After you select all the settings you want to change press the shutter button halfway and release it

The monitor returns to the normal Shooting Settings display, and you're ready to take your picture.

The settings you choose remain in effect from shot to shot. But if you turn the camera off or switch to a different exposure mode, the settings return to their defaults. (The default settings are shown in Figure 2-13.)

Now for the promised explanations of how the six Creative Auto options work:

✓ Flash: You can choose from three flash settings, which are represented on the Shooting Settings screen by the icons you see in the margin:

• Auto: The camera fires the flash automatically if it thinks extra light is needed to expose the picture.

• On: The flash fires regardless of the ambient light.

Selected option

Selected option

Figure 2-14: Press Set to enter Quick Control mode and adjust the Creative Auto options.

For the Auto and On settings, you can use the Red-Eye Reduction flash feature. See "Exploring Basic Flash Options" and "Using Red-Eye Reduction Flash," earlier in this chapter, for more information about flash photography.

✓ Background (blur/sharpen): The topmost of the two slider bars on the Creative Auto screen gives you some control over depth of field, or the distance over which objects in the scene remain sharply focused.

Unfortunately, this feature doesn't play nice with the flash. If you set the flash mode to On, the bar becomes dimmed and out of your reach. Ditto if you set the flash mode to Auto and the camera sees a need for flash.

Assuming that the flash doesn't get in your way, move the little indicator on the bar to the left to shorten depth of field, which makes distant objects appear blurrier. (Remember, after highlighting the bar, you just rotate the Main dial to move the indicator.) Shift the indicator to the right to make distant objects appear sharper.

The camera creates this shift in depth of field by adjusting the aperture setting (f-stop). A lower f-stop number produces a more shallow depth of field, for a blurrier background; a higher f-stop setting produces a greater depth of field, for a sharper background. However, because aperture also plays a critical role in exposure, the range of f-stops the camera can choose — and, therefore, the extent of focus shift you can achieve with this setting — depends on the available light. The camera gives priority to getting a good exposure, assuming that you'd prefer a well-exposed photo to one that has the background blur you want but is too dark or too light. Understand, too, that when the aperture changes, the camera also must change the shutter speed, ISO (light sensitivity setting), or both to maintain a good exposure.

You can view the shutter speed and aperture settings that the camera has in mind by pressing the shutter button halfway, which kicks the autoexposure system into gear. The shutter speed and f-stop then appear in the areas labeled in Figure 2-15. In the left half of the figure, you see the settings the camera chose with the Background slider indicator at the center position. When I moved the slider to the left, the camera selected a lower f-stop, as shown in the second screen in the figure. That lower f-stop decreases depth of field, blurring the background more. But it also lets more light into the camera, so the shutter speed (exposure time) increased to compensate. In some cases, the camera may also adjust ISO (light sensitivity) to improve exposure.

✓ At very slow shutter speeds, camera shake can blur the image. A blinking shutter speed value alerts you to the potential for this problem; put your camera on a tripod to avoid the risk of camera shake. Also remember that moving objects appear blurry at slow shutter speeds.

Shutter speed f-stop

Softer background (lower f-stop)

Sharper background (higher f-stop)

Shutter speed f-stop

Softer background (lower f-stop)

Sharper background (higher f-stop)

Figure 2-15: Changing the background blur setting affects both aperture and shutter speed.

To find out more about depth of field, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and exposure, start with the sidebar "More Focus Factors to Consider," earlier in this chapter, then see Chapters 5 and 6 for the complete story.

✓ Exposure: If your picture is underexposed, select this second slider and then move the indicator bar to the right before your next shot. Move the slider to the left to reduce the brightness of your next shot. To produce the exposure shift, the camera may adjust aperture, shutter speed, ISO, or all three.

Again, if the shutter speed blinks after you adjust the Exposure slider, it means that the camera had to select a slow shutter speed and is suggesting that you use a tripod to avoid camera shake.

✓ Picture Styles: Picture Styles apply certain adjustments to color, sharpness, and contrast to your pictures. You can select from four Picture Styles in Creative Auto mode: Standard, Portrait, Landscape, and Monochrome (black and white). To see examples of each style and learn more about how your picture will be affected, check out the end of Chapter 6.

✓ Drive mode: You can choose from all but one of the Drive mode options, explained in the next section. The 2-Second Self-Timer mode is off limits, as it is in the fully automatic exposure modes.

✓ Quality: You get access to the full range of Quality options. Chapter 3 helps you understand these settings.

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