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Sony A7 III Fast Start

Lesson 29 of 29

Camera Operation


Sony A7 III Fast Start

Lesson 29 of 29

Camera Operation


Lesson Info

Camera Operation

This final section is called Camera Operation. It's a bit of a summary 'cause we've gone through the camera detail by detail, but kinda looking at it in the big scope of how do we set the camera up for a variety of types of photography and what's most important when we're heading out for a shoot. So always, you gotta charge the battery. Make sure you have a card in the camera. Ideally, that's reformatted. Make sure the image quality is set to where you want it. You may need to go through some of the menu settings depending on how you last used the camera. And if you're gonna go shoot an important event, take a vacation, go on a photo shoot, you wanna shoot a couple of test shots and make sure that the sensor is clean. What I do is I shoot a white piece of paper or white wall, stop down F22, and look at the images and look for dust specks 'cause those will become very clear when you the stop the aperture down with a bright subject like that. Just plain white wall, no detail. Next up, ke...

y settings on the camera that's got a million settings, it seems like. But the ones that you're gonna come back to and use over and over again are related to exposure, to focus, and a few other things like white balance and the drive mode on it. So most of those are already pre-programmed into very convenient locations on the camera. And so it's got a good start right outta the gate in my mind. So those features look like this when we lay them out. And we're gonna take a look at how I would recommend setting the camera up for a few common types of scenarios. First up, let's just talk about super simple, this is where you wanna keep the camera just in the very, very simple mode, slightly more control than the full auto mode. The program mode is good for those quick shots. The camera controls shutter speeds and apertures. I'm not usually a big fan of auto ISO, but for simple, basic photography, it's gonna do a fine job. Leave exposure compensation at zero, unless necessary to move it around from there. Auto white balance is gonna work well in most cases. AF-S is single focus, where it focuses on a subject and then stops, which is good for subjects that are not moving around very much. Wide area focus is looking at the entire frame area. You do have to be careful of subjects that get pretty close to you 'cause it always wants to focus on whatever is closest to you. And a single drive mode will get you one shot at a time. So this is a nice, simple basic setup. All right, landscape photography. A lot of people like doing this and what this entails is in getting great depth of field, so there's things in the foreground as well as the background that are in focus. Maybe, hopefully, you're using a tripod and shutter speeds aren't gonna really matter to you. You have a little bit of time to work with your subject, so this is where being in manual exposure makes sense. If you want the highest resolution, you're gonna be setting your ISO at 100, so that you can get the greatest detail, the greatest dynamic range as well at 100. Typically, you're gonna want more depth of field. We're talking about a eight, 11, 16, 22. It depends on the exact composition that you are working with. And shutter speeds shouldn't matter too much in most cases 'cause there's usually not a lot moving around. And this is why tripods come in handy 'cause you're often at slower shutter speeds. But that will just depend exactly on what the light is. White balance can be left on auto or possibly another setting if it's not coming out exactly the way that you want. Subjects aren't moving around, so single auto focus, AF-S is gonna be fine. You're gonna wanna be pretty particular about where you focus here and so one of the smaller focusing points that you can adjust exactly where you want in the frame would probably be a wise choice. And then you could use the single with a cable release or you could use the self-timer if you don't wanna use a cable release. That way, there's no vibration when you're actually shooting the photograph. Next up, let's do a little portrait photography. In this case, we're gonna need to be a little bit more aware of our shutter speed, so that we're not getting blur. And we are often shooting with shallower depth of field, so that we can blur the background of our photos. I like to be set in manual, so I can set specifically where these settings are on the camera. Wide open apertures will be good for blurring the background. If you have a 1.4, it's nice to use it. You're gonna probably need a shutter speed of 125 or faster to stop your handheld movement and the movement of your subject potentially moving around. And of course, you wanna be at ISO 100, but sometimes you need to bump up because you're in lower light levels, but start off at 100. White balance can probably be at auto for most situations. As long as your subjects aren't moving around, single auto focus works good. You wanna be very careful about where you focus in, so getting a small focus point on the eye would be advisable here. Drive mode single, possibly continuous. And if you want a bonus, you can use the face detect or the eye detect to get even more accurate on the focusing, especially if there's a little bit of movement back and forth. And so this is how I would set the camera up for portrait photography. Next up, sports or action photography. This is where subjects are gonna be moving around. You need faster shutter speeds to stop their motion and you need a tracking system on the focus, so that it can adjust for that movement. I also like to be in manual on this. So as long as my subjects are in consistent lighting, I will get one set of settings for all of my photos. In this case, you're gonna want a faster shutter speed, 500 or faster, depending on the type of subject that you're shooting with. This is where those faster lenses that are 2. are really gonna pay off. I know they're more money, but that's why the professionals use them is that they can shoot this a little bit more easily. Now ideally, of course you would be at 100, but most times, when you are needing really fast shutter speeds, you're gonna need a higher ISO to compensate for that faster shutter speed. And so most sports photography is done at 400 or higher in an ISO setting. Set white balance, if necessary. Auto usually works. Important setting here is to AF-C, the continuous focusing, so the camera can adjust for the movements of you and your subject getting closer and further apart. It's hard to keep a very small focus area on your subject. I like using zone and it's a wider area can allow for a little bit of random movement of your subject. But the lock-on options of any of the focus options here are very good because then it's gonna recognize your subject and try to stay on it. Now, depending on how random your subject is, it may or not be able to stay locked on, so you may need to experiment with some of the different focusing area options to see what works best with the types of subjects that you are shooting. And of course, in the drive mode is when you're gonna wanna be in one of the continuous. Remember there's low, medium, and high options in there, depending on how many frames per second you wanna get. And so this way, it's gonna track the action. It's gonna use a fast enough shutter speed and you're gonna be able to get lots of shots in a relatively short period of time. All right, I'll leave you with one final one, which is what I call basic photography. And this is something that's gonna allow you some manual control for general situations. And this is where I do allow in just a tad bit of automation. Aperture priority is kinda nice because you can set an aperture of, you know, kind of middle, slightly wide open 5.6. It's gonna give you a reasonably fast shutter speed. If you need more depth of field or you need faster shutter speeds, you can quickly make that adjustment on the camera. Typically, I leave my camera at ISO unless I know I'm going to an environment that is darker and I'm going to need faster shutter speeds. At which point, I'll then bump it up. Make sure that that dial is at zero on the exposure compensation. Auto white balance should work fine in most cases. Unless you're shooting action, the AF-S option will work fine, so that you can focus and lock in on a subject. And I like the flexible spot option here and choosing small, medium, or large option, whatever is best for the situation and then using the joystick to move that around to the area that I want in focus. And for the drive mode, single shot is usually gonna be fine in most cases. You can kinda just pump your finger up and down on the shutter release if you do need to take several photos. And so I think this is a good setup for travel photography or anytime when you're not really sure what the next photo is going to be. All right, you've made it through, congratulations. I now consider all of you as Sony A7III experts in your camera. Granted, you may need to go back and review a few sections on the class, but you should hopefully get to know it pretty well there. So if anyone is interested in knowing more about what I do, I have a website, pretty easy to get to, Also, I'm on Facebook and Instagram. You can check me out there and see my photos. I do post quite a bit, quite a bit on there. So if you wanna see more about my tours and upcoming classes and stuff here at CreativeLive, that's a good place to tune in and find out more information. And as some of you know, I teach a great number of classes here at CreativeLive. And so if you wanna check those out, you can go onto CreativeLive and just look under my name, Greengo, and you can find a full listing of all my classes there.

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.