Photos By Meta

Digital Photography Guide
For Sony Alpha Cameras


Sony Alpha Camera Tips

Sony Alpha Camera Accessories

Sony Alpha Camera Settings

Minolta AF Lenses For Sony Alpha Cameras

Digital Photography Books

About Meta

Follow Meta On Instagram

In association with

Ad • Find The Best Sony Alpha Cameras

Photos By Meta Explains Our Best Sony Alpha Camera Settings For Beginners

Sony a77 II Camera

Sony Alpha Camera Settings For Beginners

Meta Reviews Sony Alpha Camera Settings that will work for most all Sony Alpha Cameras, including the APS-C Sony a77 II Camera and the Full Frame Sony a99 II Camera.

Included are some of Meta’s Camera Procedures that are not included in your Sony Alpha Camera Manual.

Meta shoots with Sony a77 II Cameras and Vintage Minolta AF Lenses.

Meta owns, uses and recommends all of the Camera Products and Camera Accessories featured on this page.

Purchase Meta’s Nature Photography

Meta’s Sony Alpha Camera Settings

Sony a77 II Camera
Ad • Sony a77 II Digital Camera
Today’s Sony Alpha Cameras are packed full of features and options, but this also makes it a lot more confusing for Beginner Sony Alpha Photographers to figure out which options are important and when you should use them.

The Sony Factory Defaults are a good place to start for 90% of your Basic Sony Alpha Photography, but there are a few options that still need tweaking:

P – Program Mode (Think of this as ISO Priority Mode – You set the ISO and your Camera figures out the Correct Shutter Speed and Aperture)
ISO –> AUTO ISO –> Limited ISO to ISO 800 (APS-C) or ISO 1600 (Full Frame). The Factory Default is ISO 6400.
MENU –> Camera 1 –> Quality –> RAW (Don’t Make The Mistake of Shooting in JPEG)
MENU –> Camera 2 –> Drive Mode –> Continuous Shooting –> Hi (Unless Bracketing)
MENU –> Camera 3 –> Focus Area –> Expand Flexible Spot (Center Plus Small Area Around The Center)
MENU –> Camera 5 –> White Balance –> Auto (NO EFFECT IN RAW)
MENU –> Camera 5 –> Metering Mode –> Multi (Default Mode)
MENU –> Camera 8 –> SteadyShot –> On (Set It and Forget It)
Focus Mode Button: C for Continuous Auto Focusing (Set It and Forget It)
Meta Recommends You Setup Back Button Auto Focus.


The small round Focus Mode Switch at the base of the lens has 4 rotary positions.
The 4 Focus Mode Switch options are “S”, “A”, “C” and “MF”. Continuous Auto Focus or C is Recommended.

S – Single. Once the Sony Alpha Camera achieves Focus, it stops Auto Focusing.
A – Automatic Mode. Lets the Sony Alpha Camera decide between “C” and “S” Modes. (Not Recommended)
C – Continuous Auto Focusing. The Sony Alpha Camera will Continuous Auto Focus (Recommended).
MF – Manual Focus is the Default. You have to manually focus your lens. Continuous Auto Focus is Disabled.

Sony Alpha Camera Settings – Meta Recommends Starting Out In “Program Mode” For Beginner Photographers


AUTO – Auto Mode. Allows you to photograph still images with the settings adjusted automatically to a Point and Photograph Camera.
A – Aperture Priority Mode. Photographs by adjusting the Aperture and changing the focus range, or by defocus the background.
S – Shutter Priority Mode. Adjusts the Shutter Speed to show the movement of the subject.
M – Manual Mode. Allows you to photograph after manually adjusting the exposure (Shutter Speed and Aperture) using the Front Dial and the Rear Dial.
P – Program Mode. (Recommended For Beginner Photographers). Allows you to photograph with the Exposure (ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture) adjusted Automatically, but ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture can be quickly adjusted Manually using the Front Dial and the Rear Dial.
Program Mode helps you focus more on Better Photography Composition and helps you Learn the Fundamentals of Exposure; Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.


