Review time

menu

Other menu choices

Current setting

When you've moved the menu highlighting to the menu item you want to work with, press the Set button or multi-controller to select it. The current settings for the other menu items in the list will be hidden, and a list of options for the selected menu item (or a submenu screen) will appear. Within the menu choices you can scroll up or down with the Quick Control Dial or multi-controller, press Set or the multi-controller to select the choice you've made, and press the Menu button again to exit.

HYPER MENU NAVIGATION

As I mentioned, you can use the Main Dial or Jump button to move from menu to menu, and the Quick Control Dial to highlight a particular menu entry. Press the Set button to select a menu item. That procedure is probably the best way to start out, because those controls are used to make so many settings with the EOS 40D that they quickly become almost intuitive. The 40D manual uses the Main Dial/Quick Control Dial method in its Menu Setting description. But, there's a better way.

If you have an agile thumb, you can do all your menu navigation with the joysticklike multi-controller:

■ Shift the multi-controller left/right to jump from tab to tab.

■ Press the multi-controller up/down to move within the menu choices of a given tab.

■ Press the multi-controller in to select a menu item and press it again to return to the menu choices.

It gets even better. You can jump from tab to tab even if you've highlighted a particular menu setting on another tab—and the 40D will remember which menu entry you've highlighted when you return to that menu. The memorization works even if you leave the menu system or turn your camera off. The 40D always remembers the last menu entry you used with a particular tab. So, if you generally use the FORMAT command each time you access the Set-up 1 menu, that's the entry that will be highlighted when you choose that tab. The camera remembers which tab was last used, too, so, potentially, formatting your memory card might take just a couple presses (the Menu button, the Set button to select the highlighted FORMAT command, then a click of the Quick Command Dial to choose OK, and another press of Set to start the format process).

Shooting Menu 1/2 Options

The various direct setting buttons on the top panel of the camera, for Autofocus mode, white balance, Drive mode, ISO sensitivity, Metering mode, and flash, along with exposure compensation (EV) adjustments are likely to be the most common settings changes you make, with changes during a particular session fairly common. You'll find that the Shooting menu options are those that you access second-most frequently when you're using your EOS 40D. You might make such adjustments as you begin a shooting session, or when you move from one type of subject to another. Canon makes accessing these changes very easy.

This section explains the options of the two Shooting menus and how to use them. The options you'll find in these red-coded menus include:

■ AEB (Automatic Exposure Bracketing)

■ White balance

■ Picture Style

■ Dust Delete Data

Quality Settings

You can choose the image quality settings used by the 40D to store its files. You have three choices to make:

■ Resolution. The number of pixels captured determines the absolute resolution of the photos you shoot with your EOS 40D. Your choices range from 10 megapixels (Large or L), measuring 3,888 X 2,592 pixels; 5.3 megapixels (Medium or M), measuring 2,816 X 1,880 pixels; to 2.5 megapixels (Small or S), 1,936 X 1,288 pixels.

■ JPEG compression. To reduce the size of your image files and allow more photos to be stored on a given Compact Flash card, the 40D uses JPEG compression to squeeze the images down to a smaller size. This compacting reduces the image quality a little, so you're offered your choice of Fine compression and Normal compression. The symbols help you remember that Fine compression (represented by a quarter-circle) provides the smoothest results, while Normal compression (signified by a stair-step icon) provides "jaggier" images.

■ JPEG, RAW/sRAW, or both. You can elect to store only JPEG versions of the images you shoot, or you can save your photos as uncompressed, loss-free RAW files, which consume more than twice as much space on your memory card. Or, you can store both at once as you shoot. The EOS 40D also can use an sRAW file format that is about 25 percent the resolution of a full-sized RAW file. Many photographers elect to save both JPEG and either a RAW or sRAW file, so they'll have a JPEG version that might be usable as-is, as well as the original "digital negative" RAW file in case they want to do some processing of the image later. You'll end up with two different versions of the same file: one with a .jpg extension, and one with the .cr2 extension that signifies a Canon RAW or sRAW file. Note that the L+RAW, M+RAW, or S+RAW save a full-resolution (3,888 X 2,592 pixel) RAW file in addition to the JPEG at the specified Large, Medium, or Small resolutions. Similarly, the JPEG+sRAW option always stores a reduced size (1,926 X 1,288 pixel) sRAW file, regardless of the resolution of the JPEG size you've selected.

