Photos By Meta - Reviews The Top Digital Camera Settings

Learn Digital Camera Modes and The Top Digital Camera Settings For Sony Alpha Cameras

Digital Camera Modes – Explains The Exposure Triangle. When and Why to use Shutter Priority Mode, Aperture Priority Mode or Manual Mode with Auto ISO.

Digital Camera Settings Guide – Explains the Complex Amount of Digital Camera Settings – What they are and what you should set them to. This is specific to the Sony a77 II Digital Camera, but can also be applied to other Sony Digital Camera Models.

Digital Camera Procedures – Explains How To Use The Many Digital Camera Settings to setup Digital Camera Procedures, such as Back Button Auto Focus.

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Digital Camera Modes

Always Shoot in RAW – RAW Quality Mode gives you 16 bits vs. 8 bits of color (That’s not 2x but 256x More Information), plus no JPEG Artifacts and no Double JPEG Compression from JPEG Post Production!

The Exposure Triangle – Learn How Aperture Size, Shutter Speed and ISO are interconnected and need to be balanced. Once you Understand the The Exposure Triangle, you’ll be on your way to becoming a much better Digital Photographer!

Manual Mode – Meta almost always shoots in Manual Mode to gain full control of both the Aperture Size (Controls Depth of Field and Background Blur) and Shutter Speed (Freezes or Blurs Action) on her Digital Camera. Meta typically starts out at f/8 and 1/100th of a second. Auto ISO (Limited to ISO 400) is recommended for Manual Mode to make it easier to use.

Aperture Priority Mode – In Aperture Priority Mode, you set the Aperture depending on what Depth of Field (Narrow or Wide) and what Background (Blurred or Sharp) you want. Use f/2.8 (Large Opening) for a Narrow Depth of Field with a Blurred Background or f/22 (Small Opening) for a Wide Depth of Field with a Sharp Background. The Digital Camera will pick the Correct Shutter Speed for you. Use a Sturdy Tripod when using Aperture Priority Mode if your shutter speed drops below 1/60th of a second.

Shutter Priority Mode – In Shutter Priority Mode, you set the Shutter Speed depending on what Motion you want (Freezing or Blurred). Use 1 second for Blurred or Long Exposures (Blurred Waterfalls) or 1/2000th of a second for High Speed Action Shots (Birds in Flight). The Digital Camera will pick the Correct Aperture Size for you. Shutter Priority Mode is ideal for Hand Held Shooting, as long as the Shutter Speed is faster then 1/60th of a second.

Auto ISO In Manual Mode – One advantage of using Auto ISO (Limited to ISO 400), in Manual Mode is that the Sony a77 II Digital Camera will select from a much wider range of ISO values: ISO 100, ISO 125, ISO 160, ISO 200, ISO 250, ISO 320 and ISO 400 are commonly used. Manually ISO 100, ISO 200, and ISO 400 are only available.

The Focal Plane Mark – Φ –This circular mark with a vertical line through it is located on the back of your Digital Camera (Photo: Left Highlighted in Yellow). The Φ mark indicates exactly where the sensor plane is located inside your Digital Camera. In Macro Photography, the Minimum Focus Distance (MFD) of a Macro Lens is measured from the Focal Plane Mark (FPM) to the Macro Subject. If you’re inside this area, you’re too close!

Macro Lens Example: Meta’s Sony 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens has a MFD of 35cm, but her Sony 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens has a MFD of only 20cm, both of which are measured from the Macro Subject to the Focal Plane Mark Φ and not from the Macro Subject to the End of the Lens. This is important in Macro Photography.

Depth of Field – Which part of your subject do you want to be in Focus? Depth of Field is controlled by the Aperture Size.
Large Apertures (f/1.4 or f/2.8) Blur the background and create a Narrow Depth of Field. Great for Portraits and Still Life.
Small Apertures (f/11 or f/16) Get everything in focus and create a Wide Depth of Field. Great for Landscape and Macro Photography.

