight one is new. Looking at these different options, first up we have the multi pattern metering system which uses 1,200 different segments, and it's very good at deciding what the best exposure is in complicated or mixed lighting scenarios. This is one that I think most people leave their camera on most of the time, because it usually gets it right. It's a very, very stable, good system to have for most of the time. Older cameras used to have a center-weighted system, so kind of for legacy reasons, if you wanna get the exposure set based on an area of central brightness, there is the traditional center-weighted meter. Some photographers like using a spot meter, which is a highly concentrated area of metering where you are disregarding the rest of the image, so if the rest of the image is very bright or very dark, you can get the correct reading off of a relatively very small subject. We also have an entire scene average metering, which is a very simplistic system. They say that it's better with subjects that are moving around, because it's not changing as much. It's possible that the multi pattern metering system might try to read too much into those changes and give you different reading results, but I haven't really used the entire scene average that much. The multi pattern metering is just so good that's where I generally leave the camera. A new one that we have is a highlight one, which prevents overexposure. What it does is it looks at the scene, and it tries to make sure that nothing it overexposed in the scene, and so that might be of good use when you are using aperture priority, or the program mode, making sure that the sky's not too bright, or anything is blown out. That one is worthy, I think, of some investigation, exploration, and testing on your part. I'm not gonna be so much as to recommend that for most people in most cases at this point, but I think it's a specialty meter that may meet some people's special needs. Normally I would just recommend leaving it on the multi setting here.

Class Description

We know what it’s like to dive right into taking pictures with your new camera. But reading dense technical manuals can be time-consuming and frustrating. Get the most out of your new Sony A6500 with this complete step-by-step walkthrough of the camera’s features. 

Join expert photographer John Greengo for a fast-track introduction, and unlock your camera’s full potential. In this fast start class, you’ll learn:
  • How to set and work with the advanced video capabilities
  • How to maximize the autofocus system
  • How to set and customize the menu 

John is a CreativeLive veteran instructor and an experienced photographer. He has extensive experience teaching the technical minutiae that makes any camera an effective tool: aperture, ISO, the Rule of Thirds, and the kinds of lenses you’ll need to suit your camera body. This fast start includes a complete breakdown of your camera’s exposure, focus, metering, video and more. John will also explain how to customize the Sony A6500 settings to work for your style of photography.


Nichola Johnson


a Creativelive Student

I've owned the A6000 since it came out and still learned a TON from John's A6500 class. I will definitely be getting his original A6000 class. I'm SO glad he's doing Sony cameras now. Thanks John G. - You are a truly great teacher!

Lee Kneisz

I bought the a6000 course a while back and when I upgraded to the a6500 this was a no-brainer. I love how comprehensive the coverage is and it was a great refresher on previous features. If you're a newbie to the Sony a6500 this is a must!