Do you have 10 minutes? Let me show you how to use your Sony a6000 and discover some amazingly simple photography tips.
It was overwhelming learning to use my new camera. I often wished there was a simple 10 minute guide to show me how to use my mirrorless camera.
The camera manual was little help. My geekish son flicked through the modes, dials and auto-settings at lightening-speed with no explanation. Despite these early challenges, I was determined to master my camera and move away from the auto mode. On the plus side, the a6000 is nice and light, and fitted nicely in my handbag (important criteria) and I really do love the BIG megapixel values.
What more do I need!
So, do you have10 minutes?
Let me help you with the technical aspects to minimise the frustration I experienced in my early days.
Sony a6000 camera and photography tips
Excited by this very capable little camera, I started taking an active interest in photographers around the world and their work.
For me as a total beginner, this involved learning a whole new language and using terms I’d not heard before. It seemed that any blog or magazine showcasing beautiful photos used this language. They constantly referred to F-stops, aperture, exposure, composition and depth of field, all of which was foreign to me.
As I became more familiar with my camera, I began to understand these photography tips and techniques and eventually the techno-jargon started to make sense. I learnt about composition, exposure and depth of field.
But best of all I discovered I was able to achieve the photo effects I wanted, consistently.
Read next: Creative Photography – Shoot the Golden Hour
Let me show you how to use your Sony a6000
Firstly, learn how to set up your Sony a6000 to suit your photography style. Familiarise yourself with one of the most powerful cameras available today.
With these photography tips we will take you though the basics so you can find the settings you want. Learn these easy steps to get the shots you want.
Get to know the dials. Experiment. Take all the time you need to explore the settings and dials to find out exactly what they do, and what works best for you.
The Top Buttons
The Sony a6000 camera is uncluttered and simple to use. There are only two dials and a single function button.
The first dial close to the flash unit, is the camera mode dial.
The second dial on top, to the right will function differently depending on the camera mode you select.
It’s important to know …
- In Aperture Priority and Manual modes the dial is used to adjust lens aperture changing the depth of field.
- In Shutter Priority mode, this dial alters the shutter speed.
Choose the right Shooting Mode
Discover what each function does by following our simple guide of the mode settings and discover what each function does.
- Superior Auto – (gold) Enables high quality photos with auto-adjusted settings reducing blurring and noise.
- Intelligent Auto – (green) Shoot images with auto-adjusted settings.
- SCN – Scene Selection – Select an auto-mode from the pre-selects for landscapes, night photography, portraits and other modes.
- Sweep Panorama – Create a panoramic image while you move the camera left/right or up/down at a fixed speed. Its simple to use.
- Movie Options – A simple mode for shooting movies.
- MR – Memory Recall – Allows you to save a favourite setting into the memory and recall when desired.
- M – Manual Exposure – Select your aperture and shutter speed manually.
- S – Shutter Priority – Shoot moving subjects by manually adjusting the shutter speed.
- A – Aperture Priority – Adjust the aperture when you want to blur the background.
- P – Program Auto – Shoot with the exposure adjusted automatically.
TIP: I usually shoot in Aperture Priority mode, since it gives me control over lens aperture and the camera does the rest of the exposure automatically and simplifies my settings.
I can then tweak the depth of field by using the dial on the right.
Get your head around the Back Buttons
You will find a number of other useful function buttons on the rear of the camera.
- The Menu button opens up the main camera menu. (I will feature this in another post)
- AEL button (Auto Exposure Lock) is for locking exposure.
The Fn Button
The Fn Button is one of the most useful buttons to change key settings quickly. Here’s a some of the options I use most:
- Drive Mode – This is where you can change the shooting functions. Single Shooting or Continuous Shooting (Lo, Mid and High) and you will find the Self-Timer option here too.
- AF-S – Single-shot AF Locks the focus when focus adjustment is achieved. Use Single-shot AF when the subject is stationary.
- AF-A – Automatic AF Switches between Single-shot AF and Continuous AF according to the subject movement. When the shutter is pressed halfway down, the camera locks focus when it determines the subject is stationary, or continues to focus while subject is in motion.
- AF-C-Continuous AF – Continues to focus while the shutter button is held halfway down. Use this when subject is in motion.
- DMF – DMF allows you to use a combination of manual focus and autofocus.
- MF – Manual Focus allows focus to be adjusted manually.
- Wide – The camera focuses over a wide area allowing instant AF response to a subject, even off centre.
- Zone – Select from nine zones on the monitor on which to focus. The camera focuses on a subject in the chosen zone.
- Centre – Focuses automatically on a subject in the centre of the image.
- Flexible Spot (S/M/L) – This enables you to move the AF range frame to a desired point on the screen and focus on a very small target within a narrow area.
The Fn Button
- White Balance – AWB (Auto White Balance) contains a range of Auto preference settings.
