Canon 70D – Hands-on Review and Field Test

I’ve been waiting until I got my hands on the latest new dSLR, so that I could coordinate a camera “field test” with a visit to an exhibit I’ve been wanting to see. The Heritage Museum and Gardens is currently showing an exhibit of concept cars, called Driving Our Dreams, which will be there until October 27, 2013. They have gathered together one of the coolest collections of American concept cars from the 1950’s to the present, ranging from the “space-age” 1956 GM Firebird II turbine powered highway rocket to the solar powered 2009 Infinium – and what better place to try out a new camera?! So thanks to LensProToGo for putting a new Canon EOS 70D into my hands, just as it was hitting the stores at the end of August!

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up 1956 Buick Centurion concept
All images in this post taken with the Canon 70D at the Heritage Museum, Sandwich, Massachusetts. 1956 Buick Centurion concept car. (Learn about the over-saturated red channel below.)

I headed out to Sandwich, Mass., the oldest town on Cape Cod, to visit the museum. I’ve been researching and writing about the 70D since it was announced a few months ago, as I work on my latest camera guide Canon 70D Experience, so I was already extremely familiar with its features and controls.

You can read all about the camera’s new features, and some tips for customizing the settings and controls of your 70D, in some of my previous Canon 70D articles. And if you wish to learn not only the features, functions, and controls of the 70D, but more importantly when and why to use them, be sure to look at my guide Canon 70D Experience. It will help you to take control of your camera, and the images you create!

Canon 70D EOS book manual guide tutorial how to tips tricks recommended settings set up dummies use quick start

Controls and Touch Screen: If you have worked with a Canon 60D, 7D, or even a 50D (or earlier), you should find that the 70D feels very familiar. It has about the same weight and feel, and while some of the controls move around from model to model, most of them are similar. I found that I quickly learned which button to instinctively press for my needs, whether the Image Playback Button, Info Button, or Q Button, etc. Even more convenient is the new Touch Screen, first seen on the Canon Rebel T4i/ EOS 650D. For those who may be skeptical about using a touch screen because of either responsiveness concerns or due to the “purity” of using a camera’s controls, the Canon 70D Touch Screen may very well change your mind. As with the screen on the T4i/650D and T5i/700D, it is as responsive as you have come to expect with an iPhone, and even uses many of the same Multi-Touch gestures – particularly when reviewing images during Image Playback (swipe for the next image, spread and pinch for zooming in and out, etc.). Even though many of the menu tabs, menu items, and function icons of the 70D are tiny, I rarely ever have any problem immediately selecting the right one. And regarding the desire to use the actual camera buttons and controls to change settings, I have quickly gotten into the habit of just pressing the Q Button to access the Quick Control Screen, then using the Touch Screen to change my settings with a few taps. After I have reviewed an image and wish to change settings, I find that it is quicker and easier to do it this way and simply leave the camera in the same position in your hands as you look at the rear screen, than it is to tilt the camera up, locate your desired settings button, press it and look at the small top LCD screen. You can change all the shooting settings on the Quick Control Screen, jump around the menus for various other settings, review all your settings on the Shooting Function Settings screen, and go back into image review all with your right thumb and left index finger, while holding the camera in the same position. Though I still use the dials and controls to change the aperture / shutter speed settings and control the autofocus points as I work through the viewfinder.

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up 1954 Buick Wildcat II concept
1954 Buick Wildcat II concept car

The top Main Dial of the 70D, while solid, has that great “soft” rubber feel to it rather than the harder plastic feel of entry-level models.  And this softer material is much easier on your fingertip after a long day of shooting. I always gripe about the inclusion of the thumb-pad Multi-Controller on the 60D and 70D, rather than the joystick version of the 7D, 50D, and 5D Mark III. I prefer the joystick because of its location, which is much closer to the other buttons on the top rear of the camera that your thumb will also be using. However, I found that after some time with the 70D I eventually got used to the thumb-pad.  While I still dislike the location, it does make it a bit easier to select an autofocus point the diagonal directions. One of the Custom Controls that I found I like is to customize the SET Button for ISO selection. While there is a dedicated ISO Button on the top of the camera, or you can easily select it on the Quick Control Screen, I find that it is also quick and easy to press the SET Button as you turn the top Main Dial to make this adjustment. As described above, it helps you to make this adjustment while keeping the camera in the same “image review” position. Plus you can quickly use this method to change the setting while your eye stays in the Viewfinder. And while you can always use the top ISO button in the same manner, it is much more difficult to determine which top button is the ISO Button without looking at it. (While it has a little bump on it to help locate it by feel, it is not a big enough difference from the other buttons for me to locate it with confidence.)

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up Corvette 1962
1962 Corvette – production model

I decided with this photo shoot to use the 70D just as I would during any normal shoot, and thus concentrate on the controls, exposure issues, and autofocus system (rather than, say, playing with the Multiple Exposure or HDR features). I had earlier experimented with some of the other functions of the camera such as Auto Lighting Optimizer, in-camera HDR, Multi-Shot Noise Reduction, Multiple Exposures, Creative Filters, etc., and those can all be learned about in Canon 70D Experience. There will also be example images of all these features in my Canon 70D Flickr set.

Lighting, Exposure, White Balance, and Noise: One of the first things I discovered is that lighting at an indoor automobile exhibit is very challenging! While they allowed the use of flash, it would not have worked out well due to all the reflections and bright spots it would cause in the car body, glass, and chrome (which of course is well represented in the 50’s cars). Perhaps indirect flash would work well, but as I was going to be taking hundreds of shots, I didn’t wish to disrupt the other visitors with constant flashes. In addition, getting the right exposure was challenging because I was often taking close-up shots of a large area of a light tone or dark tone, which would fool the exposure meter and cause it to want to under- or over-expose the image. Plus some of the cars were bare metal, which is prone to very bright reflective areas and dark non-reflective areas depending on how the lights are hitting it and the angle of view. So the exposure level reading could change dramatically from the initial framing where I locked focus to the final framing when I took the shot. I had to carefully keep an eye on how the light changed based on what area of the car I was photographing, as well as how it changed based on my angle of view as I moved slightly side to side, or crouched down low. I needed to sometimes lock the exposure settings for my final framing or for an important area (using the AE Lock * Button on the rear of the camera), and I had to check the results and the histogram, and adjust the Exposure Compensation to lighten or darken the subsequent shots (while then remembering to set EC back to 0 when I moved on to the next shot!). (If you don’t yet fully understand what this all means, I discuss locking exposure settings, the Histogram, and Exposure Compensation in detail in my Canon 70D Experience guide.)

