How to set up a point-by-point reflex camera

Let’s go through menu by menu, point by point of your camera to learn more about Reflex Camera

In short, shoot RAW and read the instruction manual (which I don’t usually do either) to learn how to handle your camera with your eyes closed and make the most of all those functions that we pay for and many do not get to use or understand.

Let’s take a look at the first menu of a basic SLR camera like the  Canon 600D . The menus are very similar between some ranges and others, so you will surely find these options in yours. I’ll go point by point, stopping at the most important ones and configuring them with the recommended options.

Photo quality

We can choose the quality of our file . 

JPG (gives us the option to select the megapixels that will be used in each shot) or RAW , my recommended option. On some cameras it allows you to select lossless or compressed RAW , but as I want the highest quality and flexibility possible, I always choose lossless.

Pros of shooting RAW

  • The RAW captures much more information than the JPG that we can later recover in the development.
  • No compressions.
  • No loss of quality.
  • flexible file will be created when editing the photograph, for example you can play with the shadows and lights as long as you have exposed the scene well.
  • Greater control over your final image.
  • You will be able to solve errors after shooting, in the digital development. I do not recommend having this philosophy as usual, you run the risk of not preparing the details and adjustments of your photography well because you know that later you can fix it and it will not always be like that. You can’t imagine the time and satisfaction you gain by coming home with homework well done.

“Disadvantages” in quotes

  • Your camera’s processor will suffer in burst mode, as a RAW file is heavier and will not be able to shoot at the same speed as a JPG. For example, if your JPG camera shoots 6 photos per second in RAW it will shoot 3.
  • You will need more space on your memory card.
  • You will have to develop your photograph later in programs like Lightroom , since the image will come out flat in terms of colors, contrasts, sharpness, etc.

As you can see, the cons from my point of view are quite ridiculous. If you use burst mode a lot because you dedicate yourself to action or wildlife photography, you will surely end up buying a Canon 7d type camera  with bursts of up to 10 frames per second, which with the release of its older sister the Canon 7D Mark II , now has an interesting price.

Over time you will have several large capacity memory cards and finally, you will also like to edit your photos to get a faithful capture or a more creative development .

Sound warning

It will allow you to enable or disable the beep that indicates that the camera has focused on the point you have selected. Personally I like to have it deactivated , I go more unnoticed  while practicing  street photography , in nature I am less noisy and more relaxed, I don’t get along very well with beeps 🙂

Tip : When focusing automatically, notice how the focus points you see through the viewfinder light up red to alert you that your selection is already in focus. If you get used to focusing through the focus points, you can dispense with the audible warning, to later trust your eye and use manual focus. In which cases it will always be more reliable than autofocus, such as focusing on poorly lit areas where autofocus tends to go haywire.

Shoot without card

urgently recommend that you disable this option. Its function is to notify you when you shoot and you do not have a memory card inserted. If you don’t turn it off, it will allow you to shoot until you realize that the most important thing is missing. 

I remember at the beginning , one day when I went out to photograph about 60km from home, very excited. I didn’t have much time, so as soon as I arrived I quickly chose the angle, secured the tripod, and mounted the lens I was going to use. When I pressed the shutter button for the first time, I verified thanks to this option that I had left the card inserted in the computer the day before. You can imagine my face at that moment, but it would have been worse to be cold, to get even more excited about the result and then not take anything home.

The only solution was to have a coffee watching the sunset that I went to photograph with a good croissant , the food in these cases lifts my spirits. Since that day I carry an emergency memory card in my wallet and the rest in my backpack.

Image review

The amount of time the photo will be displayed on your LCD screen right after it is taken. You can deactivate it, choose the seconds or hold it on the screen until you press a button.

Peripheral illumination correction

Corrects vignetted or darkened edges . There are lenses of not very good quality that in very open diaphragms can vignetting, activating this option will reduce this vignetting. These types of problems can be solved manually by closing the diaphragm more to points like f8 or f11 , where most lenses give their maximum performance ( sweet spot ). I always have it deactivated, but if you have noticed this problem in your images it is better to activate it.

