Canon 5D Mark III firmware update, Fix improved AF, HDMI output

Canon 5D Mark III firmware update

If your camera arsenal includes a 5D Mark III, prepare to get your download on. Earlier today, Canon released a major firmware update for the hit DSLR — version 1.2.1 enables clean, uncompressed HDMI output with simultaneous LCD display and recording to CF or SD cards, along with cross-type autofocus for apertures as small as f/8, bringing that aspect of AF capability in line with the EOS-1D X. You’ll be able to take advantage of improved autofocus performance even when using an f/5.6 lens with a 1.4x extender, or an f/4 lens with a 2x extender. On the video front, version 1.2.1 will let you boot an uncompressed YCbCr 4:2:2 feed to an external recorder, enabling your pick of codecs and frame rates, while also eliminating arbitrary limits on record time. The free download, available for recent versions of Mac OS and Windows, Canon 5D Mark III firmware

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Source : engadget

Nikon D7000, Spot Meter for More Exposure Control

Generally speaking, Matrix Metering mode provides accurate metering information for the majority of your photography. It does an excellent job of evaluating the scene and then relating the proper exposure information to you. The only problem with this mode is that, like any metering mode on the camera, it doesn’t know what it is looking at. There will be specific circumstances where you want to get an accurate reading from just a portion of a scene and discount all of the remaining area in the viewfinder. To give you greater control of the metering operation, you can switch the camera to Spot Metering mode. This allows you to take a meter reading from a very small circle in the center of the viewfinder, while ignoring the rest of the viewfinder area.

So when would you need to use this? Think of a person standing in front of a very dark wall. In Matrix Metering mode, the camera would see the entire scene and try to adjust the exposure information so that the dark background is exposed to render a lighter wall in your image. This means that the scene would actually be overexposed and your subject would then appear too light. To correct this, you can place the camera in Spot Metering mode and take a meter reading right off of—and only off of—your subject, ignoring the dark wall altogether. Spot Metering will read the location where you have your focus point, placing all of the exposure information right on your point of interest.

Other situations that would benefit from Spot Metering mode include:

  • Snow or beach environments where the overall brightness level of the scene could fool the meter (Figure 11.1)
  • Strongly backlit subjects that leave the subject underexposed
  • Cases where the overall feel of a photo is too light or too dark

Setting up and shooting in Spot Metering mode

  1. Make sure the camera is in one of the professional shooting modes, as indicated by M, A, S, or P on the Mode dial. You cannot change metering in the automatic modes.
  2. Press and hold the Metering button while rotating the Command dial with your thumb. Select Spot Metering by watching the control panel as you turn the Command dial.
  3. Once you have selected Spot Metering, release the meter button.
  4. Now use the Multi-selector to move the focus point on to your subject and take your photo. The meter reading will come directly from the location of the focus point.
Snowy images can be extremely difficult to expose correctly
Figure 11.1 Snowy images can be extremely difficult to expose correctly, so I’ll often use Spot Metering like I did with this image. Knowing that the sky was probably going to be blown out, I took a meter reading off the water. Later I converted this image to black and white, something I frequently do with images featuring snow.

Note that if you are using the Auto-area AF mode, the camera will use the center focus point as the Spot Metering location.

When using Spot Metering mode, remember that the meter believes it is looking at a middle gray value, so you might need to incorporate some exposure compensation of your own to the reading that you are getting from your subject. This will come from experience as you use the meter.

Metering for sunrise or sunset

Capturing a beautiful sunrise or sunset is all about the sky. If there is too much foreground in the viewfinder, the camera’s meter will deliver an exposure setting that is accurate for the darker foreground areas but leaves the sky looking overexposed, undersaturated, and generally just not very interesting (Figure 11.2). To gain more emphasis on the colorful sky, point your camera at the brightest part of it and take your meter reading there. Use the AE Lock to meter for the brightest part of the sky and then recompose. The result will be an exposure setting that underexposes the foreground but provides a darker, more dramatic sky (Figure 11.3).

brighter and the colors are less saturated
Figure 11.2 By metering with all the information in the frame, you get bright skies and more detail in the ground. In this image of a rower taken in India, the sunset really made it amazing. You can see that because I exposed for him, the sky is much brighter and the colors are less saturated.
beautiful sunset is more colorful and dramatic
Figure 11.3 By taking the meter reading from the brightest part of the sky, I got a darker, more colorful sunset. You can still see detail in the man and the boat, but the beautiful sunset is more colorful and dramatic.

