Collaborative article : The camera settings challenge.

A few months ago, I set up, here on the blog, a sort of survey, asking which software my readers use to edit their photos. I thought it was very interesting to read all these answers and it gave me an idea. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Introducing the collaborative articles !

The idea consists in asking you a question, or in challenging you in order to launch some entertaining talks about our habits in photography and to think about our photographical practice.

I start the article and you go on sharing your opinion, your experience and possibly giving advices to others if you want. As a consequence, the real article is yours. It’s in the comments ; that’s why I call that “collaborative articles”. ๐Ÿ™‚

Feel free to react to another talk using the “reply” function in the comments.

A few days or weeks after the first article (depending on the activity on the thread), I will write another article as a summary of your replies, with comments excerpts and so on.

I hope you will like the idea. I am really looking forward to read your talk!


The camera settings challenge

Our cameras include a lot of features and knowing it, controlling it, using it is a real challenge for all the photographers we are.
Often, the “how might I set my camera” question go before “what image do I want to shoot” or “which composition would enhance my subjects” issues… And that’s a shame!!… ๐Ÿ™„

Obviously, we need these precious settings, but do you think we really need all of it? Or even a high number of it? Do you think these many settings are so important that it’s OK they may make us forgot to shoot great photos?!




Therefore, the today challenge is… (tadaaaa) …

If you had to keep only 3 settings on your camera, which were they?! ๐Ÿ˜€


Here are the rules of the challenge :

[icon name=”fa-arrow-circle-right”] Obviously, the “on/off switch” and the shutter button are allowed in addition to your chosen settings (exposure and focus are OK if they are controlled by the shutter button).

[icon name=”fa-arrow-circle-right”] The settings you don’t choose can be set as YOU want to, but once for all. They are locked settings.
For example, you can decide not to choose the aperture setting but to set it to f/2.8 all the time. It is not forbidden neither shameful to use the AUTO camera features. For example, in P mode, the aperture change even if YOU are not adjusting it.

[icon name=”fa-arrow-circle-right”] So, the idea is to choose 3 parameters you want to be able to adjust as you want. For example, it is not choosing f/2.8, but it is choose to be able to adjust the Aperture as you want to.

[icon name=”fa-arrow-circle-right”] Choosing a setting means you can press the button setting and then use the dial or switch or whatever it is to control and change it (therefore, the menu button is not a setting. It is a way to access to the settings).

I consider that many camera features, even if they are not really shooting settings (the play button, zooming in a picture to check sharpness etc.), ARE a setting choice, because they make us play with our camera rather than looking at our surroundings and take photos.


Do you want to be able…

to use the shooting mode dial?
to set your shutter speed?
to change your lens?
to set the white balance?
to correct exposure?
to use the manual focus setting?
to adjust the autofocus mode?
to change your focal length with your telephoto lens?
to choose the ISO sensitivity?
to change the picture format?
to choose the aperture?
to change the photo appearance (b&white, colors…)?

[icon name=”fa-arrow-circle-right”] If you are not sure about something for these rules, try to be insightful, logical, and honest.
The aim to our little game is not, of course to quibble about rules (like : “Yes, I am sure I am allowed to do that, it is not an additional setting and you don’t have to say anything!” “No, you can’t and you are a silly guy!…” ๐Ÿ™„ ) but to think and talk about the camera settings. Thank you for acting like nice grown men and women and to exchange kindly. ๐Ÿ™‚

To submit a good answer, think about what you would be allow to do with the chosen settings but also what would be forbidden (which settings you are used to use and wouldn’t be available for you this time).




Your answer to the challenge

Thank you in advance to take part of this amazing experience!
I hope I will get many replies! ๐Ÿ™‚

In you comment, feel free to share you thoughts about the camera settings and to explain if the choice was difficult for you, and why, which were your hesitations and so on.

Thank you to name in the same short sentence the 3 settings you chose as it will be easier for me to manage (for example at the beginning or at the end of your comment). You can also tell us how you decided to set, at first, the camera settings you couldn’t choose but are important to you.

I have already written my own reply and I will share it with you later.

As the French and English comments are separated, feel free to read the French comments, here, if you want to.


Words are great but don’t you think that the better answer to this challenge would be to try it?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, yes!! I challenge you to try to use ONLY the 3 settings you chose during… a one hour shooting? a two hours one? The whole day?! That’s how you want!
I am sure you can do it.

If you try it, be sure to come back on the website in order to add a new comment and tell us how it was to follow the challenge!
Was it so SO hard?! Was it liberating?! Did you shoot really great pictures? ๐Ÿ˜€
Do you think you will want to try this again, to let less the camera monopolize your time and energy during your shootings?


If this experiment is a positive one, perhaps we could suggest to the camera companies to create a three buttons camera!!!! ๐Ÿ˜†

Thank you in advance for your answers.
I hope you will find this challenging but fun!

