Skip to main content

Sony A7 III Fast Start

Lesson 8 of 29

Back Side Controls: Wheel & Custom Buttons


Sony A7 III Fast Start

Lesson 8 of 29

Back Side Controls: Wheel & Custom Buttons


Lesson Info

Back Side Controls: Wheel & Custom Buttons

Continuing along the back of the camera. The control wheel, multi-purpose wheel, but when you press in on the top it's a button that controls the display. So when you press the display, it's gonna change what you see in the monitor, or what you're looking at in the Viewfinder. We talked a little bit about this before when we talked about the Viewfinder, but on the monitor it'll change on the back. One of the things that it also has is this screen it's called For Viewfinder. What that means is if you only wanna use the Viewfinder on this camera, the back of the camera is dedicated to showing you features that are turned on. So it's gonna show you shutter speed, aperture, the horizon level, all this information. It's got a function menu over on the right hand side. Now, the funky thing about this is that this function menu is not customizable like the previous function menu that we talked about. So there's a preset number of controls in there and you can't change 'em. But they're just a ...

part of this for the Viewfinder. So if you know you don't like using the back of the camera, I typically don't use the back of the camera, but sometimes I do. So I don't normally use this myself, but I could see how it's a very handy tool 'cause it's got a lot of information there. If you wanna control which one of these options that you cycle through, for instance, I love the graphic display, but I don't use it. (laughing) I like the idea of it, but I just don't use it. So I go up into Camera Settings into the Display Button Monitor, and then I uncheck that box so I never have to see that. So as I cycle through, it's just not a part of what I'm seeing on the camera. Over on the right hand side is an ISO button. It's also a custom key that you can reprogram for other things. We already talked about the ISO when we were in the function settings. I'm not gonna do it again. But this is a great easy way, and, I am really torn on these cameras about whether they should label something ISO, or whatever the feature is, because this is a reprogrammable button. Let's just say that you wanted to reprogram that as white balance, every time you look at that, you're gonna have to go, ISO, oh, that's white balance for me, so I typically leave it as ISO. Just, intuitively, it makes it a little easier to work with. The down button is one of those customizable buttons. It doesn't have anything, so that's one that you can customize to whatever you want and it won't confuse you in anyway. Over on the left, customizable button. Reprogram as you wish, but to start with, it is a drive button. We talked about this more fully back in the function menu so I'm not gonna do it again here. But Single and Continuous are the modes that most people are switching between. Down at the bottom is the playback button. When you go into playback, the camera kind of switches modes as far as what all the buttons do on the camera. So obviously that's gonna play back your most recent image and then we have a number of other controls. We have a variety of dials and joysticks that we can use to go forward and back through our images. Then you'll notice the little zoom in, zoom out. So if you wanna check sharpness on a photo, you can do that. In fact, let's go ahead and do that right now. Let's set it up on our subject. Let's see, what do I wanna zoom in? I wanna zoom in on the timer clock down here. I'm just gonna put that right in the middle, focuses. Takes the picture. Oh, I got it set in the bracketing mode. I'm gonna let it finish the bracketing mode, and turn that off. We were playing around before. Let's get it back here. Now we'll take one simple photo. We'll play back. And, like most of the cameras, you can zoom in. This is currently set to zoom way in, real quickly. So you can go in and out, very quickly. You can go in very quickly. You go out a little bit more slowly. Once you're zoomed in, if you wanna check sharpness, yeah that looks pretty sharp. I'm gonna use the joystick up here and there's a little navigator window. We're really tight in here. So we can jump a little bit back out. If we go far enough back out, full image, and then we can go into thumbnails. So this way you can kinda scroll through and see all the other images that we've been taking in the class so far. You can go out, and you can see actually a calender of when you shot different dates. You can go choose photos on different dates. You can actually go choose different types. A still photograph, or movies. Different types of formats there. So if you were taking pictures in different months, you can find it a little bit easier. This is real handy for somebody whose on an extended trip and they're trying to navigate and Hey! I got some great photos last week! Let me show 'em to ya. You can go back through 2,000 photos or just go back to the day you shot them. So then you can zoom back in, find your photos, and continue to zoom in. Have some fun, play around with that a little bit more. Delete obviously gets rids of your images from