Meta Explains The Best Sony Digital Camera Settings For Beginners
The Best Sony Digital Camera Settings for Beginner Photographers
A Few Words of Advise For Beginner Photographers – If you are just beginning to Learn Photography, Meta has a few words of advise for you...
1) Put some time into understanding the Exposure Triangle. Learn how adjusting one side effects on the other two sides. Know how the 3 sides are Mathematically Related to each other. This will greatly help you when you progress to Shooting in Manual Mode and have to manually set your Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.
2) Start Shooting in RAW! When Meta started in Photography many years ago with an 8 Megapixel Canon Rebel, she shot in JPEG, because it was quick, simple and easy to do. Looking back today, that was a Big Mistake that she regrets!
RAW Files are Digital Film Negatives – Like old Film Negatives, RAW Images never get altered or touched during the entire post production process. RAW images contain 16 bits of color and detail, compared to only 8 bits in JPEG. In mathematical terms that equates to 68.7 billion colors in RAW, versus only 16.7 million colors in JPEG – That’s 256x More Colors! So why would you want to shoot in JPEG?
3) Stop shooting in Full Automatic Mode! Learn to Shoot in Manual Mode, which prevents your camera from assisting you all of the time. This will leave all of the technical decisions up to you, the Photographer, and not your camera’s computer processor. You’ll become a better Professional Photographer for doing it.
4) Gain more competence in your Post Production Software to learn the basics of Digital Photo Editing. Master: Noise Reduction, Sharpening, Histograms, White and Black Levels, Color Enhancing, Cropping, Resolution, File Formats, Layers and Masking. Your Final Photography will be greatly improved along with your Post Production Skills!
5) Backup your Photography Files More Than Once! Meta uses a Time-Machine Backup and a Thumb Drive Backup. Also consider using an off-site backup service, like Cloud Storage.
The Exposure Triangle – Meta Explains The Exposure Triangle and How To Choose the Best Camera and Lens Settings for Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO. Each Third of the Exposure Triangle interacts with the other Two Thirds to Balance the Exposure Triangle for a Correct Exposure.
The Best Sony Digital Camera Settings – Meta Explains The Best Sony Digital Camera Settings For Beginners. These settings are specific to the Sony a77 II Digital Camera, but they can also be applied to many other Sony Digital Cameras, which use similar Sony Digital Camera Settings and Camera Menus.
The Best Sony Digital Camera Procedures – Meta Explains How To Use Multiple Sony Digital Camera Settings to setup Camera Procedures, such as Back Button Auto Focus and PC Remote Control from iPhone, iPad or MacBook.
Meta Explains The Exposure Triangle For Beginners
Why Is The Exposure Triangle So Important For Beginner Photographers?
The Exposure Triangle is a common way of associating the three variables in photography that determine the exposure of a photograph.
Exposure Triangle = Aperture + Shutter Speed + ISO
Eventually you’re going to want to take your Sony Digital Camera out of Full Automatic Mode and experiment with the other Camera Mode Settings, like Shutter Priority Mode, Aperture Priority Mode and eventually work up to Manual Mode. An understanding of the Exposure Triangle is essential for understanding and using these other camera modes together.
One must balance all 3 of these sides of the Exposure Triangle to achieve a desired result, the adjustment of one side requiring adjustments of at least one of the other sides.
Aperture – This Camera Setting determines how much light hits to your sensor from within the lens. Think of Aperture as the Size of the Hole in the Lens. A Small Aperture (Small Hole) (f/32) lets in a tiny amount of light, but produces a Wide Depth of Field and a Sharper Background. A Large Aperture (Large Hole) or Wide Open Aperture (f/1.4) lets in a lot of light, but produces a Narrow Depth of Field and a Blurred Background. Aperture hold sizes change inside Lens, not inside the Camera, but it’s mechanically controlled by the Camera.
Shooting in Aperture Priority Mode – Shooting in Aperture Priority Mode lets you take full control of the Aperture to Control your Depth of Field, while letting the Camera select the Proper ISO and Shutter Speed. Meta shoots in Shutter Priority Mode about 80% of the time to have full control over the Depth of Field, usually when shooting Macro Photography and Landscape Photography.