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up Corvette 1962
1962 Corvette – production model

There was relatively low lighting in the exhibition space, but I was able to make use of ISO 1600. I primarily worked in Aperture-Priority AE Shooting Mode (Av) so that I had control of the depth of field. Sometimes the shutter speed that the camera chose dropped below a desirable 1/100 or 1/125, so I often took a quick burst of images knowing that at least one would come out sharp. In truth, I just looked over my previous ISO tests of the 70D, and there is very little loss of quality between 1600 ISO and 3200 ISO, in the JPEG images straight from the camera.  Some excessive graininess definitely appear by 6400 ISO. So I could have safely increased the ISO well above 1600, perhaps even up to 3200. But it was simply an old habit of never going above 1600, drilled into me with older cameras such as the 50D – and I should have left that prejudice aside when working with the 70D. You can view JPEG test results at the various ISO settings, in my Canon 70D ISO Flickr set.

The images shown here and on Flickr were originally shot in RAW image quality, and converted to DNG using the Adobe DNG converter. They were then processed, sharpened, and saved as JPEG. Unfortunately, I did not apply any noise reduction during processing, and the results are excessively noisy. I am going to have to go back and apply noise reduction to these images, either using Photoshop or Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP). Below are some details of the above image, showing the difference between:

  • the original JPEG
  • the original RAW converted with Adobe DNG and processed in Photoshop and output as a JEPG, no noise reduction
  • the original RAW processed in Canon DPP with noise reduction applied and output as a JPEG.

For any pixel peepers, please note that all of the processing was done relatively quickly, so as to illustrate the overall differences. This is not intended to show definitive lab-quality results that one could achieve with much more careful, patient processing and noise reduction application. Please view the results at DPReview to see their lab-quality tests of JPEG, RAW, image quality, and noise.

Click on these image details to see larger versions:

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test noise high ISO JPEG vs RAW book manual guide how to settings set up
Detail of original JPEG straight from camera, 1600 ISO with “High ISO Speed NR” set for Standard – very little noise seen.

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test noise high ISO JPEG vs RAW book manual guide how to settings set up
Detail of processed RAW>DNG (processed with Photoshop)>JPEG, with no noise reduction applied, and thus excessively noisy.

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test noise high ISO JPEG vs RAW book manual guide how to settings set up
Detail of processed RAW (processed with Canon DPP)>JPEG with noise reduction applied, very little noise seen.

So the lesson of the above examples is that you can confidently shoot in JPEG, up to 1600 and even higher, and achieve clean, low-noise results. You can make use of the 70D in-camera High ISO Speed NR option to assist with this, setting it for Standard or High. View the tests on DPReview to see how high you are willing to raise the ISO before the noise is too much for your tastes or image-output needs. And, if you shoot in RAW, you are going to need to apply noise reduction (and contrast, sharpening, etc. as always) as you process the images, especially when you are shooting in high ISO settings (800, 1600, and higher). Apply noise reduction in Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, Canon DPP, etc.

Regarding White Balance, I learned that I should not have forgotten to bring my digital grey card for creating some benchmark images or even for setting a Custom White Balance. Though my post-processing experiments, I discovered that the White Balance color temperature of the exhibit space was very close to the Incandescent setting, but it would have been helpful, and would have saved time, if I had simply taken a couple images with the grey card in the scene. The lighting also varied throughout the space, as some areas had a bit of daylight from large windows. With images like these, I feel it is very important to closely match the actual colors of the cars, as they are documentary images of sorts. While the artificial lighting of an exhibition space vs. natural lighting outside would make these cars, (and images of these cars) appear differently, I wanted to match as closely as possible what I saw. If you wish to create a Custom White Balance with the 70D, you can take an image of a white object or grey card, filling a large central area of the Viewfinder with the card (about the size of the AF Points diamond), then go into the Shooting 3 menu and select the Custom White Balance menu item. It will ask you to select the image of the grey card you just took. When that is set, simply set your White Balance setting to the Custom WB icon, by pressing the Q Button and using the Quick Control Screen.

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up 1956 Buick Centurion concept
1956 Buick Centurion concept car

As is common with many dSLR sensors, the red channel can have a tendency to be sensitive to over-saturation. I experienced this as well with the 70D, though as you can see in the above image there was a large expanse of brightly lit red. In this and other images of the red and white Buick Centurion, some of the brightest areas of red become over-saturated and lose all detail, variation, or shadow, and are simply “pure” red. This is most easily seen in the first image at the top of this post, where there is a large area of lighter red on the top of the rear fender, where all subtle detail of varying color tones and shadow gradation is lost. If you are only watching the Brightness Histogram you may not pick this up, as the overall image – according to the camera – is not over-exposed. In order to keep your eye on this as you work, you can make use of the RGB Histogram. As shown below, the red channel is cut off at the right edge of the graph, and thus all detail will be lost in those areas of the image where this occurs. The sensor has simply reached its limits of what it can capture. If you experience this, you can adjust the lighting and perhaps make use of reflectors or diffusers, or move the subject, or alter your angle of view. In a situation where you can’t control these elements, you will need to adjust the exposure (under expose) before retaking the image, then check the RGB Histogram to make sure the color channels are not cut off at the right side of the graph.  Then carefully work with the image in post-processing to “bring back” or raise the overall exposure while trying to keep the problematic color channel from becoming over-saturated.

Canon 70D RGB Histogram learn use how to book guide manual dummies
Canon 70D RGB and Brightness Histogram, showing that areas of red have been over-saturated.

Aperture-Priority, Lenses, Autofocusing: As I mentioned above, I primarily worked in Aperture-Priority AE Shooting Mode, where I controlled the aperture setting while the camera chose the appropriate shutter speed. This allowed me to control the depth of field of the images, since I was primarily aiming to achieve very shallow, dramatic depth of field in the detail images, as shown in the tail-fin image below:

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up aperture depth of field 1954 Buick Wildcat II concept car
1954 Buick Wildcat II concept car

By working with a Canon 70-200mm F/4L IS lens, I set the lens at or near the 200mm focal length, backed up several yards, and then focused on my area of interest while setting the aperture at f/4. This results in very shallow depth of field and calls attention to the area of detail.  For the images showing a larger area of the cars, I used either the 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle lens or the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L, with the aperture set around f/2.8 or f/4.

I primarily autofocused using One-Shot AF Focus Mode and Single-Point AF Autofocus Area Selection Mode. One-Shot AF is used for still (or relatively still) subjects. As with the Canon 7D, the 70D has an Autofocus Area Selection Button on the top of the camera near the Shutter Button, which allows you to choose between these modes as you look through the Viewfinder (Single-Point AF, Zone AF, or 19-Point Automatic Selection AF), and these modes determine how many AF Points are being used to try to find the subject to focus on. With Single Point AF, I am able to manually select my desired AF Point using the Multi-Controller as I look through the Viewfinder, place it over the exact area where I wish to focus, and then lock focus with a half-press of the Shutter Button or by pressing the rear AF-ON Button. I can then recompose the shot to get the framing I desire, and press the Shutter Button to take the shot. While the 70D has 19 AF Points to choose from, it is relatively quick and easy to select the one you wish. You can even customize the camera so that if you are selecting one of the edge points, you can choose to stop at the edge or “wrap-around” to the AF Point on the other side if you continue to click the Multi-Controller.  I always choose to have it stop at the edge.  That way if I am choosing an “edge” point, I can simply quickly “click, click, click” on the left Multi-Controller, and I know it will stop at the far left AF Point and not “wrap-around” to an AF Point on the other side of the frame.

