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How to Customize Your Camera

Very often camera owners express the desire to customize their DSLR or advanced compact so it would perform exactly the way they need or even get improved in some way. If you want to make your camera operate faster, be a better match for a particular shooting situation or enhance stamina you can achieve this by doing some adjustments. Some of the adjustments require making simple setting changes while others will involve physical modification of the camera.

1 Reassign autofocus to back or function button:
This is the first thing most pros and serious amateurs do to improve their camera. By separating autofocus that triggers from the shutter release button your camera will be able to focus and recompose and/or focus and meter a different area of the scene.

2 Auto ISO:
This function used to be found only on compact cameras but now some DSLRs feature auto ISO as well. And many experienced shooters find this mode very useful as it enables them to lock in an f-stop and shutter speed or some other settings and the camera will vary the ISO for proper exposure. If you’re shooting action like sports or wildlife in changeable light, auto ISO is just what you need.

3 Pop-up flash exposure comp:
It is recommended to set the built-in flash output to –1 or –1.3 EV for “walking around” mode. Due to this the pictures of people will look more natural.

4 Pop-up flash sync:
For everyday snapshots first-curtain sync is OK. However in combination of flash and slower shutter speeds for action-defining ghosts, experts advise setting the pop-up to second-curtain sync. This setting will smear a ghost image behind, not ahead of, a subject that is moving across the frame.

5 Pop-up flash slow sync:
As a rule, DSLRs with the pop-up features override autoexposure if it drops the shutter speed below 1/60 sec. That is why a scene that requires a slow shutter speed for the appropriate background exposure will finally look like a flash snapshot. But if you change the default flash setup to slow sync the problem will be easily solved.

6 Custom function(s):
Menus in modern cameras offer a range of possibilities: compositional grid lines, the embedment of an authenticity stamp in image files, autofocus microadjustment, correction of distortion and chromatic aberration, catch-in focus. So make sure you check what custom functions your camera features. The chances are you may uncover some really valuable ones.

7 Defining a user profile:
These days many DSLRs enable you to save multiple camera setups. This can be done using the menu or on a mode dial. For example, you can find such a dial on the Pentax K-30. You can adjust it for different types of shooting, for multiple users, or for quick changes during the shoot. For example, when you photograph whales or dolphins the best strategy is to set two different modes for the lighting conditions on both sides of a ship.

8 Vertical battery grips:
They are very helpful. First of all they let compose verticals with a more natural and secure grip. Due to the additional battery power you will be able to make more shots, and sometimes even faster bursts. Some of the attachments provide space for extra batteries as well.

Shortcut to Square One
Suppose you have made the appropriate settings, changed custom function and located all the operations on different buttons. But then you decide to return everything to “normal” and start over again. In this case you need to reset your camera. Search the menu for return to default settings, also called reset.

9 GPS modules:
Some contemporary cameras come with GPS built in, while others do not. Companies specializing in producing cameras provide geotaggers with add-on accessory units that typically fit into the hot shoe. This feature comes in handy not just for recording the places of your pictures, but for organizing as well. It will enable you to sort the images by place without having to keyword them.

10 Viewfinder magnifiers:
They are important for those who prefer manual focusing, do a lot of macro work, or need to enlarge view through the finder. We recommend choosing the accessories that can flip up and out of the way via the hinged mount.

11 Viewfinder screens:
How to Customize Your Camera Most DSLRs feature interchangeable focusing screens. Many of these screens ensure easier manual focusing. If your camera is equipped with manual-focus lenses, or you want to make a DSLR video, find out whether the right screen is available.

12 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity modules:
If you often share photos, connectivity modules such as Olympus’ Bluetooth PenPal for Pen ILCs will be very helpful. They will enable you to upload photos to your smartphone automatically.

13 External storage:
If you’re shooting lots of very large files, an external drive will come handy. Such devices will help quickly upload images to a computer while you shoot them. Consider purchasing a Wi-Fi enabled portable drive if needed.

14 Grip accessories:
These days there is a great selection of various grip add-ons for DSLRs and ILCs. They fit into the hot shoe or attach to the tripod socket.

15 Tripod QR plates:
Photographers who shoot nature or work in a studio always have them attached to their cameras. If you use a tripod often, you should do this too. If you have several cameras consider putting plates on all of them to save time.

16 LCD accessories:
If you have problems making out images or controlling readouts on an LCD in bright daylight a viewing hood is what you need. We recommend choosing the full-coverage hood with attached magnifier loupe. If you want to shoot video you can also purchase attachment straps for keeping it on the camera.

17 Protective cladding or other covering:
There is such a great variety of stuff like that so it’s easy to get confused which one to choose. However, professional shooters opt for waterproof neoprene sleeves that ensure adequate protection. If you are going to shoot nature you will need the one in a camouflage pattern.

18 Bubble level:
The most effective and affordable way to solve the problem of off-kilter horizons is to purchase these portable things. Make sure you buy several as they tend to get lost.

19 Light modifiers for pop-up flash:
There are flash add-ons not only for shoe-mount flashes, but for pop-ups as well. The Gary Fong Puffer is a great option to consider. It can easily be mounted on practically every pop-up flash via the hot shoe. It diffuses and bounces the flash light, and folds flat for storage.

20 Eye-Fi cards:
Eye-Fi is an SD memory card that comes with a built-in transmitter. It automatically uploads the images to a social networking site, computer, smartphone or tablet.