Camera Controls: Dials, Auto and Movie Mode


Sony® A9 Fast Start


Lesson Info

Camera Controls: Dials, Auto and Movie Mode

Okay, folks, it's time to get into the good stuff. This is the camera controls, and what we're gonna be doing in here is we're gonna be taking a tour of the camera and talking about all of the outside dials, buttons and controls on the camera. So to start with the basic controls that we're gonna be using throughout the rest of the class, things that are important. First off, turning the camera on and off. That automatically does a little sensor cleaning on the image sensors. So when you turn it on, it's automatically gonna try to clean the sensor. It's still possible to get a dirty sensor, and I will talk about that later on in the menu section. Shutter button is a great place to turn the camera on to wake it up from its sleep mode. We have two main input dials. We have the front dial and the rear dial, and this is where we're gonna change shutter speeds, apertures. We'll also be able to do some navigation with the menu system and control some of our focusing option as well with these ...

dials. They're just general purpose dials that change depending on what we're doing. Same thing could be said for the control wheel on the back of the camera. It's a third dial back there. This one's different in that you can also press on the up, down, left or right, and that's gonna be for our menu navigation and for moving our focusing point around, as well as a few other things, and so turning or pushing on that one. We have a new control on this Sony camera which is the multi-selector, and this is a direction joystick and a push button. So when you are wanting to either navigate through the menu system, or what it was primarily designed for was changing your focusing point. If you wanna move it left and right, you can just use the joystick. But it's also a button, and that button can be pre-programmed for a variety functions. So we're gonna be using all of these controls for a variety of things throughout the rest of the class. First we're gonna take a close look at the top of the camera. So we have on the top our shutter release, of course for taking photos, but when we press half way down we are activating the metering system, and we are activating the focusing system, and we are also waking the camera up. If the camera goes to sleep, which it does quite frequently in order to conserve battery power, it wakes the camera up. If we're in the menu system, it returns us to the shooting mode, so get very used to that half way pressure feel of the shutter release. And then of course pressing all the way down to take our photos, but just be comfortable with that half press. Now a lot of photographers, especially some of the more advanced level photographers, enjoy something called back button focusing. And what that means is that you would focus with a button on the back of the camera, and when you press the shutter release the camera does not do any focusing. That way they can separate focusing, composing and shooting the photograph. Now if you want to do that on this camera, you can take off the auto focus on the shutter release, and you can do that by diving into the camera settings tab number one under AF2 page 5 of 13, AF with shutter, and you can just turn that feature off. And now your camera will no longer focus when you press down on the shutter release. It'll only focus when you press the AF on button on the back of the camera. And so that's the way I usually have my cameras configured. Not always, it depends on the type of shooting that you're doing, and it depends on how you like the camera to work. And so nice little customize option. And if you don't wanna jump ahead and make that change right now, you wanna think about it, don't worry. We're gonna come back, and we're gonna talk more about that when we get into the menu system there under camera settings number one. The mode dial on the top of the camera is arguably one of the most important controls on the camera because it controls how our shutter speeds, apertures and potentially many other features are set on the camera, so let's take a closer look at the mode dial. All right, so you do have that lock button in the middle. You need to press that and then turn the dial. We're gonna start with the easiest of all these settings, which is the auto mode, and in this case it's got scene recognition where the camera can recognize to some degree, it's not the smartest camera in the world, but it does a pretty good job, of recognizing what you are trying to shoot by the light levels, by where you're focusing, and it starts making adjustments for you in this mode. Now to be honest, if I met you on the street, and you had your A9, and you said John, I watched your A9 class, it was a wonderful class, and I looked down and I saw on your camera that you had it set to the auto mode, I'd be a little disappointed. I'm hoping that if you bought this camera, you took this class, you're gonna wanna get out and use it in a much more manual way and take control of things yourself. This is a great mode for anyone who owns this camera if they need to hand it over to somebody else to take some photos, and they just don't want those people to mess up anything on their camera. This is gonna turn on a lot of child safety locks on the camera so that people can't get into your menu systems and start messing with them. It's also gonna set up the focusing and the exposure system for just easy picture taking. And so if you were just wanting to take some simple basic photos, and you didn't wanna try to do anything photographically fancy, throw it into the auto mode. The camera's gonna do a nice, simple and safe job. But for those of you who really wanna get the best photos, there's nothing the camera is doing in the auto mode that you can't do yourself with some knowledge. And so hopefully I'll be giving