Digital Camera Settings

Meta’s Best

Sony Digital Camera Settings

For Beginners

Home | Contests | Gallery | Contact

Photography Composition Tips

Landscape Photography Tips

HDR Photography Tips

Waterfall Photography Tips

Macro Photography Tips

Hummingbird Photography Tips

Wildlife Photography Tips

Astrophotography Tips

Vintage Minolta AF Lenses

Digital Camera Accessories

Digital Camera Filters

Digital Photography Books

The Exposure Triangle

Sony Digital Camera Settings For Beginners

Meta's Best Sony Digital Camera Settings For Beginners

In association with

Meta’s Best Sony Digital Camera Settings For Beginners

Meta’s Digital Camera Settings Section covers Sony Digital Cameras. Meta’s Sony Digital Camera Settings will work for most all Sony Digital Cameras, including the APS-C Sony a77 II Digital Camera and the Full Frame Sony a99 II Digital Camera.

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

Western North Carolina Sony Digital Photographer Meta Gatschenberger, RN, shoots with Sony Digital Cameras and Minolta Maxxum AF Lenses.

View Meta’s Digital Photography

Meta’s Best Sony Digital Camera Settings For Beginners

Today’s Sony Digital Camera are packed full of features and options, but this also makes it a lot more confusing for Beginner 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 Digital 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 Digital 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 –> Center (Set It and Forget It)
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.


Download the Sony a77 II Manual APS-C 24 MP Camera. Load into iBooks on your iPhone and iPad.
Download the Sony a99 II Manual Full Frame 42 MP Camera. Load into iBooks on your iPhone and iPad.


Download the Sony a77 II Firmware v 2.00
Download the Sony a99 II Firmware v 1.01


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 Digital Camera achieves Focus, it stops Auto Focusing.
A – Automatic Mode. Lets the Sony Digital Camera decide between “C” and “S” Modes. (Not Recommended)
C – Continuous Auto Focusing. The Sony Digital 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 Digital 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 Digital 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 Digital 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 Digital 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 –> Center (Set It and Forget It)

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. Meta shoots in Vivid, which mimics her Vivid Post Processing.
MENU –> Camera 5 –> Creative Style –> Vivid –> Contrast 0 | Saturation 0 | Sharpness 0
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 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. 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 Digital 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 Photograph Video 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 Digital 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 Digital Camera’s Wi-Fi Hotspot Password to Connect to your your iPhone or iPad.
If you are connecting your Sony Digital 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 Digital Camera (Handy if you have more than one Camera of the same make and model)
MENU –> WiFi 2 –> Edit Device Name –> Name Your Camera

Ad • Find The Best Digital Photography Books

Photos By Meta

PO Box 1571
Blowing Rock, NC 28605



Privacy Policy

Follow Us On Facebook


In association with amazon.comLinkedInEmail

North Carolina Web Design