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Top of camera controls

On top of the camera you will find the small power button, distinguished enough from the shutter release by its size and recess. Surrounding the shutter release is the mode dial, this sets the current shooting mode. Play mode is engaged by pressing the play button on the rear of the camera, the 550 is a shooting priority camera which means you can always switch back to the selected shooting mode with a half-press of the shutter release button.

Mode dial

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Mode

Program Auto Exposure

This is the camera's main shooting mode, exposure is metered and set automatically based on the current sensitivity, metering mode and exposure compensation. The 550's 'P' mode can be used as point and shoot or with more manual adjustment such as sensitivity selection, exposure compensation.

Aperture Priority Auto Exposure

In this mode you select the aperture and the camera will attempt to select the best shutter speed for a proper exposure (based on sensitivity and metering mode). Aperture is displayed at the bottom corner of the LCD monitor, press the up and down arrows on the 4-way controller to select different apertures. A half-press of the shutter release causes the cameras exposure system to calculate the shutter speed, if it's outside of the cameras exposure range the nearest shutter speed will appear in red. Available apertures:

• Lens @ wide angle: F2.8, F3.0, F3.2, F3.5, F4.0, F4.3, F4.5, F5.0, F5.6, F6.0, F6.5, F7.0, F7.9
• Lens @ telephoto: F4.6, F5.0, F5.6, F6.0, F6.5, F7.0, F7.7

Shutter Priority Auto Exposure

In this mode you select the shutter speed and the camera will attempt to select the best aperture for a proper exposure (based on sensitivity and metering mode). Shutter speed is displayed at the bottom corner of the LCD monitor, press the up and down arrows on the 4-way controller to select different shutter speeds. A half-press of the shutter release causes the cameras exposure system to calculate the aperture, if it's outside of the cameras exposure range the nearest aperture will appear in red. Available shutter speeds:

4, 3, 2.5, 2, 1.6, 1.3, 1, 0.8, 0.6, 0.5, 0.4, 0.3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/8, 1/10, 1/13, 1/15, 1/20, 1/25, 1/30, 1/40, 1/50, 1/60, 1/80, 1/100, 1/125, 1/160, 1/200, 1/250, 1/320, 1/400, 1/500, 1/640, 1/800, 1/1000

Full Manual Exposure

In this mode you select the aperture and the shutter speed from any combination of the above. Using the 4-way controller you can press the left and right arrows to change shutter speed, the up and down arrows to change aperture. In the center of the LCD monitor the camera will display the difference between the selected exposure and that metered by the camera (up to +/-2.0 EV in 0.1 EV steps).

Picture Mode

Picture Mode is the Optio 550's range of preprogrammed scene exposure settings. Use the up and down arrows on the 4-way controller to select picture mode, depending on the picture mode certain camera features (such as flash mode) may not be available. Descriptions below are from the Optio 550 manual.

Landscape Enables to take landscape photos with bright colors.
Night scene Enables you to take dark scenes such as night views.
Flower Enables to take flower photos bright in color.
Portrait Enables to take portraits with spatial effect, by emphasizing the person.
Surf & Snow Enables to take clear photos at dazzling places like beaches and snow covered mountains.
Autumn colors Enables you to take colorful photos of trees in autumn.
Sunset Enables to reproduce beautiful colors for sunrise and sunset photos.
Fireworks Enables you to take bright photos of fireworks.
Text Enables you to take clear photos of text.

Movie Clip Mode

The Optio 550 records movie clips at 320 x 240, 15 fps with audio. The camera records while you hold down the shutter release button. Exposure is automatically adjusted during shooting, pressing the zoom buttons invokes digital zoom, optical zoom is not available. Depending on available storage space the camera can record for up to 10 minutes continuously. Note that from the camera menu you can also enable a 'fast forward movie mode', this slows movie recording by 2, 5, 10, 50 or 100 times to create a 'time lapse' movie (audio recording is disabled in this special mode).

Panorama Assist Mode

This mode allows you to take a series of images which will be later stitched together to make a wide or tall panorama image. When you first enter Panorama Assist Mode the camera prompts you to select the direction of the Panorama, after the first shot it overlays a quarter of the previous image at the edge of the frame to help align the next shot. Unfortunately this mode doesn't appear to lock Auto Exposure or Auto White balance, both of which are pretty essential for quality Panorama's.

Stereo Pictures (3D Image Mode)

This mode allows you to take 'Stereo 3D' images, it does so by prompting you to take one image from the left of a subject and one shifted slightly (normally around 1 cm) to the right. When printed and viewed with the supplied 3D Image Viewer (a clip together vertical spectacles set) the image can appear to take on a 3D appearance. What a gimmick.

Digital Filter Mode

This mode allows you to simulate certain 'lens filters', these are: Black & White, Sepia, Red, Pink, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple and Soft.

User Mode

User mode allows you to preprogram the camera with any combination of settings from any exposure mode to be quickly retrieved when User Mode is selected.

Voice Recording Mode

In this mode you can record voice memos only limited by the available space on the storage card.

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