Your camera comes with three handy metering systems. If you are using a Canon system yours have four. So far you probably have been using only one – matrix metering; which was set as default in the camera when it was shipped. While I have nothing against this very intelligent and useful metering mode, it is however, not the best for all situations. In a tricky lighting situation, where you need to manually assign something in the scene as middle-grey, matrix metering isn’t the best choice.
Spot metering, on the other hand, should be your preferred choice in such situations. Spot metering allows you to select a small area of the scene as your sampling area. This is something that is necessary if you need to pinpoint a specific area and tell your camera, OK this is what I think is middle-grey, now give me the right exposure with this as the guide.
Ever wondered what those C1, C2 (on Canon systems) or U1, U2 (on Nikon systems) meant? You probably never turned the mode dial that far lest you do something really really bad to your camera and cannot reverse it! These are actually a bunch of ‘recall’ buttons, if I may use that word. These are very handy when you frequently shoot under some preset lighting arrangements, such as when shooting at a studio environment. These buttons can save you a considerable amount of time going to and fro between different settings to adjust to these lighting arrangements.
Let’s say you are a studio photographer and frequently shoot with two lights with the settings f/5.6, 1/100 of a sec and ISO 100. Again, you also go out for weddings and other outdoor shoots. Every time you shoot in your studio, in familiar settings, you would want to get back to the necessary exposure value without having to go through each of them step by step. The answer is the recall buttons. Simply select a bunch of settings and assign them to one of the recall buttons. Each time you turn the mode dial to the specific recall button your camera will automatically dial in the required settings.Et voilà!
This is a really beautiful feature for those with bad eyesight like myself. This basically allows you to trust manual focusing more often, especially in situations where auto-focusing tend to be unreliable. The viewfinder dioptre allows you to correct the image coming through it as per your eyes. A major reason why a lot of photographers are hesitant to use manual focusing is that they cannot trust their eye-sight to make a better judgement. They switch to auto-focusing even in low light conditions. Using the viewfinder dioptre to adjust the image will allow you to trust your eye-sight more often.
Rear-button focusing with the AE-L/AF-L button
Rear-button focusing is a technique that basically separates the image-making and focusing tasks to two separate buttons on your camera. To enable this you will need to delve into the menu system of your camera and assign one of the buttons (in this case the AE-L/AF-L button) as the focusing button. Thus, to acquire focus you no longer need to half-depress the shutter release button. Press down the AE-L / AF-L button and the camera will acquire focus. Recompose if you have to and then press down the shutter release button all the way to make the shot.
3D Tracking mode in the Nikon focus area selector option
Most DSLR cameras have at least three focus area mode options. These would be single point, auto and an area mode where you have the option to choose different numbers of the available AF points on your camera. On a 39-point AF system like the D7000, that would mean you can select between 9, 21 or all 39 points. There is yet another area mode option and I am referring to Nikon systems here. It is the 3D tracking mode. This mode is ideally suitable when you are trying to track a subject that is moving erratically across the scene, a quarterback on a football field, a deer that is trying to outrun a predator or your kids playing in the lawn. It can be activated only in AF-A (auto-servo) or AF-C (Continuous Servo) modes. In this mode you can select the starting point for tracking the subject.
As the subject moves away from that starting point the adjacent point which now acquires focus will light up. The 3D mode is slightly better than the Auto mode, in the sense this is a predictive feature which counters for the slight microsecond gap between when the shutter release is fully depressed and when the image is made and counters for the movement of the subject in between that delay by shifting focus to the point where the subject may be. This is done by calculating the speed and the direction of the subject.