Shutter Speed – This Camera Setting controls how fast the shutter remains opens and how long in seconds the incoming light hits the sensor. Fast Shutter Speeds (1/1000th of a Second) can freeze the Action, and are used in High Speed Sports. Slow Shutter Speeds (1/2 second) can Blur the Action, and are often used to Smooth Waterfalls.
Shooting in Shutter Priority Mode – Shooting in Shutter Priority Mode lets you take full control of the Shutter Speed to Freeze or Blur Action, while letting the Camera select the Proper ISO and Aperture Setting. Meta shoots in Shutter Priority Mode about 10% of the time, usually when Shooting Hummingbirds to Freeze their Wings, or when Shooting Waterfalls to Blur the Water.
ISO – This is the Sensitivity of the Sensor or the Amplification of the Camera Sensor. In Film this is the Sensitivity of the Film, also called ASA. The Lowest ISO (ISO 50) or your Sony Digital Camera’s Native ISO of ISO 100 is always best to use for the lowest noise. At Native ISO there isn’s any amplification of the Signal from the Sensor, so there is no Sensor Amplifier Noise or Grain. Low ISO is best for bright light and produces the best quality, colors, lowest noise images. High ISO (25600) amplifies the Light Signal from the Sensor and is required for very low light situations, where Sensor Amplification is required. Higher ISO will introduce amplifier noise and grain into the image. Meta normally shoots at the Native ISO 100 of her Sony Digital Camera, which produces the lowest noise and best quality image possible.
Aperture – Shutter Speed – ISO
Shooting in Manual Mode – Shooting in Manual Mode lets you take Full Control of the Aperture to Control your Depth of Field, the Shutter Speed to Freeze or Blur Action and the ISO to Control Sensor Sensitivity. This setup is slower to use because you now have to adjust two parts of the Exposure Triangle at the same time. The ISO set to the Native ISO of ISO 100. Meta shoots in Manual Mode about 10% of the time, usually when shooting very low light photography, HDR Bracketing and Astrophotography.
Camera Settings – The Exposure Triangle Explained
Meta’s Best Settings for The Sony Digital Camera
What’s The Best Camera Settings for Sony Digital Cameras?
How To Best Setup Your Sony Digital Camera – Meta’s Sony Digital Camera Settings are specific for her Sony a77 II Digital Cameras, but they should work just fine for many other Sony Digital Cameras!
Image 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 JPEG Export!
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 information, it’s 256x more information! Think of RAW files as a “Digital Negatives”, which don’t get touched or altered during Post Production. So why are you still shooting in JPEG?
Focus Mode Switch
The Sony a77 II Digital Camera has a small round Focus Mode Switch at the base of the lens, which has 4 positions.
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.
C – Continuous Auto focusing. The Sony Digital Camera will Continuous Auto Focus (Recommended Mode).
MF – Manual Focus is the Default. You have to manually focus your lens. Continuous Auto Focus is Disabled.
MENU –> 1 –> Quality –> RAW (Image Quality of RAW Requires Post Production Software)
Aspect Ratio – 3:2 | 6000x4000 Pixels is the Default Mode.
MENU –> 1 –> Aspect Ratio –> 3:2
Drive Mode – Continuous Shooting – Take advantage of the Sony a77 II Digital Camera’s 12 fps shooting capability.
MENU –> 2 –> Cont. Shooting (Hi or Lo). High is recommended when shooting in Shutter Priority Mode.
MENU –> 2 –> Cont. Bracket 1.0EV 5 Images (for 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 –> 3 –> Power Ratio –> 1/16 (Not Needed If Using a Top Mounted Flash Unit)
Focus Area – Use Wide to access the Sony a77 II Digital Camera’s 79 Auto Focus Points.
MENU –> 3 –> Focus Area –> Wide (For Action Photography)
MENU –> 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 –> 3 –> AF-A Setup–> DMF (Direct Manual Focusing. Works with SSM Lenses and Macro Photography)
Exposure Step – Used for HDR Bracketing.
