How to Adjust Your Camera’s Viewfinder (If You Need Glasses or Contact Lenses)

If you don’t have 20/20 vision, you don’t need to worry about wearing your glasses or contacts when you use your camera. If it’s a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you’ll be able to adjust the power of the viewfinder to better match your eyes.

Beside the viewfinder is a little dial called the diopter-adjustment dial. This adjusts the power of the viewfinder and lets you tweak things so that whether you’re long- or short-sighted, things will look right to you.

By default, the diopter-adjustment dial is set for 20/20 vision. You’ll know it isn’t set correctly for you if, when you look through the viewfinder, the information displayed is blurry or if your camera keeps telling you focus is good when the image still looks blurry—at least to your eyes. Also, if you’re manually focusing, you’ll find that your images are just out of focus when you review them later.

Adjusting the diopter is a trial and error process. There usually is a slightly larger mark to indicate the center of the adjustment dial so you can easily reset it back to normal.

The best way to know when you have the diopter set correctly is when the information displayed in the viewfinder looks sharp. If it’s easy to read, then the viewfinder should accurately show the scene in front of you. Twist the diopter-adjustment dial back and forth until you find the setting that works for you. It may be easier to remove the viewfinder cup so you can turn the dial.

Adjusting the diopter just affects the viewfinder—whether optical or electronic; you will still need to wear your glasses to focus with the Live View screen.

Finally, the diopter-adjustment dial doesn’t lock into position. If things start looking blurry again through your camera, there’s a good chance that you accidentally hit the dial at some point. Adjust it again.

Buying Photography Gear As A Gift Is A Terrible Idea, Here’s What To Do Instead

Photographers are often gear obsessed; while this might make it sound like they’re easy to buy gifts for, photography gear is normally a terrible present. Here’s why and what to do instead.

Photography Gear is a Bad Gift

The photography market is basically made up of a thousand different incompatible standards. Clip A won’t fit on tripod B and X lenses certainly don’t work with Y camera, though Z adapter may make it possible.

RELATED: The Best Tripods

Photography gear is also incredibly expensive. Good lenses start at a few hundred dollars and quickly go up to a couple of thousand dollars. Even a decent tripod will set you back $150.

Photographers are also very particular and often have very specific areas of interest. A landscape photographer and a portrait photographer are probably both “the photographer” to their friends and family, but the stuff they covet and what they buy will be totally different.

Combined, these three issues make buying photographers gear an absolute nightmare. Even if you can afford to buy them something, there’s a good chance it won’t work with their existing setup or won’t help them with their style of photography.

Now, there’s one caveat to this. If you know the person you’re buying for well and know a specific piece of gear they want (or they’ve asked for a particular thing) then go ahead, they’ll be delighted. I’m just talking about the kind of aimless buying that’s so common when you have to buy a gift.

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What ISO Should I Use With My Camera?

ISO is the one camera setting you can change without it affecting how your image looks too much, at least for lower values. At higher values, visible digital noise can become an issue. So, let’s look at how to choose the right value for different situations.

RELATED: Your Camera’s Most Important Settings: Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO Explained

The Default: Your Camera’s Base ISO

Every camera has a base ISO. This is the baseline sensitivity of the sensor, and it’s the value at which it operates best with the highest dynamic range. At every other value, the camera amplifies the signal generated by light hitting the sensor which in turn amplifies the amount of digital noise in the image.

For the vast majority of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, the base ISO is 100, although a few high-end Nikon cameras have a base ISO of 64.

The base ISO isn’t necessarily the lowest ISO setting. For example, my Canon 5D III has an ISO 50 setting, but this is achieved by reducing the gain on the sensor.

Since you get the highest quality images at the base ISO, it should be your default for any situation you can use it. If you can get the shutter speed you want and the aperture you want with ISO 100 (or ISO 64, check your camera’s manual to be sure), then that’s what you should use.

Note: The image above was shot on a Canon 650D at ISO 100. The sample images for each ISO value below are cropped versions of the same image shot at the stated ISO value.

ISO 200-800

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What Aperture Should I Use With My Camera?

Aperture, along with shutter speed and ISO, is one of the three most important settings you control when you take a photo. It affects both the amount of light that hits your camera sensor and the depth of field of your images. Let’s look at how to pick the right aperture for a given image.

RELATED: What Is Aperture?

Wide Apertures: f/1.2-f/2.8

Any aperture wider than f/2.8 is really wide. Most fast prime lenses have an aperture of f/1.8, although some have an aperture of f/1.4 or even f/1.2. A very small handful of rare lenses have even wider apertures like f/0.95!

These wide apertures have two main uses: to let in a lot of light for night sky photography and to create a shallow depth of field for portraits.

Which use you’re going for really depends on your lens. A wide angle wide aperture lens is much more suited to astrophotography while a fast telephoto lens will take great portraits.

Mid-Wide Apertures: f/2.8-f/5.6

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