- Smile/Face Detect – Opt to have this auto detect for Faces and Smiles.
- ISO – I generally leave this setting on Auto mode with the minimum set to 100 and maximum to 3000.
- Flash Compensation – I leave this set to Auto.
- Exposure Compensation – Leave at 0 and use the Navigation wheel.
- Metering Mode – I leave this set to Multi unless specific conditions require change.
- Focus Mode – AF-S with the opportunity to change the setting to AF-C as required.
- DRO / Auto HDR – I leave this off
- Zebra – I set this to 100%. I find this function useful to give me a guide to exposure although it does take some getting used to.
The Navigation Wheel
The navigation dial on the back of the camera can be used to make quick exposure changes as well as access specific functions by pressing each of the four corners.
- DISP switches between different views on the camera LCD screen
- ISO allows changing camera ISO
- The Left side is used to access camera drive mode
- The Bottom side can adjust exposure compensation
- Playback plays back the images on the LCD screen
- C2 can be used as the Trash button to delete unwanted images during playback or assigned as a programmable option when not in playback mode.
This super-cool AF function tracks the subject, and maintains focus on it.
Simply position the target frame over the subject to be tracked, and press the central button of the control wheel to start tracking your target. There’s also a convenient Lock-on AF activation setting when camera is in AF-C mode which starts tracking by pressing the shutter button halfway down.
Simple Photography Tips for your Sony a6000
Simple Tips for Shooting a moving subject
Capture moving subjects with these settings.
Focus Mode: Continuously maintain focus on a moving subject by selecting AF-C while the shutter button is held halfway down.
Focus Area: Select Wide to automatically focus on a subject, wherever it is positioned in the frame.
Continuous Shooting Hi
Drive Mode: When capturing a moving subject, select Continuous Shooting and hold the shutter button all the way down.
1/500 sec or faster
Shutter Speed: Select a fast shutter speed so that the subject doesn’t become blurred.
Shoot dynamic sports scenes
Use Lock-on AF when there are obstacles around your subject. Once this function is set, the camera stays locked onto the target. A frame with double green lines indicates Lock-on AF target.
Shoot swimmers in splashing water
How to select Flexible Spot
Press Fn Button
Choose Focus Area in the menu
Choose Flexible Spot
Move the AF range frame to the area that you want to focus on.
Use a shutter speed that is as fast as possible, such as 1/1000 sec or faster to capture each drop of splashing water.
When tracking a moving subject, set the Focus Mode to AF-C.
Tip: To prevent splashing water from interfering with focusing, select Flexible Spot for Focus Area.
Capture a performance
How to select Zone
Press the Fn button
Choose Focus Area in the menu
Move the AF range frames to the area you want to focus on.To capture facial expressions of a performer, set Face Detection to On.
When framing your performer vertically, position a dancer’s face in the upper area of the frame. Select upper area of the frame and select upper zone in the Zone setting in the Focus Area. A shutter speed of 1/500 sec or faster to capture movement.
Shooting active situations
How to set up Continuous Shooting
Press the left side of the control wheel
Select Continuous Shooting Hi.
The key to capturing a definitive moment is to take many shots using continuous shooting mode.
The Sony A6000 offers plenty of opportunities to capture action by using high-speed continuous shooting at 11 frames per second (fps) in Hi mode. Keep the shutter pressed to continuously shoot.
Tips to capture animals on the move
To shoot animals that move unpredictably, set Focus Mod to AF-C and Focus Area to Wide. Use a fast shutter speed to ‘freeze’ the action like 1/500 or faster. Try to shoot in bright light or at a fast shutter speed to capture your subject clearly.
To shoot with a shutter speed of your choice, turn the mode dial to S and choose a shutter speed using the control wheel.
Select AF-C Focus Mode.
Set the Focus Area to Zone.
Choose a fast shutter speed of 1/1000 sec or faster in order to capture the subject clearly.
Shooting vehicles, people and pets gives great opportunity to capture movement.
To capture the shot, pan the movement of your target by starting the shoot before, and continuing to shoot after the photograph sequence has been taken.
When shooting a person, set Focus Mode to AF-S. Focus on the eyes wherever possible when you shoot a portrait and select Wide for Focus Area and On for Face Detection. Set the Eye AF function too.
Select AF-S for Focus Mode when shooting a stationary subject.
To achieve a soft focus on the flower and blur the background, set Focus Mode to AF-S. Choose Flexible Spot Focus Area to allow a specific point of focus within the frame and the background will blur.
Focus on a specific point to make a dish look more appealing by choosing a place in bright but not direct light. Use the Focus Mode of AF-S, with Flexible Spot.
Remember to have fun
Most importantly, take time to have fun with your photography by exploring new tips and techniques and don’t be afraid to use the different settings on your camera. Experiment with it all.
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