beginner settings tips for a700

Started Sep 14, 2008 | Discussions
Hugo600si Contributing Member • Posts: 826
beginner settings tips for a700

Hi, Apologies if this question has been asked thousands of times, however I just upgraded from my trusty 600si to my first dslr, an A700, 2 hours before going on vacation to Lake Placid for he fall colors (it was the best way to convince my lovely wife as we will probably never do this again... (this year in any case )) and I am now struggling in my hotel room with the settings to use.

I bought a a700 with 1680z and a 8GB CF III card. Installed the V4 a few minutes ago.

My questions, what format is recommended I use? I'm looking through the forum and ended up with cRAW+jpeg, although I have no space issues (laptop) so I can also do raw+jpeg if that gives some (real life) benefit.

How should I set the NR with V4? I show my images on a TV after vacation so no real quality issues there and the good ones I work on so I am tempted to do either low or no NR.

What is the battery life? I need to use SSS as I didn't bring my tripod, probably 10% flash for the occasional portraits along the way (see how much better this camera makes you look ) AKA, do I need a spare battery

Should I stay away from creative styles? (if they only touch the JPEG's, not raw's, it could be handy to use autum leaves or vivid (I miss velvia a bit ), but I really don't want to destroy the negatives/raws)

Any general tips for starters, links to sites etc you are willing to share also much appreciated.

Thanks!

 Hugo600si's gear list:Hugo600si's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony Alpha NEX-7 Sony a7R III Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm F1.8 ZA +10 more
Ajaya Contributing Member • Posts: 561
Here's my settings

Standard, +1, +1, +1
Dro Off in door with flash and out door ok with Dro.
Battery will last 500 to 650 shots
Enjoy your big man toy!
Ajay Madan
http://www.PreciousVideoMemories.com

Vivec Contributing Member • Posts: 532
Re: beginner settings tips for a700

Hi Hugo,

The Jury is still out on that one, but cRaw has either none or negible difference with Raw, so I wouldn't worry about that. The safest option for you is therefore cRaw + JPG.

I started that way too, until I noticed that the jpg's look very good and that I usually have a hard time making the raw's look as good as the jpg. So, during my recent trip to Yellowstone I just shot jpg (Fine) and the results are great without taking hours to process the raws. Having said that, I wouldn't do this in your case yet until you figure out how to get the jpg out of the camera the way you want them to look -- craw+jpg provides a great safety net.

(ah, and nowadays I usually shoot standard mode with +1 con, +1 sat, +2 sharpening; and sometimes vivid if I want more punch -- I think vivid would work well for fall colors; usually DRO on advanced auto, and sometimes level 2/3 if I have a high-contrast scene -- I wouldn't have DRO on level 2/3 all the time as it also makes the picture look a bit 'flatter' in my opinion. Finally, I like a warm look, so when I set the white balance, I often use daylight +2, or shadow/cloudy +1 depending on the weather -- and watch the white balance inside as the auto white balance often has it wrong).

Have fun

Vivec Contributing Member • Posts: 532
Re: beginner settings tips for a700

Any general tips for starters, links to sites etc you are willing to
share also much appreciated.

There is great guide by Gary Friedman on the a700, you can download it as a pdf -- well worth the money:
http://www.friedmanarchives.com/alpha700/index.htm

Cheers

Old Man River Regular Member • Posts: 251
Re: beginner settings tips for a700

If you are shooting predominantly for playback on an HDMI capable HDTV, I would highly recommend adjusting the aspect ratio to the 19:9 rectangular option. (Perhaps not if you intend to print many enlargements.)

It might take a few exposures to gain mastery with the new viewfinder boundary lines. But the ease of playback with the remote control makes for a real family pleasing experience.

WaltKnapp Forum Pro • Posts: 13,857
Re: beginner settings tips for a700

Hugo600si wrote:

My questions, what format is recommended I use? I'm looking through
the forum and ended up with cRAW+jpeg, although I have no space
issues (laptop) so I can also do raw+jpeg if that gives some (real
life) benefit.

