Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Configuring your camera's storage options, part of Introduction to Photography.
- I promise this course is not going to just be just a bunch of me talking. We're going to go do some shooting and we're going to get started on that very soon. But before we do, you need to have your camera configured a particular way so that you can follow along with all of these lessons. If there are some odd settings on your camera that can make some of the lessons more difficult. A digital image is composed of a grid of pixels, picture elements. Another word for colored dots. If you have an 18 megapixel camera then with each shot, your camera captures a grid that contains 18 million pixels.
The more pixels you have, the bigger you can print. However, you can probably configure your camera to capture fewer pixels. This allows you to fit more images onto the camera's storage card. Smaller images will also take less time to transfer to your computer. However, with a small image you'll be capturing less detail and you won't be able to crop your images as much and still maintain a result that's big enough for quality printing. People often think, "Oh it's okay, I'm know I'm not going to print this. "I just need something to post on a webpage." And that may be true, right now.
If the image is particularly nice though you might find other uses for it later, and then be disappointed that you don't have enough pixels for the job. So I always recommend shooting at the highest pixel count that your camera provides. Yes, it takes up more storage, but storage is very inexpensive. By default, cameras shoot images in a format called JPEG. JPEG is simply a specification for compression of an image. By using a bunch of math, the data that represents that grid of pixels can be greatly compressed, so that it doesn't take up as much space. However, the process of compression will degrade the quality of your image.
Again, storage is cheap, so rather than trying to cram more images onto your card through compression, it's better to use the lowest amount of compression that you can. This will keep image quality high. In addition to JPEG your camera might be able to shoot in something called RAW format. RAW is beyond the scope and concern of this course so you just don't need to worry about it right now. Because changing the image size and compression is not a feature that you need to use everyday, most camera vendors bury those controls somewhere in the camera's menu system.
There's probably a button somewhere on your camera called menu, that takes you into a bunch of pages with different controls and options. If you've never ventured into the menu system before, now's a great time to practice. Check your camera's manual if you get stuck. What you're looking for is something called image size, or size. Some cameras group image size and quality together into a single menu page. For example, on this Canon 7D, which is pretty typical of a Canon interface, I press the menu button and then I get this big mess of menus here. And across the top I have all these different menus. I can move between each one, it has a bunch of options.
In the very first option, the very first item is quality. This is where I can select the size and level of compression for the images. And you see that there is an L with what looks like a little piece of pie there. L means large, full pixel count. And that little piece of pie is meant to indicate that I'm at best quality. I'm going to open up that item and here I see a quality menu. Up at the top it's showing me the current settings. 18 megapixels and it's showing me the pixel dimesions. And then there's a section for RAW and a section for JPEG. I can turn this wheel to move around my JPEG options.
So you see there are two different L's. One has a smooth piece of pie and the other has a chunkier piece of pie. That's simply indicating the level of compression. The smooth piece of pie is going to be better quality than the chunkier piece of pie. I can go over here to medium, and you can see up at the top now that it's saying I'm at an eight megapixel image, as opposed to the 18 megapixel image that I was at before. And for medium I have two settings. One for full quality and one for lesser quality. And again this is just the level of JPEG compression. The more JPEG compression you apply to an image, the more you degrade the quality.
And then I have a small size with two levels of quality. Again, I really recommend just keeping it on the highest pixel count, best level of JPEG compression that you can get. That's going to ensure that you've got enough pixels to do stuff with later, and you haven't degraded your image with too much compression. I said that RAW is something you're going to need to know about later, or want to know about later, and we're not going to cover it in this course, but note that I can also set a RAW setting in here, so that can be confusing sometimes. I can actually set both, and that means the camera will shoot both at the same time.
For what we're doing, just turn RAW off, so that the camera is only capturing a JPEG image. Your camera might offer a different interface. Again, just check the manual to figure out more. Finally, I'm going to ask you to erase your camera's media card. That will ensure you have plenty of space to work with and it gives me a couple of chances to say some things about media cards. In workshops I sometimes encounter students who buy a big media card, and use that as the permanent storage for their images. They think of it just as a nice big image repository.
That's a very bad idea. The flash memory cards that your camera uses are fragile. Physically and logically. What's more is you take them out into the world and carry them around. If you lose your camera or your card and you're keeping all of your images on it, you're going to lose all of of your images. Media cards can be sensitive to static electricity so you could lose images just from wool socks on a shag carpet in the wintertime. Work flow and photo management is a big topic and we'll have more to say about it later, but for right now start developing the habit of regularly clearing off your card. Dumping the images into the computer and then erasing the card.
Your camera probably provides two ways to delete the contents of it's media card. One will be called something like "erase all" and the other will be called "format" or maybe "initialize". You always want to use the "format" option. Regularly using "erase all" can mess up the directory structure of the card and that can one day lead to images being unreadable. Fortunately you can fix that at any time with a format. Right now, make sure the card contains no images you want to save, and then do a format. Now we're ready to move on to a couple of other configuration things.
Then it's time to take to the field and examine the rest of the factors that influence the quality of your photographs, including light metering, focus, composition, and flash. Ben also introduces techniques for shooting portraits and shows what you can do with an image editor in post. Last but not least, he'll provide a roadmap for learning more with the lynda.com extensive library of photography training. The path to becoming a better photographer begins with the first step. Start here!
- Exploring cameras and lenses
- Understanding media
- Controlling exposure
- Composing with autofocus
- Shooting portraits
- Understanding form and geometry
- Exporting and editing digital images