A

re you old enough to remember the Certs television commercials from the 1960s and '70s? "It's a candy mint!"

declared one actor. "It's a breath mint!" argued another. Then a narrator declared the debate a tie and spoke the famous catchphrase: "It's two, two, two mints in one!"

Well, that's sort of how I see the Rebel T1i/500D. On one hand, it provides a full range of powerful controls, offering just about every feature a serious photographer could want. On the other, it also offers fully automated exposure modes that enable people with absolutely no experience to capture beautiful images. "It's a sophisticated photographic tool!" "It's as simple as 'point and shoot'!" "It's two, two, two cameras in one!"

Now, my guess is that you bought this book for help with your camera's advanced side, so that's what other chapters cover. This chapter, however, is devoted to your camera's point-and-shoot side, explaining how to get the best results from the fully automatic exposure modes. You can also find details about the new Creative Auto mode in this chapter. Sort of like "fully automatic plus," this mode handles most duties for you but enables

you to control a few aspects of your pictures, such as whether flash is used and whether the background is softly focused or as sharp as your subject.

Getting Good Point-and-Shoot Results

Your camera offers several automatic, point-and-shoot exposure modes, all of which I explain later in this chapter. But in any of those modes, the key to good photos is to follow a specific picture-taking technique.

To try it out, set the Mode dial on top of the camera to Full Auto, as shown in the left image in Figure 2-1. Then set the focusing switch on the lens to the AF (autofocus) position, as shown in the right image in Figure 2-1. (The figure features the lens that is bundled with the Rebel T1i/500D. If you own a different lens, the switch may look and operate differently; check your lens manual for details.)

Auto/Manual Focus switch

Image Stabilizer switch

Auto/Manual Focus switch

Image Stabilizer switch

Figure 2-1: Choose these settings for fully automatic exposure and focus.

~«jABEn Unless you are using a tripod, also set the Stabilizer switch to the On setting, as shown in Figure 2-1. This setting turns on the Image Stabilizer feature, which is designed to produce sharper images by compensating for camera movement that can occur when you handhold the camera. Again, if you use a lens other than the kit lens, check your lens manual for details about using its stabilization feature, if provided.

Your camera is now set up to work in the most automatic of automatic modes. Follow these steps to take the picture:

1. Looking through the viewfinder, frame the image so that your subject appears under an autofocus point.

The autofocus points are those nine tiny rectangles clustered in the center of the viewfinder, as shown in Figure 2-2.

Figure 2-2: The tiny rectangles in the viewfinder indicate autofocus points.

2. Press and hold the shutter button halfway down.

The camera's autofocus and autoexposure meters begin to do their thing. In dim light, the flash may pop up if the camera thinks additional light is needed. Additionally, the flash may emit an AF-assist beam, a few rapid pulses of light designed to help the autofocusing mechanism find its target. (The AF stands for autofocus.)

At the same time, the autoexposure meter analyzes the light and selects initial aperture (f-stop) and shutter speed settings, which are two critical exposure controls. These two settings appear in the viewfinder; in Figure 2-2, the shutter speed is 1/200 second and the f-stop is f/5.6. You also see the current ISO setting and the maximum burst rate. (Chapter 5 details shutter speed, f-stops, and ISO; see Chapter 1 for information about the maximum burst rate.)

Figure 2-2: The tiny rectangles in the viewfinder indicate autofocus points.

When focus is established, the camera beeps at you, assuming that you didn't silence its voice via Shooting Menu 1, as discussed at the end of Chapter 1. Additionally, the focus indicator in the viewfinder lights, as shown in Figure 2-3, and the dot inside an autofocus point briefly turns red. That red dot indicates which autofocus point the camera used to establish focus. Sometimes multiple dots turn red, as in Figure 2-3, which simply tells you that all the objects within those autofocus areas are now in focus. The autoexposure meter continues monitoring the light up to the time you take the picture, so the f-stop and shutter speed values in the viewfinder may change if the light shifts.

Focus light

Figure 2-3: The green light indicates that the camera has locked focus.

Focus light

Figure 2-3: The green light indicates that the camera has locked focus.

