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5 must know tips about your camera

In a previous post I discussed 5 tips for responsible workshop attendees. In that article I touched on some simple common sense rules workshop participants should adhere to in order to make their learning experience better. Today I am going to expand on that article and talk about five things you need to know before attending a workshop. Specifically, five thing you need to know about your camera before attending a workshop.

  1. CAMERA MENU: While no instructor expects you to know the ins and outs of your camera's menu system, you should at least understand how to access it and navigate through the menu. Specially in advanced classes where certain techniques will require you to change or modify a camera setting. Each camera's menu is different (though many of the functions are the same from camera to camera) and knowing how to get to a specific are is key to keeping the class moving forward.
  2. MODE DIAL: Your camera's mode dial allows you to switch between (P) program mode, (M) manual mode or on of the two priority modes (A/S or Av/Tv) aperture priority and shutter priority. Many instructors tend to push their students into shooting in manual but there are times when aperture priority or shutter priority modes serve the situation better. You need to know how to get to these modes quickly.
  3. APERTURE/SHUTTER SPEED: On some camera models these functions are not the easiest to adjust. Specially the lower end dSLR's where you have to push a button in conjunction with turning a dial. You have to have limber fingers but knowing how to set your camera's aperture and/or shutter speed on the fly is important. Most instructors will help speed things up by giving the student the camera setting for a given shooting scenario. You need to be able to get your camera to those settings or you miss out on the shot.
  4. EXPOSURE METER: Your camera's exposure meter is typically displayed in several locations; in the viewfinder, on your LED screen and on the back display screen. You should know how to find it and get to the point where you can make adjustments to your aperture and/or shutter speed while viewing the meter display. On a side note, you should also know how to use your camera's exposure lock.
  5. METERING MODE: Most dSLRs have several methods of metering light (spot, center weighted, average, zone...) and while this is not something that gets used constantly it is something that does get modified. Knowing how to change from one to the other will save time.
These are the most commonly used camera functions for any given shooting situation. The more comfortable you are in making these adjustments the faster your shooting will be. Nothing hinders  getting that great shot than having to fiddle around with dials and settings. Practice at getting these without thinking. If you notice, the common denominator in the above list is gaining speed. Not only you gaining shooting speed but also for the workshop as a whole. No one likes that person that holds up the workshop because they can't find the 'right button' or set that 'simple function'. Don't be that person. Practice ahead of time to avoid the looks.

If you are unsure of a function, setting or technique, I encourage you to approach the instructor before the workshop starts. That way the instructor can get you situated and you won't slow things down once the workshop has started.

Again I will stress, read your instruction manual.


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