the card that's selected. I will give you a bit of a warning, is that, if you are recording to both cards, it's possible that, depending on how you have the camera set up, it will only delete images from one card. Be aware that it's not getting rid of them on both of them, which could be a problem. But if anyone's trying to get around, say, a security guard, and they say bring that camera over here, you have to delete that image. You can ahead and delete that image and it's like, okay, I still got it on card 2 on there. So, if you're a security guard, don't put that on the forums. Then we have our send to smartphone button which we talked about before. And our lock key, which is a very light level of protection on our images. Playback displays. So, when you're in playback mode, you can choose to see more or less information about your images. Usually, I just wanna see the image. Is it composed right? Does it look right? But sometimes I'm curious. What shutter speed, what aperture? Then I would use the display info. And if you wanna look at the histogram, that will give you even more information about all the other settings on the camera. That's something that I would constantly cycle through as I'm trying to look at different information about the photos I'm using. So just realize, you just keep pressing the button and it cycles through the different options. So, this camera has a number of buttons that are customizable when it's in the playback mode. So if you don't like the operation of the way some of these buttons work, you can reprogram these buttons to do different things. You'd go into the custom menu, and you can reprogram it. Now I do have a special message for Cosmo. Cosmo is somebody whose been on a couple of my tours and when you get on two tours, you get your questions answered live, in the class. He had a problem on his camera because he's got this camera. He shoots a photo. He's got it in two second playback, so he sees it for two seconds. He wants to go take the next photo so he presses the AF-ON button to take the next photo, but while it's playing back the image, what does that do? It zooms in on the image. So rather than taking a photo, it zooms in on the image, and Cosmo, no, you cannot reprogram the AF-ON button. But, if you do have your camera set up in that manner, here's what I would recommend. Press down lightly on the shutter release. That kicks the camera back into the shooting mode, and then you can press the AF-ON button for focusing to take the next shot. So that just is a great way of kicking you back out of the playback mode. If you come on more than two tours, you get your question answered live in class, recorded forever, for everyone to see. Alright. Video playback, a little bit different than everything else. So when you've recorded a movie, you'll hit the center button to play things back and then to get your control panel, you press down. This gets the control panel which is all your standard types of controls for controlling your video on there. One that's kind of unique, that I wanna do a little demo here, is Photo Capture. That is where you're pulling a still frame from the video and saving it as a new file. So what I'm gonna do is I am gonna first put my camera in the video mode. So my camera is now in the video mode. Let's turn this on. We can see our 16 by 9 frame. What I am going to do, is I am gonna pan up across our little stand here. So what I'm gonna is do, I'm gonna start recoding down here. We can see I'm recording. I'm just gonna pan up. Try to do it as smoothly as I can without a video head. Then I'm gonna stop this. Okay. Now I'm gonna go into playback. We have a video here. So if I hit the center button, we'll start playing the video and if I press down, we'll see our control panel over here. So what I wanna do, I'm gonna pause this for the moment, is I'm gonna go over to the right to the photo capture mode, here. I'm gonna press this. Now I get to choose what frame do I want. so I'm gonna kinda go through this a little bit. I wanna get those apples right in the middle so I'm gonna get this, right, there. You can see the bottom of this little indicator is our photo capture icon. So now I'm gonna press down. It just saved that as an individual image. I'm gonna press menu to exit up here. Let's see if this went right. So, let's playback. So this is our video, once again, that we saw. I'm just gonna let that play through. If I go to the next file, this is my still image, right here. Now, this is not a high resolution image, in fact, I can see down here, it is a 16 by 9 aspect, 2.1 million pixels. Alright, so that's the resolution. Normally we'd be getting 24 megapixels on this because we're pulling a still frame it's lower resolution. Now we can pull that in-camera, which can be handy in some situations, where it might be fast moving action or you just shot video and you wanna get a still photograph out of it, for use right then and there. Little light down on the bottom is the Access Lamp. This is usually the I'm working with the memory card that the cameras trying to tell you. Most important is if that light is on, do not take the memory card in and out of the camera. That's writing information to the camera so don't bother it, it's working.

