I spend a lot of time on the blog encouraging you to take better cat photos with your camera and, if you have a Canon camera like me, you will be discovering that there are hidden features to discover even after you read the manual.
Join Bionic Basil, and Barking from the Bayou as we explore a real DSLR camera this week.
Did you know you have filters in your Canon camera, or that there are ways to find a picture fast without scrolling through every single picture? Did you know you don’t have to use the viewfinder?
Meet the Canon 1300D aka the Rebel T6
I use this camera and I like it a lot. It’s a decent Digital Single Lens Reflex* camera with doesn’t intimidate a beginner.
I have no plans to upgrade any time soon because a new camera body alone can be expensive. My next purchase will be a ‘prime’ lens (see explanation at the end of this post) because I think it will help my cat photography most.
I also came across a neat little video that shows how DSLR camera work.
If you want an idea, without a lot of high tech. detail. This is a great little demonstration.
Basic camera knowledge is important and I show the best ways to hold your own camera here, but it’s only when you actually hold a camera like the Rebel T6 that you realise why correct grip and posture are as important as knowing how to use your camera.
Combine this with knowledge about what to do ‘behind’ the camera and you are going to be up and running so fast the excitement will blow you away.
- NOTE Don’t let anyone tell you your kit lens, isn’t good enough for the job. You will be fine.
The kit lens on the Canon works great for me and, as you can see from my image of Sage, it takes great images.
The Canon’s Hidden Treasures
Meet Live View
Instead of holding your camera up to your eye and framing a photograph, ‘Live View’ (LV for short) lets you see what the camera sees through the screen on the back of your Canon.
How do I turn on Live View?
On the back of your camera, there is a button that shows a tiny camera with a red dot beside it. Press the button and you will hear a click and the screen will turn on. See 1 on the image.
The big advantage is you see exactly what the camera sees in real-time, this can help with product photography and cats who sit still (sleepy snapshots anyone?) The downside is that LV is a drain on your battery.
Live view has another talent when you take better cat photos with your canon. As you change the settings of your camera, this is instantly reflected on your screen. You don’t have to take a picture to see the results of a change of ISO or if you adjust your exposure.
Navigating the T6 Using the Q Button
This button gives you easy access to a lot of the more popular functions you might struggle to find using the more complex camera menus. You will learn the menus over time but for instant access you can’t beat pressing the Q.
How do I find the Q button?
The Q button is on the back of your 1300D/T6 Rebel. See 2 on the phto above..
Press the Q button once and navigate across your screen using the ISO/AF/WB and timer buttons. This might take a bit of getting used to, so be patient with yourself, and your camera.
Knowing where the Q button is doesn’t help you work out the functions. So here’s a quick rundown of some of its useful features.
- Navigating to creative filters
- Change your white balance
- Finding the self-timer or burst mode for cat action shots
- Quickly change what they call picture style this includes automatic adjustments for landscape, black and white and other ‘image effects’.
Adjusting your White Balance
White Balance is something photographers often leave on what is called AWB (auto white balance) but if you have taken pictures under fluorescent light or got pictures that have a strange colour to them, an adjustment to white balance can help. (3)
How do I adjust the White Balance?
Here are the options you will find when you navigate to the square graphic marked AWB. Click on the graphic and the options will be arranged in a row. I list them here. See if changing the white balance makes a difference to your photos.
- Custom (for experts)
It’s also good to know what your camera can do with light so check out the white balance function!
Adjust Your Camera Drive and Self-Timer
The ‘drive’ controls how many pictures you take and how quickly you take them.
On the T6 Canon (and similar models) there are photo and timer options. These are the one single shot, continuous shooting also known as burst or sport mode, and self-timer options. (4)
My picture above of Dot used sport mode which I set ‘continuous shooting‘. This is the Canon name for sport/burst mode.
TIP: The self-timer option is often used for group photos or selfies, but can also be used to give you time to press the shutter and step back, useful when you are using a tripod as it gives the camera time to settle out of any shutter vibration.
- 2 seconds time delay
- 10 seconds time delay
- Continuous self-timer mode
TIP: If you want to automatically focus on a cat walking towards you or moving set your focus to AI Servo (5).