How To Shoot HDR Photography
Aurora HDR Sunset Photography – Standard vs. HDR
Bracketing For HDR – Many Professional Photographers Bracket all of their shots by taking multiple shots at Different Exposures or EV levels. This is used mainly for HDR Post Production – Meta take 5 Shots at 1EV Separation in Manual Mode at ISO 100 (Not Auto ISO).

Minimize Sensor Noise – High ISO is the main cause of Sensor Amplification Noise, so try and keep your ISO as low as possible. Noise is often found in the shadows and dark areas. For the Lowest Sensor Noise, use the Sony Digital Camera’s Native ISO 100 (no sensor amplification). Meta Limits her AUTO ISO to ISO 400 (Like the Old Film Days) to keep the Noise Very Low.

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Sony a77 II Digital Camera Settings

Learn The Top Sony a77 II Digital Camera Settings For Beginners

Photos By Meta Reviews The Best Digital Camera Settings for the Sony a77 II Digital Camera. These Sony Digital Camera Settings should work fine for other Sony Digital Cameras! Always Check your Sony Camera Manual before making any MENU changes to your Sony Digital Camera.

Quality – Most Professional Photographers Shoot in RAW which gives you 16 bits vs. 8 bits of color, plus no JPEG Artifacts and no Double JPEG Compression from Post Production! 8 Bits = 256 Shades of Red, Green and Blue, but 16 Bits = 65,536 Shades of Red, Green and Blue. 16 bits vs. 8 bits is not 2x more color, it’s 256x more information!
MENU –> Camera 1 –> Quality –> RAW

Aspect Ratio – 3:2 | 6000x4000 Pixels is the Default Mode.
MENU –> Camera 1 –> Aspect Ratio –> 3:2

Drive Mode – Continuous Shooting – Take advantage of the Sony a77 II Digital Camera’s 12 fps shooting capability.
MENU –> Camera 2 –> Cont. Shooting (Hi or Lo)
MENU –> Camera 2 –> Cont. Bracket 1.0EV 5 Images (for HDR Photography)

Power Ratio – 1/16th Flash Power for Outdoor Fill or to Trigger Remote Flashes from the Camera’s Internal Flash.
MENU –> Camera 3 –> Power Ratio –> 1/16

Focus Area – Use Wide to access the Sony a77 II Digital Camera’s 79 Auto Focus Points.
MENU –> Camera 3 –> Focus Area –> Wide (For Action Photography)
MENU –> Camera 3 –> Focus Area –> Center (For HDR Photography)

AF-A Setup – Allows you to change the focusing behavior when the Focus Mode Switch is set to “A”.
MENU –> Camera 3 –> AF-A Setup–> DMF (Direct Manual Focusing. Works with SSM Lenses and Macro Photography)

Focus Mode Switch – The Sony a77 II Digital Camera has an round Focus Mode Switch at the base of the lens.
Focus Mode Switch options are “S”, “A”, “C” and “MF”.
S – Single. Once the Sony Digital Camera achieves Focus, it stops Auto Focusing.
A – Automatic Mode. Lets the Sony Digital Camera decide between “C” and “S” Modes. (Recommended For Macro Photography)
C – Continuous Auto focusing. The Sony Digital Camera will Continuous Auto Focus (Standard Recommended Mode)
MF – Manual Focus. You have to manually focus your lens. Auto Focus is Disabled.

Exposure Step – Used for HDR Bracketing.
MENU –> Camera 4 –> Exposure Step –> 0.5EV

AF Drive Speed – Speed of the Auto Focus.
MENU –> Camera 4 –> AF Drive Speed –> Slow (Results in more in Focus Shots)