Feel free to share this article to help us to get more interesting answers!


  • Kelly

    I am very much an amateur enthusiast when it comes to photography. I recently exchanged my canon DSLR kit for an Olympus m43 kit (E-M10). There are so many settings available and it is difficult to narrow down to three but when I think about the camera settings that I would always want to control my top three would be: the ability to change from single shot to sequential and self-timer mode, change focus point, and ability to change lenses. If I had to limit myself to those three the camera would always be set for: RAW quality, Aperture priority for largest possible at all times, Auto ISO, matrix type metering, Auto WB, Auto image stabilization, flash off, face detection on. I haven’t actually tried this yet but I might over the next week or so. I’ll let you know how it goes and what challenges I had doing so. I’m looking forward to reading what others have to say.

    • Anne-Laure Jacquart

      Thank you so much Kelly! I think you have just wrote my first English comment since I separated the website in a French version and an English one. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thank you, I am so happy!! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Your answer is really interesting and I am looking forward to read what will happen when you will follow the 3 settings challenges. As I am in a trip during 10 days, I will write the new article about this challenge in 15 days or so, so you and the others readers can have time to do it.

      See you soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Anne-Laure Jacquart

    Now, I would like to share with you my own choices :
    – Aperture, to be able to play with blur and depth of fields (and indirectly to play with movement blur too, as I can choose a smaller aperture in a somewhat dim light to create it)
    – Exposure compensation, to play with light and contrast
    – Lens change to be able to change my focal length and change my approach.

    I will choose ISO auto, 2/3 format, and autofocus, hoping that I would not have any problem to focus a subject through a window for example….

    But I think it wouldn’t be a problem for me to shoot only with these two settings. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • NancyP

    Aperture, shutter speed, ISO, all on manual mode, set to matrix metering. In other words, pretend this is an old all-manual film camera with a needle TTL meter – my first good camera (Mamiya-Sekor DTL 1000, back when M-S made 135 format cameras – though this camera had dual spot and average metering capacity).

    The trouble with this is that I do use burst mode drive, I do set up exposure bracketing in settings where I want to shoot the bracket fast, I do “chimp” to get a rough idea of jpg histogram, I do use live view with magnify for landscape and macro, I do switch A LOT between AF and MF (AF, birds and action, basically using center point only AI Servo mode, which is the most reliable on my entry level cameras (Canon 60D and 6D, pretty simplistic AF protocols); MF, everything else – I just want focus confirm, don’t need actual motorized focus).

    My failure to use all the modern conveniences may have something to do with my age and training on manual cameras.

  • Kelly

    Hi Anne-Laure! I am glad to be the first to reply on the English version of your website.

    After actually trying my chosen setting in real life I quickly realized they won’t work for me on a regular basis. A wide open aperture isn’t necessarily good if it’s too bright or if I want more depth of field. I think I also realized I don’t like to change lenses on a frequent basis. I found it impractical in the setting I was recently in where there was a lot of activity and I was either too close or too far. I had 17 mm, and a 45 mm primes and switching between the two took too much time and I was wishing I had a second body. I do like your idea to keep the ability to change aperture since that is the mode I most frequently use but then I would have to decide which of the others I would give up. I do think I’d like to still be able to choose a focus point because center focus doesn’t always work for composition purposes and if I let the camera decide often it chooses something I don’t want. I think I would also like to be able to change from single shot to burst or self-timer, but I’d change from the ability to change lenses to the ability to zoom the lens.

    Hold on though…that’s 4 things (I can’t decide).

    Change aperture, focus point, shooting mode, or zoom… not sure I could give up one of those. Which one should I give up? Convince me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Frank Hubert

    First, what a wonderful idea! I would have to be able to change DOF, so #1 would be aperture. Next in line would be white balance. Third would be ISO.
    Give me a 16mp camera and a 50mm 1.4 lens and I’m all set!

  • Tom Rogers

    Sorry, but this seems like a silly challenge. To the person who wants to use the 50mm 1.4 lens, let’s hope you’re not wanting to shoot birds in flight or sports. If someone doesn’t select speed control, then they are forced to either blur or freeze motion.

    My point being, that by selecting only 3 options, part of your challenge is really saying “let’s see how we can limit out options”. Sure, we can take shots with wrong WB, a blurred athlete, low or high key lighting, and call it ‘creative’. But, it’s only creative if it’s the look we want and see in our head, not the look we were forced into because of random circumstances. Winning the lottery isn’t done because of creative number selection, it’s won by luck, and that’s what this challenge sounds like.

    At that point, I would select no settings. I would set everything on ‘Program’ mode, and just concentrate on composition. And quite honestly, there is nothing wrong with this. There are tons of wonderful images that come from iPhones.

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