Mastering the Nikon COOLPIX A (2014)

Chapter 2. Live View, Information Display, and Quick Menu

There are three display types you can choose for making camera adjustments each time you take pictures with your COOLPIX A. They are as follows:

• Live view: This display shows the subject on the monitor, ready for image capture, along with the current settings you are using to take a picture. You can make limited adjustments to the exposure settings.

• Information display: This display allows you to make quick adjustments to exposure settings and review other settings.

• Quick Menu: This display allows you to quickly configure the most important settings in the camera. Each of these settings are directly related to making still images or videos.

Introduction to the Live View Display

The Live view display is the first screen you’ll see when you turn the camera on. It is the normal display screen that shows the subject and allows you to compose the image before you make a picture (figure 2.1).

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Figure 2.1: The Live view display is the primary shooting display

Displayed along the top of the Live view screen (monitor) you will see many of the camera’s most important settings. You’ll normally adjust those settings using the Quick Menu, discussed in the next section. You can also use the standard menu system to change the settings, along with many other settings not shown on the Live view screen. The standard menus will be discussed starting in chapter 3.

Along the bottom of the Live view display, you’ll find the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO sensitivity settings. Each of these is immediately adjustable by using external camera controls, according to which exposure mode you are using.

Let’s examine how you can use the external camera controls to adjust the exposure settings on the fly.

Adjusting the Exposure Controls in the Live View Monitor

In this section we will examine how to change the exposure settings. We won’t go into deep detail about each of the available exposure modes. The details will be discussed in chapter 9, Metering, Exposure Modes, and Histogram. In this section we will briefly examine how you can use the physical controls to change the exposure on the fly.

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Figure 2.2: Manual mode is selected (red arrow)

So we can see all the available functionality, we will use the Live view screen for Manual (M) mode (figure 2.2). This mode allows you to use specific external controls to change the exposure.

Note: I covered the camera’s lens to allow a black background for maximum contrast in figure 2.2, and in other images of the Live view monitor. Normally, this view would look like the screen in figure 2.1, with a subject showing.

To change the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO sensitivity while taking pictures in M mode, you will use the following controls.

Shutter Speed

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Figure 2.3: Adjusting the shutter speed

To adjust the shutter speed, use the following steps:

1. Turn the Command dial on top of the camera (figure 2.3, image 1).

2. Watch the shutter speed change (currently at 1/50) at the red arrow in figure 2.3, image 2.

Aperture

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Figure 2.4: Adjusting the aperture

To adjust the aperture, use the following steps:

1. Turn the Rotary multi selector on the back of the camera (figure 2.4, image 1).

2. Watch the aperture change (currently at f/3.5) at the red arrow in figure 2.4, image 2.

ISO Sensitivity

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Figure 2.5: Adjusting the ISO sensitivity

To adjust the ISO sensitivity, use the following steps:

1. Press and hold the ISO button (Fn2) (figure 2.5, image 1).

2. Turn the Command dial on top of the camera (figure 2.5, image 2).

3. Watch the ISO sensitivity (currently at 100) change at the red arrow in figure 2.5, image 3.

Note: We are using Manual (M) mode on the Mode dial for the screens we have examined. When you are using Aperture-priority (A) mode, Shutter-priority (S) mode, or Programmed auto (P) mode instead, the aperture or shutter speed is controlled by the single Command dial on top of the camera. You will use both the Command dial and the Rotary multi selector to control exposure only in M mode. Manual mode is fully manual, which means you set everything yourself. A, S, and P modes are semiautomatic modes, which means you set one item and the camera sets the other to make a good exposure.

For instance, if you control the aperture (for depth of field) in Aperture-priority (A) mode, you will adjust the aperture setting with the Command dial on top and the camera will set the shutter speed for you to make a good exposure. If the camera is in Shutter-priority (S) mode (for stopping or blurring motion), you will control the shutter speed with the Command dial on top, and the camera will set the aperture to automatically make a good exposure. These facts also apply to the Information display screens we will consider next.

In Programmed auto (P) mode, when you turn the Command dial on top, the camera enters a special mode called Flexible program mode, and it displays an asterisk next to the P in the top left corner of the Information display (P*). Normally, P mode is similar to the green Auto mode on the Mode dial, in that the camera makes all the decisions about exposure, except for whether to use flash. However, unlike Auto mode, P mode allows you to override the aperture setting in Flexible program (P*) mode. Therefore, you can use P mode as an automatic snapshot mode, so youcan decide when to use flash, and then quickly override the aperture setting for more or less depth of field by turning the Command dial on top. We will discuss P and P* modes, and all the other exposure modes on the Mode dial, in great detail in chapter 9.

Introduction to the Information Display and Quick Menu

The Information display and Quick Menu are found on one screen, thereby leading to some confusion as to what to call it. The screen provides a combination of two separate camera configuration tools. As mentioned in chapter 1, you open this powerful screen when you press the i button near the bottom right of the monitor (figure 2.6, image 1).

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Figure 2.6: Open the Information display and the Quick Menu with the i button

There are two parts to this screen. The blue area in figure 2.6, image 2, is the Information display area, which provides almost the same information as the Live view screen. It provides basic shooting information and lets you adjust the shutter speed and aperture. The number in darker blue (768) is the number of remaining images that your memory card can hold.

The menu on the right and bottom sides of the Information display screen is the Quick Menu. This 14-item menu is the primary way you will adjust the most important settings for your camera. All of these settings are also found under the standard menus (e.g., Shooting Menu and Setup Menu), which we will examine in later chapters.

Let’s discuss both parts of this often-used screen.

Information Display

The Information display is the blue area shown in figure 2.7. It provides information about the shutter speed and aperture, along with other important information. You could consider the 14 Quick Menu items to be part of the Information display too because they display information about the current camera settings.

However, for the purpose of learning how to use this screen, it is useful to separate the blue Information display from the surrounding Quick Menu.

Just be aware that, in literature, blogs, and videos, you will read and hear this screen called both the Information display and the Quick Menu.

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Figure 2.7: The blue area is the Information display

Since the camera is in Manual (M) mode, the Information display shows a sliding +/– scale called the exposure indicator (figure 2.7, red arrow), which gives you a gauge for how close the camera is set to capture an accurate exposure. The +/– exposure indicator in figure 2.7 indicates that the camera is set to underexpose the image by 1 full stop (1 exposure value, or EV, toward the negative side). You will note that the scale has dots indicating 1/3 EV steps. Your goal, in M mode, is to zero out the scale so that no vertical dashes are below it, except the bigger one just below the 0. Then you have an accurate exposure.