ISO – High ISO is the main cause of Sensor Amplification Noise, especially in dark areas. The Sony a77 II Digital Camera’s Native ISO = ISO 100 (No Sensor Amplification = Lowest Noise). There’s no advantage to drop below ISO 100. Meta uses Auto ISO in Manual Mode, but she limits the Maximum ISO to ISO 400, instead of the factory default of ISO 3200, which she finds way too high. One advantage of using Auto ISO, is that the Sony a77 II Digital Camera will select from a much wider range of ISO values: ISO 100, ISO 125, ISO 160, ISO 200, ISO 250, ISO 320 and ISO 400 are commonly used. Manually ISO 100, ISO 200 and ISO 400 can only be selected in the Sony a77 II Digital Camera.
MENU –> Camera 5 –> ISO AUTO (Recommended in Manual Mode)

Metering Mode – This isn’t always 100% perfect, so you might have to adjust your Exposure Compensation up or down depending on what you are shooting. Available Metering Modes are Multi, Center, and Spot.
MENU –> Camera 5 –> Multi (For Overall Metering Mode)
MENU –> Camera 5 –> Spot (For Long Exposure HDR Photography)

White Balance – This Has No Effect when shooting in RAW, but “Auto White Balance” works well, and is a good Starting Point for RAW Post Production.
MENU –> Camera 5 –> White Balance –> Auto

Creative Style – This Has No Effect when shooting in RAW, but Creative Style Standard can be set, then Boost what you see in the View Finder.
MENU –> Camera 5 –> Creative Style –> Standard –> Contrast +1 | Saturation +2 | Sharpness +2

Steady Shot – This is built into the Sony a77 II Digital Camera, not into the lens, no matter which make or model lens you use. Turn this Off when using a Sturdy Tripod, but remember to turn it back On for Hand Held.
MENU –> Camera 8 –> SteadyShot –> On | Off


Remote Control – Ever wonder why your Wireless Remote Control doesn’t work, even after changing the battery? Maybe you have the Remote Control Turned Off!
MENU –> Tool 3 –> Remote Ctrl –> On

Sensor Cleaning – Blow any Sensor Dust off whenever changing lenses. Never change lenses outdoors when it’s windy! Clean your Sensor Often:
MENU –> Tool 3 –> Cleaning Mode (Requires Camera to be Turned Off After Vibrating Sensor Cleaning)

Area Setting – If you travel across multiple Time Zones, remember to Set Your Time Zone, which adjusts your Camera’s internal clock. This helps when trying to find photos based on the time of day – Was that a sunset or a sunrise photo?
MENU –> Tool 4 –> Area Setting (Set Your Time Zone)

Firmware Update – Check your Firmware Version to verify that it’s the latest version. Firmware is the Operating System that runs your Sony Digital Camera. Firmware updates fix bugs and often enable new camera features. The last Sony a77 II Digital Camera that Meta purchased in 2019 didn’t have the latest Firmware installed, so it had to be manually updated.
MENU –> Tool 6 –> Version (Sony a77 II Digital Camera Ver. 2.00. Last Checked May 2019)

Program Modes – If your Digital Camera supports Program Modes (Top Program Mode Dial), these 3 Memory Locations record all of the camera’s settings for quick mode changing. This is just a fixed starting point, and can be easily adjusted. Remember ABC. Meta uses her 3 Program Modes all in Manual Mode for:
1) Action Photography – Auto ISO, 1/2000th, f/4, Cont. Shooting Hi, Wide Focus, Multi Metering, Auto Focus
2) Bracketed for HDR Photography – Native ISO 100, 1/200th, f/8, 1.0EV 5 Images, Wide Focus, Multi Metering, (3 Stop ND Filter)
3) Close-Up / Macro Photography – Auto ISO, 1/200th, f/16, Cont. Shooting Lo, Center Focus, Multi Metering, Manual Focus


Grid Line – Rule of 3rds Grid helps with your Creative Compensation.
MENU –> Gear 1 –> Grid Line –> Rule of 3rds Grid

Histogram – Turn on and watch your Histogram. This prevents over and under exposure.
MENU –> Gear 2 –> DISP Button –> Configures Display Button

Digital Level – Turn on in the Display to help keep the Camera Level. There’s nothing worse than a crooked landscape photo.
MENU –> Gear 2 –> DISP Button –> Configures Display Button