To choose the combination you want, access the menus, scroll to Quality, and press the Set button. A screen similar to the one shown in Figure 3.2 will appear. Use the Quick Control Dial or multi-controller to cycle among the 20 choices. In practice, you'll probably use only the Large-Fine, RAW+Large Fine, or RAW selections.

Why so many choices, then? There are some limited advantages to using the Medium and Small resolution settings, Normal JPEG compression setting, and the sRAW format. They all allow stretching the capacity of your Compact Flash card so you can shoehorn quite a few more pictures onto a single memory card. That can come in useful when on vacation and you're running out of storage, or when you're shooting non-critical work that doesn't require a full eight megapixels of resolution (such as photos taken for real estate listings, web page display, photo ID cards, or similar applications). Some photographers like to record RAW+JPEG Standard so they'll have a moderate quality JPEG file for review only, while retaining access to the original RAW file for serious editing.

Figure 3.2

Choose your resolution, JPEG compression, and file format from this screen.

For most work, using lower resolution and extra compression is false economy. You never know when you might actually need that extra bit of picture detail. Your best bet is to have enough memory cards to handle all the shooting you want to do until you have the chance to transfer your photos to your computer or a personal storage device.

However, reduced image quality can sometimes be beneficial if you're shooting sequences of photos rapidly, as the 40D is able to hold more of them in its internal memory buffer before transferring to the Compact Flash card. Still, for most sports and other applications, you'd probably rather have better, sharper pictures than longer periods of continuous shooting.

Quality

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You'll sometimes be told that RAW files are the "unprocessed" image information your camera produces, before it's been modified. That's nonsense. RAW files are no more unprocessed than your camera film is after it's been through the chemicals to produce a negative or transparency. A lot can happen in the developer that can affect the quality of a film image—positively and negatively—and, similarly, your digital image undergoes a significant amount of processing before it is saved as a RAW file. Canon even applies a name (Digic III) to the digital image processing (DIP) chip used to perform this magic.

A RAW file is more similar to a film camera's processed negative. It contains all the information, captured in 14-bit channels per color (and stored in a 16-bit space), with no compression, no sharpening, no application of any special filters or other settings you might have specified when you took the picture. Those settings are stored with the RAW file so they can be applied when the image is converted to a form compatible with your favorite image editor. However, using RAW conversion software such as Adobe Camera RAW or Canon's Digital Photo Professional, you can override those settings and apply settings of your own. You can select essentially the same changes there that you might have specified in your camera's picture-taking options.

RAW exists because sometimes we want to have access to all the information captured by the camera, before the camera's internal logic has processed it and converted the image to a standard file format. RAW doesn't save as much space as JPEG. What it does do is preserve all the information captured by your camera after it's been converted from analog to digital form. Of course, the 40D's sRAW format preserves the settings information, but discards some of the resolution to give you that 1,926 X 1,288 small RAW file.

So, why don't we always use RAW? Although some photographers do save only in RAW format, it's more common to use either RAW plus one of the JPEG options, or just shoot JPEG and eschew RAW altogether. While RAW is overwhelmingly helpful when an image needs to be fine-tuned, in other situations working with a RAW file can slow you down significantly. RAW images take longer to store on the Compact Flash card, and require more post-processing effort, whether you elect to go with the default settings in force when the picture was taken, or make minor adjustments.

As a result, those who depend on speedy access to images or who shoot large numbers of photos at once may prefer JPEG over RAW. Wedding photographers, for example, might expose several thousand photos during a bridal affair and offer hundreds to clients as electronic proofs for inclusion in an album. Wedding shooters take the time to make sure that their in-camera settings are correct, minimizing the need to post process photos after the event. Given that their JPEGs are so good, there is little need to get bogged down shooting RAW.