You will not see the exposure indicator in the other modes (A, S, and P) unless your camera is set incorrectly and cannot make a good exposure. When that happens, the exposure indicator, and either the aperture or shutter speed, will start blinking. The blinking indicates incorrect exposure. The exposure indicator will also show the amount of under- or overexposure on the scale when it blinks. For a good exposure, make the blinking stop by zeroing out the exposure indicator.

Note: You can also see the +/– exposure indicator when you are using M mode and the Live view screen (previous section). It works the same way as the one in the Information display, except it is smaller in the Live view screen. We will discuss the exposure indicator in more detail inchapter 9.

Shutter Speed

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Figure 2.8: Adjusting the shutter speed

To adjust the shutter speed, use the following steps:

1. Turn the Command dial on top of the camera (figure 2.8, image 1).

2. Watch the shutter speed change (currently at 1/125) at the red arrow in figure 2.8, image 2.

Aperture

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Figure 2.9: Adjusting the aperture

To adjust the aperture, use the following steps:

1. Press and hold the +/– Exposure compensation button, which doubles as the Adjusting aperture button, as Nikon calls it (figure 2.9, image 1).

2. Turn the Command dial on top of the camera (figure 2.9, image 2).

3. Watch the aperture change (currently at f/3.2) at the red arrow in figure 2.9, image 3.

Note: If you prefer, you can use the Rotary multi selector to control the aperture and then hold in the +/– Exposure compensation button while turning the Rotary multi selector to control the shutter speed. Try it!

As mentioned in the previous section on the Live view screen, when you are adjusting the aperture or shutter speed in Manual (M) mode, you will use the controls and screens shown in figures 2.8 and 2.9.

However, in the semi-automated A, S, and P modes you will use the Command dial to control one aspect, while the camera controls the other. For example, you can control the aperture with the Command dial while in A mode and the camera will adjust the shutter speed. In S mode you will use the Command dial to control the shutter speed and the camera will adjust the aperture.

Quick Menu

The Quick Menu on the Information display screen is a quick way to adjust the settings you’ll use most often when you take pictures with your COOLPIX A. You will use the Live view screen to see your subject, and all those settings will show up along the top and bottom of the screen. The majority of the settings you see on the Live view screen are set with the Quick Menu, although a few of them are only available in the standard camera menu system that you open by pressing the Menu button.

Let’s examine how to set each item you see on the Live view screen. We will have to deviate a little from the Quick Menu to cover everything on the Live view screen, but we will return.

Note: The Live view screen does not follow any particular pattern in how it displays the symbols all over the screen. Therefore, in this section I will follow the clear pattern in the Quick Menu—for ease of later reference—and simply point to the location of the symbol you see on the Live view screen, usually in the third image in the series of figures.

As we go through these screens, please remember that my Live view screen graphics are shown with a black background for maximum contrast. Your Live view screen will show your subject along with the settings overlay instead of a black background.

Exposure Mode (Mode Dial Setting)

For the first item we will briefly leave the Quick Menu. In the top left corner of the Live view screen you will find a letter or symbol (figure 2.10, image 1). This character or symbol reflects the current setting of the Mode dial on top of the camera (figure 2.10, image 2).

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Figure 2.10: Mode dial setting shown on Live view screen

The characters you’ll see in this position will be one of the following: M, A, S, P, U1, U2, Auto (small green camera), or a symbol for a Scene mode. The Scene mode symbol will vary according to the Scene mode you select with the Command dial. For instance, you will see a flower symbol for the Close up Scene mode or a child symbol for Child mode. We will discuss each of the Scene modes in a later chapter. In figure 2.10, the camera is set to Manual (M) exposure mode.

Now, let’s examine the settings on the Quick Menu itself. As you view the Quick Menu screens in the upcoming figures, please look for the item highlighted in yellow on the menu. The yellow highlight shows the currently selected menu item.

Image Quality

(User’s Manual, Pages 69, 252)

The Image quality setting offers you either the JPEG or RAW (NEF) format, or a combination of the two. In other words, the camera can shoot a picture in RAW or JPEG, creating one picture for each press of the Shutter-release button, or it can make a RAW image plus a JPEG image—two pictures of the same subject—each time you press the Shutter-release button. One picture is in the RAW (NEF) format and the other is in JPEG (JPG) format.

Here are the settings in the Image quality Quick Menu:

• RAW+F: This selection causes the camera to create a RAW (NEF) file and a FINE JPEG file each time you take a picture.

• RAW+N: This selection causes the camera to create a RAW (NEF) file and a NORM (normal) JPEG file each time you take a picture. A NORM JPEG is simply a JPEG with twice as much compression as a FINE JPEG.

• RAW+B: This selection causes the camera to create a RAW (NEF) file and a BASIC JPEG file each time you take a picture. A BASIC JPEG is a JPEG with four times more compression than a FINE JPEG, and twice as much compression as a NORM JPEG.

• RAW: This choice causes the camera to take a single RAW (NEF) image, which you will have to post-process later in your computer and save as another format for usage. This format offers the best possible quality the camera can capture, but it requires you to learn how to convert the image into another format, such as JPEG, before you can use it online or print it.

• FINE: This choice causes the camera to produce the highest-quality JPEG it can create. The compression ratio is 1:4. JPEG images require no postprocessing in your computer for immediate use.

• NORM: This choice makes the camera create a more compressed JPEG file to save memory card space with a trade-off of slightly less image quality. The compression ratio is 1:8, twice as much as FINE.

• BASIC: This choice causes the camera to create a heavily compressed JPEG file with a mild loss of image quality. The compression ratio is 1:16, four times more than FINE.

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Figure 2.11: Image quality selection

Use these steps to select one of the Image quality settings:

1. Open the Information display screen with the i button and select Image quality (QUAL) from the Quick Menu on the right (figure 2.11, image 1).

2. Press the OK button, and you will see the Image quality menu with the choices discussed in the previous list. Select your favorite Image quality setting. Press the OK button again to lock in your choice. My camera is set to RAW (NEF) format (figure 2.11, image 2).

3. Press the Shutter-release button halfway down to return to the Live view display, and you will notice that the Image quality selection you made is displayed on the Live view screen (figure 2.11, image 3). Take your pictures.

Settings Recommendation: If you are concerned about maximum image quality, you should take time to learn how to post-process images in software such as Nikon Capture NX 2, Photoshop, Lightroom, or even Nikon View NX 2 (included with your camera). You will be rewarded with the widest possible dynamic range in your images, along with the highest quality you can achieve. You can modify a RAW (NEF) image over and over without damaging the original picture. During post-processing, you will save the RAW image to another format, such as JPEG.