As you may be aware, the Canon 70D has a brand new, potentially revolutionary Live View / Movie autofocus system. It is a phase-detection AF system called Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which can quickly and smoothly grab focus, and can also be used to very effectively track a moving subject.  Based on my tests and on many test videos found on the Internet, the system is living up to the hype and performs as well as promised. Previously, Live View focus was slow, and the camera often hunted for the subject.  With this new system, it achieves focus on the subject extremely quickly an accurately. I made use of both the rotating rear LCD screen of the 70D and the Live View AF system to take some shots looking down from the first level onto the lower level, as seen in this image:

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up 1956 GM Firebird II concept
1956 GM Firebird II concept car

I held the camera out at arms length, rotated the rear screen so that I could see it, and pressed the AF-ON Button to lock focus. Even in the low lighting, the camera immediately focused. With the Live View autofocusing system you can also select from different autofocusing methods that determine how large an area the camera looks at to find a subject. Again I used the smallest, most precise area, called FlexiZone-Single AF, which provides a small focus square that you can move around the screen and locate where you wish, either using the Multi-Controller or the Touch Screen.

Creative Filters:  In spite of what I said earlier, I did play around with the in-camera Creative Filters and applied them to some of these images. I used the the Art Bold Effect, which affects contrast and saturation, on an image of the Buick Centurion.  By setting it on the High setting, I totally blew out the red (over-exposed), but is also made the interior glow nicely and has a cool effect on the chrome. And I used the Fish-eye Effect on the Buick Wildcat II, which works well if you get in close while having receding lines, as I found at the corner of this bumper.

Canon 70D in camera creative filter art bold
Canon 70D In-camera Creative Filter – Art Bold Effect – High.

Canon 70D eos Creative Filter Fish-eye fisheye effect
Canon 70D In-camera Creative Filter – Fish-eye Effect – Low.

Conclusion: After spending a dedicated week with the Canon 70D, exploring every menu item and experimenting with every function and feature, I have grown tremendously fond of this camera. Part of this is the familiarity I feel from working so long with the 50D and the 7D. But it is also due to some of its new features, which would make going back to either of those cameras extremely difficult. The first is the Touch Screen, which is an extremely quick, easy, and convenient way to change settings on the fly, access menus, and review images. Second is the new Live View autofocus system, which works as well as promised. It mot only makes Live View shooting much less frustrating and much more viable for all kinds of shooting situations, but it also makes autofocusing during movie shooting a reality. In addition, you can now use the Touch Screen to immediately change the area of focus, while movie shooting, simply by touching the screen. And finally, there are some of the smaller features, but these little additions can make a big difference. For example, during image playback you can access the Playback Quick Control screen and quickly set an image Rating. When this first appeared on the 5DIII and Rebels, I thought it might be a bit frivolous. But I have come to make very effective use of it, and will miss it on other dSLRs that don’t have this feature.  It allows you to go through your images and the camera and quickly mark (rate) the best ones, as well as mark the bad ones (with one star) that you will likely be able to quickly delete after viewing them on your computer. It is a simple feature that can provide significant time savings in a busy workflow.

Another simple feature that I discovered I made use of more than expected is the electronic level in the viewfinder. Unlike previous cameras where you can use the AF Points, as seen in the Viewfinder, as a level, the 70D includes a small “level” icon at the bottom of the Viewfinder screen.  (You can also make use of the AF Points as a level, which is sort of a hidden feature I will explain in a moment.) This level icon is simply a camera icon surrounded by either straight or diagonal lines, which indicate if you are on or off level. Or if both the straight and diagonal lines are displayed, you are almost level. I have long had a tendency to hold the camera slightly off-level, so I always appreciate the Viewfinder grid, which can be enabled in the 70D. But this level icon helped even more to keep my images straight. I found that I could compose the image, take care of locking focus and exposure if necessary, and then take a peek at the level icon before pressing the Shutter Button to take the shot.  More often than not, it indicated I was slightly off, so I carefully leveled the camera and took the shot. Again, such a simple feature helped a great deal – by keeping my images straight and level, which eliminated the need to straighten (and thus slightly crop) numerous photos later in Photoshop.

Regarding the “hidden” Viewfinder level that uses the AF Points, you can use the Custom Controls to set the Depth of Field Preview Button to the Electronic Level option. You can then press this DOF Preview Button during shooting and activate a level that uses the AF Points in the Viewfinder to indicate if the camera is level or not. Press the Shutter Button to turn it off and return to shooting.  You can learn about several other Custom Controls and Custom Function settings in my post on the 70D Custom Controls.

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up 1956 Buick Centurion concept
1956 Buick Centurion concept car

Regarding image quality, while I failed to properly apply noise reduction to the RAW images used here as I processed them, my subsequent tests and inspections have confirmed that you can work in high ISO settings (approaching 3200) and achieve a low, acceptable amount of noise with JPEG images straight out of the camera, and with RAW images with noise reduction applied in post processing. This has been confirmed with test images on DPReview and other sites.

Additional concept cars and more images from this visit to the Heritage Museum can be seen on Flickr here.

Remember to check out my other Canon 70D blog posts to find out more about the camera. And if you wish to take control of your Canon 70D, and learn how, when, and why to use its controls, features, and settings, be sure to check out my e-book guide, Canon 70D Experience.

If you are planning to purchase your Canon 70D online, please consider using my affiliate links and help support this blog – thanks!

Order your Canon EOS 70D from Amazon or B and H Photo:


Canon 70D – Body or with choice of kit lenses – $1,199 to $1,549

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Canon 70D – Body only – $1,199

Canon 70D – with 18-135mm STM lens – $1,549

Canon 70D – with 18-55mm STM lens – $1,349

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Canon 70D Tips and Tricks – Custom Controls

One of the most powerful features of the Canon EOS 70D is the ability to customize the functions of various buttons and controls on the camera body. Taking advantage of this will allow you to set up the camera specifically for you and your shooting style and needs, and thus enable you to work more smoothly, quickly, and efficiently. Having the ability to easily and intuitively change the camera settings on the fly will also allow you to focus on the more important aspects of capturing the framing, moment, or composition you are after.

These settings are found in the  III-4: Custom Controls menu (see Figure 1). At first you may wish to leave many of these on the default settings or set them to match your previous camera settings. Then after working with the camera awhile, you will begin to know how you work and how you wish to work faster or more conveniently through customizing some controls. Pages 384-385 of the Canon 70D manual show all the possible options, and you might consider printing these manual pages to carefully study and consider your potential configurations.

These explanations are excerpted from my e-book guide to the EOS 70D called Canon 70D Experience. As with all my dSLR guides, Canon 70D Experience will help you to learn not only how but more importantly when and why to use the features, functions, and controls of the 70D. Learn more about the guide on my Full Stop website here.