Sports photographers also eschew RAW files. I visited a local Division III college one sunny September afternoon while I was writing this book and managed to cover a football game, trot down a hill to shoot a women's soccer match later that afternoon, and ended up in the adjacent field house shooting a volleyball invitational tournament an hour later. I managed to shoot 1,920 photos, most of them

MANAGING LOTS OF FILES

The only long-term drawback to shooting everything in RAW+JPEG is that it's easy to fill up your computer's hard drive if you are a prolific photographer. Here's what I do. My most recent photos are stored on my working hard drive in a numbered folder, say 40D-01, with subfolders named after the shooting session, such as 080301Trees, for pictures of trees taken on March 1, 2008. An automatic utility copies new and modified photos to a different hard drive for temporary backup four times daily.

When the top-level folder accumulates about 30GB of images, I back it up to DVDs and then move the folder to a 500GB drive dedicated solely for storage of folders that have already been backed up onto DVD. Then I start a new folder, such as 40D-02, on the working hard drive and repeat the process. I always have at least one backup of every image taken, either on another hard drive or on a DVD.

at a 6.5 fps clip, in about four hours. I certainly didn't have any plans to do postprocessing on very many of those shots, and firing the 40D at its maximum frame rate didn't allow RAW shooting, so carefully exposed and precisely focused JPEG images were my file format of choice that day.

JPEG was invented as a more compact file format that can store most of the information in a digital image, but in a much smaller size. JPEG predates most digital SLRs, and was initially used to squeeze down files for transmission over slow dialup connections. Even if you were using an early dSLR with 1.3 megapixel files for news photography, you didn't want to send them back to the office over a modem at 1,200 bps.

But, as I noted, JPEG provides smaller files by compressing the information in a way that loses some image data. JPEG remains a viable alternative because it offers several different quality levels. At the highest quality Fine level, you might not be able to tell the difference between the original RAW file and the JPEG version, even though the RAW file occupies, by Canon's estimate, 12.4MB on your memory card, while the Fine JPEG takes up only 3.5MB of space. You've squeezed the image by more than half without losing much visual information at all. If you don't mind losing some quality, you can use more aggressive Standard compression with JPEG to cut the size in half again, to 1.8MB.

In my case, I shoot virtually everything at RAW+JPEG Fine. Most of the time, I'm not concerned about filling up my memory cards, as I usually have a minimum of three 8GB Compact Flash cards with me. If I know I may fill up all those cards, I have a tiny battery-operated personal storage device that can copy an 8GB card in about 15 minutes. As I mentioned earlier, when shooting sports I'll shift to JPEG FINE (with no RAW file) to squeeze a little extra speed out of my 40D's Continuous Shooting mode, and to reduce the need to wade through eight-photo bursts taken in RAW format. On the other hand, on my last trip to Europe, I took only RAW (instead of my customary RAW+JPEG) photos to fit more images onto my 60GB personal storage device, shown in Figure 3.3, as I planned on doing at least some post-processing on many of the images for a travel book I was working on.

Red-Eye Reduction

Your EOS 40D has a fairly effective Red-Eye Reduction flash mode. Unfortunately, your camera is unable, on its own, to eliminate the red-eye effects that occur when an electronic flash (or, rarely, illumination from other sources) bounces off the retinas of the eye and into the camera lens. Animals seem to suffer from yellow or green glowing pupils, instead; the effect is equally undesirable. The effect is worst under low-light conditions (exactly when you might be using a flash) as the pupils expand to allow more light to reach the retinas. The best you can hope for is to reduce or minimize the red-eye effect.

The best way to truly eliminate red-eye is to raise the flash up off the camera so its illumination approaches the eye from an angle that won't reflect directly back to the retina and into the lens. The extra height of the built-in flash may not be sufficient, however. That alone is a good reason for using an external flash. If you're working with your 40D's built-in flash, your only recourse may be to switch the Red-Eye Reduction feature on with the menu choice shown in Figure 3.4. It causes a lamp on the front of the camera to illuminate with a half-press of the shutter release button, which may cause your subjects' pupils to contract, decreasing the amount of the red-eye effect. (You may have to ask your subject to look at the lamp to gain maximum effect.) Figure 3.5 shows the effects of wider pupils (left) and those that have been contracted using the 40D's Red-Eye Reduction feature.

Figure 3.3 If RAW storage space is a concern, consider a portable storage device like this one.

Turn on your camera's Red-Eye Reduction feature to help eliminate demon-red pupils.

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Reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information presented in this book is  accurate. However, the reader should understand that the information provided does not constitute legal, medical or professional advice of any kind.

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