If you do not have time to post-process your images or are not interested in post-processing, you can use the FINE JPEG setting to shoot beautiful images that are ready for use right out of the camera. No special post-processing skills or software are needed. The NORM and BASIC JPEG settings should be reserved for those times when you just want a lot of images and have no strong concern about whether they are the highest possible quality. Be careful with JPEG images, though; you cannot modify and resave a JPEG file more than a time or two without damaging the quality of the image from compression losses. A JPEG file is recompressed each time you modify and save it, which introduces compression artifacts that gradually degrade the image with each save.

Image Size

(User’s Manual, Page 72)

The Image size selection allows you to change the megapixel size of the images your camera will create. A normal image from your COOLPIX A is 16.2 megapixels (MP), with dimensions of 4928 x 3264 (4928 pixels wide x 3264 pixels tall).

There are three settings available in your camera. Two of them reduce the number of megapixels and ultimate print size, which produces smaller images (table 2.1). The camera also lists the approximate megabyte (MB) size of the JPEG file (Large = 9.3 MB, Medium = 5.2 MB, Small = 2.3 MB); it can never be an exact number because the compression and resulting size of a JPEG file depends on how complex the image is.

Here are the three settings and their sizes:

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Table 2.1: Image size settings

If you are using the RAW setting, the Image size selection will be grayed out on the Quick Menu. Image size is available for the JPEG format only. Now, let’s examine how to select one of these sizes.

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Figure 2.12: Image size selection (available for JPEG only)

Here are the steps to select an Image size for your JPEG images:

1. Open the Information display screen with the i button and select Image size—also under the QUAL menu—from the Quick Menu on the right (figure 2.12, image 1).

2. Press the OK button and you will see the Image size menu with the choices discussed in the previous list. Select your favorite Image size setting. Press the OK button again to lock in your choice. My camera is set to L or Large (figure 2.12, image 2). Notice how this screen also displays the approximate size of the JPEG image in megabytes (9.3 MB) and the number of images remaining before the memory card is full (717). The number of images remaining is only an approximation because the camera cannot really determine the final file size of the image due to differences in image compression, because of the complexity of the subject.

3. Press the Shutter-release button halfway to return to the Live view display, and you will notice that the Image size selection you made is displayed on the Live view screen (figure 2.12, image 3). Take your pictures.

Settings Recommendation: Unless you need to maximize the number of images you can store on your memory card, it is best to leave this setting at Large (L). Why reduce the maximum resolution of your wonderful images? However, if you will never print an image and only want to display it on a website or social media site, any of these settings will work fine.

I do not take my camera off the Large setting. I want the maximum image size and the best quality that my camera can create!

White Balance

(User’s Manual, Page 89)

The White balance (WB) setting determines whether white is actually white in your images and if the rest of the colors are therefore accurate. There are eight WB choices on the White balance menu.

In this chapter, we will discuss only how to set the WB. Chapter 10 is devoted entirely to White balance and how it works.

Your WB choices are as follows:

• Auto1 (Auto White balance): 3500K to 8000K

• Image Incandescent: 3000K

• Image Fluorescent: 2700K to 7200K

• Image Direct sunlight: 5200K

• Image Flash: 5400K

• Image Cloudy: 6000K

• Image Shade: 8000K

• PRE (Preset manual): White balance measured from actual ambient light

Let’s examine how to set the WB for your images.

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Figure 2.13: Choosing a White balance setting

Use these steps to choose a White balance setting for your images:

1. Open the Information display screen with the i button and select White balance (WB) from the Quick Menu on the right (figure 2.13, image 1).

2. Press the OK button, and you will see the Image quality menu with the choices discussed in the previous list. Select your favorite White balance setting. Press the OK button again to lock in your choice. My camera is set to the Auto1 (A1) WB setting (figure 2.13, image 2).

3. Press the Shutter-release button halfway to return to the Live view display, and you will notice that the WB selection you made is displayed on the Live view screen (figure 2.13, image 3). Take your pictures.

Settings Recommendation: Unless you need to have color consistency from one image to the next, such as in a studio setting with product shots, you can usually leave the camera set to Auto1 WB. The camera will read the ambient light and make a White balance decision by examining the color of the subject.

I usually leave my camera set to Auto1 (A1) WB and change it only when I need consistent color from image to image. For instance, I may choose Direct sunlight WB if I am going to be shooting all day in the great sunny outdoors. Or, if I’m shooting on an overcast day, I may use the Cloudy WB setting, which warms up the image a little and takes away the cold bluish look of a cloudy day.

You will need to learn about white balance and then experiment to see which you prefer, or you could just shoot in RAW mode with AUTO1 WB and change the WB later in your computer, which you can do with a RAW file. You can’t do that with a JPEG file, though—the WB is permanent. Therefore, if you usually shoot JPEGs, you should really understand White balance (chapter 10).

ISO Sensitivity

(User’s Manual, Page 81)

The ISO sensitivity setting determines how sensitive your camera’s imaging sensor is to light. The COOLPIX A offers ISO sensitivity choices from ISO 100 to Hi 2 (ISO 25,600).

Let’s see how to choose an ISO setting, with the understanding that the higher you set the ISO sensitivity setting, the more potential there is for grainy noise to appear in your images. Often the need for extra light sensitivity overrides the concern for increased noise.

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Figure 2.14: Choosing an ISO sensitivity setting

Use these steps to choose an ISO sensitivity setting:

1. Open the Information display screen with the i button and select ISO sensitivity (ISO) from the Quick Menu on the right (figure 2.14, image 1).

2. Press the OK button, and you will see the ISO sensitivity menu. Select your favorite ISO setting (ISO 100 to ISO 25,600 or Hi 2). Press the OK button again to lock in your choice. I scrolled down in the ISO sensitivity menu and selected ISO 800 (figure 2.14, image 2).

3. Press the Shutter-release button halfway to return to the Live view display, and you will notice that the ISO selection you made is displayed on the Live view screen (figure 2.14, image 3). Take your pictures.

Settings Recommendation: Use the lowest ISO sensitivity setting you can to keep the noise low in your images. I find that the COOLPIX A has low noise up to at least ISO 1600. After you get up to about ISO 3200, more noise starts to appear. I am very sensitive to noise, so I tend to keep the ISO low.

However, if you happen to see an alien spaceship landing in your backyard, feel free to crank the ISO sensitivity up to the maximum. You may have some noise in your images, but you can capture pictures in very low ambient light. (Alien spaceships always seem to have lights on them, so they ought to give you enough light to capture your images at a higher ISO sensitivity.)

