Chapter OneExploring and Setting Up the Digital Rebel XTi/400D
In This Chapter
Camera and lens controls
Rear camera controls
Setting up the Digital Rebel XTi/400D
About media cards
Setting the date and time
Choosing the file format and quality
Choosing a white-balance option
Choosing a Picture Style
Setting monochrome filter and toning effects
Changing file numbering
Professional photographers know that the most important first step in photography is learning the camera so thoroughly that he or she can operate it blindfolded. Then, you can make camera adjustments instinctively and confidently without missing a shot.
Knowing your camera inside and out not only instills confidence, but it allows you to react quickly and to get those important brag-book shots that you might otherwise miss or wish had been better.
Because of its design, the EOS Digital Rebel XTi/400D makes mastering the camera both easy and fun. Body controls translate into ease of use, while the full-function features offer exceptional creative control. Internally, Canon's high-resolution CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) sensor dependably delivers vivid, crisp images, especially at the highest image-quality settings.
Camera and Lens Controls
The better that you know the Digital Rebel XTi/400D controls, the faster you are able to change settings for specific images. The following sections help you to explore and master these controls.
Rear Camera Controls
You use the rear camera controls most often. The Digital Rebel XTi/400D offers shortcut buttons that are handy for making quick adjustments while you're shooting. In particular, the WB (white balance), ISO, Menu, and AF (Auto Focus) selectors are handy for making quick changes.
One obvious advantage of digital photography is the ability to view an image on the LCD immediately after it is taken. When the LCD is not displaying the most recent image, it shows the exposure settings, remaining frames, battery status, and camera settings so you can review them quickly before shooting.
Some information on the LCD panel and in the viewfinder only displays for about five seconds. You can restore it by lightly pressing the Shutter button.
On the Digital Rebel XTi/400D, the optical viewfinder displays approximately 95 percent of the image that the sensor captures. In addition to displaying the scene that you're shooting, the viewfinder displays the aperture, shutter speed, flash readiness level, and frames remaining during continuous shooting.
Auto Focus (AF) points are etched in the focusing screen. If you manually change AF points, the viewfinder highlights them as you rotate the Main dial. If the camera automatically selects an AF point, the selected point displays in red on the focusing screen when you press the Shutter button halfway down.
To ensure that the viewfinder image and focusing screen elements are adjusted for your vision, you can adjust the diopter setting from -3 to +1 dpt. Simply move the diopter switch - located to the right of the viewfinder eyecup - up or down until the image in the viewfinder is sharp.
Setting Up the Digital Rebel XTi/400D
Setting up the Digital Rebel XTi/400D is the first step in getting pictures from the camera that you'll treasure for years to come. Although this chapter offers important pointers on setting up your camera, ultimately the best way to get great pictures from the Digital Rebel XTi/400D is to experiment with settings. Unlike paying for film and prints, the pictures that you take with the Digital Rebel XTi/400D are "free." This gives you the freedom to explore different camera settings until you get pictures with a combination of color, saturation, and contrast that's pleasing to your eye and that creates vibrant prints.
Many people are afraid that changing camera settings will "mess up" the pictures that they're getting, and that they will forget how to reset the camera if they don't like the changes they've made. Canon provides a reset option, which means that you can always revert to the original settings on the Digital Rebel XTi/400D. Once you clear the settings, you have a fresh start.
To reset the camera to the default settings, just press the Menu button, press the right cross key to select the Tools 2 menu, and then press the down cross key to select Clear settings. Then press the Set button.
You may have already completed some of the setup tasks in this chapter. If you have, then you can skim through the chapter and look for tips that you may have missed in your initial setup.
Lithium-ion batteries have a two- to three-year life span, regardless of use. It's best to buy newly manufactured batteries.
About Media Cards
The Digital Rebel XTi/400D accepts CompactFlash (CF) Type I and Type II media cards, as well as microdrives. Also, because the camera supports the FAT32 file system, you can use media cards with capacities of 2GB and larger.
