As we discussed, one of the great advantages of an SLR is that you actually look through the same lens that exposes the sensor. This gives you a very accurate viewfinder and allows you to have a very bright, clear view of your scene. Your viewfinder also provides you with a tremendous amount of status information, as we'll see. On the top of the viewfinder is the diopter control. If you wear glasses, you might be able to adjust this diopter to compensate for your prescription, which will let you shoot without your glasses on. Now, I say might because if your eyes are too bad, you won't be able to adjust the diopter far enough to get the viewfinder back to full sharpness.
Note that it's possible to bump the diopter control, so if you ever think Wow my camera really is not auto-focusing very well, check the diopter and make sure that it's set to no correction. When you look through the viewfinder, you'll see a number of focusing spot superimposed over your image. These spots light up when you auto-focus to indicate where the auto-focus mechanism has chosen to focus. Below the viewfinder are a lot of status readouts. These let you know certain things about the camera states, such as battery strength, but more importantly, they let you keep track of your current exposure settings.
So from left to right, you'll find the focus indicator. When you half-press the button to focus, this circle will light up when the camera successfully meters and locks focus. At that point, you can press the button the rest of the way to shoot. Next there is the AE lock light. That's Auto Exposure lock light, which lets you know when you've locked the exposure using the exposure lock button. Next is the Flexible Program Indicator. It shows you when you've activated flexible program. After that comes the Shutter Speed readout. Now normally this will only show a single number, which represents the denominator of the shutter speed.
So if you're shooting at say 1/125th of a second, you'll see 125 here. A 4 will indicate 1/4th of a second. Once you drop below a quarter of a second, the display will change to a seconds display. So if you see this, then you're shooting at 1.6 seconds. If you see this, you're shooting at 15 second exposure. To the right of the Shutter Speed readout is the Aperture display; this is simply the current F number. Next is the Exposure indicator, which serves a few functions. In most modes, it shows the amount of exposure compensation that you've dialed in.
You'll learn more about this display when we discuss exposure compensation. When you're shooting in Manual mode, the same exposure-level readout works more like a light meter, and you'll learn more about that when we cover Manual mode. Next comes Low Battery, and below that is the Flash Exposure Compensation indicator, which lights up if you dial in any amount of flash exposure compensation. To the right of that is the Exposure and Flash Bracketing indicator, and below that is the Exposure Compensation indicator. Now, these three digits here can be set to display a number of things. By default, they show you approximately how many shots can fit in the remaining space on your card.
If the number goes over a thousand, then this K will light up and the number will show a fractional amount. For example, if you see 1.2K then you've got space on your card for approximately 1,200 pictures. When you half press the shutter button, you'll see an R and a two-digit number. This indicates how many shots will fit in the camera's buffer, and you'll learn why this is relevant when we discuss continuous shooting. This display can also be used to show ISO, in which case this ISO light lights up. This auto light shows up when ISO is set to auto.
Finally, this lights up when the flash is ready to fire. The camera's built-in flash begins charging as soon as it pops up. Now above the main status display, there are three additional lights that can appear: there is a battery indicator; there is the no memory card indicator, which will light up if you've forgotten to put a card in the camera; and then there's the B/W light, which shows you if you've chosen a black-and-white picture style. Now don't worry about remembering all of the stuff right now. Exposure settings are the critical readouts that you need to understand right away.
The other status options will become obvious as you activate those specific features.
- What is an SLR?
- Attaching a lens to a camera
- Deciding how many batteries and media cards are needed
- Setting Auto mode
- Changing ISO
- Changing image format and size
- Manually selecting a focus point
- Correcting exposure while shooting
- Controlling white balance
- Using a driver and self-timer
- Auto exposure bracketing
- Selecting a picture style
- Using Live View
- Shooting video
- Using custom functions, such as ISO expansion and mirror lockup
- Cleaning the camera and sensor
Skill Level Beginner
1. Getting to Know Your Nikon Digital SLR
2. Shooting in Auto Mode
3. Shooting in Program Mode
4. Controlling Autofocus
5. Controlling White Balance
6. Understanding Release Modes
7. Understanding Exposure Control Options
8. Learning More Playback Options
9. Shooting with Scene Modes
10. Shooting with Flash
11. Shooting with Picture Controls
12. Using Live View
13. Shooting Video
14. Customizing Menus and Settings
15. Retouching Images
16. Taking Care of Your Camera
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