Nikon D7000, Focusing and Editing

Focusing

Your D7000 has given you several focusing options for Live View/Movie mode. There are benefits to each focus-point option. You can choose Face-priority AF, Wide-area AF, Normal-area AF, and Subject-tracking AF. You will want to choose your focus mode depending on the subject of your video. Face-priority will search for faces within the frame and place a box around each face. When you depress the shutter button halfway, the box will turn from red to green once the face is in focus. This is one of the slower focusing modes, so if you have a fast-moving subject, this may not be your first choice. If you want to follow your subject through the frame and keep his face in focus at all times, Subject-tracking AF would be a good option. Wide-area AF and Normal-area AF allow you to choose the subject that you want to focus on. Wide-area provides a larger focusing area than Normal-area AF. Again, the box surrounding your focus point will turn green when the subject is in focus. See pages 49–55 in your manual for more details on the AF-area modes.

To select your Autofocus mode for video

Autofocus mode for video

  1. Press the Menu button and use the Multi-selector to choose the Custom Settings menu.
  2. Highlight A Autofocus, and hit OK (A).
  3. Use the Multi-selector to scroll down to A8 Live View/Movie AF, and press OK (B).
  4. You can make custom selections for both Autofocus mode and AF-area mode. Highlight AF-area mode, and press OK (C).
  5. Select your preferred AF-area mode, and press OK (D).

Editing

You can do limited editing with Nikon’s Movie Editor that came with your Nikon View NX2 installation CD. This is a great way to do some quick editing without spending money on external software.

If you are serious about editing your videos, I recommend checking out Apple’s Final Cut Express or Adobe’s Premiere Elements. Both of these software packages will give you excellent control as well as more options for video editing.

Nikon D7000, Focusing in Low Light

The D7000 has a great focusing system, but occasionally the light levels are too low for the camera to achieve an accurate focus. There are a few things that you can do to overcome this obstacle.

First, you should know that the camera uses contrast in the viewfinder to establish a point of focus. This is why your camera will not be able to focus when you point it at a white wall or a cloudless sky. It simply can’t find any contrast in the scene to work with. Knowing this, you might be able to use a single focus point in AF-S mode to find an area of contrast that is the same distance as your subject. You can then hold that focus by holding down the shutter button halfway and recomposing your image.

Then there are those times when there just isn’t anything there for you to focus on. A perfect example of this would be a fireworks display. If you point your lens to the night sky in any AF (Automatic Focus) mode, it will just keep searching for— and not finding—a focus point. On these occasions, you can simply turn off the autofocus feature and manually focus the lens (Figures 8.5 and 8.6). Look for the A/M switch on the side of the lens and slide it to the M position.

 You can’t count on autofocus. If the camera just can’t find its focus, take it into your own hands.
Figure 8.5 You can’t count on autofocus. If the camera just can’t find its focus, take it into your own hands.
I took this in my field in Montana after watching a magnificent sunset. Autofocus would not work because the light was just too low. I had to switch to manual focus to get the job done.
Figure 8.6 I took this in my field in Montana after watching a magnificent sunset. Autofocus would not work because the light was just too low. I had to switch to manual focus to get the job done.

Now, I don’t want any e-mails saying, “John, you broke my camera! It won’t focus!” So make sure to switch your lens back to the A mode at the end of your shoot.

AF Ass ist Illuminator

I know I told everyone that I am not a huge fan of the AF-assist illuminator in Chapter 1, but that is primarily when I’m shooting people. The D7000’s AF-assist illuminator does a good job helping with focusing by using a small, bright beam from the front of the camera to shine some light on the scene. This light enables the camera to find details to focus on in low-light situations.