Canon 70D set up quick start tips tricks recommended setting guide cool tricks menu custom function
Figure 1 – Custom Controls menu to customize the buttons and controls of the camera to function exactly how you need, to fit your working methods and shooting style.

Some custom controls that you may consider experimenting with are the assigned settings of the Shutter Button (when it is pressed halfway), the AF Start Button (AF-ON), and the AE Lock Button (the one with the [*] symbol). You can customize them so that they initiate and/ or lock focus and exposure separately or in a variety of different button combinations. When working in Evaluative Metering Mode and One-Shot AF, the default setting is that exposure metering is locked and focus is locked at your active AF Point when you press the Shutter Button halfway. You then recompose if necessary and fully press the Shutter Button to take your photo. But the exposure settings were locked on a different framing than your final framing! So you may wish to lock focus with a different button than you lock exposure, or else re-determine the exposure metering settings for the final framing before taking the shot (which is typically done with the AE Lock  [*] Button).

Canon, 70D, Canon 70D, book, manual, guide, how to, dummies, tips, tricks, quick start
Figure 2 – Custom Controls options – Selecting the Shutter Button (left), and choosing which function(s) it will perform when pressed half-way (right).

When working in One-Shot AF with one of the Metering Modes other than Evaluative Metering (Spot, Partial, or Center-Weighted), the default setting is that exposure metering is begun (not locked) and focus is locked when you press the Shutter Button halfway. You then recompose if necessary and fully press the Shutter Button to take your photo, and exposure is determined at that moment. But with these other Metering Modes it is likely that you will want to lock exposure on a certain area before framing for the final shot and taking the photo.

Either of these above default settings may cause you to meter for a scene or area that is different from what you intend, and thus result in a slight or profound under- or over-exposed shot. With the default button settings and the above scenarios, you can always use the AE Lock Button (exposure lock button with the [*] symbol) to lock in the exposure of your desired framing. But you may find that after working awhile, you would like to start or stop exposure metering and/ or focusing in a different manner than the default settings, and then you can reconfigure the functions of these buttons (See Figure 2).

To test how your camera functions before or after changing these settings, set it on One-Shot AF Mode, Tv or Av Shooting Mode, and Evaluative Metering Mode, hold the camera to your eye, aim it at a bright area, and half-press the Shutter Button. While keeping the Shutter Button half-pressed, move the camera and aim it at a dark area. Keep your eye on the aperture and shutter speed settings in the viewfinder and watch if they change or if they remain locked. Change the metering mode (Spot, Partial, or Center-Weighted) and do this again. Then repeat the process by first pressing the Shutter Button half-way and then pressing (and releasing) the AE Lock [*] Button. You can repeat a similar process to see focus lock in action or to test your custom focus lock button settings.

Note that there are multiple Auto Exposure Lock (AE Lock) options, such as when setting the function of the AE Lock [*] Button (see Figure 3). The AE Lock option will lock the exposure for the current scene when you press and release it. If you reframe the shot and want the camera to re-evaluate and re-lock the exposure, just press the [*] Button again. The AE Lock (while button pressed) option only applies to the Shutter Button, and will lock the exposure as long as the Shutter Button remains half-pressed, similar to how the camera works with the One-Shot / Evaluative Metering default settings, as described above. This differs from assigning the Shutter Button to Metering start because with Metering start, the camera will start evaluating for exposure, but the exposure values will not be locked but will continue to change until you take the photo or press the AE Lock [*] button (when you are working in Partial, Spot, or Center-Weighted Metering Modes). Again, you can see this in action by half-pressing the Shutter Button to start metering, look in the viewfinder (or on the LCD Panel) at the exposure settings, move the camera around, and see the settings change. The AE Lock (hold) option (indicated with “*H”) will lock the exposure and maintain that lock with those exposure settings for all subsequent shots, until you press the AE Lock [*] Button again. The AE Lock option without the (hold) option (indicated in the menu options with “*”) will only lock the exposure settings until the metering timer ends (the exposure numbers disappear in the viewfinder and on the top LCD Panel).

The AE Lock/FE Lock option will lock both the exposure settings as well as the flash output setting when using a flash. If a button is set for this option, pressing the button will fire a pre-flash from the built-in flash or a Speedlite to determine and then lock the proper flash output.

Canon 70D how to manual guide book how to
Figure 3 – Custom Controls options for customizing the functions of the AE Lock Button.

Some options will allow you to perform what is called “back button focusing,” which is further explained in the Back Button Focusing section of Canon 70D Experience. This technique allows you to start and/ or stop (lock) the autofocusing using the AF-ON button, in conjunction with or instead of the Shutter Button. Taking advantage of these options can help you to fully utilize the autofocus system of the 70D as well as modify it for your personal shooting style.

While you may wish to work with your camera before considering changing most of these settings, I strongly encourage you to immediately change the function of the thumb-pad Multi-Controller to AF Point direct selection so that you don’t have to press the AF Point Selection Button first every time before you select your autofocus point (see Figure 4). Instead you can just press the thumb-pad Multi-Controller to choose your desired AF Point (once you have tapped the Shutter Button to wake up the camera and begin metering).

Canon 70D set up quick start tips tricks recommended setting guide cool tricks
Figure 4 – Left: Custom Controls options for the Multi-Controller (thumb pad) to set for AF Point Direct Selection so that your desired AF Point can be quickly selected with the Multi-Controller alone. Right: Custom Controls options for customizing the functions of the Depth-of-Field Preview Button, including the Electronic Level.

You may also want to consider assigning the Depth of Field Preview Button to one of the other available functions if you don’t typically use it for its depth of field preview function (see Figure 5). For example, you can use it for FE Lock (flash exposure lock) or to quickly switch between One-Shot focus mode and AI Servo focus mode. The switch only occurs as you hold the button, so for example if you are shooting a still subject using One-Shot focus mode but suddenly wish to start tracking a moving subject, press and hold this button to temporarily work in AI Servo mode. Or if the camera is set for AI Servo mode, holding this button will temporarily switch the camera to One-Shot mode.

70D “Hidden” Feature: You can also set the Depth of Field Button as the Viewfinder’s VF Electronic Level, which is sort of a “hidden” feature of the 70D. This is different than the Viewfinder Level icon of the Shooting 1 menu, and instead uses the AF Points displayed in the Viewfinder as a one-axis level. This level will function in either camera orientation (see Figure 4). If this option is selected, when you are shooting simply press the Depth of Field Preview button for this Viewfinder Level to appear, then tap the Shutter Button to resume shooting.

