Enjoying the ease of P (programmed autoexposure) mode
Getting comfortable with the basic picture-taking process
Selecting a shutter-release mode
Dipping your toe in creative waters with flexible programmed auto
One look at the D300s tells you that it’s a complex piece of equipment,laden with options that provide precise control over focus, color, exposure, and every other aspect of your pictures. What may not be so obvious is that with the proper camera setup, your D300s can, in fact, offer point-and-shoot simplicity, many people decide to take photography as a profession, and while many really advance in this and you can find great studios as the Annie Kinser Photography, many others have a difficult time learning how to use the equipment and prepare the set, and that’s why a guide like this that show you how to use the camera can at least help you get closer to the goal of being a professional photographer.
Of course, you likely bought this topic for help with your camera’s advanced options, and that’s what the rest of this topic covers. But so that you can take great shots while you’re learning, this chapter shows you how to operate your camera in the easiest, most automatic way possible. It’s not quite as simple as using the Full Auto modes found on beginner cameras, but it’s close — “Almost Auto,” if you will.
The first part of the chapter shows you how to set up your camera to take advantage of this stress-free approach to D300s photography. Then you’re introduced to a basic recipe that guides you through the process of framing, focusing, and snapping your first pictures. Following that, you can find out how to tweak the basic recipe by adding flash, changing the shutter-release mode, and manipulating exposure settings to take a little more creative control over your photos.
Preparing for Automatic Shooting
The “almost automatic” photography technique that I describe in this chapter is based on a specific camera setup. Most of the settings you need to use are the camera defaults — that is, the ones that were in force when you first opened your camera box. Nikon chose these settings because they produce good results in most situations, so it makes sense to rely on them until you have a chance to investigate exactly how each camera option affects your pictures.
Of course, if you’re like me, you’ve probably fiddled with some of the settings since you got your camera — flipped a switch here, rotated a dial there, and so on. So the following steps show you how to get back to square one and make a few other tweaks that get you set up for easy-breezy shooting.
Don’t be put off by the length of the steps, by the way: First, it takes a lot more time to explain everything in text than it does to actually accomplish the task at hand. Second, because all the settings remain intact unless you later change them, you need to go through the steps only once — you don’t have to repeat them before each picture.
Also note that the steps assume that you haven’t yet created any custom menu banks, an advanced topic you can explore in Chapter 10. If you have created banks, be aware that restoring the defaults in Steps 2 and 3 affects the active bank.
1. Set the exposure mode to P (programmed autoexposure).
In this mode, the camera calculates the correct exposure for you; you don’t need to know anything about f-stops, shutter speeds, and other exposure settings to get a good exposure. If you do know about those settings, though, you still have some control over them even in P mode; see the last section in this chapter for details.
To set the exposure mode, press the Mode button and rotate the main command dial until you see the letter P in the upper-left corner of the Control panel, as shown in Figure 2-1. The P also appears in the view-finder and Information display, also shown in the figure.
Note: If you use a non-CPU lens, you can’t use the P mode; you are limited to A (aperture-priority autoexposure) or M (manual). See Chapter 5 for help using both modes; see Chapter 1 for more about non-CPU lenses.
The P mode enables you to enjoy the simplicity of fully automatic exposure.
Figure 2-1: The P mode enables you to enjoy the simplicity of fully automatic exposure.
2. Restore all Custom Setting menu and Shooting menu options.
To restore the Custom Setting menu options, open that menu and highlight Reset Custom Settings, as shown on the left in Figure 2-2. Press OK, highlight Yes, and press OK again. Note, however, that this step also resets many basic camera setup options, such as the volume of the beep signal, in addition to those that affect actual photography. Chapter 1 details those options if you want to revisit them.
To restore the Shooting menu defaults, follow the same steps but choose Reset Shooting Menu, as shown on the right in Figure 2-2, from the top of the Shooting menu.
Choose these options to quickly restore all Shooting menu and Custom Setting menu options to the default settings.
Figure 2-2: Choose these options to quickly restore all Shooting menu and Custom Setting menu options to the default settings.
3. Perform a two-button reset to restore a few additional picture-taking settings.
To perform this type of reset, press the Qual and Exposure Compensation buttons together for more than two seconds. The Control panel shuts off briefly while the reset is occurring; when the panel reappears, release the buttons.
4. Reopen the Shooting menu, select ISO Sensitivity Settings and turn the ISO Sensitivity Auto Control option on, as shown in Figure 2-3.
ISO Sensitivity determines your camera’s sensitivity to light. Enabling the ISO Sensitivity Auto Control option gives the camera permission to adjust the light sensitivity if needed to produce a good exposure. Leave all the other settings at their defaults, shown on the right in the figure. And see Chapter 5 for the whole story on this option and ISO in general.
Enable ISO Sensitivity Auto Control to give the camera permission to increase ISO (light sensitivity) if needed to properly expose the photo.
Figure 2-3: Enable ISO Sensitivity Auto Control to give the camera permission to increase ISO (light sensitivity) if needed to properly expose the photo.
When you enable the feature, the ISO Auto label appears in the displays. (Refer to Figure 2-1.) If the camera’s about to adjust ISO for you, the label blinks.
5. Set the Metering mode selector to the Matrix setting, as shown on the left in Figure 2-4.
This option determines which part of the frame the camera considers when calculating the correct exposure. The setting shown in Figure 2-2 represents the matrix mode — which is a fancy way of saying that the camera bases exposure on the entire frame.