This feature is automatically activated when using the flash (except in Landscape, Sports, and Flash Off modes for the following reasons: In Landscape mode, the subject is usually too far away; in Sports mode, the subject is probably moving; and in Flash Off mode, you’ve disabled the flash entirely). Also, the illuminator will be disabled when shooting in the AF-C or manual focus mode, as well as when the illuminator is turned off in the camera menu. The AF-assist should be enabled by default, but you can check the menu just to make sure.

Turning on the AF-ass ist feature

Turning on the AF-ass ist feature

  1. Press the Menu button and access the Custom Setting menu (A).
  2. Navigate to the item called A Autofocus and press the OK button.
  3. Highlight the menu item called A7 Built-in AF-assist illuminator and press the OK button (B).
  4. Set the option to On and press the OK button to complete the setup.

Disabling the flash

If you are shooting in one of the automatic scene modes, the flash might be set to activate automatically. If you don’t wish to operate the flash, you will have to turn it off in the information screen.

To turn off flash

To turn off flash

To disable the flash when shooting in Auto mode, turn the Mode dial to the Flash Off symbol (a circle containing a flash with a slash through it).

Remember, if you are shooting in a professional mode, the only way to get the flash to fire is to turn it on yourself. If you are shooting in an automatic scene mode, depending on the mode, it will come on automatically. For example in Candlelight and Landscape modes it does not come on, whereas in Pet mode or Night Portrait it is automatically on. If the small flash icon appears on the control panel when you are shooting in a particular mode, it means the setting calls for it and the flash will fire automatically.

Canon EOS 60D, Focusing

Focusing for video is a little bit different than still-image focusing, since you can’t look through the viewfinder to set focus, and all of it is done on the Live View screen. However, some things are the same—just like with still photography, you can either manually focus or autofocus your lens. (It’s important to note, however, that your camera will not autofocus during actual video recording, so any changes you would like to make while shooting must be done manually.)

The 60D makes it easy to autofocus and gives you three different settings to choose from:

  • Live Mode : With Live mode, the image sensor is used to focus. This method can take longer than focusing through the viewfinder (which uses the dedicated AF sensor).
  • Face detection Live mode : This is the same as Live mode focusing, but it detects and focuses human faces.
  • Quick mode : With this setting, the dedicated AF sensor is used to set the focus; however, the Live View image is momentarily interrupted for this to take place. This is the fastest method of focusing when in Live View or video mode.

To use these focusing modes, just point the camera at your subject, use the Multi- Controller to select your focus point, and press the Shutter button down halfway. The focus point will flash green and you’ll hear a beep when the camera finds the focus.

Using autofocus is easy, but if you ask me, the best way to set focus in Live View or video mode is to manually focus the lens. I actually find it to be much quicker and more accurate than relying on the camera’s autofocus. The great thing about setting focus using the LCD Monitor on the back of the camera is the ability to zoom in to your subject. This feature allows you to compose your shot and use the same buttons you would use to preview your images at 100 percent in Playback mode, but in Live View you are viewing the subject that you are about to photograph or record.

MANUALLY FOCUSING YOUR VIDEOS

MANUALLY FOCUSING YOUR VIDEOS

  1. Set the camera to video mode using the Mode dial on the top of the camera.
  2. Use the Multi-Controller to select the area you want to focus on (A). When you have it set, press the Magnify button once to zoom in (B). Pressing it once will magnify your image by a factor of 5 (5x), and pressing it twice will magnify it by a factor of 10 (10x).
  3. Set the focusing switch on your lens to MF, and then turn the front part of the lens until your image is in focus.
  4. Press the Magnify button until the image on the LCD Monitor is back to Normal view.

LIVE VIEW

As you may have already guessed, many of the techniques used in this chapter to set focus and exposure for recording videos can also be applied to shooting still images in Live View mode.

