07 Manual Focus

Manual focus is something that I have a feeling a lot of people know about or don't have a good option for, but I feel like it is worth posting about, because it is something that I will probably go into more depth on in my blog here.

The most important thing to note is that Manual focus (MF) isn't available for all cameras, especially not phone based cameras. It is available on some point and shoot cameras, though not easily used in most cases, so it may be worth looking in your manual or googling to see whether your camera model supports any good implementations of MF. The most common place to use manual focus is on DSLRs (digital single lens reflex) or EVILs (electronic viewfinder with interchangeable lens), which are usually built to allow the user to easily control most elements of the camera's operations.

06 Exposure Compensation

Exposure Compensation is a tool that is available on almost any camera, from camera enabled phones, to high end DSLRs.  The use is pretty simple in most cases, and on most cameras.

If you have ever had a situation where the camera is exposing the photo too bright or dark, it is likely that the light metering is being fooled by the scene having a large amount of white or black.

The reason that this makes a difference is that most cameras are designed to set the average brightness in the scene to the middle of what the camera can capture. This fact means that if you have a scene with large bright or dark areas the camera will under or over expose the image.

The standard Exposure Correction Icon.

The exposure compensation setting can be found in varying places depending on the camera you are using, but in almost every case it has a square icon, divided in half diagonally with a + on one half and - on the other.


Also I should note that I probably won't make it to weekly with this again just yet, but I will be trying to add to it with some regularity.


If you have a Canon point and shoot camera you may be able to improve it for advanced photography. CHDK (Canon Hack Development Kit) is a project to add features and programability to Canon point and shoot cameras. The basic idea is you add a file to your camera card, press a few buttons (varying depending on the camera) and use it to set advanced options or run scripts on your camera.

The project gives a nice list of models and firmware versions for supported cameras, along with detailed pages for supported cameras. Some of the amazing images that have been taken with CHDK can be seen on the flickr hive mind feed, wile you can explore their wiki for ideas of what it is useful for (time laps and motion sensing are some of the most common).

If you want more consumer focused overviews of CHDK try searching just the name, and you should end up seeing some articles like this great one on Life Hacker

04 UFRaw What is it?

In last weeks tip I talked a little about why you should use RAW photo formats if they are offered by your camera. This week I want to give you just a little info on the RAW processing software that I use. 

The most important fact is that UFRaw is free, and available from their website on Sourceforge which isn't very pretty. If you want to go straight to the sourceforge download you can use this link.

The only other things to be aware of are that this software works directly with GIMP, and that it is able to batch process photos. Hopefully I will have time to do some in depth tutorials for this software.


P.S. Sorry everybody that this wasn't posted on time, I forgot to set it to automatically publish. 

03 Why Use RAW?

If you are using a semi-professional or professional grade camera you have probably at least heard the RAW format mentioned, but chances are you don't really know what that means, or why you should care.

One thing to clear up first is there are several RAW formats, each supported by a different camera manufacturer. The reason that all of these formats are grouped together and called RAW formats is because they essentially try to accomplish the same thing.

The real question is why should you use the RAW format provided by your camera? There isn't necessarily one answer to that question, and there are some cases in which it would be a good idea to not use raw, but in general it is recommended.

The single biggest reason to use a RAW format is because you then have a file with the data essentially exactly the way the sensor captured it.  This is an advantage in two ways. First, you have a much cleaner file than the JPEG files, because JPEG compresses information in a way which adds noise along color and contrast edges. Second, you are able to do much of the same processing that the camera does internally, after the fact, allowing for greater customisation of the final look of the picture.

Look for next weeks tip for info on UFRaw, a RAW processing software.