How to Set up snap shooting mode
Last week during my post on the ‘Bomb threat in Derby’ I mentioned about having my G9 set at hyperfocal distance in a “Custom Control so it is always available to me.” I have given the details on how to set it up and a whole range of options for you to choose bellow, to set the G9 up for your style of shooting using custom colours etc.
This makes the Canon PowerShot G9 very fast from power up to pressing the shutter; (about a second) reaching for my G9 and powering it on at the same time means as soon as it is at my eye, its ready to shoot as it does not need to focus, and yet the pictures appear very sharp and in focus, this is how street photography, reportage, war, documentary and landscapes were often done with manual focus, film rangefinders, like the Leica.
Note I say ‘appear’ very sharp and in focus, and that is because there is actually only one plane of actual focus! The rest is down to depth of field from the given aperture and its relation to the point in focus
In the days of film, most interchangeable lenses had hyperfocal distance scales and Infra Red marker (IR light focuses at a different plane to daylight, so a set mark was often found on the lens to re adjust the distance, I will be doing a separate article on this for the G9) to aid in this matter and was often used a lot more than it is now, mainly because digital lenses seem to have this scale missing from their lenses. This is even rarer in a point and shoot, but the G9 can be set up for hyperfocal shooting and IR shooting too thanks to the people behind DOF Master.com and I suggest you have a good read of their website page if you want a better understanding of what hyperfocal is and does
The actual distance you set on the G9 varies depending on the sort of shooting you do. You might want it shorter if you do Landscapes and want more detail in the foreground for example or shoot candid’s from across the table but around 10 feet seems to be good for most people/subjects. The aperture you use also makes a difference; a higher f number will give more depth of apparent sharpness than a low f number.
Another factor to consider is the lens length, the longer the lens the shorter the hyperfocal range will be. Setting the G9 at its widest zoom gives the biggest scope for a given aperture and widest hyperfocal distance but you could zoom out the lens and set it as a custom option if that is what you need.
The distance you set and F number combination gives you the hyperfocal ability, which means you can set the G9 how you want for the style of shooting you do most and save it as a custom setting (C1 or C2) for a better understanding of how the focus and aperture affects the nearest point in apparent focus to the furthest go to DOF MASTER.com and select the G9 from the drop down menu. (The focal length for the G9 is 7.4mm at its widest setting)
As an example my set up is 9 feet and set at f4.5 which gives me 3.84 feet to infinity. In practice this works out as a simple guide that anything more than arms length (and a bit) is in apparent focus, it is also easy to estimate! At f2.8 this is under 5 feet to infinity. I can alter the Aperture to adjust exposure using the Control dial on the back with my thumb
Setting it up
1. Power on your G9 and switch to Av mode
2. Press Func.Set, and go through the options and settings as to where you want them, as a reference I have listed some!
White balance: Mine is set on auto, as I have no idea what the white balance will be in advance and shoot in mixed conditions; but if you only tend to use it at night or specific condition set accordingly.
Custom colours: here are some options I have discovered:
· Safe Mode: Contrast -2, sharpness -2, ideal for low light work as it can all be changed in post processing, but you need to do it for every image. Custom presets in Adobe Lightroom, help a lot
· Sunny Green: sometimes the white balance gets over influenced by sunshine and green so set to Green -1
· Landscapes (Variable as to how you like them) boost sky, Blue +1 boost foliage, Green+1 or both Blue +1 Green +1 etc. this needs more experimentation to your taste
· Documentary/Street style Contrast +2 Sharpness +2
(Experiment with the above settings to see which you like and fits your purpose. Combinations can also be combined such as documentary and Blue -2 for a stylised look or adding additional saturation etc. so play!)
Bracketing: Mine is set to off, but if you shoot landscapes you might want to bracket your exposures.
Flash output: if you do portraits a lot you might want to turn this down to -1 or even -1 ½ stops so it works as fill in for shadows in sunny outdoor scenes
Metering mode: I use evaluative, but again you may have a preference for spot if you shoot Portraits or centre-weight for Landscapes
ND filter: Mine is off, but could be very useful in areas of bright beaches, desert or snow as a permanent setting.