You are into a religious subject here. But cRAW is just fine if you want raw. See my notes below of the error of shooting craw/raw + jpeg with this camera.

Personally I shoot jpegs. No way I want to spend the time processing raw. And don't see enough advantage over a well shot jpeg. Raw was once essential, but not really so anymore.

How should I set the NR with V4? I show my images on a TV after
vacation so no real quality issues there and the good ones I work on
so I am tempted to do either low or no NR.

Set long exposure NR on, this makes a black frame subtraction on long exposures.

If you are claiming wizard powers on processing raw then of course you will set high ISO NR off like the rest of the "wizards" and sneer about how good you are. If you are shooting jpegs, then you want to decide what setting to use by actual experience. Note that you are only setting NR for ISOs at 1600 or above.

What is the battery life? I need to use SSS as I didn't bring my
tripod, probably 10% flash for the occasional portraits along the way
(see how much better this camera makes you look ) AKA, do I need a
spare battery

You always need a spare battery. The battery lasts a long time, but when you are out, you are out. I have chargers both for AC and in the car.

Just leave SSS on if you are doing handheld.

Any general tips for starters, links to sites etc you are willing to
share also much appreciated.

Most people like the images they get with sharpness and contrast at +1 or so.

If you shoot your jpegs in combo with raw be aware you are getting a pretty low quality jpeg, one intended to be just good enough for preview. If you want high quality jpegs you have to shoot them on a jpeg only setting. (Yes I consider this a major flaw in the camera, especially as most raw vs jpeg comparisons are done off raw + jpeg shots)

Other settings I have settled on for general shooting for jpeg:
jpeg: X-fine, Image size L (12MP)
Creative style: Standard with sharpness and contrast +1
DRO: DRO+ level 2 or 3
White balance: Auto ( I shoot mostly daylight or flash)
AF/MF button to toggle between MF & AF
Flash: Fill flash & ADI
AF-A setup to DMF (this drops the AF out to MF once the AF locks in AF-S mode
Folder name to Date form
I normally use AF spot, but that's not everybodie's choice.

You need to take the time to go through the manual with the camera in hand trying everything. Jumping straight from film you will have a bunch to learn. I've been using DSLR for 12 years now and still each camera is different.

Shooting jpegs with the camera is like shooting slide film, you have to know what you are doing and get the settings right. Jpegs from the camera are excellent if done right. Though you can edit them extensively in photoshop too. Raw is like shooting negative film, your photographic technique can be more sloppy than jpegs. Though the best results are if you still get it all right in the camera.

BTW, welcome to the DSLR world. You are really brave doing it with only 2 hours to learn.

Walt

WaltKnapp Forum Pro • Posts: 13,857
Re: beginner settings tips for a700

Old Man River wrote:

If you are shooting predominantly for playback on an HDMI capable
HDTV, I would highly recommend adjusting the aspect ratio to the 19:9
rectangular option. (Perhaps not if you intend to print many
enlargements.)

It might take a few exposures to gain mastery with the new viewfinder
boundary lines. But the ease of playback with the remote control
makes for a real family pleasing experience.

Note that 16:9 crops off the top and bottom of the sensor to make the new ratio. 3:2 plays fine on my Sony Bravia HDTV.

Walt

busch
busch Forum Pro • Posts: 32,822
I'm with Walt on this one! (nt)
-- hide signature --

Busch

Take the scenic route! Life is too short to do otherwise.

http://www.pbase.com/busch

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Kzoozoomer Senior Member • Posts: 1,493
Opt for redundancy!

Given the cost of purchasing an a700 with a CZ16-80 lens, buying a spare battery and a spare CF card is a wise and relatively inexpensive investment. As Boy Scouts would say, "Be Prepared."

Andy

 Kzoozoomer's gear list:Kzoozoomer's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 +1 more
OP Hugo600si Contributing Member • Posts: 826
Re: beginner settings tips for a700

Thanks, I'll stick to 3:2 and do the chopping myself if the photo warrants it, the TV viewing is mainly for the quick post vacation coffee.

