To get the most from a system camera, you need to know your settings


Don't be put off by all your camera's buttons. Only after trying out the automatic mode (P for Programmed Automatic) do you need to delve into the settings. — dpa

System cameras can seem complicated at first and the temptation for beginners can be to leave all of the default settings untouched. However, a few tweaks of those settings can allow you to take much better photos.

First up there’s the important interplay of aperture and exposure time. Under settings the camera will suggests a combination that can still be adjusted if you wish.

The camera also automatically sets the index for the light sensitivity (the ISO number) and the white balance for the colour temperature.

You can use the exposure setting to alter the brightness of the image. For example, bright objects in dark surroundings can quickly be overexposed due to high contrast. In that instance it makes sense to darken the exposure by about two levels.

And if you want the background in a photo to appear blurred (known as the bokeh effect), for example in a portrait, you should set the aperture to be wide open.

This is achieved by using the lowest possible f-number. However, if the exposure time is too long the subject’s face may become blurred too.

In contrast, if you want to capture fast movements you’ll want the shortest possible exposure time.

Here is what the common abbreviations on the program wheel of system cameras mean:

- M (manual mode): Allows you to adjust aperture, exposure time, ISO number, and other settings yourself.

- S (shutter): Allows you to adjust the exposure time. The camera automatically selects the appropriate aperture.

- A (aperture): Allows you to adjust the aperture while the camera selects a suitable exposure time.

- iA (intelligent automatic): Aperture, exposure time, and ISO number are set automatically.

You can also save your most used settings and call them up using the program wheel. – dpa

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