And you may want to assign the SET Button to the function of your choice for quick access, such as perhaps Flash Exposure Compensation since there is not a dedicated button for this. Or you might set it for Image Quality. This can be a helpful setting because certain camera functions such as HDR Mode are only accessible when capturing JPEG images, so you may need to quickly change from RAW or RAW+JPEG image quality to JPEG only. Another interesting setting for the SET Button is Set ISO speed (hold button, turn Main Dial). What this customization does is allow you to change the ISO setting by pressing and holding the SET Button and turning the top Main Dial (see Figure 5). While this may seem unnecessary as there is a dedicated ISO Button on the top of the camera that allows you to quickly change the ISO, it can come in handy during shooting. For example if your camera is on a tripod and you are positioned behind it using the Live View screen, it may easier to use this SET Button and Main Dial arrangement to change the ISO than it is for you to look or feel around the top of the camera to determine which button is the ISO Button. Or you may find that this method is just a really quick way to change the ISO during Viewfinder shooting. Of course you can always use the [Q] Button or icon and Touch Screen to change the ISO setting as well. So, as with many other settings, determine which camera set-up and method works best for you and your shooting situation.

Unfortunately, if you set the Multi-Controller to AF Point direct selection, the SET Button will not directly select the center AF Point, as you may be used to. You will still have to press the AF Point Selection Button first and then press the SET Button to directly choose the center AF Point. This issue may cause you a bit of trouble if you have assigned the SET Button to another function, as that function screen will suddenly appear on the rear LCD Monitor if you press the SET Button while you are shooting, and you may accidentally change that setting. If this becomes an issue, assign the SET Button to OFF.

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Figure 5 – Custom Controls options for customizing the functions of the SET Button.

Finally, if you often work in Aperture Priority (Av) mode but then sometimes work in Manual (M) shooting mode I suggest you swap the functions of the Main Dial and the Quick Control Dial in Manual Mode (see Figure 6). Access the Main Dial option (the half-circle icon) and assign it to the Av option (Aperture setting in M mode). Then access the Quick Control Dial (the full-circle icon) and assign it to the Tv option (Shutter speed setting in M mode). By doing this the Main Dial controls the aperture setting in M mode just as it does in Aperture Priority Mode, and the Quick Control Dial controls the shutter speed setting when working in Manual (M) mode. If you typically work in Av Mode and then switch over to M mode, the muscle memory of your index finger will thank you as it will instinctively turn the Main Dial to adjust the aperture setting, and this was not the default setting of the camera. If you typically work in Tv Mode and sometimes switch to M Mode, leave these buttons on the default settings.

Canon 70D set up quick start tips tricks recommended setting guide cool tricks
Figure 6 – Custom Controls options for customizing the functions of the Main Dial (left) and Quick Control Dial (right) when working in Manual (M) Shooting Mode.

To learn more about using your Canon 70D and how to take full advantage of all its features, functions and controls – including back-button focusing, plus taking control of the autofocus system, making use of the various metering modes, and understanding the elements of exposure – have a look at my e-book guide called Canon 70D Experience. As with all my dSLR guides, Canon 70D Experience will help you to learn not only how but more importantly when and why to use the features, functions, and controls of the 70D. Learn more about the guide on my Full Stop website here.

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Read my hands-on preview of the 70D with some sample images at my Canon 70D Unboxing and Hands-On Preview post.

Live View – White Balance: I ran across a question online about setting a Kelvin white balance in Live View, so I will add this info here with some screen shots below. To change the WB in Live View, press the Q Button to access the Quick Control Screen, then select the White Balance icon, either by navigating to it by pressing up or down on the Multi-Controller, or simply using the Touch Screen. If you have navigated to it, you can then press left and right on the Multi-Controller to make your selection at the bottom of the screen. If you select the K option, press the INFO Button to select your desired temperature.

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And if you are planning to purchase your Canon 70D online, please consider using my affiliate links and help support this blog – thanks!

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Ten Tips and Tricks for the Nikon D610 / D600

I spent a considerable amount of time with both the Nikon D610 and the Nikon D600 as I researched and wrote my guides to the camera, Nikon D610 Experience and Nikon D600 Experience, and it has proven to be one of my favorite dSLR bodies.  It is well designed, fully featured, and the image quality and low light performance has proved to be excellent. It is indeed a very powerful and versatile dSLR camera, and much of that is due to its autofocus system, its controls, and its custom settings.  In fact, if you go through the Menus and Custom Settings of the D610 / D600, you will find that a “Top 25 Tips and Tricks” post could easily be put together from just these options alone.

Below is an explanation or introduction to several of these features and options for the D610 / D600.  I go into much more detail about using all of these particular functions and settings, as well as everything else about the camera, in my e-book user guides Nikon D610 Experience and Nikon D600 ExperienceAnd in fact, some of the content from these books is excerpted or summarized throughout this post.

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Detail of the controls of the Nikon D600 dSLR camera.

Despite the title of this post, I’m sure you realize there generally really aren’t “tricks” to improving your photography and camera use, but rather there are functions, features, settings, techniques, and controls that you should learn and be familiar with if you wish to take full advantage of your powerful camera. That being said, “tips and tricks” makes for a shorter, more intriguing article title and format, and so I have put together this list of ten helpful … tips for taking control and full advantage of your D610 / D600:

1. Take Control of your Autofocus System:

When capturing an image, it is essential that the image is sharp and that the camera focuses exactly where you want it to. So in order to focus on your desired subject, or precisely on – for example – your subject’s eye, you need to take full control of the AF system. The 39 AF points of the D610 / D600 will allow you to tell the camera exactly where you wish to focus, but the various configurations of Autofocus Modes and Autofocus AF-Area Modes may make it more of a challenge to learn initially. So I have written an entire post about making use of this AF system, which you can read here. It involves first learning the AF related controls and then setting up the applicable Custom Settings so that the AF system works as you want it to. (Some of these settings are especially important when using AF-C mode to track moving subjects.) You will then choose an Autofocus Mode (such as AF-S or AF-C) typically based on if the subject is still or moving, and an Autofocus AF-Area Mode (such as Single-Point or Dynamic-Area) typically based on how you wish for the camera to make use of surrounding AF Points such as to help focus on a subject or track a moving subject.

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Simulated view of the Nikon D610 / D600 Viewfinder, showing the locations of the 39 AF Points (all of the AF Points will not be visible in the viewfinder at the same time as seen here).

The Menus and Custom Settings will also allow you to do things such as limit the number of available AF Points to just 11 if you find the 39 points excessive for your needs or overwhelming at first when learning to use them (a6: Number of focus points).  And you can make use of another setting to dictate whether or not the focus point selection “wraps around” to the other side of the screen when you reach, say, the far right AF Point (a5: Focus point wrap-around).

2. Make Full Use of and Customize the Buttons and Controls:

In order to work quickly or more efficiently, you should not only learn all the buttons and controls on the camera, but the D610 / D600 will allow you to customize them to fit your shooting needs and personal shooting style. Buttons like the Exposure Compensation and Metering Mode buttons on the top of the camera will obviously enable you to quickly change these settings. The AF Mode Button button, located inside the Focus Mode Selector switch near the base of the lens, may be confusing at first to those who have not previously seen or used it on the Nikon D7000, though you should quickly find that it is a convenient design. It is used to select the Autofocus Mode as well as the Autofocus AF-Area Mode. Press this button and turn the rear Main Command Dial to select the Focus Mode, such as AF-A or AF-C, while viewing the setting on the top Control Panel or in the Viewfinder. Press this button and turn the front Sub-Command Dial to set the AF-Area Mode, such as Single-Point AF or 39-Point Dynamic-Area AF, which you can also view on the top Control Panel or in the Viewfinder.