Experiment with the camera and see where your tolerance for noise happens to be. I think the camera does great up to ISO 1600, which I rarely exceed, except in emergencies when getting the image is more important than maximum quality.

Release Modes

(User’s Manual, Page 63)

Release modes let you control how often the shutter will be released and for how many pictures.

There are six release modes; five are for still images, and the sixth is for recording movies. That’s right, the video recording subsystem is considered a Release mode, so the selection is in the Release mode menu. Nikon should have given us a separate button for recording movies; instead, we have to come to this menu and select Movie recording. Chapter 11 is devoted entirely to making videos. It is called Creating HD Videos.

Here is a list and explanation of the six release modes:

• Single frame: Each time you press the Shutter-release button all the way down, the camera takes only one picture. You have to lift your finger and press the Shutter-release button again for the next picture.

• Continuous: When you press and hold the Shutter-release button, the camera fires continuously at about four frames per second (fps) until its internal memory buffer is full. Then it slows down between frames while it writes images to the memory card.

• Self-timer: When you press the Shutter-release button all the way down, the camera waits 10 seconds, while flashing the red focus-assist illuminator, and then fires the shutter.

• Delayed remote (ML-L3): This setting allows you to use the optional, inexpensive Nikon ML-L3 wireless infrared remote release unit to fire the shutter remotely. When you press the button on the ML-L3 unit, the camera waits 2 seconds and then fires the shutter.

• Quick Response (ML-L3): This setting is similar to Delayed remote (ML-L3), except that pressing the button on a Nikon ML-L3 wireless infrared remote release unit fires the shutter immediately.

• Movie recording: Selecting this choice turns your still-imaging camera into a video camera. When you press the Shutter-release button all the way down, the camera starts recording a video, according to the settings in Shooting Menu > Movie settings. Your camera cannot take still pictures until you select one of the other Release modes.

Note: We will go into much more detail about the best way to use these settings in chapter 8, Autofocus, AF-Area Modes, and Release Modes.

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Figure 2.15: Choosing a Release mode for still images or video

Use these steps to choose a Release mode setting:

1. Open the Information display screen with the i button and select Release mode from the Quick Menu on the right (figure 2.15, image 1).

2. Press the OK button, and you will see the Release mode menu with the choices discussed in the previous list. Select your favorite Release mode setting. Press the OK button again to lock in your choice. My camera is set to the Single frame Release mode setting (figure 2.15, image 2).

3. Press the Shutter-release button halfway to return to the Live view display, and you will notice that the Release mode selection you made is displayed on the Live view screen (figure 2.15, image 3). Make your pictures or videos.

Settings Recommendation: I use the Single frame (S) Release mode most often because I am a slow, deliberate landscape and portrait shooter. However, the camera can be used in burst mode for shooting rapid sequences of images. Use Continuous Release mode for up to four fps if you are an action shooter.

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Figure 2.16: Starry night image taken with a Nikon COOLPIX A (15 seconds at f/2.8, ISO 800)

I often set up my COOLPIX A to shoot star field images (figure 2.16), and I use the self-timer for vibration-free shutter releases.

If you don’t have a Nikon ML-L3 wireless infrared remote release, get one. It is inexpensive and makes using the camera more fun for group images, if you want to include yourself.

Autofocus Modes

(User’s Manual, Page 75)

The Autofocus mode setting allows you to choose whether you or the camera will control autofocus. The functionality of the Autofocus mode setting is modified by how you have the AF-area mode set (next section). There are two settings available:

• AF-S or Single-servo AF: This setting is best for subjects that are not moving or are moving slowly. You need to press the Shutter-release button halfway to lock focus on the subject. If the subject is moving, you need to release and re-press the Shutter-release button to refocus as it moves.

• AF-F or Full-time-servo AF: The camera automatically focuses on whatever is under the autofocus rectangle on the monitor, even without you pressing the Shutter-release button halfway. When you move the camera away from the subject and the AF rectangle sees something else, the camera will refocus. For human subjects, when you use Face-priority AF (next section), the camera does a reasonably good job of tracking faces. You can move the AF rectangle over the subject and press the Shutter-release button halfway to select and lock focus on a specific subject. The focus never locks on a subject unless you press the Shutter-release button halfway. Press the Shutter-release button the rest of the way to take the picture. Use AF-F for moving subjects when you do not want to take time to refocus over and over. The camera will automatically maintain focus on the subject unless you move it out from under the AF rectangle. While focus is initiating, the AF square will turn red and then green to indicate good focus.

Note: The way this function maintains autofocus can depend, to a large degree, on how you have the AF-area mode configured (see next section). You can do some basic subject tracking—with autofocus—on any moving subject if you have the AF-area mode set to Subject-tracking AF. Read the next section carefully and spend some time experimenting.

I will go into much more detail about the best way to use these settings in chapter 8.

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Figure 2.17: Choosing an Autofocus mode

Use these steps to choose an Autofocus mode setting:

1. Open the Information display screen with the i button and select Autofocus mode from the Quick Menu on the right (figure 2.17, image 1).

2. Press the OK button, and you will see the Autofocus mode menu with the choices discussed in the previous list. Select your favorite Autofocus mode setting. Press the OK button again to lock in your choice. My camera is set to the Single-servo AF (AF-S) setting (figure 2.17, image 2).

3. Press the Shutter-release button halfway to return to the Live view display, and you will notice that the Autofocus mode selection you made is displayed on the Live view screen (figure 2.17, image 3). Make your pictures.

Settings Recommendation: I use the Single-servo (AF-S) Autofocus mode most often. Again, I am a slow and deliberate shooter who usually takes pictures of static or slowly moving subjects.

If you need a measure of focus tracking on a moving subject, give AF-F a try. It is harder for the contrast-detection autofocus system to maintain focus on a rapidly moving subject, in comparison to a DSLR with its phase-detection AF.

However, when the COOLPIX A is set to Face-priority AF (next section), it does a pretty good job of tracking human faces and keeping them in focus. If you need to maintain tracking on a nonhuman subject, you need to understand how the AF-area modes work.

AF-Area Modes

(User’s Manual, Page 76)

The AF-area mode function modifies the way your camera views the world in front of the lens. You can tell the camera to look for human faces, focus on faraway landscapes, use pinpoint focus on a closeup subject, and even do some basic subject tracking.

I will go into much more detail about the best way to use these settings in chapter 8, but for now let’s briefly examine the four choices in the AF-area mode system and what they do:

• Face-priority AF: Use this mode when you make pictures of people. In this mode, the camera has the uncanny ability to find human faces. You will see each face outlined by a square on the monitor as the camera keeps track of human subjects.