3. Press the shutter button the rest of the way down to record the image.

&\NG/ While the camera sends the image data to the camera memory card, the memory card access lamp lights, as shown in Figure 2-4. Don't turn off the camera or remove the memory card while the lamp is lit, or you may damage both camera and card.

When the recording process is finished, the picture appears briefly on the camera monitor. By default, the review period is two seconds. See Chapter 4 to find out how to adjust or disable the instant review and how to switch to Playback mode and take a longer look at your image.

I need to add a couple important notes about this process, especially related to Step 2:

✓ Solving autofocus problems:

When you shoot in the fully automatic modes as well as in Creative Auto mode, the camera typically focuses on the closest object. If the camera insists on selecting an autofocus point that isn't appropriate for your subject, the easiest solution is to switch to manual focusing and be done with it. Chapter 1 shows you how. Or you can use the advanced exposure modes, which enable you to select a specific autofocus point. Chapter 6 explains that option plus a few other tips for getting good autofocus results.

Memory card access light

Figure 2-4: The card access lamp lights while the camera sends the picture data to the card.

Memory card access light

Figure 2-4: The card access lamp lights while the camera sends the picture data to the card.

✓ Shooting moving subjects: If the focus indicator doesn't light but you hear a continuous series of beeps, the camera detected motion in the scene and shifted to an autofocusing mode called AI Servo. (The AI stands for artificial intelligence.) In this mode, the camera focuses continually after you press the shutter button halfway to try to maintain focus on the subject. As long as you keep the subject within one of the autofocus points, focus should be correct. However, continuous auto-focusing is possible only in the Full Auto, Flash Off, Creative Auto, and Sports modes. In the other fully automatic modes, focus is locked when you press the shutter button halfway. See Chapter 6 for more tips about this and other autofocus modes.

✓ Locking exposure: By default, pressing the shutter button halfway does not lock exposure along with focus. Your camera instead continues metering and adjusting exposure until you fully press the shutter button. If you want to lock exposure, you must use an advanced exposure mode and rely on the AE (autoexposure) Lock button. You also can simply switch the camera's Mode dial to M, which shifts the camera to manual exposure mode, and then set your desired exposure settings (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO). Chapter 5 discusses these and other exposure issues.

✓ Changing the Drive mode setting: In most of the automatic exposure modes, your camera automatically sets the Drive mode to Single, which records a single image with each press of the shutter button. But in Portrait and Sports modes, the camera instead selects Continuous mode, which records pictures as long as you hold down the shutter button. Creative Auto gives you the choice of both Drive modes. And you can also set the Drive mode to a Self-Timer or Remote Control setting for any exposure mode. See the end of this chapter for details.

✓ Shooting in Live View mode: You can't use Live View mode, which enables you to frame your image using the camera monitor instead of the viewfinder, in the fully automatic modes or the Creative Auto mode. If you want to take advantage of Live View, you must switch to an advanced exposure mode (P, Tv, Av, M, or A-DEP). See Chapter 5 for details on those modes; Chapter 4 provides a primer on Live View shooting.

More focus factors to consider

When you focus the lens, in either autofocus or manual focus mode, you determine only the point of sharpest focus. The distance to which the sharp-focus zone extends from that point — what photographers call the depth of field — depends in part on the aperture setting, or f-stop, which is an exposure control. Some of your camera's fully automatic exposure modes are designed to choose aperture settings that produce a certain depth of field.

The Portrait setting, for example, uses an aperture setting that shortens the depth of field so that background objects are softly focused — an artistic choice that most people prefer for portraits. On the flip side of the coin, the Landscape setting selects an aperture that produces a large depth of field so that both foreground and background objects appear sharp.

Another exposure-related control, shutter speed, plays a focus role when you photograph moving objects. Moving objects appear blurry at slow shutter speeds; at fast shutter speeds, they appear sharply focused. On your camera, the Sports shooting mode automatically selects a high shutter speed to help you "stop" action, producing blur-free shots of the subject.

