Monday, 2 June 2014

Pressing all the Right Buttons (Part 1)

Can You Make it Go?

Shortly after getting my X20 I lent it to a friend, he liked it so much he decided to buy his own. But not coming from a dSLR background, (he uses it in auto mode) he confessed to not really understanding what all the different buttons do. I figure he's not alone, we're all used to modern cameras (and phones) doing everything for us, so I've put together a few notes on the X20's rear panel buttons in case you want to tinker.

Buttons on the rear of the Fujifilm X20

From The Left

This time I will limit myself to the left-most four buttons, because this blog would get too big otherwise. I'll attempt to give you an idea about what each control does, and how or why you might use or alter the setting. I'll keep it brief, so if you want more details then there's loads of good sites if you don't mind googling.

Playback Button

Let's start out with an easy one (and perhaps obvious one),... press it to view that last picture taken.

Use select left/right to view other pictures and press AF button if you want to delete. This is pretty standard and I've only included it for completeness.

Auto Exposure Button

The AE button allows you to choose how your cameras light meter works. By default this will be set to Multi but let's have a look at the options:-
  • Multi: Uses automatic scene recognition, so it should be a good general setting.
  • Spot: Forces the camera just to look at conditions at the centre of the frame, which is good for situations where the background it either much darker or brighter than the main subject.
  • Average: Takes an average across the whole frame, which can be useful for landscapes or portrait shots (according to the manual). Normally you would avoid this setting.
NB. If face detection is turned on then any faces detected in the frame will be used for spot exposure instead.

nb. In playback mode this button allows you to zoom in to the picture to examine details.

Shooting Mode (Burst Mode and Bracketing)

This button controls how many pictures are taken when you pressure the shutter, but there are a number of different modes that perform different tasks. See overview picture for the options:

The Different Shooting Modes
  • Still Image: When you press the shutter just one photo is taken. (normal)
  • Top: Takes a number of pictures as fast as it can (depending on exposure settings).
  • Best Frame Capture: Starts capturing shots as soon as the focus has locked (ie half pressed the shutter) and continues taking them afterwards. (You must select the number of images you wish to take and the camera will try to give you an even number of before and after shots)
  • AE BKT: (Exposure Bracketing) Takes three shots; one normal, one over exposed and the other under exposed. This can be useful for difficult lighting situations where you may not get a second chance.
  • ISO BKT: (ISO or Sensitivity Bracketing) Varies the sensitivity across three shots so that you can decide whether you'd like a grainy but better lit photo, or a darker less noisy photo.
  • Film Simulation BKT: Tasks one shot but processes it differently using the Film Simulation settings you have selected. If you like these inbuilt filters then you might find this useful, but it's the sort of thing you'd normally add afterwards on your PC.
  • Dynamic Range BKT: Again takes three shots but this time at 100%, 200% and 400% dynamic range. This enables you to choose afterwards how you'd like to cope with high contrast within your photo.
Wow there's a lot there, so let me summarise it for you...

We have two sets of methods here; burst mode and bracketing. Bracketing helps you cope with difficult lighting conditions, whereas burst mode enables you to capture the moment better or can increase your chances of getting a sharp photo when taking hand held photos in low light conditions.

nb. In playback mode this button allows you to zoom out.

White Balance

Remember in the old days when you took a photo inside and everyone looked yellow, or slightly green. This was because the light available was not pure white, and while your eyes will compensate for this, the camera will not. By default white balance will be set to Auto, and this should cope with most situations. But if you want to be more specific there are plenty of options available to you.

Custom White Balance: Tell your camera what is really white by taking a photo of a white object that fills the frame.

Colour Temperature: Enter the light colour in Kelvin (K). Useful if you know it, but there are a number of scales that you can use as a guideline.

Then there's various scene type options that really don't need much explanation; Direct Sunlight, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, Incandescent Lighting (old fashioned bulbs) and finally Underwater lighting that removes the blue cast from aquarium type photos.

It's worth getting this right because colour cast can be difficult to fix afterwards, especially if using JPG files rather than RAW. So far I've found that the default Auto setting is absolutely fine.


What I've found is this camera really excels in Auto mode, switch it to manual and you lose a lot of what makes it great. (This was all too obvious in low light settings) But sometimes you find yourself in a situation where the camera struggles, and it's here that knowing what these controls do can really help. Next time we'll look at some of the other controls and how they interact.

Part 2

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