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Setup 1/2 Menus

Finally, the three screens of the Setup menu are populated with the less frequently changed settings, such as language, LCD brightness, and power saving settings. The Setup 1 menu for the A55V is shown in Figure 3.10. (The A35/A33 lack the GPS entry.)

  • LCD Brightness

  • Viewfinder Bright.

  • GPS Settings (only with A55V)

  • Power Save

  • CTRL for HDMI

  • Language

  • Help Guide Display

  • Upload Settings (appears only when an Eye-Fi card is installed)

  • USB Connection

  • Audio Signals

  • Cleaning Mode

  • Version

  • Demo Mode

  • Menu Start (with A35 only)

  • Reset Default

    Figure 3.10. The Sony Alpha’s Setup 1 menu.

LCD Brightness

Options: Auto/Manual: Plus or minus 2, Sunny Weather (A55/A33); Manual, Sunny Weather (A35)

Default: Auto

When you access this menu choice, a pair of grayscale steps and a color chart appear on the screen, allowing you to see the effects of your brightness changes on the dark, light, and middle tones as well as colors. Select Auto to have the Alpha choose screen brightness for you. Choose Manual instead and a scale appears. Use the left/right controller buttons to adjust the brightness by plus or minus two (arbitrary) increments. If you find you have no trouble viewing the dimmed screen, you can set the brightness manually to 2 increments, and save some battery power. Finally, if you need to view the LCD while shooting outdoors in bright conditions, you can set this option to the Sunny Weather level for an extra boost of brightness, even brighter than the highest Manual setting. Be aware of the heavier drain on your battery if you take that route, though. If you find that it’s too bright outdoors to use the LCD, I recommend that you use the viewfinder instead.

Viewfinder Bright.

Options: Auto/Manual: Plus or minus 1

Default: Auto

This menu item is similar to the LCD Brightness option discussed above. The difference is that, because the viewfinder is shaded from the sun or other bright lights, there is no need to enhance its brightness to a high level, as there is with the LCD. So, your only options here are to opt for the Auto setting or to choose Manual and adjust the brightness by one unit in either direction. For the best view, you should look through the viewfinder when making adjustments.

GPS Settings (SLT-A55V Only)

Options: GPS On, Off; GPS Auto Time Cor. On, Off; Use GPS Assist Data; Delete GPS Ass. Data

Defaults: GPS On, GPS Auto Time Cor. On

The settings made through this menu item apply only to the SLT-A55V, which is equipped with a GPS receiver that allows it to include accurate location information with every image. You can use the setting on the first line of the submenu, GPS On/Off, to turn the GPS completely off and save some battery power if you’re sure you won’t need the location information for the images you’re taking. Also, if you don’t need to have the camera’s time automatically corrected to match the GPS time data, you can turn off the Auto Time Correction option. With the third option on the GPS Settings submenu, you check to make sure the camera is using “GPS Assist Data,” which you can download from the Internet using the Picture Motion Browser software and which can help the camera figure out its location more quickly. With the fourth and final option, you can delete the assist data when it has expired; it expires about 30 days after downloading.

Power Save

Options: 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 30 minutes

Default: 1 minute

This setting determines the length of time before the Alpha switches to Power Save mode. Then, the display vanishes but can be restored by tapping the shutter release button or certain other controls, such as the MENU button. The choices are 10 or 20 seconds, or 1, 5, or 30 minutes. (If the camera is connected to a TV or the Drive mode is set to Remote Commander, the time period will be 30 minutes, no matter what setting is made here.)

CTRL for HDMI

Options: On, Off

Default: On

You can view the display output of your Alpha on a high-definition television (HDTV) if you make the investment in an HDMI cable with a mini-HDMI connector on the camera end (which Sony does not supply) and you own an HDTV (which Sony does not supply with the camera, either). When connecting HDMI-to-HDMI, the camera automatically selects the correct image settings, including color broadcast system, for viewing. (Earlier Alpha models, which used a composite video connection instead of HDMI, had to be set to either NTSC or PAL broadcast standards.)

If you’re lucky enough to own a TV that supports the Sony Bravia synchronization protocol, you can operate the camera using that TV’s remote control. Just press the Link Menu button on the remote, and then use the device’s controls to delete images, display an image index of photos in the camera, display a slide show, protect/unprotect images in the camera, specify printing options, and play back single images on the TV screen.

The CTRL for HDMI option on the Setup menu is intended for use when you have connected the camera to a non-Sony HDTV and find that the TV’s remote control produces unintended results with the camera. If that happens, try turning this option off, and see if the problem is resolved.

Language

Options: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese languages

Default: Language of country where camera is sold

If you accidentally set a language you don’t read and find yourself with incomprehensible menus, don’t panic. Just choose the second option from the bottom of the Setup 1 menu, and select the idioma, lingua, or langue of your choice. Also, Sony has placed a symbol that looks like an alphabet block “A” at the beginning of this menu item, no matter which language is selected, so you can recognize this menu item even if it’s in a language that you’re not familiar with.