 

Canon 7D, Focusing

Focusing for video is a little bit different than still-image focusing since you can’t look through the viewfi nder to set focus, and all of it is done on the Live View screen. However, some things are the same—just like with still photography, you can either manually focus or autofocus your lens. The 7D makes it easy to autofocus and gives you three different settings to choose from (Figure 9.10):

The 7D offers three autofocus modes for video recording.
FIGURE 9.10 The 7D offers three autofocus modes for video recording.
  • Live mode: With Live mode, the image sensor is used to focus. This method can take longer than focusing through the viewfi nder (which uses the dedicated AF sensor).
  • Face detection Live mode: This is the same as Live mode focusing, but it detects and focuses human faces.
  • Quick mode: With this setting, the dedicated AF sensor is used to set the focus; however, the Live View image is momentarily interrupted for this to take place. This is the fastest method of focusing when in Live View or video mode.

To use these focusing modes, just point the camera at your subject, use the Multi-Controller to select your focus point, and press the shutter down halfway. The focus point will fl ash green and you’ll hear a beep when the camera fi nds the focus.

Using autofocus is easy, but if you ask me, the best way to set focus in Live View or video mode is to manually focus the lens. I actually fi nd it to be much quicker and more accurate than relying on the camera’s autofocus. The great thing about setting focus using the LCD Monitor on the back of the camera is the ability to zoom in to your subject. This feature allows you to compose your shot and use the same buttons you would use to preview your images at 100 percent in Playback mode, but in Live View you are viewing the subject that you are about to photograph or record.

MANUALLY FOCUSING YOUR VIDEOS

MANUALLY FOCUSING YOUR VIDEOS

  1. Set the camera to video mode using the Movie shooting switch.
  2. Use the Multi-Controller to select the area you want to focus on (A). When you have it set, press the Magnify button once to zoom in (B). Pressing it once will magnify your image by a factor of 5 (5x) and pressing it twice will magnify it by a factor of 10 (10x).
  3. Set the focusing switch on your lens to MF, and then turn the front part of the lens until your image is in focus.
  4. Press the Magnify button until the image on the LCD Monitor is back to Normal view.

LIVE VIEW

As you may have already guessed, many of the techniques used in this chapter to set focus and exposure for recording videos can also be applied to shooting still images in Live View mode.

Canon PowerShot G12, Focusing in Low Light

Occasionally the light levels might be too low for the camera to achieve an accurate focus. There are a few things that you can do to overcome this obstacle.

First, you should know that the camera utilizes contrast in the viewfinder to establish a point of focus. This is why your camera will not be able to automatically focus when you point it at a white wall or a cloudless sky. It simply can’t find any contrast in the scene to work with. Knowing this, try positioning the AF Frame over an area of contrast that is of the same distance as your subject. Then, hold that focus by holding down the shutter button halfway and recomposing your image.

Sometimes there isn’t anything to focus on. A perfect example is a fireworks display. If you point your lens to the night sky in any automatic focus (AF) mode, it will just keep searching for—and not finding—a focus point. On these occasions, enable the manual focus (MF) feature and manually focus the lens (Figure 8.4).

Don’t forget to put it back in AF mode at the end of your shoot.

Focusing on the night sky is best done in manual focus mode.
Figure 8.4 Focusing on the night sky is best done in manual focus mode.

AF-ass ist Beam

Another way to ensure good focus is to enable the AF-assist Beam. The built-in lamp shines some light on the scene, which assists the autofocus system in locating more detail. It won’t always flash; if the autofocus system finds enough contrast, the lamp stays off. The beam should be enabled by default, but you can check the menu just to make sure.

Enabling or Disabling the AF-ass ist Beam

  1. Press the Menu button.
  2. Use the Control dial to scroll down to the AF-assist Beam option.
  3. Press the Right or Left button to turn the feature On or Off.
  4. Press the Menu button to return to the Shooting mode.

Canon EOS 60D, Focusing in Low Light

When you are taking photos in low-light situations, you will find that the camera’s autofocus doesn’t always work. But before you can properly and consistently find focus in these instances, you need to understand how your camera’s focusing system operates.