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View of the rear controls of the Nikon D600.

The AE-L/AF-L Button can be customized to lock the exposure setting and/ or focus distance independently of the Shutter Button, or configured to perform back-button focusing duties. And buttons like the Fn Button and Preview Button can be set up to access one of numerous other settings that there is not a specific dedicated button for, such as quickly changing to Spot Metering or temporarily capturing RAW files while shooting in JPEG format. The Flash Button on the front of the camera will not only raise the flash, but it is also used in conjunction with the rear Main-Command Dial to set the Flash Mode (as viewed on the top LCD Control Panel), and with the front Sub-Command Dial to change the Flash Compensation amount.

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Some of the options for Custom Setting f2, to assign your desired function to the Fn Button.

3. Learn the Difference Between Interval Timer Shooting and Time-Lapse Photography:

Unlike some other Nikon dSLR cameras, the D610 / D600 has separate settings for Interval Timer Shooting and Time-Lapse Photography Shooting. Although they are closely related – and are both methods of setting up the camera to automatically take photographs at regular, preset intervals – there are important differences.

Interval Timer Shooting can be used to take a series of images at each interval (for example, four images in a row every 1 hour for 3 hours). It can be used to take these multiple series of shots over several minutes or hours. Time-Lapse Photography is used to take a series of individual photos at each interval over an extended period, which are then automatically combined into a time-lapse movie (for example, one photo every 30 seconds for 6 hours, which are then turned into a movie). The resulting movie will use the video frame rate you have set in the camera, and the menu will calculate and display how long the final movie will be based on your settings.

4. Make Use of and Customize Picture Controls for those Shooting in JPEG Format:

If you are capturing images as JPEG files, you will want to set and/ or customize the Picture Controls so that your images have your desired level of sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation, and hue. In other words, so that they look exactly how you want them to when they come out of the camera. These Picture Control settings are permanently applied to JPEG image files as they are processed and saved in the camera (but do not permanently affect RAW-NEF files). You can choose one of the presets such as Standard, Vivid, Landscape, and even black and white Monochrome. Or modify one of the presets to your desired settings or create your own custom Picture Control. You can even find custom Picture Controls online, such as ones that mimic certain types of film.

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Nikon D600 Picture Control menus to choose and modify a Picture Control, which determines the final look of JPEG images.

Picture Control settings are not necessarily needed if you shoot in RAW. The Picture Control settings will be associated with the RAW file as metadata and may be “applied” as you view the image in processing software such as Nikon Capture or View NX 2, but the settings will not permanently affect the RAW file and they can be changed during processing without affecting the quality of the image. Although please note that the Picture Control you set applies to the images and their Histograms that you see on the rear LCD Monitor even if you are shooting in only RAW. So, for example, if you were to set a Picture Control with high contrast, the images shown on the LCD Monitor will incorporate this setting (and the Histogram will reflect this setting) and thus will not look the same as the “unprocessed” exposure captured in the RAW files that you will later view on your computer. Therefore you may want to have this set at Standard or Neutral if you shoot RAW so that the images and their histograms you view on the camera’s LCD Monitor closely resemble the actual unprocessed RAW images. Or you can take a different approach and customize the Picture Controls to closely resemble how you typically process your RAW files. That way you can preview on the rear LCD how your final, processed image will appear. This approach should be taken only after you have gained experience with post processing and have developed your own typical processing settings.

5. Configure Your Camera for Easy Exposure Compensation:

Pressing the Exposure Compensation Button, indicated by (+/-), and turning the rear Main Command Dial will adjust Exposure Compensation, so that the exposure of a subsequent image is lighter or darker. If you wish to “cancel” exposure compensation, you will need to remember to change this setting back to zero after you take the shot.

If you often make use of Exposure Compensation (EC), you may wish to sometimes apply EC to just the next shot but sometimes use it for all of your following shots.  Custom Setting b3: Easy exposure compensation can give you very precise control over how you use the camera controls to set exposure compensation. You can set it up so that you must press the Exposure Compensation button as you turn the Main Command Dial in order to adjust exposure compensation. Or you can select to just directly turn the Command Dial of your choice, without pressing the Exposure Compensation Button first (by choosing setting On). This is a quicker way to adjust exposure compensation but introduces the possibility of changing it accidentally. With either of these above settings, exposure compensation will not be reset to 0 when you turn the camera off or when the metering standby timer period ends, so you must be sure to check your settings often to ensure you are not using exposure compensation when you don’t wish to.

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Custom Setting b3 to set up Easy Exposure Compensation.

Alternately, you can set up the camera so that you turn one of the Command Dials (of your choice in Custom Setting f5) to directly adjust exposure compensation (EC), but your EC setting will be reset when the camera or exposure meter (Standby Timer) turns off. This option is the most sophisticated and most flexible, and may be the best one to learn and use. This is because you can still continue to use the Exposure Compensation Button with a Command Dial to set EC, but by setting it for On (Auto reset) EC will not be reset when the camera or Standby Timer turns off. Exposure compensation will only be automatically reset if you set it directly using the Command Dial without the button. So if you wish to use exposure compensation for just one shot, you can adjust EC with just the dial and then let it cancel after than single shot. But if you wish to take a series of shots with the same adjusted EC, you can use the button / dial combination to set it more “permanently.” Once you learn more about exposure compensation and how and when to use it, this will all start to make more sense, and you will begin to understand why this is such a powerful and useful Custom Setting.

6. Take Advantage of the Two SD Card Slots:

If you insert SD memory cards in both of the available slots, you can configure the second card to function in a variety of ways, by using the Role Played by Card in Slot 2 menu setting.  Overflow will save your images onto the second card after the first card is full. Backup will simultaneously record copies of all images onto both card 1 and card 2. Raw Slot 1 – JPEG Slot 2 will store NEF (RAW) images on card 1 and JPEG images on card 2, for example when you are shooting NEF (RAW)+JPEG in order to capture both file formats at the same time. When the second or third option is selected, the camera will use the card with the least amount of remaining memory to determine the displayed amount of exposures remaining. In the Movie Settings Menu you can also select to save movies on a specific card.

Nikon D600 dual two card slot memory SD body detail learn use book manual guide

You can also use the Copy Image(s) menu item to copy images from one memory card to another when two cards are inserted in the camera. This can be used to back up specific images or the entire card at once. This could be useful to create back-up copies of your images when you don’t have access to your computer, external hard drive, or CD/DVD burner – but it is best to back them up on one of these more permanent devices as soon as possible.

