When I'm shooting, part of me feels like I'm missing a shot, or losing the scene when I take my eye out of the cup to adjust settings. I don't fear the settings, I'm just not at all efficient with them, like I'm taking to long. What process do you go through (or did you go through as a noob) when taking a shot? If you had to write it as a script, how would you do so? Why is my process taking so damn long?

I'm currently using a Canon XTI that I've had for about 7 years. Later this week, I'll be upgrading to the 7D with 28-135 USM... with better glass to come in the spring.

  • As I am also still learning, I will shoot in Av mode(semi auto) when I will be snapping pics while walking around, I will use Manual mode only when shooting landscape where I can afford to loose few seconds/minutes. Also can I know why not 6D and a 7D ?
    – GoodSp33d
    Jan 9 '13 at 17:41

Three things:

  1. Practice. Make the adjustments you need second nature, so you only need to think about why you want to make the change and your desired result — not how to do it.
  2. Don't take your eyes away from the finder to make adjustments, if you can at all help it.
  3. Get a camera with good dedicated controls, because #2 is impossible when everything is menu-driven.

I sympathize with the feeling that it takes a long time to become automatic, but that's the case with any real skill. It will eventually become second nature.

  • 1
    That is pretty much what I teach in photography class. I also tell people to practice progressively. First, practice framing. Then practice program shift in P mode, that way you can take the shoot if the moment seems fleeting. Then practice setting the aperture in A mode, then ISO, then EC, then focus-points, etc.
    – Itai
    Jan 9 '13 at 16:05
  • 1
    Coincident I think you too use a high-end Pentax DSLR and after using nearly every imaginable DSLR for the last 7 years, I can tell these are the most efficient to use (particularly at eye-level) of any brand and model. Sadly, some cameras just cannot let you work that fast!
    – Itai
    Jan 9 '13 at 16:22
  • 1
    #3 Helps a lot here, the better the layout, the easier it is to use on the fly. Jan 9 '13 at 22:35

I still consider myself a noob, but I try always to keep my eye in the viewfinder so I can learn and remember the position of setting buttons and scroll wheel without looking at them.

Then I use the limited display in the bottom of the viewfinder to adjust the settings.


Use Program mode when it is time critical to get the shot. Use T or AV if you really need the shutter speed or aperture to be what you want and you don't mind missing one.


A pro event photographer taught me that. P when the celebs are moving.



I've a Canon 5D MII and what I do it preset all the custom modes (C1, C2 & C3) ahead of time.

For example, I set C1 to be used along with a tripod, so I would set ISO to be L, with mirror lockup, time delay etc... C2 to be with auto ISO, Continuous shooting etc... So in case something happens while I'm shooting in C1 mode that I need to capture as soon as possible, I change the mode dial to C2 position and snap away...

You should be able to do this when you move to Canon 7D.

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