A fast shutter speed can also help safeguard against allover blurring that results when the camera is moved during the exposure. The faster the shutter speed, the shorter the exposure time, which reduces the time that you need to keep the camera absolutely still. If you're using the Rebel T1i/500D kit lens, you can also improve your odds of shake-free shots by enabling the Image Stabilizer (IS) feature (set the Stabilizer switch on the lens to the On position). For a very slow shutter speed, using a tripod is the best way to avoid camera shake.

Creative Auto mode, explained later in this chapter, gives you a little input over f-stop. But in this mode or any of the fully auto modes, the range of f-stops and shutter speeds the camera can select depends on the lighting conditions. When you're shooting at night, for example, the camera may not be able to select a shutter speed fast enough to stop action even in Sports mode.

If you want more control over focus and depth of field, you need to switch to an advanced exposure mode. Chapters 5 and 6 show you how to use those modes and explain all these concepts fully.

Exploring Basic Flash Options

Your built-in flash has three basic modes of operation, which are represented by the icons shown in the margin:

✓ Auto flash: The camera decides when to fire the flash, basing its decision on the lighting conditions.

✓ On: The flash fires regardless of the lighting conditions. You may hear this flash mode referred to as force flash, because the camera is forced to trigger the flash even if its exposure brain says there's plenty of ambient light. It's sometimes also called fill flash because it's designed to fill in shadows that can occur even in bright light.

As with most everything else on your camera, which settings are available to you depends on the exposure mode you choose. Here's how things shake out:

✓ Full Auto, Portrait, Close-Up, and Night Portrait: In these modes, Auto flash is used; you cannot control whether the flash fires. However, you can set the flash to Red-Eye Reduction flash mode if you want. See the next section for the pros and cons of Red-Eye Reduction flash.

✓ Landscape, Sports, and Flash Off exposure modes: Flash is disabled.

Disabling flash in the Flash Off mode makes sense, of course. But why no flash in Sports and Landscape mode, you ask? Well, Sports mode is designed to enable you to capture moving subjects, and the flash can make that more difficult because it needs time to recycle between shots. On top of that, the maximum shutter speed that's possible with the built-in flash is 1/200 second, which often isn't fast enough to ensure a blur-free subject. Finally, action photos usually aren't taken at a range close enough for the flash to reach the subject, which is also the reason why flash is disabled for Landscape mode.

✓ Creative Auto: In this mode, you can choose from all three flash settings, and you can enable Red-Eye Reduction flash as well. See the upcoming section "Gaining More Control with Creative Auto" for details on how to select the flash mode you want to use.

✓ P, Tv, Av, M, and A-DEP: In these modes, you don't actually choose a flash mode. Instead, you simply press the Flash button on the side of the camera to pop up the built-in flash when you want that extra burst of light and close the flash unit when you want to go flash free. You also have access to some advanced flash options, such as Flash Exposure Compensation, which enables you to vary the flash intensity. See Chapter 5 for the complete story on using flash in these exposure modes.

Part I: Fast Track to Super Snaps

The viewfinder displays the following symbols to alert you to the flash status:

✓ Flash On: A little lightning bolt like the one you see in the highlighted area of Figure 2-5 tells you that the flash is enabled.

✓ Flash Recycling: If you see the word Busy along with the lightning bolt, as shown in Figure 2-5, the flash needs a few moments to recharge. When the flash is ready to go, the Busy message disappears.

Flash status indicators Figure 2-5: A Busy signal means that the flash is recharging.

Using Red-Eye Reduction Flash

For any exposure mode that permits flash, you can enable a feature called Red-Eye Reduction. When you turn on this feature, the Red-Eye Reduction lamp on the front of the camera lights up when you press the shutter button halfway. The purpose of this light is to attempt to shrink the subject's pupils, which helps reduce the chances of red-eye. The flash itself fires when you press the shutter button the rest of the way.

To enable Red-Eye Reduction, head for Shooting Menu 1. Select Red-Eye On/ Off, as shown on the left in Figure 2-6, and press the Set button to display the second screen in the figure. Highlight On and press Set again. To turn off RedEye Reduction, just return to the menu and set the option to Off.

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