Posted in Images of Our World

New cameras with 100 choices

Digital camera modes and optionsI have just updated my Sony alpha 9 to alpha 65. The alpha 65 is not the top of the line. The body is $500 as compared to $2800 for the mirrorless RX1R. Nonetheless, this upgrade has a staggering number of new possible settings and is 24MP compared to 12MP on the alpha 9.

Does anyone remember the days only 15-20 years ago when a new camera had six setting options: aperture, speed, program or manual priorities, the ISO and a + or – for adjusting the exposure for backlighting or to achieve high key or darker photographs?

When I push the “menu” button on the Sony alpha 65 and page through it, I find a Pandora’s box of setting choices. I’ve counted over 100 different possible settings. So we’ve gone from six to more than 100 options.

Camera designers do not ask photographers if they can realistically use the vast number of options. However, with the computer chip the possibility to build into the camera an obscenely difficult number of settings is achievable, so they do it.

On my first trip with the alpha 65 abroad to southern France, suddenly, the camera began making the images three f-stops too bright. I compensated by setting the + and – exposure control three stops on the dark side and said, “Darn, I have to return the camera to Sony for correction or a replacement camera.”

However, just in case the camera was not malfunctioning, I tried for the fifth time running through the menu looking for an incorrect setting that would cause the overexposure.

And there it was–a new mode to take “high key” pictures. Are photographers suddenly too dumb to use the + adjustment we’ve had for decades to make high key photographs? I changed the mode to “normal” and viola! the exposure I got went back to normal. How did it get set incorrectly? I don’t know.

Then a similar incorrect setting occurred with “color balance.” The first picture of a group of people was white balanced, though the next pictures were warm. There are settings for every light condition including several colors of fluorescent bulbs. But how did my “auto” choice get changed to “warm.” I did not know. I began to feel that the camera was controlling me instead of my being in command.

Photographers will miss many pictures if they try to set the multiple options before making an exposure.  It takes too long and the subject will be gone or the lighting will be different. Choose the most practical options and lock them in for all your work.

I have changed two of my approaches since using the alpha 65. While I continue to use the “aperture priority” setting on the control dial, I am now letting the camera choose the ISO setting. Previously, sometimes, I failed to manually select the lowest practical ISO before every exposure. I am also letting the camera correct for light color rather than doing it manually. And I have made several beautiful panoramic photos on that option.

It’s good to become familiar with the extensive options; however, choices must be made and used regularly in order to avoid “choice overload,” which will result in missing great shots. View Gallery

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