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Monday, September 27, 2010

Pop Quiz - How well do you know your camera?

Mamiya C220 TLR
© 2009 Simon Hucko

Pop quiz time. Hope you all play along...

Where's your camera? You should know this without having to think about it, and ideally it should be close by. Go grab it, I'll wait.

Got your camera? Ok, without looking at it, turn it on. (We're going to do a lot of this "without looking" stuff, no cheating!) Before you look, what are the camera settings right now? (Shooting mode, focus mode, set aperture/ISO/shutter speed, image size and quality, etc.) Check to see how you did - at this point the camera should be on and at the settings you thought it was at.

Now to play a bit. Put the camera in an appropriate shooting mode for where you are right now (you can look for this one). Bring the camera up to your eye, frame an image, and fire off a shot. Now, without taking your eye away from the viewfinder, increase the exposure by 2 stops however you want and take another photo. Bring the exposure back to normal and adjust the ISO down a stop (if you're at the lowest setting, put it up a stop), take another photo. Zoom your lens to its widest setting, then all the way to the telephoto end. (Prime? attaboy.) Set the white balance to fluorescent. Switch to manual focus, find a new subject, focus on it and take a photo. Turn the flash on, take a shot. Change the flash exposure compensation down one stop, take another shot. Bring up one of the images on your review screen. View the histogram for that image. Change it so that it displays blown highlights (blinkies). Find the EXIF data and see what shutter speed the photo was taken at. Delete the image. Format your card (only if you don't have anything valuable on there!) Bring your camera back to its normal settings, shut it off, and put it away.

How did it go? Could you do everything without hunting for the controls? Even if you have to menu dive for some things, do you know how to quickly access those menus and make the necessary changes? If you can't easily make these adjustments while shooting, you need to spend more time with your camera. There's nothing worse than missing "the shot" because you were fiddling around with the gear. Spend an hour or two some day walking around your house shooting, adjusting these things as you go. If you have to hunt for a setting, spend some time changing it back and forth to commit it to memory. The less you have to look at your camera, the better.

So how about it? I'm interested to hear how you did. I'll be honest, I had to glance down at my camera for ISO and white balance. Something for me to work on.


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