7. Experiment with HDR Shooting and Multiple Exposure Shooting:

Previously, HDR processing was performed only with software, but with the in-camera HDR (high dynamic range) feature of the D600 you can now capture two images of various exposures (an under-exposed image and an over-exposed image), automatically combine them into a single HDR image, and process them using a variety of options, all in-camera. While this will not result in the distinctive, dramatic types of HDR images you may have seen, it can create an image with a broader range of tones. (To create dramatic HDR images, you will still need to manually bracket three, five, or seven exposures of the same scene and combine and process them using HDR software.)

The in-camera HDR Shooting menu will allow you to select the exposure value (EV) increments of the two images (from 1 EV to 3 EV, or choose Auto), and you can also set the amount of Smoothing used when combining the images. You can set the camera to take just one HDR series, or continue to shoot in HDR Mode until you disable the function.

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Lowell House, Cambridge, Mass – Making use of in-camera HDR to obtain a better exposure at night, with broader range of light, dark, and shadow details than would be possible with a normal exposure.

The in-camera Multiple Exposure Shooting Mode of the D610 / D600 allows you to create multiple exposure shots, with either two or three exposures superimposed in one image. You can use the Multiple Exposure menu to initiate Multiple Exposure Mode, and as with HDR Shooting you can decide if you wish to take a series of multiple exposure shots, or a single one after which the camera automatically reverts back to regular shooting. You can then select the number of shots to be combined, and set the Auto gain (use On unless you are working with a dark background. When Auto gain is set for On, the exposure of each shot is adjusted so that the final shot has the correct density. For example, if three shots are taken and combined for the final multiple exposure, the gain for each shot will be set at 1/3. If Auto Gain is turned Off, the result will likely be a dark, muddy shot.)

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Multiple Exposure image taken with the D600 using Multiple Exposure Shooting mode.

8. Set the Center Weighted Metering Circle Size, and Fine-Tune the Metering:

With the D610 / D600, Custom Setting b4: Center-weighted area gives you the ability to customize the size of the central area that is used in determination proper exposure when working in Center-Weighted Area metering mode. When using Center-Weighted Metering the camera looks at the entire frame to determine exposure, but adds extra “weight” to the exposure values of the central area of the frame.  You can choose the desired diameter of the central circle area: 8mm, 12mm, 15mm, or 20mm. Or you can choose for the camera to determine the Average exposure of the entire frame, with setting Avg.

This option should be set based on how precise you wish your metered area to be or based on the size of the subject that you are metering. Since you can use Spot Metering mode for very precise metering of a 4mm diameter spot when you need that, perhaps it is useful to leave this at the default 12mm (though note that the 4mm Spot Metering circle moves and is centered around the active AF Point, while the Center-Weighted circle does not move). You can also set this to Avg to average the entire scene. This is a far less sophisticated mode of evaluating the entire scene than Matrix Metering (which takes the selected Focus Point and other data into consideration), and is similar to using an old film camera that averages the entire scene to 18% grey to determine proper exposure.

Nikon D600 viewfinder metering mode center weighted spot autofocus system af learn use book manual guide grid
Simulated view of the Nikon D610 / D600 Viewfinder, showing the location of the AF Points, the approximate sizes of the Center-Weighted Metering area size options, and the optional grid. The 4mm circle is the size of the Spot Metering area, which will actually move based on the active AF Point.

You can also take advantage of Custom Setting b5: Fine-tune optimal exposure to fine-tune the exposure value that is selected by the camera in each of its various metering modes. If you find that your images are always typically being slightly underexposed or overexposed when using a specific metering mode, you can adjust this accordingly so that you don’t have to use exposure compensation every time you use that metering mode. For example, you may find that Center-Weighted Metering delivers great exposures, but you would prefer that the images taken with Matrix Metering were 1/3 EV (1/3 step) overexposed all the time. If that is the case, you would adjust Matrix metering to +2/6 using the Custom Setting b5 menu. If you make use of this adjustment, you can still use exposure compensation in any situation in addition to this fine-tune adjustment. The fine-tune adjustment of Custom Setting b5 will happen “behind the scenes” to adjust the baseline exposure prior to any exposure compensation adjustment.

9. Configure the ISO Settings and Take Advantage of the Auto ISO Options:

You can use the menu item for ISO Sensitivity Settings to do much more than simply changing the ISO setting (which is more easily done simply using the ISO Button on the camera). If you plan to use Auto ISO rather than selecting your own ISO setting, this menu is also used to set the optional Auto ISO Sensitivity Control, which will function in P, S, A, and M shooting modes. Making use of Auto ISO can allow you to concentrate more closely on your aperture or shutter speed settings, and of course on your composition and framing. And the D600 has some great options that make the use of Auto ISO more viable and appealing than previous cameras.

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Nikon D610 / D600 ISO Sensitivity Settings Menu, including Auto ISO.

If you enable Auto ISO then the camera will automatically change your selected ISO, without your expressed permission, in certain situations in order to obtain a proper exposure. For example, if you are working in Aperture-Priority Auto Mode (A) and set the ISO at 1600, but based on your selected aperture and the lighting the camera does not believe there is enough light for the exposure and a realistic shutter speed (that you also set in this menu item – see below), it will automatically raise the ISO so that the shutter speed does not become impossibly slow for hand-holding. This may be good if you are still getting used to the cameras controls and settings and wish for the camera to help you out a bit in certain situations where you may not be paying close enough attention to your settings. Or perhaps in situations such as at a concert where the lighting may change dramatically without you realizing it or responding fast enough. But if you want complete control of your settings and exposures, you will need to turn this Off.

If you do set Auto ISO Sensitivity Control to be On, then you also set the Maximum Sensitivity or maximum ISO that the camera will use in these situations. For example, you may wish to set it no higher than 3200 or perhaps 6400 if you are willing to accept the digital noise of photos at that high an ISO. You also set the Minimum Shutter Speed that you would like the camera to automatically use in these situations. I suggest you set it at the slowest shutter speed you can possibly hand-hold and still potentially get an image without blur, perhaps 1/30 at the slowest if you are careful.

One of the powerful features of Auto ISO with the D600 is that when using it, the camera selects an ISO setting based on the local length of the lens being used. If you find that, when using Auto ISO, the camera is selecting shutter speeds that are slower than you wish (and thus may cause blur due to camera-shake), you can use this menu to adjust these settings and instruct the camera to use a faster shutter speed.

10. Make use of the Playback Display Options and Histogram

You will likely want to enable most or all of the Playback Display Options so that you can better evaluate your images, their settings, and the resulting exposures. That way you will know how to adjust the camera settings for the subsequent images. When these various display options are enabled, you can view the different screens during full-screen image playback (not multiple thumbnail view) by pressing up or down on the Multi Selector.

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Playback Display Options menu screen of the D610 / D600.