 Hugo600si's gear list:Hugo600si's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony Alpha NEX-7 Sony a7R III Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm F1.8 ZA +10 more
jprny Regular Member • Posts: 180
a second vote on downloading Gary's book ASAP

You'll get some useful stuff out of it right away, then get even more when you get home and have time to read it.
-jpr

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OP Hugo600si Contributing Member • Posts: 826
Re: beginner settings tips for a700

Thanks for the excellent tips here Walt! I hope I have something to show after my vacation.

WaltKnapp wrote:

You are into a religious subject here. But cRAW is just fine if you
want raw. See my notes below of the error of shooting craw/raw +
jpeg with this camera.

I'll stay away from religion here (its like the beercan quality discussion over the years). For this vacation I'll stick to cRAW + jpeg (the latter as reference), until I master doing jpeg properly (not something to try out on a good trip)

Set long exposure NR on, this makes a black frame subtraction on long
exposures.

Sounds sensible for a starter in any case and I doubt I will do a Harry Potter on long exposures, only do them for quick and fun shots, never made a real effort out of them.

You always need a spare battery. The battery lasts a long time, but
when you are out, you are out. I have chargers both for AC and in
the car.

A car charger is indeed an excellent idea as well, I'll shop for one of those and a battery, thanks for the idea!

Folder name to Date form
I normally use AF spot, but that's not everybodie's choice.

That I quickly got to spot as well too used to point and move to trust a camera to do that better (it seems to sense where the subject is not )

You need to take the time to go through the manual with the camera in
hand trying everything. Jumping straight from film you will have a
bunch to learn. I've been using DSLR for 12 years now and still each
camera is different.

9 hours in an airplane made me an expert on the manual I think First time I ever read a manual front to back.

Shooting jpegs with the camera is like shooting slide film, you have
to know what you are doing and get the settings right. Jpegs from
the camera are excellent if done right. Though you can edit them
extensively in photoshop too. Raw is like shooting negative film,
your photographic technique can be more sloppy than jpegs. Though
the best results are if you still get it all right in the camera.

I'll settle for space to fix now, as you can't really use Velvia either without playing around a lot

BTW, welcome to the DSLR world. You are really brave doing it with
only 2 hours to learn.

Thanks, fortunately there are a lot of people around willing to help someone getting started which is much appreciated! I also have to say Sony did a great job, the camera feels Minolta like and seems to be very intuitive to use.

  • Hugo

 Hugo600si's gear list:Hugo600si's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony Alpha NEX-7 Sony a7R III Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm F1.8 ZA +10 more
OP Hugo600si Contributing Member • Posts: 826
Re: Here's my settings

Thanks, I'm playing with +1 0 +1 and +1 +1 +1 to see which has my prefference (pitty I don't have a proper screen on my laptop)

 Hugo600si's gear list:Hugo600si's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony Alpha NEX-7 Sony a7R III Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm F1.8 ZA +10 more
OP Hugo600si Contributing Member • Posts: 826
Re: beginner settings tips for a700

Thanks for your reply, I'll play with the whitebalance a bit and will try vivid. Guess for now I'll just shoot in wide ranges and with several options for the interresting shots (better 50 shots too many then 1 missed shot due to faulty settings )

Its actually very nice not to be wasting film on a bracket exposure

 Hugo600si's gear list:Hugo600si's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony Alpha NEX-7 Sony a7R III Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm F1.8 ZA +10 more
OP Hugo600si Contributing Member • Posts: 826
Re: Opt for redundancy!

Kzoozoomer wrote:

Given the cost of purchasing an a700 with a CZ16-80 lens, buying a
spare battery and a spare CF card is a wise and relatively
inexpensive investment. As Boy Scouts would say, "Be Prepared."

Andy

I will, better safe and sorry this time (sorry to my wife for going over photo budget )

 Hugo600si's gear list:Hugo600si's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony Alpha NEX-7 Sony a7R III Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm F1.8 ZA +10 more
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