Not all media cards are created equal, and the type and speed of media that you use affects the Digital Rebel XTi/400D's response times. These include the ability to write images to the media card and to continue shooting during the image-writing process, the speed at which images display on the LCD, and how quickly you can zoom images on the LCD.
The type of file format that you choose also affects the speed of certain tasks. For example, when writing images to the media card, JPEG image files write to the card faster than RAW or RAW + Large JPEG files. JPEG and RAW file formats are discussed in detail later in this chapter.
Media cards are rated by speed and use various designations such as High Speed, Ultra, Write Acceleration, and numeric speed ratings such as III or IV. However, the speed of the card becomes a moot point when it exceeds the camera's speed in delivering data to the card. As a result, although fast cards are a good investment, there is a point of diminishing returns. You can determine the best card for you based on speed, capacity, and price. However, with the burst speed of the Digital Rebel XTi/400D being 27 Large/Fine JPEG images, it is important to have a fast card.
For performance results of various media cards and cameras, including the EOS Digital Rebel XTi/400D, visit Rob Galbraith's Web site at www.robgabraith. com.
As you take pictures, the LCD on the Digital Rebel XTi/400D shows the approximate number of images that remain on the media card. The number is approximate because each image varies slightly, depending on the ISO setting, the file format and resolution, the parameters chosen on the camera, and the image itself (different images compress differently).
You insert the card into the card slot on the camera, with the front of the card facing the back of the camera. When you buy a new card, always format it in the camera, and never format it on your computer. However, be sure that you off-load all images to the computer before you format the card because formatting erases images. Formatting a media card in the camera also sets the data structure on the card for the Digital Rebel XTi/400D.
To format a card in the camera, follow these steps:
1. Press the Menu button on the back of the camera. 2. Press the Jump button or the up and down cross keys to select the Tools 1 tab on the top row. 3. Press the down cross key to select Format. 4. Press the Set button. The format screen appears asking you to con- firm that you want to format the card. 5. Press the right cross key to select OK. 6. Press the Set button. The Digital Rebel XTi/400D formats the card, and then displays the Tools 1 menu.
It is generally a good idea to format media cards every few weeks to keep them clean. If you've used a media card in another camera, be sure to format it in the Digital Rebel XTi/400D to ensure that proper data structure is set, and to clean up the card.
It is possible to take pictures when no memory card is in the camera, although I can't think of a reason why you would want to do that. You can prevent this from happening by turning off the option to shoot without a card. Just press the Menu button, choose the Shooting 1 menu, and press the down cross key to select Shoot w/o card. Press the Set button, select Off, and press the Set button again.
Setting the Date and Time
Setting the date and time on the Digital Rebel XTi/400D ensures that the data that travels with each image file has the correct date and time stamp. This data is commonly referred to as metadata. Metadata is a collection of all of the information about an image, including the filename, date created, size, resolution, color mode, camera make and model, exposure time, ISO, f-stop, shutter speed, lens data, and white-balance setting. EXIF, used interchangeably with the term metadata, is a particular form of metadata.
It is very helpful to have the date and time information for the image when you want to organize your image collection. In fact, the Digital Rebel XTi/400D's Direct Image Transfer function can store images in dated folders on your computer's hard drive.
For details on the Direct Image Transfer function for the Digital Rebel XTi/400D, see Chapter 8.
To set the date and time on your Digital Rebel XTi/400D, follow these steps:
1. Press the Menu button on the back of the camera.
2. Press the Jump button, or the up or down cross keys, to select the Tools 1 tab. 3. Press the down cross key to select Date/Time.
4. Press the Set button. 5. Press the up or down cross keys to change the Month field.
6. Press the right cross key to move to the Day field.
7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for each entry.
8. When all options are set, press the Set button. The Tools 1 menu appears.
9. To close the menu, press the Menu button.
Remember to reset the date and time to adjust for daylight savings time or when you change time zones.