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

MENU –> Camera 1 –> Quality –> RAW (Set It and Forget It)
Most Photographers Photograph in RAW, which gives you 16 bits vs. 8 bits of color, plus no JPEG Artifacts and no Double JPEG Compression from Post Production JPEG Export! Requires Post Production Software.

Drive Mode – Continuous Shooting – Take advantage of the Sony Alpha Camera’s 12 FPS shooting capability and Select Hi
MENU –> Camera 2 –> Continuous Shooting –> Hi (Set It and Forget It)
MENU –> Camera 2 –> Continuous Bracket –> 1.0EV 5 Images (Only if Shooting HDR Photography)

Power Ratio – 1/16th Flash Power for Outdoor Fill or to Trigger Remote Flash Units from the Camera’s Internal Popup Flash.
MENU –> Camera 3 –> Power Ratio –> 1/16 (Not Needed If Using a Top Mounted Flash Unit)

Focus Area – Use Expand Flexible Spot For Quicker Focusing of Center Plus Area Around Center.
MENU –> Camera 3 –> Focus Area –> Expand Flexible Spot (Set It and Forget It)

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 Sony SSM Lenses and Macro Photography)

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 – Higher ISO is the main cause of Sensor Amplification Noise, especially in dark areas. The Native ISO = ISO 100 (No Sensor Amplification = The Lowest Noise). There’s no technical advantage to drop below the Native ISO. Meta tries to shoot at the Native ISO of her Sony Alpha Camera, ISO 100, which produces the lowest noise image possible.

AUTO ISO – If you prefer to use Auto ISO, you should Limit set ISO Range Limit to ISO 800 (APS-C) or ISO 1600 (Full Frame), to keep the High ISO the Sensor Noise to an acceptable level. The Factory Default ISO Limit is ISO 6400, which Meta considers a way too high. The ISO Limit is set in the ISO Screen. If you’re not sure what ISO Limit to use, take a series of Out of Focus Images at different ISO Values, then compare the Noise in the Darker Areas.

MENU –> Camera 5 –> Auto ISO Limited to ISO 800 (APS-C) or ISO 1600 (Full Frame)

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 –> Metering Mode –> Multi (Default Mode)

White Balance – White Balance has NO EFFECT IN RAW. Auto White Balance works very well and is a good Starting Point for RAW Post Production.
MENU –> Camera 5 –> White Balance –> Auto (Set It and Forget It)

Creative Style – Creative Style has NO EFFECT IN RAW, but this does affect what you see on your View Finder, which is the JPEG Preview. There are many options to adjust your JPEG Preview, but the Color RAW Image File will not be affected.
Option 1) MENU –> Camera 5 –> Creative Style –> Vivid –> Contrast 1 | Saturation 1 | Sharpness 1 (Mimics Final Post Production Photo)
Option 2) MENU –> Camera 5 –> Creative Style –> B/W –> Contrast 3 | – | Sharpness 0 (Only Color is the Manual Focus Peaking Color)
Your Histogram, Zebra Overexposure and Photo Preview are controlled by the JPEG Preview. Adjusting the Creative Style has NO EFFECT on your JPEG Preview’s Histogram and Zebra Overexposure, only what you see in Preview.

Long Exposure NR – Performs a “Dark Frame Subtraction” on Exposures 1 Second or Longer, which takes 2x Longer to Photograph and Process. This works when shooting RAW. Long Exposure Noise Reduction is available only in Single Shot Mode. In Astrophotography, it is recommended to Turn Off, because it can sometimes mistake faint stars as noise and tries to eliminate them.
MENU –> Camera 6 –> Long Exposure NR –> On

SteadyShot (In Body Image Stabilization or IBIS) – SteadyShot INSIDE is built into the body and not into the lens. Sony claims SteadyShot can add 4 Stops of Light. Meta recommends leaving SteadyShot ON when shooting Hand Held and when shooting on a Sturdy Tripod to help with wind shake or ground vibration.
Note: SteadyShot is grayed out when the Shutter Speed is set to BULB Mode, indicating it automatically gets Turned OFF for long Exposures greater than 30 Seconds.
MENU –> Camera 8 –> SteadyShot –> On (Set It and Forget It)