On the menu screen shown above, None will display a full screen image with no information, which helps you to inspect the image. Highlights will display blinking areas to alert you of where the image has been overexposed, which can help you determine the proper exposure for the subsequent shots. RGB histogram will display histogram graphs of the various color channels to also assist you in determining proper exposure. This one may actually be optional if you do not yet make use of individual color channel histograms. Shooting data displays additional information including the lens and focal length used, flash information, and Picture Controls settings. This screen is not necessarily very informative immediately after taking the shot since you already know most of these settings, but can be handy when later reviewing an image in-camera. Overview displays a thumbnail of the image along with the RGB histogram and shooting information. This is perhaps the most important and useful information screen to use while shooting to help determine that you obtained the proper or desired exposure of an image.

The option for Focus point will show you which Focus Point was used when capturing an image, and will thus verify if you properly focused where you intended (unless you recomposed after locking focus). It is that tiny red square or squares superimposed on your image when you view it on the rear LCD Monitor, but will not be on the actual image. It is most helpful for when you let the camera select the autofocus point, such as in action situations, and/ or when using an AF-Area Mode other than Single Point AF – and then you can see if the camera focused where you wished. But if you manually select your own AF point, as you typically should in many situations, you will already know where the camera focused.

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Overview Playback Display option, which shows a thumbnail of the image along with the RGB histogram and shooting information.

The Histogram is used to help you determine if your image was under- or over-exposed, and you generally want to make sure the graph falls down to zero before it reaches the edges of the histogram chart. If the data runs off the right side or spikes against the right edge, it means that you have over-exposed areas of your image, and you will need to adjust your exposure settings or make use of Exposure Compensation for taking the subsequent image.

There are, of course, numerous other settings and features of the D600 that can help you take full advantage of your camera. My guides Nikon D600 Experience and Nikon D610 Experience go beyond the manual to help you learn the features, settings, and controls of these sophisticated and highly customizable cameras.  Most importantly, they explain not only how but also when and why to use the D600/D610 basic and advanced features, settings, and controls in your photography. You can learn more about the guides, preview them, and purchase them by visiting my Full Stop webpage or by clicking on the book covers below:

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Purchasing the Nikon D610: If you are still contemplating the D610 and plan to buy, please consider using my affiliate links to make your purchase, and the retailer will give me a little something for referring you – thanks! You can click on the Amazon, B&H, or Adorama logos on the left of this page, or click here for the Nikon D610 on Amazon.

Set Up and Customize the Nikon D7000 – Menus and Custom Settings

I’ve spent a significant amount of time with the new Nikon D7000 as I was researching and writing my ebook user’s guide Nikon D7000 Experience. It has been interesting to contrast it with the recent Canon 60D, as they sit in a somewhat similar position in each brand’s current dSLR line-up.

They are both excellent cameras and are both highly customizable for you to set up for the way you shoot. But I have to say I’m incredibly impressed with the higher amount of customization options offered by the D7000. Nikon offers the opportunity for advanced shooters to fine-tune many settings of the D7000 – options that the 60D just doesn’t have.

Nikon D7000

Advanced settings of the Nikon D7000 include:

White Balance – many more fluorescent options and the ability to tweek any of the WB settings along the blue-amber and green-magenta axes – including the ability to make blue-amber adjustments on the fly without going into the menus by using the WB button. The 60D not only doesn’t offer this level of adjustment, it doesn’t even have a WB button on the body of the camera.

Frame Rate – The Continuous Low release (drive) mode can be set for between 1 to 5 fps. Canon only offers 3fps in Low Speed Continuous. This is not such a big deal on the 60D because High Speed Continuous is 5.3 fps. However with the Canon 7D, this would have been an incredibly helpful option. The 8 fps of High Speed is blazing fast, typically too fast for real life use as the scene barely changes from image to image yet the large files can quickly fill up a card. But then 3 fps is too slow for action use. I have long wished for a 5 or 6 fps option on the 7D.

Metering – With the D7000 you can change the size of the area metered in Center-Weighted Area metering mode if you wish for more or less precision or if you are working with a subject of a particular size. The camera can be set to meter a circle of various sizes: 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, 13mm, or even an average of the entire scene (Average will act like a very dumbed down Matrix (Evaluative) Metering and just average the entire frame and not take selected AF points into consideration). The 60D does not offer this ability but does offer Center Weighted metering mode and Partial metering mode (which meters a center circle that is 6.5% of the viewfinder). Both cameras offer Spot Metering for very precise metering.

Exposure – In the D7000 you can fine tune the default settings of each of the metering modes to slightly under- or over-expose. This is an adjustment done behind the scenes and not exposure compensation. This is something I would find very handy on my 50D because it always overexposes by about 1/3 a stop in Evaluative Metering mode. So instead of using -1/3 exposure compensation all the time, I finally settled on using Center Weighted Average metering. But with the D7000, you can fine tune the camera to always underexpose. For example if you were to have this slight overexposure problem in Matrix metering, you could fine-tune Matrix for -1/3 and then it would be fixed. You could use exposure compensation on top of that when necessary. You can also customize the controls for exposure compensation (EC) so that your EC adjustment applies to only the next photo taken or to all subsequent photos.

Autofocus – The D7000 offers AF Fine Tune (or AF Micro-Adjustment as Canon users may know it) to slightly fine tune the autofocus of multiple lenses if any of them are slightly back- or front-focusing. This feature was on the 50D but was disappointingly dropped from the 60D. The D7000 also allows you to choose from all the AF points or just 11 of them, which could be helpful to those just getting the hang of selecting their own AF point instead of allowing the camera to choose what it thinks you wish to focus on. (You should nearly always be choosing your own AF point!)

So as you can see, the D7000 offers many advanced customization and fine-tune options in the Menus and Custom Settings that the 60D just doesn’t offer. Keep in mind however that these are pretty advanced features, and if you are not going to be making use of them, don’t be swayed by them when choosing a camera.

For a more detailed comparison of these two cameras, see my post Nikon D7000 vs. Canon 60D.

If you would like to learn more about all the Menu and Custom Settings of the Nikon D7000 or the Menu items and Custom Functions of the Canon 60D, be sure to have a look at my ebook user’s guides for each of these cameras:

Nikon D7000 Experience – The Still Photographer’s Guide to the Nikon D7000

Your World 60D – The Still Photographer’s Guide to the Canon 60D

In these books I cover all of the menus and custom settings, along with their recommended settings for general photography and travel photography use. These kinds of settings are what make these cameras very powerful and precise tools that you can – and should – set up to work for the way you photograph. They are worth learning, understanding and making use of.

If you wish to compare the Canon 60D with the other Canon dSLRs, see this post Canon 5D vs. 7D vs. 60D vs. 550D/T2i and if you wish to compare the Nikon D7000 with the other Nikon dSLRs, see this post Nikon D7000 vs. D90 vs. D300s.

Canon 60D Tutorial

I have completed an eBook tutorial and user’s guide for the new Canon 60D, called Your World 60D – The Still Photographer’s Guide to Operation and Image Creation. Learn to use your 60D, quickly and competently, to create the types of images you want to capture. You can learn more about the Your World 60D eBook and how to purchase it here.

(The eBook was originally, briefly called Real World 60D – it is the same book.)