• Wide-area AF: When you are out enjoying nature and shooting lovely landscapes and scenics, this mode makes the camera more attentive to distant objects, with a much wider area of focus than normal.

• Normal-area AF: If you are taking a picture of a nonhuman subject that is closer to the camera, this mode provides what Nikon calls “pin-point” focus. It is best for macro-type shots.

• Subject-tracking AF: When you use this mode, your camera locks focus on a particular subject and keeps it there. As the subject moves, the focus rectangle will follow it across the monitor. You lock the focus on a particular subject by putting the focus rectangle over the subject and pressing the OK button. The camera will then do a pretty good job of tracking that subject. If you are using AF-S Autofocus mode, you will have to maintain focus while the camera tracks the subject. If you are using AFF Autofocus mode, the camera will try to track the subject and autofocus on it at the same time.

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Figure 2.18: Choosing an AF-area mode

Use these steps to choose an AF-area mode setting:

1. Open the Information display screen with the i button and select AF-area mode from the Quick Menu on the right (figure 2.18, image 1).

2. Press the OK button, and you will see the AF-area mode menu with the choices discussed in the previous list. Select your favorite AF-area mode setting. Press the OK button again to lock in your choice. My camera is set to the Face-priority AF setting (figure 2.18, image 2).

3. Press the Shutter-release button halfway to return to the Live view display, and you will notice that the AF-area mode selection you made is displayed on the Live view screen (figure 2.18, image 3). Make your pictures.

Settings Recommendation: I generally leave my camera set to Face-priority AF because I seem to be using this little camera for a lot of people pictures. However, when I take it out into the wilds of the Great Smoky Mountains or for a walk around town, I usually switch it over to Wide-area AF.

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Figure 2.19: An interesting scenic picture (Wide-area AF, 1/400 second at f/8, ISO 100)

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Figure 2.20: A garden phlox plant, Phlox paniculata (Normal-area AF, 1/200 second at f/8, ISO 100)

For macro pictures, such as this image of a garden phlox plant (figure 2.20), I use Normal-area AF. I haven’t done a lot of subject tracking with this little camera because the wide-angle lens keeps me from getting close enough to track a subject well with Subject-tracking AF. However, it’s there if I need it.

Metering

(User’s Manual, Page 85)

The Metering mode allows you to more finely control how the camera’s exposure metering system meters the subject. This setting affects only the M, A, S, and P modes. In all other exposure modes the camera decides which light meter is best for the subject.

There are three types of light meter in the COOLPIX A: Matrix, Center-weighted, and Spot. I will go into much more detail about the best way to use these meters in chapter 9, but for now let’s briefly examine how they work:

• Matrix metering: This meter is, by far, the most often-used light meter in the COOLPIX A. The camera meters a wide area of the frame and sets the exposure based on multiple factors, including tone distribution, color, and subject composition. The COOLPIX A has a large database of image specifications, as part of the Nikon Scene Recognition System (SRS), and it can compare the current subject to a similar, well-exposed scene in the database. The camera then arrives at an amazingly accurate exposure, most of the time.

• Center-weighted metering: This metering mode was included for old-timers who cut their teeth on the old center-weighted meters of yesteryear and don’t want to change. This type of meter pays more attention to the subject brightness in the middle of the frame and less to the edges of the frame. The ratio is 75/25, with 75 percent of the metering coming from the center and 25 percent coming from the edges.

• Spot metering: The spot meter pays attention to the brightness of the area under the AF rectangle and ignores the rest of the frame. This is a very small area of the frame that allows you to select off-center subjects to receive the best metering; you can also meter only small sections of the subject. By taking multiple independent readings in Manual (M) mode, you could even determine the dynamic range needed for the entire scene and expose accordingly.

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Figure 2.21: Choosing a Metering mode

Use these steps to choose a Metering mode:

1. Open the Information display screen with the i button and select Metering mode from the Quick Menu on the right (figure 2.21, image 1).

2. Press the OK button, and you will see the Metering menu with the choices discussed in the previous list. Select your favorite Metering mode setting. Press the OK button again to lock in your choice. My camera is set to the Matrix metering setting (figure 2.21, image 2).

3. Press the Shutter-release button halfway down to return to the Live view display, and you will notice that the Metering mode selection you made is displayed on the Live view screen (figure 2.21, image 3). Create your pictures.

Settings Recommendation: I generally leave my camera set to Matrix metering. I have been using Matrix metering for many years in my Nikon DSLRs and have come to recognize its excellent accuracy. I rarely use Center-weighted metering because I like the wide-area, intelligent meter that the Matrix setting provides. If I need to meter only a small area of the frame, I use Spot metering. Nikon gives us the same metering choices in the COOLPIX A as in DSLRs.

Active D-Lighting

(User’s Manual, Page 110)

Active D-Lighting (ADL) helps control contrast in your images. Basically, it helps preserve details in both the highlights and the shadows that would otherwise be lost.

Sometimes the range of light around a subject is broader than a camera sensor can fully capture. Because the camera sometimes cannot grab the full range of light—and most people use the histogram to expose for the highlights (we’ll discuss how in chapter 9)—some of the image detail will be lost in the shadows. The COOLPIX A allows you to D-Light the image—bring out additional shadow detail—while protecting the highlights; in other words, you can lower the contrast. ADL has these settings:

• Auto (A)

• Extra high (H+)

• High (H)

• Normal (N)

• Low (L)

• Off

Basically, you use ADL to bring up lost shadow detail at the expense of adding some noise in the darker areas.

ADL is best used with Matrix metering, which can carefully balance the tonal values in the image to maintain the best detail.

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Figure 2.22: Choosing a Metering mode

Use these steps to choose a Metering mode:

1. Open the Information display screen with the i button and select Active D-Lighting from the Quick Menu on the right (figure 2.22, image 1).

2. Press the OK button, and you will see the Active D-Lighting menu with the choices discussed in the previous list. Select your favorite Active D-Lighting setting. Press the OK button again to lock in your choice. My camera is set to the Normal (N) ADL setting (figure 2.22, image 2).

3. Press the Shutter-release button halfway to return to the Live view display, and you will notice that the Active D-Lighting selection you made is displayed on the Live view screen (figure 2.22, image 3). Create your pictures.

Settings Recommendation: I generally leave my camera set to Low (L) or Normal (N) ADL, just in case I create a few JPEGs. It really doesn’t matter which ADL setting you use when you shoot in RAW mode because any ADL setting is completely reversible in that mode. However, I like to have a little ADL on JPEGs to extend the dynamic range. I don’t use too much because skin tones of fair-skinned people tend to get very pink, and you can even get a fake high dynamic range (HDR) look if ADL is set too high (because of a lack of shadows).

