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Going Topside

The top surface of the Canon EOS 50D has its own set of frequently accessed controls. The three of them just forward of the status LCD panel have dual functions and are marked with hyphenated labels. Press the relevant button (you don’t need to hold it down) and then rotate the Main Dial to choose the left function of the pair, such as Metering mode, Autofocus, or ISO, and the Quick Control Dial to select the right function, such as White Balance, Drive mode, or Flash exposure compensation. The settings you make will be indicated in the LCD status panel, which is described in the section that follows this one. The key controls, shown in Figure 2.13, are as follows:

  • Mode Dial. Rotate this dial to switch among Basic Zone and Creative Zone modes, and to choose one of the Camera User Settings (C1 or C2). You’ll find these modes and options described in more detail in Chapter 3 (where I show you how to register your settings in the C1/C2 “slots”), and Chapter 5 (which has a longer discussion of the Basic and Creative Zone modes).

  • Sensor focal plane. Precision macro and scientific photography sometimes requires knowing exactly where the focal plane of the sensor is. The symbol on the side of the pentaprism marks that plane.

  • Flash hot shoe. Slide an electronic flash into this mount when you need a more powerful speedlight. A dedicated flash unit, like those from Canon, can use the multiple contact points shown to communicate exposure, zoom setting, white balance information, and other data between the flash and the camera. There’s more on using electronic flash in Chapter 8.

  • LCD illuminator button. Press this button to turn on the amber LCD panel lamp that backlights the LCD status panel for about six seconds, or to turn it off if illuminated. The lamp will remain lit beyond the six-second period if you are using the Mode Dial or other shooting control.

  • Metering mode—WB button. This button has two functions. Rotate the Main Dial after pressing this button to change between Evaluative, Partial, Spot, or Center-Weighted metering. Rotate the Quick Control Dial to cycle among AWB (Automatic White Balance), Daylight, Shade, Cloudy/Twilight/Sunset, Tungsten, White Fluorescent, Flash, Custom, and Color Temperature. You’ll find more information about customizing white balance in Chapter 3.

  • AF-Drive button. Press once and then rotate the Main Dial to change between One Shot, AI Focus, and AI Servo autofocus modes (you’ll find more about those modes in Chapter 6). Drive mode settings include Single Shot, High Speed Continuous (up to 6.3 fps), Low Speed Continuous (up to 3 fps), and 10- or 2-second Self-Timer, selected by holding down the button and rotating the Quick Control Dial.

  • ISO/Flash exposure compensation button. Press and rotate the Main Dial to choose an ISO setting; use the Quick Control Dial to change electronic flash exposure compensation. You’ll find more about ISO options in Chapter 3, and flash EV settings in Chapter 8.

  • Monochrome LCD status panel. This LCD readout provides information about the status of your camera and its settings, including exposure mode, number of pictures remaining, battery status, and many other settings. I’ll illustrate all these in the next section.

  • Main Dial. This dial is used to make many shooting settings. When settings come in pairs (such as shutter speed/aperture in Manual shooting mode), the Main Dial is used for one (for example, shutter speed), while the Quick Control Dial is used for the other (aperture). When an image is on the screen during playback, this dial also specifies the leaps that skip a specified number of images during playback of the shots you’ve already taken. Jumps can be either 1 image, 10 images, 100 images, jump by date, or jump by screen (that is, by screens of thumbnails when using index mode), date, or folder. (Jump method is selected in the Playback 2 menu, as described in Chapter 3.) This dial is also used to move among tabs when the Menu button has been pressed, and is used within some menus (in conjunction with the Quick Control Dial) to change pairs of settings.

  • Shutter release button. Partially depress this button to lock in exposure and focus. Press all the way to take the picture. Tapping the shutter release when the camera has turned off the auto exposure and autofocus mechanisms reactivates both. When a review image is displayed on the back-panel color LCD, tapping this button removes the image from the display and reactivates the auto exposure and autofocus mechanisms.


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