First, you should know that when you are trying to focus on your subject, the camera utilizes contrast in the viewfinder in order to establish a focus point. If you were to point your camera at a clean, blank wall and try to focus it right in the center, the lens would hunt around and probably not find focus (Figure 7.6). By moving the focus point to an area where there is contrast, the camera will be able to set focus much more quickly (Figure 7.7).

The camera wasn’t able to autofocus on this image, because the focus point was set to the center, where there wasn’t enough contrast for it to work properly.
FIGURE 7.6 The camera wasn’t able to autofocus on this image, because the focus point was set to the center, where there wasn’t enough contrast for it to work properly.
By changing the focus point to an area where there was contrast, I was able to properly focus this shot.
FIGURE 7.7 By changing the focus point to an area where there was contrast, I was able to properly focus this shot.

If your subject doesn’t have enough contrast for the camera to read, you can always use the “focus and recompose” method of shooting if you find an area of contrast that is at the same distance as your subject. To do this, press the Shutter button halfway to set focus, and then—with the button still pressed halfway—recompose your shot in the viewfinder. When you have it composed how you like it, press the Shutter button fully. The focus should stay where you originally set it.

Another option is to use the manual focusing system. If you are photographing something that is difficult to focus on, like fireworks, you should set your camera’s focusing manually. If you point the camera into the dark sky, the autofocusing system will just keep searching for—and not finding—a focus point (Figure 7.8). To set your focus manually, just flip the switch on the lens from AF to MF and rotate the front of the lens until your focus is set.

In order to focus properly for this fireworks photograph, I manually focused my lens.
FIGURE 7.8 In order to focus properly for this fireworks photograph, I manually focused my lens.

FOCUS ASSIST

Another way to ensure good focus is to enable the 60D’s Focus Assist mode. This setting uses the flash to send out short bursts of light on your subject to help the camera in locating detail. If you don’t want to use the flash, you can disable it while you take your photos—the flash would only be used temporarily to help find focus but wouldn’t actually appear in your shot. If you are using the Basic Zone shooting modes where the built-flash is activated, this feature will be automatically enabled.

TURNING ON THE FOCUS ASSIST FEATURE

TURNING ON THE FOCUS ASSIST FEATURE

  1. Press the Menu button and then use the Main dial to get to the Custom Function menu tab.
  2. Rotate the Quick Control dial to highlight the C.Fn III: Autofocus/Drive setting and press the Set button (A).
  3. Use the Quick Control dial to get to the fourth item, the AF-Assist Beam Firing section.
  4. Press the Set button and select Enable, and then press Set to lock in your choice (B).
  5. Press the Menu button twice to exit, and then press the Flash button located on the front of your camera. Now with the flash in the “up” position, press the Shutter button to focus and activate Focus Assist.

If you don’t want the flash to fire during the actual exposure, you must first disable the flash.

DISABLING THE FLASH

DISABLING THE FLASH

  1. Press the Menu button and then scroll the Main dial to highlight the menu tab on the far left.
  2. Scroll down to Flash Control and press the Set button (A).
  3. Highlight the Flash Firing option, press Set, and then select Disable (B).

 

Canon 7D, Focusing in Low Light

When you are taking photos in low-light situations, you will fi nd that the camera’s autofocus doesn’t always work. But before you can properly and consistently fi nd focus in these instances, you need to understand how your camera’s focusing system operates.

First, you should know that when you are trying to focus on your subject, the camera utilizes contrast in the viewfi nder in order to establish a focus point. If you were to point your camera at a clean, blank wall and try to focus it right in the center, the lens would hunt around and probably not fi nd focus (Figure 7.6). By moving the focus point to an area where there is contrast, the camera will be able to set focus much more quickly (Figure 7.7).

The camera wasn’t able to autofocus on this image because the focus point was set to the center, where there wasn’t enough contrast for it to work properly.
FIGURE 7.6 The camera wasn’t able to autofocus on this image because the focus point was set to the center, where there wasn’t enough contrast for it to work properly.
By changing the focus point to an area where there was contrast, I was able to properly focus this shot.
FIGURE 7.7 By changing the focus point to an area where there was contrast, I was able to properly focus this shot.