Choosing the File Format and Quality
The file format and quality level that you use to take your pictures is one of the most important decisions that you make. These settings determine not only the number of images that you can store on the media card, but also the sizes at which you can later enlarge and print images from the Digital Rebel XTi/400D. Table 1.1 explains the options that you can choose from.
Because of the high-quality images that this camera delivers, you can make beautiful enlargements from these images. Even if you don't foresee needing anything larger than a 4 ? 5-inch print from an image, you may change your mind in the future and decide to print it at a larger size. For this reason, and to take advantage of the Digital Rebel XTi/400D's fine image detail and high resolution, it pays to choose a high-quality setting and to leave it there for all of your shooting.
The JPEG quality options on the Digital Rebel XTi/400D indicate the compression level of the files and the recording size. Compression discards some pixels from the image to make the file size smaller. The higher the compression level, the smaller the file and the more images that you can put on the media card. However, at the same time, as compression increases, the image quality diminishes, as does the size at which you can print the images, as shown in Table 1.1.
JPEG, which stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, is a lossy file format that compresses the image file size by discarding some image data before storing it on your media card. Because JPEG images are compressed, you can store more images on the CF card. However, as the compression ratio increases, more of the original image data is discarded, and the image quality degrades.
Other important things to know about choosing JPEG formats are that, unlike RAW images that allow you to change many settings after pictures are captured, JPEG images are processed by Canon's internal software before being stored on the media card. This means there is less editing leeway in making significant changes to the image during editing. Because JPEG is a common file format, you can open JPEG images in any image-editing program and print them directly from your computer.
If you choose the JPEG format, then you can choose from among different image sizes and compression ratios that range from low (Fine settings) to high (Normal and Small settings) as shown in Table 1.1.
RAW stores data directly from the image sensor to the media card with a minimum of in-camera processing. RAW data gives you ultimate flexibility because you can change camera settings after you take the picture. For example, if you didn't set the correct white balance or exposure, you can change it in a RAW conversion program on the computer. This gives you a second chance to correct underexposed or overexposed images, and to correct the color balance after you take the picture.
However, unlike JPEG images, which you can view in any image-editing program, you must view RAW files using the Canon File Viewer Utility software or another RAW-compatible program such as Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw. You must also convert them using Canon's Digital Photo Professional program or a third-party RAW-conversion program that supports the Canon Digital Rebel XTi/400D RAW file format. You can choose to shoot either RAW images or RAW+JPEG, which records the RAW file and a Large/Fine JPEG image. This is handy when you want a JPEG image for quick viewing on your computer or a Web site, and you want the ability to convert and process the RAW file at a later time for printing.
Because RAW is a lossless format (no loss of image data), image quality is not degraded by compression. However, you can store fewer RAW images on the media card than JPEG images. Table 1.2 shows the file size and approximate number of images that you can store on 512MB media cards for the Digital Rebel XTi/400D.
To set the image quality, follow these steps:
1. Turn the Mode dial to a Basic Zone mode. Basic Zone modes are indicated by icons such as a person's head, mountains, or a flower. 2. Press the Menu button on the back of the camera. 3. On the Shooting 1 tab, press the down cross key to select Quality. 4. Press the Set button. The Quality screen appears. 5. Press the down cross key to select the size and quality that you want. In Basic Zone modes, you can choose only JPEG options at different levels of compression. 6. Press the Set button. 7. Turn the Mode dial to a Creative Zone mode. Creative Zone modes are indicated by P, Tv, Av, M, and ADEP on the Mode dial. 8. Repeat steps 2 to 6 to set the quality for Creative Zone modes. In Creative Zone modes, you can also choose RAW or RAW +JPEG file formats.
Choosing a White-Balance Option
A white-balance setting tells the camera the type of light that is in a scene so that the camera can render white and other colors accurately in the image. Light temperature varies according to the source and time of day. For example, the temperature, or color, of light at sunset is very different from the temperature of light at noon, which is also different from the temperature of common household light.