MENU –> 4 –> Exposure Step –> 0.5EV
AF Drive Speed – Speed of the Auto Focus.
MENU –> 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 Sony a77 II Digital Camera’s Native ISO = ISO 100 (No Sensor Amplification = The Lowest Noise). There’s no technical advantage to drop below ISO 100. Meta normally shoots at the Native ISO of her Sony Digital Camera, ISO 100, which produces the lowest noise image possible.
MENU –> 5 –> ISO 100 (Lowest Noise Setting)
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 –> 5 –> Multi (For Overall Metering Mode)
MENU –> 5 –> Center (For Center Metering Mode)
MENU –> 5 –> Spot (For Long Exposure HDR Photography)
White Balance – White Balance has No Effect when shooting in RAW, but “Auto White Balance” works fairly well, and is a good Starting Point for RAW Post Production.
MENU –> 5 –> White Balance –> Auto
Creative Style – Creative Style has No Effect when shooting in RAW. Meta shoots in either Neutral or Black & White Creative Styles.
MENU –> 5 –> Creative Style –> Neutral –> Contrast 0 | Saturation 0 | Sharpness 0
Your Histogram, Zebra Overexposure and Photo Preview are controlled by the JPEG Preview, which in turn is controlled by the Creative Style. Adjusting the Creative Style does affect your JPEG Preview’s Histogram and Zebra Overexposure, plus what you see in the Preview. Creative Style has no effect on the RAW Image. To insure you have the best possible RAW Image Exposure Levels, keep your Creative Style set to “Neutral”. If you rely on the Histogram, and don’t have a client breathing down your neck, try setting the Creative Style to Black & White. This will give you much better Histogram Results, but also result in a Black and White Preview. Don’t worry, your RAW Image will still be in color. Shooting in Black & White Creative Style lets you focus more on Composition and Exposure Levels, without being distracted by the color.
Long Exposure NR – Performs a “Dark Frame Subtraction” on Exposures 1 Second or Longer, which takes 2x Longer to Shoot 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 mistake faint stars as noise and tries to eliminate them.
MENU –> 6 –> Long Exposure NR –> On
Steady Shot – This is built into the Sony a77 II Digital Camera, not into the Sony or Minolta lenses. Sony claims this can add 4 Stops of Light (Normally 1/100th of a Second can now shoot Hand Held at 1/15th of a Second), but be careful. Turn this Off when using a Sturdy Tripod, but remember to turn it back On for Hand Held.
Note: SteadyShot is grayed out when the Shutter Speed is set to BULB Mode, indicating that it automatically gets Turned Off.
MENU –> 8 –> SteadyShot –> On | Off
Color Space – Color Space has No Effect when shooting 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 –> 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 return it, check to make sure the Camera’s Remote Control Function is Turned On!
MENU –> 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 –> 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 –> 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. A Sony a77 II Digital Camera that Meta purchased in 2019 didn’t have the latest Firmware installed, so it had to be manually updated on a PC. (Mac Support is Very Limited).
MENU –> 6 –> Version (Sony a77 II Digital Camera Ver. 2.00. Release Date: 12/10/2014)
Zebra – Blinks on the part of your image that will be over exposed.
MENU –> 1 –> Zebra –> 100+
Grid Line – Rule of 3rds Grid helps with your Creative Compensation.
MENU –> 1 –> Grid Line –> Rule of 3rds Grid
Histogram – Turn on and watch your Histogram. Like Zebras, this prevents over and under exposure.
MENU –> 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 –> 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 –> 2 –> Peaking Level –> Low (Low is more sensitive and exact). Turn Off for Astrophotography.
MENU –> 2 –> Peaking Color –> Yellow or Red
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 –> 2 –> Live View Display –> Setting Effect On
MENU –> 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 –> 5 –> Release (The shutter will be released even if the subject is out of focus – Better 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 –> 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 –> 6 –> Function Menu Set –> Set Your Commonly Used Menu Items
Many Functions have No Effect when shooting in RAW, so here’s Meta’s Simplified RAW Function Menu Settings:
1 –> Drive Mode | Focus Area | Metering Mode | SteadyShot | White Balance | Peaking Level
2 –> If you Leave this entire section Blank, only the bottom row will show up in the camera’s display.
