If you've used a compact, point-and-shoot digital camera, you may be used to composing your pictures on the camera monitor rather than by looking through the viewfinder. In fact, many compact cameras no longer even offer a viewfinder, which is a real shame, in my opinion. Why? Because when you use the monitor to frame the image, you must hold the camera away from your body, a shooting posture that increases the likelihood of blurry images caused by camera shake. When you use the viewfinder, you can brace the camera against your face, creating a much steadier shooting stance.
Due to some design complexities that I won't bore you with, most digital SLR cameras do not enable you to preview shots on the monitor. Your XS/1000D, however, does offer that feature, known as Live View in Canon nomenclature. But using your monitor as a viewfinder on your camera isn't quite as simple as when you use a point-and-shoot, non-SLR model — again, the difference is due to the more involved design of an SLR camera.
Here are the important points to know before you experiment with Live View shooting:
✓ Live View is available only in advanced exposure modes. That is, you must set the Mode dial to P, Tv, Av, M, or A-DEP mode.
✓ Manual focusing is recommended. You can use autofocusing, but manual focusing usually offers faster, more precise results. Chapter 6 covers the autofocusing methods available in Live View mode just the same.
✓ You must set some capture settings before switching to Live View mode. After you enable Live View, you can't adjust the Drive mode (covered in Chapter 2), the Picture Style (Chapter 6), the AF Selection Point, or the AF mode (both covered in Chapter 6). Of course, the latter two options, which relate to autofocusing, don't matter if you're using manual focus.
✓ Some other functions are either disabled or limited in Live View mode. Here's the list of affected features:
• Flash limitations: Flash Exposure lock, covered in Chapter 5, is disabled. In addition, non-Canon flash units will not work in Live View mode.
• A-DEP mode: This mode functions the same as P (programmed autoexposure), meaning that it no longer tries to achieve a depth of field that keeps all objects in the frame in sharp focus. Chapter
5 explains more about these two modes; Chapter 6 details depth of field and its creative impact on your pictures.
• Continuous shooting: You can use the Continuous Drive mode, introduced in Chapter 2, but the camera will use the exposure settings chosen for the first frame for all the images.
• Metering mode: You cannot use Center-Weighted Average or Partial exposure metering; the camera always uses Evaluative metering in Live View mode. Chapter 5 explains metering modes.
• Custom Functions 9, 10, and 11: You can't enable mirror lock-up (Custom Function 9) in Live View mode. Also, any custom settings that you apply to the shutter button and AE Lock button through Custom Function 10 don't work. Finally, the Set button is used to switch Live View on and off, so it can't perform any of the functions that you may assign via Custom Function 11. (See Chapter 11 for details on all these Custom Functions.)
✓ Using Live View for an extended period of time can increase image noise. When you work in Live View mode for a long time, the camera's innards heat up, and that extra heat can create the right electronic conditions for noise, a defect that gives your pictures a speckled look.
Shooting at a high ISO speed or selecting a very slow shutter speed can also produce noise. To avoid compounding the risk of noise when you use Live View, set up your shot and then give the camera a brief cool-down by turning off Live View for a few minutes. You can then return to Live View mode and capture the image. See Chapter 5 for more information about the other two potential causes of noise.
✓ You must be extra careful to keep the camera steady during the image capture. Just as with a point-and-shoot camera, holding the camera out in front of you to capture the image can cause slight camera shake that can blur your image. But with an SLR, the risk is greater because of the added weight of the camera and lens. And if you use a so-called long lens — a telephoto or zoom lens that extends to a long focal length — the potential for camera shake is compounded. So for best results, mount the camera on a tripod when you use Live View.
Live View also has the same two other disadvantages that you get when you frame with the monitor on a point-and-shoot camera: First, any time you use the camera monitor, whether it's for composing a shot or reviewing your images, you put extra strain on the battery. So keep an eye on the battery status icon to avoid running out of juice at a critical moment. Second, the monitor display can wash out in bright sunlight, making it difficult to use for composing outdoor shots.
This laundry list of caveats doesn't mean that I'm advising you not to use Live View, however — just that you shouldn't envision it as a full-time alternative to your viewfinder. Rather, think of it as a special-purpose tool that can help in shooting situations where framing with the viewfinder is cumbersome.
I find Live View most helpful for still-life, tabletop photography, especially in cases that require a lot of careful arrangement of the scene. For example, I have a shooting table that's about waist high. Normally, I put my camera on a tripod, come up with an initial layout of the objects I want to photograph, set up my lights, and then check the scene through the viewfinder. Then there's a period of refining the object placement, the lighting, and so on. If I'm shooting from a high angle, requiring the camera to be positioned above the table and pointing downward, I have to stand on my tiptoes or get a stepladder to check things out through the viewfinder between each compositional or lighting change. At lower angles, where the camera is tabletop height or below, I have to either bend over or kneel to look through the viewfinder, causing no end of later aches and pains to back and knees. With Live View, I can alleviate much of that bothersome routine (and pain) because I can usually see how things look in the monitor no matter what the camera position.
With that lengthy preamble out of the way, the next few sections show you how to enable Live View and provide a brief introduction to the process of Live View shooting. Also see Chapter 5 for details about monitoring and adjusting exposure in Live View mode; check out Chapter 6 for Live View autofocusing options.
Enabling Live View
Before you can use Live View, you must take these steps:
You can use Live View only in these exposure modes. Chapter 5 explains them all; for now, choose P (programmed autoexposure) if you're not familiar with the other modes and you just want to experiment with Live View.
2. Press the Menu button and display Setup Menu 2.
3. Highlight Live View Function Settings, as shown in Figure 4-25.
4. Press the Set button.
You see the screen shown on the left in Figure 4-26.
Live View shoot. Disable
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