Class Description


  • Use the advanced focusing system with 425 Contrast points and 693 phase detection points
  • Understand and leverage bracketing options for Exposure, White Balance and Dynamic Range Optimizer
  • Use the multitude of customizing options
  • Use video features like 4K video, slow motion, and time-lapse
  • Better use any modern mirrorless features like the EVF


Sony set the bar high by calling the Sony A7 III a basic mirrorless camera, packing the $2,000 body-only digital camera with a 24.2 megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor and image processor capable of 10 fps. The entry level full frame camera is being touted as one of the best options for full frame, even among Canon and Nikon competitors.

This class helps you get the most of your Sony camera with a complete step-by-step walkthrough of the camera’s features, whether you are just picking up the a7 III for the first time or you want to learn new tricks for your well-loved camera. Join expert photographer John Greengo as he gives you all the information you need to understand this Sony Alpha camera's buttons, menus, and functions -- without the 642-page instruction manual.


Anyone who has purchased, or is thinking about purchasing the Sony A7 III

Sony A7 III


John Greengo is a veteran instructor and an experienced photographer with over 50 Fast Start classes in the CreativeLive catalog. He has dove into the complex menu systems of multiple Sony cameras including the a6000, a6500, a9, and a7r III, as well as mirrorless and DSLRs from Panasonic, Nikon, and Canon. Besides being adept at dissecting new cameras, John works as a travel and outdoor photographer. With his experience in analyzing camera manuals, he will discuss the complete breakdown of your camera’s exposure, focus, metering, video and more. After this class, you’ll be able to use your new Sony A7 III with confidence.


  1. Class Introduction

    Dip your feet into the world of Sony cameras with the class instruction. Walk through what to expect for the class and learn about how the camera compares to Canon and Nikon DSLRs. Note the differences with the Sony a7r III and learn camera care basics.

  2. Photo Basics

    New to photography? John covers the basics like what a mirrorless camera is and using an EVF. Learn basic terms like aperture, ISO, and shutter speed as well as factors like APS-C versus full frame sensors.

  3. Camera Controls: Control Wheel & Shutter Release

    Take your first picture (if you haven't already) with the basic, most-used controls on the Sony camera body. Explore the control wheel and shutter release, as well as the joystick that's new to the Sony a7 III (hint: the joystick also doubles as a button).

  4. Camera Controls: Mode Dial

    Learn the Sony a7 III's available modes by exploring the mode dial. From why you shouldn't use auto (and when you should) to how to use advanced modes like aperture priority mode and manual mode, dissect the different shooting modes on the camera.

  5. Camera Controls: Top Deck

    Navigate the remainder of the controls on the top of the camera, including the custom controls, like programming Sony's excellent eye AF.

  6. Camera Controls: Back Side Controls

    Demystify the controls at the back of the camera body. Learn essentials from focusing the viewfinder to AF modes to using the LCD screen.

  7. Back Side Controls: Function Button

    Jump into that "Fn" button and the quick menu controls that it brings up. Here, you can find shortcuts to adjusting options like ISO, AF mode, continuous shooting mode, and white balance.

  8. Back Side Controls: Wheel & Custom Buttons

    Continuing the journey through the back of the camera, learn all the options for the multi-purpose wheel, from shortcut EVF options to ISO.

  9. Left & Right Side Controls

    Decipher all the doors and ports at the side of the camera, including what accessories work well with the Sony camera body, the camera's NFC option, and the dual memory card slots.

  10. Bottom Controls

    The camera body doesn't have a lot of pieces at the bottom, but here, John walks photographers through easy tricks like finding the serial number and adding the battery grip accessory.

  11. Front Controls & Lenses

    Sony cameras don't often have a ton of controls at the front -- but learn the essentials on the front, as well as how to safely swap lenses. Then, dive into EF E-Mount lenses. Learn the best zoom lens and prime lenses to use with the camera body, some with built-in image stabilization. Besides using lenses from Sony and Zeiss, dig into using Canon lenses on a Sony camera with an adapter.

  12. Menu Page 1: Quality/Image Size 1

    Sony camera menus can be confusing and long -- start the trek through the a7 III's menus in this lesson by looking at the first sections on image quality, image size, and RAW vs. JPEG.

  13. Menu Page 2: Quality/Image Size 2

    Continuing diving through the image quality and size menus with features like ISO noise reduction, color space controls, and in-camera lens corrections.

  14. Menu Pages 3-5: Shoot Mode/Drive 1/AF1

    Adjust settings for multiple photos including burst mode settings and image bracketing by learning the shoot mode menu.