Quality: RAW + L (change if you need to, see below under Record RAW +L)
(You can also set it for Black and White, in which case using ISO shift is not so much of a problem as noise will look more like film grain, that said I shoot RAW and prefer to do this in post processing, see my previous post ‘Reducing noise with ACR and Lightroom' )
3. Press Func.Set to exit this menu after making your changes.
Press the command dial button up, MF to enable Manual Focus. Set the focus to about 10 feet. Mine is set so the focus bar is set to the bottom of the 10’ marker.
The actual distance varies depending on the sort of shooting you do; you might want it shorter if you do Landscapes and want more detail in the foreground for example or shoot candid’s from across the table
Rotate the control dial on the back and set the aperture to F4.5 (my setting, or other aperture of your choice. I also read somewhere that this was the optimum aperture for quality in the G9 or G7)
4. Press the command dial button right, Flash to cycle the flash off or on (See number 7, Flash Control ).
5. You can set exposure compensation using the +/- exposure button (above right from the control/command dial) to adjust +1/3 or -1/3 exposure compensation. As an example, +1/3 for low light and reducing noise in the shadows or -2/3 for protecting the highlights on a sunny day or landscape.
6. Press the Down button to cycle to Continuous shooting mode (recommended for news and street, but also useful for candid shooting etc.).
7. Press the Menu button and go through the following settings:
- Flash control - set to your preference; mine is off as default, however if I need an urgent picture and know I need flash to light it, I can press the Flash button twice to switch it on or set the camera to AUTO (on the Mode dial) which is my default position for when the camera is off.
- Red-Eye – On, since I'm not using flash, but I set it to On in case I want to switch it on for a few shots;
- Self-timer I don't use it in this mode; however you might want to set it for 1 second (custom option) for things like landscapes to stop camera shake or with a tripod
- Spot AE Point - AF Point or Centre doesn't matter as it's set to manual focus.
- Auto ISO Shift - I use Shortcut Button (top left next to the LCD) since I'm shooting reportage/documentary and having it bump up the ISO at my discretion. The shortcut button glows blue to warn you that a higher ISO might be beneficial, by pressing the shortcut button, it alters the ISO automatically which means I can decide in low light situations whether, adding noise or getting the picture is a priority. Set it to your preference! (See note above about shooting in B+W under Number 2)
- MF-Point Zoom - Makes no odds, but 'on' anyway
- Safety MF - OFF! This is important! After manual focusing, It auto focuses, for fine tuning on what you have focused on manually; ideal for when the AF dose not know what you want in focus, but slows the whole thing down for our purpose and adds shutter lag before firing.
- AF Mode - We aren't using AF!
- AF-assist beam – Off, but can be left on as a way of getting the subjects attention and to look at the camera in candid’s and baby shots etc.
- Review - Off since having it on will increase delay for subsequent shots; however pressing the shutter halfway cancels this, so its up to you, but I would rather not have a big glowing screen after every shot when on my walks in a dodgy areas; I can always hit the Play button to see if I wish
- Review Info focus check, but see notes above
- Record RAW+L – my default is RAW +L for high quality and adaptability in post processing and '+L' jpegs. for wiring urgent news images, blogging from my PDA (another future post ‘in progress’)
- Auto Category - On, but is your preference
- IS Mode – Shooting only, as I have found you don’t need to wait for the AF to lock on; change if you have other preference though (or shaky hands)
- Convertor - Off, unless you are using the wide converter or tele converter of course
- Custom Display – I will let you decide that one. But mine shows shooting info, grid lines and histogram for checking exposure is going to be good
- Set Shortcut Button - set it to however you want, mine is for Light Metering.
8. Save Settings: store this setup into C2, this is easy to find by hand in the dark or when its in a pocket as it is the last setting on the Mode dial, however set it to C1 if you prefer.
9. Switch to the C2 mode (or C1) your stored settings will have taken affect, make some pictures to test all is ok! (see note bellow)
Final note though, checking the Manual Focus by pressing up from the command dial to MF to check the distance scale seems to stuff up your settings for the Hyperfocal distance, so I suggest pressing the +/- exposure compensation button (above the Control Dial) instead, you should see the exposure compensation come up on the rear LCD (which you add or subtract by rotating the control dial) pressing the +/- exposure button again takes you to the manual focus, a further press lets you change the aperture.