Help Guide Display

Options: On, Off

Default: On

The Alpha’s Help Guide display provides quick snippets of information about various functions as you select them using the Fn button, direct-access buttons, or the mode dial, and then removes the information from the screen when you press the center controller button or shutter release. Once you’ve become comfortable with the operations of the camera, you may find that these factoids slow down your operation of the Alpha. You can turn them off with this menu option.

Upload Settings

Options: On, Off

Default: On

This menu item appears only when an Eye-Fi wireless (Wi-Fi) card is loaded into the camera. It enables/disables the upload function of the Eye-Fi card. The functions of the card itself are set, not in the camera, but using the Eye-Fi manager software supplied with the card. Follow the instructions that came with the Eye-Fi card to set up the access points, networks, and where/if uploaded pictures are to be forwarded to another location, such as Flickr or Facebook.

USB Connection

Options: Mass Storage, PTP

Default: Mass Storage

This first option on the Setup 2 menu (see Figure 3.11, which shows the A35 version; the A55/A33 lack the Menu Start entry) allows you to switch your USB connection protocol between the default Mass Storage setting (used when you transfer images from your camera to your computer), and PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol), which you’d use to connect your camera to a PictBridge-compatible printer. In Mass Storage mode, your camera appears to the computer as just another storage device, like a disk drive. You can drag and drop files between them. In PTP mode, the device you’re connected to recognizes your camera as a camera and can communicate with it, which is what happens when you use a PictBridge printer.

Figure 3.11. The Sony Alpha’s Setup 2 menu.


Most of the time, you’ll want to leave this setting at Mass Storage, changing it only when you’re communicating with a PictBridge printer that requires a PTP connection.

Audio signals

Options: On, Off

Default: On

The Sony Alpha’s internal beeper provides a helpful chirp to signify various functions, such as the focus lock and the countdown of your camera’s self-timer. You can switch it off if you want to avoid the beeps because they are annoying, impolite, or distracting (at a concert or museum), or undesired for any other reason. (I’ve had new dSLR owners ask me how to turn off the “shutter sound” the camera makes; such an option was available in the point-and-shoot camera they’d used previously. You can’t turn off all sounds made by an SLT camera like these Sony models, because, even though the mirror doesn’t move, they still have moving shutters.) Select Audio Signals from the Setup 2 menu, choose On or Off, and press the center controller button.

Cleaning Mode

Options: Enter (perform cleaning), Cancel

Default: None

One of the Sony Alpha’s best features is the automatic sensor cleaning system that reduces or eliminates the need to clean your camera’s sensor manually using brushes, swabs, or bulb blowers. Sony has applied anti-static coatings to the image sensor and other portions of the camera body interior to counter charge build-ups that attract dust. The sensor vibrates ultrasonically each time the Alpha is powered off, shaking loose any dust, which is captured by a sticky strip beneath the sensor.

If you believe there is dust on the sensor and you want the camera to perform an automatic cleaning procedure, select this menu option. Make sure you have a fully charged battery or are using an optional AC adapter (Sony model number AC-PW20). Then, select this menu option and press Enter. You will hear a brief buzzing sound, during which the camera does its automatic vibration process to dislodge dust. The camera will then prompt you to turn off the power.

Version

Options: None

Select this menu option to display the version number of the firmware (internal operating software) installed in your camera. From time to time, Sony will update the original Version 1.00 firmware with a newer version that adds or enhances features or corrects operational bugs. In fact, the version in my camera is 1.10, which indicates that some changes have already been made to the original firmware. When a new version is released, it will be accompanied by instructions, which generally involve downloading the update to your computer, transferring it to a memory card, and then inserting that card into your camera using a specified procedure. In some cases, the update is done by connecting the camera by USB cable to a computer that has had the update file downloaded to it. It’s a good idea to check occasionally at the Sony website, http://esupport.sony.com, to see if a new version of the camera’s firmware is available for download. (You can also go to that site to download updates to the software that came with the camera, and to get general support information.)

Demo Mode

Options: On, Off

Default: Off

The only purpose of this menu option is to let you set the camera in a “demo mode,” in which the camera will start to play a movie if it is left idle for about one minute. There is no built-in demo movie; you have to record your own movie for this function.

Menu Start

Options: Top, Previous

Default: Top

This menu option, available with the A35 only, lets you determine which menu position is used by default when you press the MENU button. If you select Top, then the first tab, the Shooting 1 menu, appears. Select Previous, and the last menu you accessed will be shown. I find the Previous option is the most convenient, because it’s very likely that the last setting I made will be the one I want to access the next time (say, to turn off an option I wanted to use only temporarily), and the other menu tabs can be selected quickly even if most recently used choice is not the one I want next time.

Reset Default

Options: Enter, Cancel

Default: None

This entry is the last one on the Setup 2 menu of the A55/A33, and the first and only entry on the Setup 3 tab of the A35. If you’ve made a lot of changes to your Alpha’s settings, you may want the camera to return to the factory settings so you can start over without manually going back through the menus and restoring everything. This menu selection lets you do that with the press of a few buttons. You can see the default values that will be reset at pages 156-158 of the Sony A55/A33 instruction manual; on pages 155-157 in the A35 manual.

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