Creative Filters on Your Canon
You won’t get the range of filters I showed in this earlier post, but there are several fun options that give you a quirky look to a picture you might want to share online without the extra work of a filter app.
How do I find the Creative Filters?
Look for the blue arrow beside the MENU button on the back of your camera. It’s called the playback button.
Press this playback button, then the Q button, and a set of screen options will appear. You are also prompted to save the changed image as a new file.
- Image Protection to prevent accidental erasure of a photo (key)
- Rotate image
- Image Rating (you can give a photo up to 5 stars!)
- Creative Filters (two circles graphic)
- Resize an Image
Better Cat Photos with Creative Filters
Grainy black and white filter that gives an old speckled look, soft focus gives a fuzzy look, fish-eye gives a quirky ‘fish-eye lens’ look, toy camera effect gives a dark cornered vignette effect, and the miniature effect plays with the depth of field.
- Even when you get used to the menus the Q-uick button is good for fast use. Give it a try. Play around to see what the Q button gives you access to.
Discover ‘Camera Styles’ on Your Canon
The camera styles option lets you adjust the ambience or feeling of a photograph. I have found this useful for my black and white photography as I can take photos and see them in black and white through the viewfinder. See 6 on the image above.
Picture Styles can be found by pressing the Q button and navigating to the rectangle to the left of the AWB (white balance) button. Click on this for options that include:
- Monochrome (for black and white images)
- Landscape (with enhanced blue and green)
- P for portrait. Smoothing skin tones and colours.
- Faithful for natural daylight photos
- Custom options
‘Camera styles’ helped with this black & white image
Finding a Picture on Your Canon
Sometimes you might want to go and find a single picture on your camera. Finding it could be a nightmare.
If you scroll through every picture you have, which might be a hundred or more, look for the blue magnifier and plus + and minus – signs.
Plus + will increase the number of photographs you can see on the screen and Minus – reduces the number. Pressing the button again should remove the multiple view option and return you to a single image view.
Prime Lens Explanation
Finally, I mentioned that I hope to own a Prime lens one day. What is a prime lens? Here’s a great definition from Photography Concentrate.
A big benefit to using prime lenses is that they give you the option of letting more light into your camera because they have wider maximum apertures.Photography Concentrate
Simply put, the hole in the lens can open up wider, and more light can get into the camera while the shutter is open.
Now you have access to a bundle of options I am guessing you might not have known about, or some you might have missed. There are some more helpful tips from Canon NZ here too, and this is the terrific course I took to get me started.
I hope you will now go and explore these exciting new options and let me know if you make any discoveries yourself.
For reference, I am including the technical specification if you wish to compare with any other similar entry-level DSLR camera.
Technical Specifications for the Canon T6 1300D (Wikipedia)
- 18.0 effective megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
- 9 AF points with 1 cross-type point in the center at f/5.6, extra sensitivity at f/2.8 or faster (except when an EF 28-80mm f/2.8-4L USM lens or EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro lens is attached)
- ISO sensitivity 100 – 6400 (expandable to H: 12800)
- 95% viewfinder frame coverage with 0.80× magnification
- 1080p Full HD video recording at 24p, 25p (25 Hz) and 30p (29.97 Hz) with drop frame timing
- 720p HD video recording at 60p (59.94 Hz) and 50p (50 Hz)
- 480p ED video recording at 30p and 25p
- 3.0 frames per second continuous shooting
- 3.0″ in 4:3 ratio colour TFT LCD screen
- Low Pass Filter
What is a Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera?*
Although this description uses some unfamiliar terms it does give an idea of what the DSLR camera actually does.
A digital single-lens reflex camera (digital SLR or DSLR) is a digital camera that combines the optics and the mechanisms of a single-lens reflex camera with a digital imaging sensor.
The reflex design scheme is the primary difference between a DSLR and other digital cameras. In the reflex design, light travels through the lens and then to a mirror that alternates to send the image to either the viewfinder or the image sensor.
The viewfinder of a DSLR presents an image that will not differ substantially from what is captured by the camera’s sensor, but presents it as a direct optical view through the lens, rather than being captured by the camera’s image sensor and displayed by a digital screen.