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Camera Settings Checklist & Tips
(Options and items needed may change depending on the situation and Camera)

Batteries (Extra Battery that is Charged) Is a Battery Charger Needed?
Memory (Extra Card) (Delete Photos from card only after they have been downloaded and backed up)
Tripod: Small, Large, Light, Heavy or Nothing? (Special camera mounts if needed?) 
Camera Strap: Always if Traveling or just an option depending on situation or preference. Options?
Flash: Onboard Built-in Flash, External Flash (External Lights if Needed?) Flash Strength?
Lens: Clean (Extra Lens if needed) (Lens Hood is always recommended but be aware of flash block)
Camera User Manual: Always if Traveling or just an option if photographing Local.

Remember the (P) Program Mode, (C) Custom Mode (Av) Aperture Priority, (Tv) Shutter Priority and in the (M) Manual Mode can save settings so always check all your settings before you leave the house and right before your first photo. Check the lens for dust or finger prints.

Be ready and prepared for the situation. Are you going to be photographing indoors or outdoors? Imagine what settings you will most likely use and go through them one at a time. This will help you remember camera-setting options that maximize photo quality. This is also a good time to imagine what special settings or styles that you might want to experiment with. Be creative and have fun.
If taking a special setting photo always try to take a second shot in Automatic for comparison.
Also remember that some special enhancing settings can also be done in photo editing so make sure you are not missing a chance for a good photo. If ever in doubt just use the Automatic Setting.
Always pay attention to the Background first. Is it Bright, is it Dark? Is there something distracting or appealing in the background? Now pay attention to your subject or foreground. What’s the best angle? Should I move Left or Right? Should I line up the background with foreground? Should I Zoom In or Zoom Out? Do I need a flash? Take a quick look at your Settings ….Exposure, Focus, Release Shutter. Whenever you get a chance quickly review your photo for focus and exposure. Composition
(Zoom in on the photo when in preview to review and verify focus and or lack of noise)

Metering: (3 or 4 choices) Spot Metering – Center Weighted – Full Frame (special metering)
My Meter default setting is always “Center Weighted” and only adjust when needed.
Do I need correct exposure for the whole scene or just the subject? Over exposed areas lose detail. Under exposed areas also lose detail but you may recover some dark areas in Photoshop using the Highlights adjustment setting. Spot metering is helpful when the background is too dark or too bright.
ISO: Usually the lowest the camera has but in low light (indoor) and action go higher.
Lowest IOS gives less noise and better quality. If no tripod then turn the up the ISO to minimize blurring. 50, 64, 80,100
Shutter Speed: (Tv) Light tells you how fast or how slow you can adjust speed (remember when the aperture is smaller the shutter speed has to decrease in order to maintain good exposure)
Aperture: (Av) F-number Depth of Field / Blurring Background. (Remember when the aperture is smaller the shutter speed has to decrease in order to maintain good exposure) Must stabilize camera. Samples
Exposure: Just another way of adjusting the Shutter Speed. Higher (+) Brightens Photo and
(-) Lower Darkens Photo. Using Exposure Bracketing is an option.
Exposure Lock: (AE) Use it when achieving proper exposure is difficult or if pushing the shutter button halfway down takes the subject out of the focus area of choice. Custom Buttons
Other ways and options to adjust exposure: Metering, Shutter Speed, Aperture
Histogram: Measures amount of Shades in photo. High waveforms on the right are bright areas and high narrow spikes on right are overexposed areas and high waveforms on left are dark areas.
White Balance or Color Balance: Do I have unusual lighting that requires WB change or Custom WB? Can I use AWB (automatic white balance) and just make the color adjustments in Photoshop?
Focus: Focus Points (Press Shutter Release Button Halfway), Manual Focus, Auto Focus.
Macro: Extreme close up tight focus and Details.
If your camera has different focus settings (one shot, continuous) then be aware of what’s needed.
Continuous Shooting: Sports, Live Action (pay attention to how many photos the camera takes before it needs to process them because during processing you can’t take a photo, oh no!
Zoom: Optical (Digital Zoom on or off?) Be aware of Aspect Ratio: Wide 16:9 or 4:3?
Pixels: As Large and Fine as the camera will go. (Personal preference or memory restrictions?)

When you see a great photo from another photographer always print it out and add it to the list of photos you want try to imitate. This is a great way to help create Mental Images and practice your craft.

You can print this out on one piece of paper to review and keep and also to add notes of your own. For best printing results copy and paste into a word program and then print.


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This Page last updated June 6, 2013





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