  15. Menu Page 6: AF2

    The Sony a7 III is often noted for the autofocus improvement over earlier models. Dig through the different AF options by digging into what all the features in the AF2 menu mean.

  16. Menu Pages 7 & 8: AF3 & AF4

    Continue digging into the AF menu and learn what features are a waste of battery and what features are actually useful like setting a second AF area.

  17. Menu Pages 9-11: Exposure & Flash

    Fine-tune your Sony camera's exposure settings with advanced menu tools like choosing whether or not to leave settings intact when the camera powers off and setting limits for the auto ISO.

  18. Menu Page 12: Color/WB/Img Processing

    Color photos not looking so hot? John walks you through the Sony camera color menu, which contains controls for options like white balance. John walks through the menu options, explaining what tools like dynamic range optimizer and picture profiles entail.

  19. Menu Page 13: Focus Assist

    Ever get home from a shoot thinking you got a great shot only to see it on a bigger screen and realize it's just a bit soft? Learn Sony's built-in tools for making sure you nab a sharp shot, including focus magnification and focus peaking, available through that OLED Tru-Finder EVF. Walk through what the different focus assist tools do, how to use them, and how to customize them.

  20. Menu Page 14: Shooting Assist

    Dig into game-changing tools you may not even realize exist by exploring the shooting assist menu. Learn how to turn on anti-flicker to get consistent results with lights that are flickering. This often happens at a speed too fast for you to perceive, but can create shots that are too dark because of the timing of the flicker and the image. Discover how to tell the face AF who to prioritize and more in the shooting assist menu.

  21. Camera Settings: Movie

    Mirrorless cameras are often just as excellent when tasked with recording video. Learn how to adjust the video settings inside the menu, including choosing 4K video or HD, along with advanced options like wind noise reduction.

  22. Camera Settings: Shutter & Steady Shot

    On the Sony a7 III, users can adjust the way the shutter works. Learn what a second curtain shutter is. Dive into how to turn the Sony camera on silent mode using a global shutter, and when you should avoid using this feature.

  23. Camera Settings: Zoom & Display Auto Review

    The Sony camera menu has several zoom and display options. Digital zoom is available but should be avoided because of a loss in image quality, leaving the menu option set to optical zoom only. Inside this submenu, learn how to adjust the display options to review your images.

  24. Camera Settings: Custom Operation

    Still using the camera's default set-up? The Sony a7 III, like many Sony cameras, can be custom programmed. Learn how to set the camera up for your shooting style for the easiest access to the most frequently used settings from customizing the control scheme to organizing your own function setting menu.

  25. Network Menu

    The Sony a7 III has both Wi-Fi and NFC. Dig into how to use the Wi-Fi to easily share images, including sending to a smartphone, sharing with a computer, or shooting with a tether.

  26. Playback Menu

    The playback menu contains all the options for working with images after you've shot them. Walk through the playback menu options, from deleting images and rating images to jumpstart the culling process.

  27. Setup Menu

    Dig into how to customize the setup of your camera, from the brightness of the LCD screen to turning down the camera's beeps. This menu is one that contains a lot of features that are set once and forgotten, John says, but there are some essential revisited sections like the sensor cleaning mode and formatting the memory card.

  28. My Menu Overview

    Find the menu daunting? Sony's My Menu allows photographers to save the most frequently used menu settings to quickly find the option without digging through pages of menu options. The custom menu idea has been around for a while on Nikon and Canon DSLRs, but it's a relatively new feature for Sony cameras.

  29. Camera Operation

    Now that you've covered the ins and outs of the cameras, work through a checklist to prep the camera for operation. Walk through a handful of different shooting scenarios from portraits to sports and how to choose the appropriate settings for that shot.


a Creativelive Student

John GreengO! What a wonderful teacher! As always to the point. You do all the testing for us and we get an amazing tour of the camera. Really thrilled with your class once again. Thanks a lot!


Thanks John. Another great class! I appreciate the thorough explanations. I many never use all of the features on this camera but at least I know what they do. Love all of your classes and would definitely recommend them.


Wonderful class. John is a great instructor. Learned a lot. Only wish he'd include a bit more on using a7iii to shoot video, such as using Clear Image Zoom, and including video in the ending Camera Operation settings section. Loved the course though.