Whenever I'm heading out to shoot - for 10-15 mins beforehand I quickly search the forum here for this post
which outlines some of the basics as I tend to forget between shoots. I think what we need is a nice succinct overview of each of the modes and settings and how they affect your shots - with a bit of a tilt toward automotive photography.
I don't want massive tomes on each subject, just nice sentences that really drive the point home and are memorable in the field. What frustrated me for so long is that most articles on these things just go on and on and I never ended up really absorbing any of it - you'd really need to do a professional course to appreciate it. What I want here is a nice pick-up-and-go reference for us hobbyists who only shoot occasionally, but like to do it as best we can.
So to start us off, here's some stuff from that post from Rainey - I invite you to reword it and add to it etc to make things as easy to "get" as possible for anyone just needing some quick tips to really get them started, tips like which mode and what settings to use for specific circumstances - as new thoughts come in I will modify this first post - and once we have collated what we'd consider a great reference pack, I'll migrate it to it's own web page.
ISO: The camera's sensitivity to light - High numbers will allow you to expose your subject with a shorter shutter speed, but will also introduce more 'artifacts' into the picture. ie. the quality of the image is grainy. Depending on the avaliable light, you want to shoot with the lowest ISO setting possible for the best possible picture quality. Example settings might look something like this if you were shooting handheld, sunny day outside = ISO100, Overcast day = ISO400, indoor at night with lights on = ISO800, very dark scene = ISO1600
White Balance (WB): Colour presets for various situations - Eg. Tungsten (incandescent) will give you a natural looking shot under yellow lights. Set your White Balance to the conditions.
Aperture: The aperture setting controls how much light can enter the lens - Defined in F-Stop (eg. F3.2) a low number means a wider aperture which lets more light in, allowing you to have quicker shutter speeds and gives the 'blurry background' effect (known as depth of field). High numbers mean the aperture is narrower, therefore you have to have a longer shutter speed to let more light into the lens, but this results in a crisp shot all round.
TV Mode is Shutter Priority, ie. you set the shutter speed and the camera works out the rest. Great for action shots when you need to freeze the motion with a super fast shutter setting, or blur the background when you are panning on a moving subject with a slower shutter setting.
AV Mode is Aperture Priority, ie. you set the aperture and the camera does the rest. Great for taking those shots with a low Depth of Field (the out of focus background) setting and controlling the sharpness of the focal point.
M Mode is full Manual control, so you have to set both the Shutter Speed and the Aperture to expose the image properly. You can use the onboard 'Light Meter' to guide you to the right settings by giving the shutter button a half press and checking the indicator on the gauge. It looks something like this: [ - - - | - - - ]. If the indicator flashes below the center line then you need to lower the F-Stop and/or increase the shutter speed (longer). Do the opposite if it flashes above the center line.