Red-eye reduction

This option will fire a flash or several short flashes before taking the picture, in order to close the pupils and avoid red eyes, a problem that occurs in poorly lit places.

Tip : If you want to solve it without resorting to this option, tell the person to be photographed to look at an intense light source first.

Flash control

We can activate and deactivate the flash, choose the E-TTL metering type (measure ambient light to configure the correct flash power together with your selected settings), adjust the built-in flash or the external flash if it exists.

Setting up a reflex camera

Let’s analyze the second  menu of a Canon camera, I will go point by point so that you can understand all the options and know what you activate or not.

Even if you use Nikon or another brand, the options in the end are the same.

Comp. Exp./AEB:

This option is very interesting especially for HDR lovers . If you configure it, the camera will allow you to take 3 shots with different exposures , following the order of exposure, standard, low exposure and high exposure. That is, in the case of the example, the first shot would be with the center meter exposure 0, the second photo underexposed with -2 and the third with an overexposure of +2.

In this menu you can move the meters at will, they do not always have to be these values. I recommend disabling it if it is not going to be used for creative purposes.

Automatic Brightness:

This parameter automatically corrects photos that are dark or low-contrast. The best thing is that from the beginning you get used to using manual mode and correcting these problems on the spot, it is much more reliable than doing it automatically. Remember to shoot in RAW mode and you will be able to correct the brightness yourself in your development program as we have done in the entries « improve photos with Lightroom «.

Imagine that for whatever reason you wanted a photograph in dim light or very bright and the camera corrects it automatically, what a grace it would make me return home and not have the photograph I was looking for.

Measurement mode:

You must know the four modes that are presented to us, they are important options that will make you achieve success in difficult lighting situations.

  • Evaluative metering : It is the most automatic mode for beginner users, it measures the light in the scene in a general way, so you do not have to worry about measuring in dark or light areas.
  • Partial measurement : Measure in the center of the image as you can see in the second icon. It is ideal for backlights or areas with strong contrasts.
  • Spot metering : My favorite, it measures the light exactly at the point where you indicate it. From the value marked by the exposure meter, you will assess whether you need more light or not. My recommendation is the fastest and most effective, do not be afraid of trial and error, it really is how you really learn.
  • Center-weighted metering : This option measures the light in the center and then averages the rest of the image.

Custom WB:

Allows you to manually adjust the white balance . In a session in which you are not going to move from the site or change the lighting, perform a correct white balance with a gray card  or color card and use this option to achieve a reliable color in the rest of the shots.

Personally I do not usually perform white balance except on rare occasions that I need the exact colors to reality, this is one of those “problems” that are solved well in the development and without losing quality, as long as you have shot in clear RAW.

Scroll / Sec. WB:

Used to correct the white balance. Upon entering you will see a graph with a box that you can move to the position B = blue, A = amber, M = Magenta and G = green . Depending on the dominants and your needs, move the square until you get the color you are looking for. 

Color space:

This option is a bit complicated and everyone usually has their own vision. After researching on the subject I give you a quick summary of my conclusion:

AdobeRGB , captures more colors than sRGB , the monitors of 95% of those who will see your photos are not capable of reproducing all the colors of AdobeRGB, and if you edit a photograph taken in AdobeRGB on a monitor that is not capable of displaying all the colors, when printing there will be colors that will not come out correctly.

My recommendation:  use AdobeRGB and before publishing or printing the photo convert to sRGB and edit it with that profile. This way you make sure you have a digital negative with all the possible information in case one day that photograph is worth millions or you buy a good monitor that reproduces all colors. With the sRGB profile you will upload an image to the network with the colors most similar to those you see on the screen.

If you still prefer to skip the step of converting the image to sRG, you think that you will never take a super photo or you only use your camera to photograph your vacations, choose it as the color space.

Picture style for video

IMPORTANT:  Another of the key points of the entire menu. 

If you want to have a more flexible control over your videos to edit them with total flexibility, my recommendation is that you choose the Neutral mode and configure its parameters as in the image.

This configuration runs all over the internet and is the most used to get an image as flat as possible and thus be able to edit the video to your liking without loss of quality.