This setting absolutely requires experimentation. ADL can add noise to underexposed areas of an image, so test your tolerance for noise by trying each of the levels in a high-contrast environment to see how they perform.

Auto Bracketing

(User’s Manual, Page 123)

Bracketing allows you to create a series of pictures of the same subject with different exposures. You can use the image with the best exposure or combine multiple images for an HDR image.

When you enable bracketing by selecting one of the items from the Auto bracketing menu (figure 2.23, image 2), the camera will take three pictures in quick succession with an exposure variance equal to the option you select. All bracket sequences in the COOLPIX A are three-shot brackets. You cannot select a different number of frames.

You can select a bracketing exposure range from AE0.3 to AE2.0 in 1/3 EV steps (figure 2.23). For example, AE1.0 means that your camera will take the three bracketed pictures with the first picture at +1.0 EV (+1 stop), the second picture at normal exposure, and the third picture at –1.0 EV (–1 stop). That will give you three pictures: one overexposed, one with a normal exposure, and one underexposed. You can then use the best single exposure or do an HDR combination of the three.

To create the bracket with the camera’s Release mode set to Single frame, you must take three individual pictures by pressing the Shutter-release button three times. Or you can set the camera’s Release mode to Continuous and hold down the Shutter-release button. In Continuous Release mode the camera will take the three pictures in a single burst and then stop taking pictures.

Let’s examine how to set up the camera for the bracket.

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Figure 2.23: Exposure bracketing three pictures

Use these steps to choose a Bracketing setting:

1. Open the Information display screen with the i button and select Auto Bracketing from the Quick Menu on the bottom right (figure 2.23, image 1).

2. Press the OK button, and you will see the Auto bracketing menu with the choices discussed earlier. Select your favorite Auto bracketing setting. Press the OK button again to lock in your choice. My camera is set to the AE1.0 setting (figure 2.23, image 2).

3. Press the Shutter-release button halfway to return to the Live view display, and you will notice that the Auto bracketing selection you made is displayed on the Live view screen (figure 2.23, image 3). The red arrow points to a label that says AE-BKT and a +/– Bracketing progress indicator. Notice that there are three vertical lines below the +/– Bracketing progress indicator. Each line represents one picture. As you take each picture in the bracket, one line will disappear. When they are gone, all three pictures in the bracketing series have been captured.

4. Set your camera’s Release mode to Continuous (see the section earlier in this chapter titled Release Modes) and hold down the Shutter-release button until the three pictures are taken, or you can leave the Release mode set to Single frame and take three individual pictures to complete the bracket series.

Note: In addition to Auto exposure (AE) bracketing, you can do Active D-Lighting (ADL) bracketing and White balance (WB) bracketing.

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Figure 2.24: Three bracketing methods are available

The bracketing types are controlled with the Menu button > Shooting Menu > Auto bracketing set function (figure 2.24). We will not discuss the other two bracketing types (WB and ADL) until chapter 4, Shooting Menu. This chapter provides an introduction to the most commonly used form of bracketing, AE bracketing.

Set Picture Control

(User’s Manual, Page 99)

Set Picture Control allows you to modify the look of your images. Each Picture Control has a different level of sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation, and hue. You can customize each Picture Control for your own personal style.

Additionally, you can share customized Picture Controls with your friends and with compatible devices. In this section we will examine how to select or set a Picture Control. In chapter 4, we will discuss how to customize the controls.

Let’s examine what each control does and how to select them.

Picture Control List

• Standard (SD): This can be considered an all-around or general Picture Control. It has medium settings that are not too contrasty or too saturated. It is good for general everyday shooting, when no special look is required.

• Neutral (NL): This is a control for when you want the maximum dynamic range the camera can offer. The Picture Control is neutral, with lower contrast and saturation. If you will later post-process the image, you may want to use this control.

• Vivid (VI): If you love high contrast and extra saturation in your images, this control is designed to provide snap to an image, without going so far as to become cartoonish. It is comparable to the very popular Velvia film, from Fujifilm, from days of old.

• Monochrome (MC): If you want to experiment with black-and-white images, this control turns off all color saturation for a low-contrast black-and-white look. It is still a color control, but all colors have been converted to grayscale. The resulting images can be brought into a computer and modified to create very nice black-and-white pictures, or they can be used as is, straight out of the camera.

• Portrait (PT): If you like to take pictures of people, this is the control for you! It concentrates on providing excellent skin tones for, as Nikon puts it, “skin with natural texture and a rounded feel.”

• Landscape (LS): This control is for those of us who love nature and sweeping landscapes and cityscapes. The saturation and contrast is a little higher on this control, not as much as the Vivid Picture Control, but more than the Standard or Neutral controls. Beautiful autumn leaves and sparkling city streets will benefit from this control.

Note: Each of these Picture Controls can be modified or used as is, or you can rename them to make your own custom Picture Control. We will consider how to do that in chapter 4.

Also, please be aware that it makes no difference which control you use when you are shooting in RAW mode because a different control can be selected after the fact in programs like Nikon Capture NX 2. If you shoot in JPEG mode, the look of the selected control is applied to the picture immediately and permanently.

If you decide to post-process your RAW images in a non-Nikon software program, such as Adobe Lightroom, the Picture Control setting you used will be ignored because Nikon Picture Controls are proprietary.

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Figure 2.25: Set Picture Control

Use these steps to choose a Picture Control:

1. Open the Information display screen with the i button and select Set Picture Control from the Quick Menu on the bottom (figure 2.25, image 1).

2. Press the OK button, and you will see the Set Picture Control menu with the choices discussed in the previous list. Select your favorite Set Picture Control setting. Press the OK button again to lock in your choice. My camera is set to the SD (Standard) setting (figure 2.25, image 2).

3. Press the Shutter-release button halfway to return to the Live view display, and you will notice that the Set Picture Control selection you made is displayed on the Live view screen (figure 2.25, image 3). Create your pictures.

Settings Recommendation: I shoot with the SD picture control for most of my general photography, when I’m shooting JPEGs. It has enough contrast and saturation to provide snap to the image. If I were shooting at a wedding or other event, I would use the NL control to keep the contrast under control and provide for some ability to post-process the image. On a beautiful autumn day in the mountains, I may switch to the LS or VI control to have saturated colors in the autumn leaves. Finally, when I shoot portraits, I love to use the PT control.

You should experiment with the look and feel of each control and even modify a control to change its look (we will discuss how to do this in chapter 4).