Manual Focus – Use Peaking Level and Peaking Color when in Manual Mode. Manual Mode is better for Night and Macro Photography.
MENU –> Gear 2 –> Peaking Level –> Low (Low is more sensitive and exact)
MENU –> Gear 2 –> Peaking Color –> Yellow (Yellow is easier to see)

Live View Display – This is the unmarked button is next to the rear of the lens on the lower right side, and is hard to reach and impossible to see. It will close down the aperture to simulate the Depth of Field. If the Aperture is too small, it might be too dark to see.
The Live View Display Button can be easily assigned to the C Button on the back of the camera.
MENU –> Gear 2 –> Live View Display –> Setting Effect On
MENU –> Gear 6 –> Custom Key Settings –> C Button–> Aperture Preview

Bracket Order – Selecting the Darkest of the set first, makes the set easier to identify the Bracketed Set on your computer.
MENU –> Gear 5 –> Bracket Order –> - –> 0 –> + (Darkest, Standard, Lightest)

Function Menu Set – This allows you to set up Commonly Used Menu Functions under the Fn or Function Button.
MENU –> Gear 6 –> Function Menu Set –> Set Your Commonly Used Menu Items
Some Functions don’t apply to Shooting in RAW, so Meta’s Simplified RAW Function Menu Settings:
1 –> Drive Mode | Focus Area | Metering Mode | Exposure Compensation | Flash Mode | ISO
2 –> If you Leave this entire section Blank, only one row will show up in the display.


Airplane Mode – If you’re not using your Digital Camera’s WiFi Mode, turn Airplane Mode On to Save Power.
MENU –> WiFi 1 –> Airplane Mode–> On

Camera’s Name – If you’re like Meta, you might own more than one Sony Digital Camera of the same model, so consider Numbering each Camera (with a Number Sticker) and changing the Camera’s Name to match the Number: Eg: SonyA77II#1, SonyA77II#2, etc. This makes it easier to figure out which Camera took which photo, or which camera was having any issues at the time.
MENU –> WiFi 2 –> Edit Device Name –> Name Your Camera

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Sony a77 II Digital Camera Procedures

Learn How To Setup Back Button Auto Focus For Beginners

Back Button Auto Focus – Many Professional Photographers like Meta, Highly Recommend setting up Back Button Auto Focus or Back Button Focusing on your Digital Camera. This simple procedure involves Removing the Auto Focus from the Shutter Release Button, and Assigning it to a Back Button, such as the Center Joy Stick Button, which is easy to locate and press with your right thumb.

This prevents the Shutter Release Button from quickly refocusing on the closest object, if you or the subject moves when you take a shot, resulting in many out of focus photographs. The procedure below is for specific for the Sony a77 II Digital Camera, but it should also work on other Sony Digital Cameras as well.

Your Digital Camera Settings May Vary, but the Back Button Auto Focus or Back Button Focus concept is the same.
MENU –> Gear 4 –> AF w/ Shutter –> Off (Removes the Auto Focus from the Shutter Release Button)
MENU –> Gear 4 –> AEL w/ Shutter –> Off (Removes the Auto Exposure Lock from the Shutter Release Button)
MENU –> Gear 6 –> Function Menu Set –> Center Button –> AF On (Assigns the Auto Focus to the Center of the Joy Stick Button)
MENU –> Gear 6 –> Function Menu Set –> AF/MF Button –> AF/MF Ctrl Toggle (AF/MF Button Toggles between AF and MF)

Back Button Auto Focus greatly changes how your Digital Camera Focuses, so it will take some time to get used to using the Center Button to Auto Focus with your thumb and not your index finger on the Shutter Release Button. You should have more in focus photos.

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Digital Photography Tips, Settings, Training and Reviews
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Western North Carolina Nature Photographers

Photos By Meta

Nature Photographs were shot by Western North Carolina Nature Photographer Meta Gätschenberger of Photos by Meta, with Sony Mirrorless Cameras and Sony Lenses.

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