Color Space – Color Space has NO EFFECT IN RAW. AdobeRGB is essential if you’re a purest for color accuracy and your final product will be printed by a commercial printer using CMYK Printing using JPEG Format.
MENU –> Camera 8 –> Color Space –> AdobeRGB


Sony Wireless Remote Control – Ever wonder why your Sony Wireless Remote Control won’t work, even after changing the CR2025 Lithium Battery? Before you send it back for repairs, check to make sure the Camera’s Remote Control Function is Turned On!
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 cross 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 Alpha Camera. Firmware updates fix bugs and often enable new camera features. Here’s the latest Firmware. (Newer Mac OS Support is Very Limited).
MENU –> Tool 6 –> Version (Latest Firmware: Ver. 2.00. Release Date: 12/10/2014)


Zebra – Blinks on the part of your image that will be over exposed. This is Optional.
MENU –> Gear 1 –> Zebra –> 100+

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. Like Zebras, this prevents over and under exposure. Highly Recommended.
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. Recommended.
MENU –> Gear 2 –> DISP Button –> Configures Display Button

Manual Focus – Use Peaking Level and Peaking Color when in Manual Focus. Manual Focus is better for Macro Photography.
MENU –> Gear 2 –> Peaking Level –> Low (Low is More Sensitive)
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 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

Priority Setup – Sets whether or not to release the shutter even when focus is not achieved in auto focus mode. This feature can cause more problems than it solves, especially with low light photography, so Meta sets this to Release.
MENU –> Gear 5 –> Release (The shutter will be released even if the subject is out of focus – Best for Low Light Photography)

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
Many Functions have NO EFFECT IN RAW. Here’s Meta’s Simplified RAW Function Menu Settings:
1 –> Drive Mode | Focus Area | Metering Mode | ISO | Peaking Level | Peaking Color
2 –> If you Leave this Section Blank, only 1 row will show up in the Sony Alpha Camera’s display.

Dial Setup – Meta prefers the Shutter Speed Control Dial in the Front and the Aperture Control Dial in the Rear.
MENU –> Gear 7 –> Dial Setup–> Front SS

Dial EV Comp – Turn Off when Shooting in Priority Mode or Manual Mode.
MENU –> Gear 7 –> Dial EV Comp–> Off

MOVIE Button – This allows you quickly Shoot Movies by pressing the Red Movie Button.
MENU –> Gear 7 –> MOVIE Button –> Always


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

PC Remote Control – This is similar to Camera Tethering, but uses the Sony Alpha Camera’s built-in Wi-Fi Hub for Wireless Control from your iPhone or iPad using the Sony Imaging Edge Mobile App.
MENU –> WiFi 1 –> Ctrl w/ Smartphone –> This will present you with the Sony Alpha Camera’s Wi-Fi Hotspot Password to Connect to your your iPhone or iPad.
If you are connecting your Sony Alpha Camera to your Computer via a Micro USB Cable to USB Cable.
MENU –> Tool 4 –> USB Connection –> PC Remote

Camera’s Name – Lets you name your Sony Alpha Camera (Handy if you have more than one Camera of the same make and model)
MENU –> WiFi 2 –> Edit Device Name –> Name Your Camera

Learn How To Check Your Shutter Count On Your Sony Alpha Camera

Sony a77 II Camera
Ad • Sony a77 II Digital Camera

Check Your Shutter Count

The Mechanical Shutter on the Sony A77 II Digital Camera is rated at 150,000 Shutter Actuations.

If you are purchasing a used Sony Digital Camera, you should first Check the Shutter / Image Count.

SONY Alpha Shutter / Image Counter

Photos By Meta

PO Box 1571
Blowing Rock, NC 28605
(828) 265-2730

Contact Meta

Privacy Policy

Apple iPhone Video Tips

Purchase Meta’s Nature Photography

Blue Ridge Vacations Guide

Follow Meta On Instagram

Follow Me On YouTube

Photos By Meta North Carolina Nature Photography


In association with amazon.comEmail

Apple iPhone Video Tips