24 November 2008

Back to basics, full automatic 'green square' mode

IMG_0005-blabCanon cameras and many others have a wide selection of shooting modes some that employ sound photo techniques to help you take the shots you want to, some that leave you on your own to mess it all up with no-one else to blame. Apart from EOS-1D models all the range of Canon cameras have a mode dial featuring a green square where you pass almost all the photographic control to the camera and the wisdom of the Canon camera dept. Fortunately they know a whole lot about setting up your camera for taking pictures; the choices for the photographer are mostly when to take the picture, which direction to point the camera in, and how much to put in the frame. So the most important decisions are left with the photographer then.

The great thing is that green square will try it's best to see how much light is falling on your subject, where the main important part of the subject is in the frame, work out if the subject is moving toward or awy from you, decide if you would be better off using flash, and make some judgement calls on the ieal combination of shutter speed and aperture. In fact the green square function talks to the lens to find out where it's zoomed to since the more you zoom in the longer the focal length becomes and the more chance of camera shake - the camera will try to compensate by increasing the shutter speed and if necessary the sensitivity of the camera (ISO speed). You just thought it was easy shooting mode...

The camera can't tell if you want a lot of depth of field, or a really narrow depth of field to isolate your subject from the background, or maye you want to freeze some fast moving action. The camera will choose middle of the road settings to get you a technically competent picture. So if you want to concentrate on choosing the moment to take your picture, framing the scene it can really help out. Mostly the green square mode is used by people who are new to photography with a DSLR camera or people not sure what all the other stuff means - and too scared to ask or read the manual.

Green square is a great start but soon you'll want to take better pictures and that means you have to tell the camera more of what you want to acheive in the final picture. Give the camera better instructions about your intended results and it can help you make pictures that acheive them.

Green square is the first of several automated modes that go round the dial - these modes Canon calls basic zone modes, though in the days of film EOS cameras they were known as PIC modes. [PIC - programmed image control]
These basic zone modes are listed below and will be covered in future posts;
  • portrait
  • landscape
  • close-up
  • sport
  • night portrait
  • flash off
Recently the EOS 50D and EOS 5D Mark II added a new kind of green square called Creative Auto and it has a logo on the mode dial with CA. More on this later.

So green square is a nice start in DSLR photography, but better pictures need you to take more control over the settings.


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