Exposure Compensation

(User’s Manual, Page 87)

Exposure compensation allows you to force the camera to add or subtract exposure from the value the current light meter setting suggests. This is especially useful when you are using your camera’s histogram to tweak the exposure (see chapter 9).

You can adjust the exposure by up to five stops in either direction (–5.0 to +5.0 EV). There are two methods for adjusting the Exposure compensation. One is the Quick Menu, and the other is the physical camera controls.

Let’s examine both methods. First, we’ll look at the Quick Menu method.

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Figure 2.26: Exposure compensation on the Quick Menu

Use these steps to choose an Exposure compensation setting:

1. Open the Information display screen with the i button and select Exposure compensation from the Quick Menu on the bottom (figure 2.26, image 1).

2. Press the OK button, and you will see the Exposure compensation function with up and down arrows surrounding a yellow box. Press up or down on the Rotary multi selector to select your favorite Exposure compensation value. Press the OK button again to lock in your choice. My camera is set to +0.3 (figure 2.26, image 2).

3. Press the Shutter-release button halfway to return to the Live view display, and you will notice that the Exposure compensation symbol is displayed on the Live view screen (figure 2.26, image 3). This symbol does not inform you whether the exposure compensation is plus or minus, or by how many EV steps. If you see the Exposure compensation symbol on the Live view screen, you’ll know that Exposure compensation is set to some value. Press and hold the +/– Exposure compensation button to see the value. The camera does not reset Exposure compensation after you take a compensated picture, so don’t forget to set it back to 0.0.

Now, let’s examine how to use the Exposure compensation system with external camera controls.

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Figure 2.27: External controls to set Exposure compensation

Use these steps to choose an Exposure compensation value:

1. Press and hold the +/– Exposure compensation button (figure 2.27, image 1).

2. Rotate the Command dial on top of the camera (figure 2.27, image 2) counterclockwise to set a positive (+) exposure compensation value, or rotate it clockwise to set a negative (–) compensation value. You will see the value change on the Live view monitor as you rotate the Command dial. In figure 2.27, image 3, you can see that I have set a positive (overexposed) value of 0.3 EV, and in image 4 I have selected a negative (underexposed) value of 0.3 EV. You will see the screen brighten or darken a little as you turn the Command dial.

3. Release the +/– Exposure compensation button and take your pictures. While the button is released, you will see the full Exposure compensation symbol on the screen, as shown in figure 2.26, image 3. Press the +/– Exposure compensation button to review the value that is currently set.

Again, be sure to set Exposure compensation back to 0.0 when you are done shooting the compensated images.

Note: Please be aware that Exposure compensation in Manual (M) exposure mode does not display the normal +/– Exposure compensation symbols on the Live view monitor. Exposure compensation affects only the +/– Exposure indicator scale. The shutter speed and aperture do not change. When you use A, S, and P modes, Exposure compensation works normally.

Flash Compensation

(User’s Manual, Page 116)

Flash compensation is similar to Exposure compensation (previous section). You can force the camera to add or subtract exposure when you use the builtin flash unit. This allows you to change the brightness of the subject compared to the background. Let’s see how.

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Figure 2.28: Choosing an AF-area mode

Use these steps to choose an AF-area mode setting:

1. Open the Information display screen with the i button and select Flash compensation from the Quick Menu on the right (figure 2.28, image 1).

2. Press the OK button, and you will see the Flash compensation function with up and down arrows surrounding a yellow box. Press up or down with the Rotary multi selector to select your favorite Flash compensation value. Press the OK button again to lock in your choice. My camera’sFlash compensation is set to the –0.3 EV setting (figure 2.28, image 2). You can select up to +1 EV and down to –3.0 EV in 1/3 EV steps.

3. Press the Shutter-release button halfway to return to the Live view display, and you will notice that the Flash compensation symbol is displayed on the Live view screen (figure 2.28, image 3). Make your pictures.

Settings Recommendation: When I am making everyday flash pictures with my camera, I leave the Flash compensation set to 0.0. However, when I am shooting people against a darker background, I often dial down to –0.3 or –0.7 EV to keep from overexposing the subject. My COOLPIX A seems to shoot a little hot when the subject is in front of a dark background.

Experiment with this feature and see if it makes any difference to your style of shooting.

Flash Mode

(User’s Manual, Page 113)

The built-in popup flash on your camera is there to provide fill light when you need it or to provide a main light source when the ambient light is too low. The flash unit has a guide number of about 21 ft (6 m), when it is used in auto or semiautomatic modes, or 22 ft (6 m), when it is fired in manual mode at full power (ISO 100).

The camera uses TTL auto flash, which means the flash fires in two stages. Nikon calls stage 1 monitor preflash. The built-in flash emits a series of almost invisible flashes (stage 1) before the main flash burst fires (stage 2). The preflashes allow the camera’s flash sensor to examine all areas of the frame for reflectivity. The camera uses the Matrix meter and distance information from a D or G lens to calculate a flash output that is balanced between the main subject and the ambient lighting.

In addition to the types of flash metering, the camera also has several Flash modes that affect how it controls light. The five basic Flash modes and how they work are described next. The camera often combines these Flash modes as you use different shooting modes on the Mode dial. See the list of shooting modes at the end of this section.

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Figure 2.29: Auto flash mode

• Auto: This flash mode is available only when you are using various Scene modes (figure 2.29). It lets the camera decide when to use flash and what type of flash to use. You can select this mode if you are unsure about which mode to use in a certain situation, and the camera will do its best to give you a well-exposed picture. See the list at the end of this section to discover the other modes that are available when you are using the automatic Scene modes.

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Figure 2.30: Fill flash mode

• Fill flash (Front-curtain sync mode): In this mode the camera tries its best to balance the light if you’re using a lens that has a CPU in it (figure 2.30). Older non-CPU lenses cause the camera to completely ignore the ambient light and use only the flash to expose the subject. A CPU lens, like an AF-S Nikkor G or D lens, balances ambient light and light from the flash and works to make the combined light look very natural. If you use this correctly outdoors, it will be hard to tell that you were using flash, except for the catch light in the subject’s eyes and the lack of deep shadows. The flash simply fills in some extra light without overpowering the ambient light. In a situation where there is very little ambient light, the camera will use only the flash to get a correct exposure. It balances with ambient light only if there is enough ambient light. There is a side effect to using this mode with slow shutter speeds. Fill flash simply causes the flash to fire as soon as the exposure begins. If there is some ambient light, the shutter speed is long (like 1/2 second), and the subject is moving, you’ll see a well-exposed subject with a blurry trail in front of it. The flash correctly exposes the subject as soon as the exposure starts, but the ambient light continues exposing the subject before the rear curtain closes. Since the subject was moving, you may see a ghostlike blur before or in front of the well-exposed moving subject in the picture. This can be seen at shutter speeds as fast as 1/60 second if the ambient light is strong enough and the subject is moving quickly enough.