you some of that knowledge here in this class. All right, we're gonna jump down two stops here to the movie mode. And so this one has got the little movie filmstrip over there. On the back of your camera you have a movie record button. Now you can actually hit this movie record button at any time you want, but I'd recommend turning it to the movie mode because it's gonna crop the viewfinder so that you can see what the 16:9 aspect ratio is. And when you go into the movie mode, it does really change how the camera works in many, many different ways, and so let's look at a few movie specifics here. So first off, the file format that you're shooting. Are you shooting in a small file? Are you shooting in an HD high definition or the largest, the 4K mode? This will be controlled in the camera settings two. In the menu system Sony has now grouped a lot of their video functions together. And so under file format you can choose what size format you want in there. And so 4K is the largest format that you can shoot in here. Some people are gonna want to shoot HD. Some are gonna wanna shoot 4K. Once you've made a selection with that, ... you're gonna wanna change your recording setting, which is gonna record the number of frames per second, and the file size, how much compression is going on in that video. And so some people want the largest file size possible because they're editing with it, and they might be adjusting that footage. Some people just are recording basic videos that they're not gonna mess with too much, and they don't mind saving a little bit of file size. So when you are in the video mode on the camera, you do have a 29 minute time limit, and that's whether you're in the HD or the 4K file format modes. There is a four gigabyte file limit, and so if you are recording very large files, and it fills up four gigs, it starts another file, and so you may need to kind of paste two files together if you're getting one continuous long take. When you are focusing you can use single focusing, which we'll talk more about as we get into the class, but when you're actually recording it's either continuous all the time focusing, kind of like a camcorder, or you can manually focus. So there is no AFS focusing while you are recording. The other thing is that there is a slight crop, a 1.2 crop when you are shooting 4K at 30p. And so if you wanna record 4K at 24p, which is a very popular format for a lot of people, you do get the full screen on that. And so the other option is in, there is in the menu system there is also the option of using the crop frame lenses, which go with a 1.5 crop. And you can either manually select that, or if you were to put on one of the E series lenses, it's gonna automatically go ahead and crop for you. So when it comes to the resolution we have HD, full high definition, and the 4K option depends on how large a file size you want from your movies. And along with that will come frames per second, and there's gonna be some slightly different options available because your frames per second times your frame size is gonna be how much data you are shooting with. And so we're not able to shoot at 60 frames a second with the 4K mode, and so there are some limitations when it comes to that. So we also have a number of ways of recording information in the camera, the format of the video. And so the XAVC S 4K is gonna be your popular standard format for 4K video. The one that is kind of unusual is the AVCHD, which is designed for people who are recording Blu-Ray. It's an older Sony format, so most people probably aren't gonna wanna be choosing that one. If you're choosing to shoot in high definition, you'd be choosing the XAVC S HD, which is a pretty popular format from Sony. With the frame rates, here in the United States the standard frame rate is 30 frames per second. In Europe and other places around the world it's frames per second. If you want you can shoot double that on some of the different high definition options at 50 and 60 frames a second, and then you can also go up to a 120 frames a second to do very slow motion potentially. And then we can also go down and shoot at 24 frames a second, which is kind of that movie look that a lot of Hollywood movies are filmed at, so a lot of different options in there. The next item on the dial that we're gonna be talking about is the slow and quick options, and this allows you to shoot basically in camera time lapse or speed things up for fast motion, and so we'll talk more about that in a second. But yeah, you do have a great number of options on this camera for shooting things at different speeds. And so that's your movie mode.

Class Description

We know what it’s like to dive right into taking pictures with your new camera. But trying to understand the manual can be a frustrating experience. Get the most out of your new mirrorless Sony A9 with this complete step-by-step walk-through 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:

  1. How to utilize the 20 frames/second with full autofocus feature
  2. How to understand the new menu systems
  3. How to use the camera's 4K video capabilities

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 A9 settings to work for your style of photography.



I've taken lots of John's classes as my photography journey has unfolded. Like all good teachers, John has a fantastic ability to take concepts which are complex and could be overwhelming, and making them accessible and much simpler. I'm lucky enough to own this amazing camera, I'm sure I'll get even more enjoyment from using it after taking this class - John has done so much of the hard work of learning away, now I feel like I can just start enjoying it!


Great information as always, John's approach is amazing, well paced and very informative. I own so many of his amazing tutorials, I feel like he's part of my family - but a lot more knowledgeable 😏

Alexander Zlatev

Thank you Great Work