If your subject doesn’t have enough contrast for the camera to read, you can always use the “focus and recompose” method of shooting if you fi nd an area of contrast that is at the same distance as your subject. To do this, press the Shutter button halfway to set focus, and then—with the button still pressed halfway—recompose your shot in the viewfi nder. When you have it composed how you like it, press the Shutter button fully. The focus should stay where you originally set it.

Another option is to use the manual focusing system. If you are photographing something that is diffi cult to focus on, like fi reworks, you should set your camera’s focusing manually. If you point the camera into the dark sky, the autofocusing system will just keep searching for—and not fi nding—a focus point (Figure 7.8). To set your focus manually, just fl ip the switch on the lens from AF to MF and rotate the front of the lens until your focus is set.

In order to focus properly for this fi reworks photograph, I manually focused my lens.
FIGURE 7.8 In order to focus properly for this fi reworks photograph, I manually focused my lens.

FOCUS ASSIST

Another way to ensure good focus is to enable the 7D’s Focus Assist mode. This setting uses the fl ash to send out short bursts of light on your subject to help the camera in locating detail. If you don’t want to use the fl ash, you can disable it while you take your photos—the fl ash would only be used temporarily to help fi nd focus but wouldn’t actually appear in your shot. If you are using the Full Auto or Creative Auto modes, this feature is automatically enabled.

TURNING ON THE FOCUS ASSIST FEATURE

TURNING ON THE FOCUS ASSIST FEATURE

  1. Press the Menu button and then use the Main dial to get to the Custom Function menu tab.
  2. Rotate the Quick Control dial to highlight the C.Fn III: Autofocus/Drive setting and press the Set button (A).
  3. Use the Quick Control dial to get to the eleventh item, the AF-Assist Beam Firing section.
  4. Press the Set button and select Enable, and then press Set to lock in your choice (B).
  5. Press the Menu button twice to exit, and then press the Flash button located on the front of your camera. Now with the fl ash in the “up” position, press the Shutter button to focus and activate Focus Assist.

If you don’t want the fl ash to fi re during the actual exposure, you must fi rst disable the fl ash.

DISABLING THE FLASH

DISABLING THE FLASH

  1. Press the Menu button and then scroll the Main dial to highlight the fi rst camera setup tab.
  2. Scroll down to Flash Control and press the Set button (A).
  3. Set the Flash Firing option to Disable (B).

 

 

Nikon D7000, Detect Faces with Live View

Face detection is becoming commonplace in digital cameras. Your D7000 has four autofocus modes for Live View: Wide Area, Normal Area, Subject Tracking, and Face Priority. These modes are different from the standard modes like AF-S, AF-C, and AF-A. Face Priority mode is probably the slowest of the Live View focusing modes, so use it with a tripod or when your subjects are going to remain fairly still. When you turn on Live View with Face Priority focusing, the camera does an amazing thing: It zeroes in on any face appearing on the LCD and places a box around it. I’m not sure how it works; it just does.

Setting up and shooting with Live View and Face Priority focusing

  1. Press the Menu button and use the Multi-selector to navigate to the Custom Setting menu, then select the menu item A Autofocus (A).
  2. Select A8 Live View/Movie AF and press the OK button (B).

    A8 Live View/Movie AF
    A8 Live View/Movie AF
  3. Select AF-area mode and press OK (C).
  4. Select Face-priority AF (D). Press the shutter release button to exit the Menu mode and get ready for shooting.

    Face-priority AF
    Face-priority AF
  5. Activate the Live View function by pressing the Live View button located above the Multi-selector on the back of the camera.
  6. Point your camera at a person and watch as the yellow frame appears over the face in the LCD.
  7. Depress and hold the shutter release button halfway to focus on the face and wait until you hear the confirmation chirp.
  8. Press the shutter button fully to take the photograph.