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Figure 2.31: Red-eye reduction flash mode

• Red-eye reduction: The flash fires a couple of extra times just before it fires the main flash burst (figure 2.31). The intention is that the extra flash discharges will cause the subject’s pupils to close somewhat and reduce the red-eye effect. Otherwise it acts like you are using Fill flash (Front-curtain sync mode).

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Figure 2.32: Slow sync flash mode

• Slow sync: This mode lets the camera use ambient light to make a good exposure and then fires the flash to add some extra light, rounding out the shadows or better exposing a foreground subject (figure 2.32). Use this mode in people shots outdoors or when you want ambient light to provide the primary exposure and the flash to add a sparkle to the subjects’ eyes and remove dark shadows from their faces. This is closely related to Fill flash, except the ambient light is more important than the light from the flash. Be careful when you use this mode indoors since it will expose for ambient light and only assist with some flash light. You can get some terrible ghosting and blurred handheld shots when you use Slow sync indoors. Ambient light rules in this mode!

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Figure 2.33: Rear-curtain sync flash mode

• Rear-curtain sync: This mode is the opposite of Fill flash, or Front-curtain sync (figure 2.33). The flash waits to fire until just before the exposure ends. The entire shutter speed time is just ending when the flash fires. This causes a ghosting effect for moving subjects in higher ambient light with slow shutter speeds. When you press the Shutter-release button, the exposure starts, ambient light starts hitting the sensor, and the sensor starts recording the subject. Just as the exposure ends, the flash fires and exposes the subject at its current position. The subject is fully exposed by the flash at the end of the shutter speed time, so the ambient light has time to register the subject before the flash fires, thereby making a blurred ghost behind or after the well-exposed but moving subject.

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Figure 2.34: No flash mode

• No flash: When you use this mode, the flash is disabled (figure 2.34). You are telling the camera not to use flash at all. This mode is not available in the M, A, S, and P Exposure modes.

List of Flash Modes by Shooting Mode

As mentioned previously, when you use the various shooting modes on the Mode dial, such as M, A, S, P, Scene, and so forth, the camera will allow you to use certain Flash modes at certain times. Not all Flash modes are available at all exposure settings. The following lists show the shooting modes and available Flash modes:

Scene modes: Portrait, Child, Close up, Party/indoor, Pet portrait, and Auto

• Auto

• Auto and red-eye reduction

• No flash

Scene mode: Night portrait

• Auto, slow sync, and red-eye reduction

• Auto and slow sync

• No flash

Scene mode: Food

• Fill flash (front-curtain sync)

Shooting mode: Programmed auto (P) and Aperture-priority auto (A)

• Fill flash

• Red-eye reduction

• Slow sync and red-eye reduction

• Slow sync

• Rear curtain and slow sync

Shooting mode: Shutter-priority auto (S) and Manual (M)

• Fill flash

• Red-eye reduction

• Rear-curtain sync

Now, let’s consider how to select one of the flash modes on your amazing little camera.

Selecting a Flash Mode

Not all flash modes will be displayed on the Quick Menu at the same time. Flash modes are context sensitive. As shown in the previous list, each Exposure mode on the Mode dial will display its own available flash modes in the Quick Menu. Flash modes seem rather complicated until you figure this out.

If you can’t find a particular flash mode in the Quick Menu for the Exposure mode you are currently using, it is not available for that mode.

Here is how to select Flash modes.

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Figure 2.35: Flash mode choices

Use these steps to choose an available Flash mode:

1. Open the Information display screen with the i button and select Flash mode from the Quick Menu on the bottom (figure 2.35, image 1).

2. Press the OK button, and you will see the Flash mode menu with only the choices available for that particular Exposure mode (e.g., M, A, S, P). Select your favorite Flash mode setting. Press the OK button again to lock in your choice. My camera is set to the Red-eye reduction setting (figure 2.35, image 2).

3. Press the Shutter-release button halfway to return to the Live view display, and you will notice that the Flash mode selection you made is displayed on the Live view screen (figure 2.35, image 3). Create your pictures.

Settings Recommendation: I use Fill flash for normal, everyday flash. It balances ambient light with flash light. Switch to Spot metering mode when you use Fill flash if you want extremely accurate exposures of a particular subject.

External Speedlight flash units offer modes like TTL BL, TTL BL FP, TTL FP, or just TTL. TTL stands for through the lens and represents an i-TTL mode (intelligent though the lens). BL stands for balanced. FP stands for Auto FP high-speed sync mode. Refer to the user’s manual for your flash unit for exact details on how to switch modes on the flash unit.

When I’m shooting outside (only) and want a great exposure of the subject’s surroundings, along with the subject, I often use Slow sync mode. The only caveat is you must be aware that slow shutter speeds will cause ghosting and blurring as the light falls.

I don’t use the Red-eye reduction mode often because it seems to confuse people. They think the initial shine of the AF-assist illuminator is the flash firing, then they look away just as the main flash fires. If you are going to use Red-eye reduction mode, you might want to tell the subject to wait for the main flash.

Rear-curtain sync creates a cool effect if you want to show a ghosted image stretching out behind the subject when you use slow shutter speeds. It is sometimes used by sports shooters in situations when there may be some blurring from fast movement in low light. It is much more acceptable to have a ghosted blur after the subject since it implies motion. Front-curtain sync makes the blur show up in front of the subject, which just plain looks weird.

I suggest experimenting with all these modes. You’ll want to use each of them at various times.

Author’s Conclusions

The Information display and Quick Menu allow you to adjust the most commonly used camera functions. They are harder to describe than to use.

However, this camera has a lot of hidden functionality that you can discover by carefully examining the Menu system when you press the Menu button. Most of the functions on the Quick Menu are also in the standard Menu system, except that you often have even greater control over the camera’s functionality from within the standard menus.

Therefore, it is important that you continue your journey to mastering the Nikon COOLPIX A by exploring the deeper parts of the camera’s configurable menus.

For the next five chapters we will be working through the standard camera menus (Playback, Shooting, Setup, Retouch, My Menu, and Recent Settings). There is one chapter per menu!

Be sure to have your camera in hand as we go through these settings. You can adjust your camera to your own style of shooting as we discover the hidden nooks and crannies of the COOLPIX A.