MOVIE Button – This allows you quickly Shoot Video by pressing the Red Movie Button.
MENU –> 7 –> MOVIE Button –> Always
Airplane Mode – If you’re not using your Camera’s WiFi Mode, turn Airplane Mode On to Save Power.
MENU –> 1 –> Airplane Mode–> On
PC Remote Control – This is similar to Camera Tethering, but uses the Sony Digital Camera’s built-in WiFi Hub for Wireless Control.
MENU –> 1 –> Ctrl w/ Smartphone –> This will present you with the Sony Digital Camera’s WiFi Hotspot Password to Connect to.
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 –> 2 –> Edit Device Name –> Name Your Camera
If you’re like Meta, you might own more than one Sony Digital Camera, so consider numbering each Camera (also use a Number Sticker) and changing the Camera’s Name to match the Number: Eg: SonyA77II#1, SonyA77II#2, SonyA77II#3. This makes it easier to know which Sony Digital Camera took which photo, or which was having any issues at the time.
Meta Explains The Best Sony Digital Camera Procedures for Sony Digital Cameras
How To Setup Back Button Auto Focus for The Sony Digital Cameras
Back Button Auto Focus – Many Professional Photographers like Meta, Highly Recommend setting up Back Button Auto Focus or Back Focusing on your Camera. This simple procedure involves Removing the Auto Focus from the Shutter Release Button, and Assigning it for example, to the Center Joy Stick Button. When the Center Joy Stick Button is pressed, then it goes into Continuous Auto Focus Mode and Auto Focuses.
Back Button Auto Focus 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. This 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 Sony Digital Camera Settings May Vary Slightly, but the Back Button Auto Focus or Back Button Focus concept is exactly the same.
MENU –> 4 –> AF w/ Shutter –> Off (Removes the Auto Focus from the Shutter Release Button)
MENU –> 4 –> AEL w/ Shutter –> Off (Removes the Auto Exposure Lock from the Shutter Release Button)
MENU –> 6 –> Custom Key Settings –> AF/MF Button –> AF/MF Control Toggle (Toggles between AF and MF Modes)
MENU –> 6 –> Custom Key Settings –> Center Button –> AF On (Assigns the Auto Focus to the Center Joy Stick Button)
You should have more in focus photos using Back Button Auto Focus. This procedure greatly changes how your Camera Focuses, so it will take a little time to get used to using the Center Joy Stick Button to Auto Focus using your thumb and not your index finger on the Shutter Release Button, but the results will be well worth it.
Meta Explains PC Remote Control (Camera Tethering) for Sony Digital Cameras
How To Setup PC Remote Control for Sony Digital Cameras
PC Remote Control Camera with your iPhone, iPad or MacBook – This updated feature allows you to take control of your Sony Digital Camera with an iPhone, iPad or MacBook using the ImagingEdge App (replaces the old Play Memories App). You will need to download the new Sony ImagingEdge App from the App Store to your iPhone, iPad or MacBook.
This is similar to Camera Tethering, but uses the Sony Digital Camera’s built-in WiFi Hub for Connection and Control. No USB Cables or HDMI are Needed.
MENU –> 1 –> Airplane Mode –> Off
MENU –> 1 –> Ctrl w/ Smartphone –> This will present you with the Sony Digital Camera’s WiFi Hotspot Password to Connect to.
On Your iPhone, iPad or MacBook, Select WiFi, and Select the Sony Digital Camera’s WiFi Hotspot. Enter the password obtained from the Sony Digital Camera. This will connect the iPhone or iPad to the Sony Digital Camera’s WiFi Hotspot.
Open the Sony ImagingEdge App on your iPhone, iPad or MacBook. It should automatically connect to the Sony Digital Camera. You should see the View Finder Image and be able to press the Shutter Release Button to take photos.
PC Remote Control is very handy for all Studio Photography, such as Food Photography and for Stealth Remote Control of the Sony Digital Camera for Hummingbird Photography.
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