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Is "Auto" setting on pro bodies still necessary?


LensBrew

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I'm surprised to still see the "Auto" setting on pro bodies, such as the A1 and A7R5. I believe who every is going to pay that price tag should have already passed that skill level. Even more so in this era of internet knowledge and advices from experienced photographers. Program should suffice if someone wants the camera to control everything.

Personally, I would like to have a 4th custom settings selection instead for quick changes. Three are not enough for my setups anymore, and if Sony decides to go for 5 I would be even happier.

What do you think? Is the "Auto" setting a waste on those cameras?

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I don't have an issue with it being there. When I teach intro classes, I tell people if everything is going haywire and they don't know what to do, use green auto and figure the rest out later. I don't think I have ever used it, but I do think it can be useful if something is going wrong and you don't have time to figure out why.

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The magical "auto" setting is intended to be a problem solver.  Unfortunately, it can create more problems then it solves.  I have all my cameras set for back button AF.  The auto mode does not revert back to shutter=AF-On.  Handing a camera set to back button AF to an inexperienced user who expects to simply "press the shutter button" to take a photo is not going to work.  I've been in that situation before and ended up just having the other person use a phone to take a picture.  It was simpler than changing my BBAF settings or trying to teach them how to push two buttons at once.  Since the memory recall modes don't store the shutter+AF setting, you cannot use one of those as a "custom" auto mode either.

The "auto" mode is really only designed to work on a camera that has all other settings in default.  That makes it really useless for more advanced users wanting a quick "just press here" mode when handing off a camera.  "Auto" really should either be removed or enhanced to set custom button and dial options back to defaults too.

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I don't have an issue with it being there. When I teach intro classes, I tell people if everything is going haywire and they don't know what to do, use green auto and figure the rest out later. I don't think I have ever used it, but I do think it can be useful if something is going wrong and you don't have time to figure out why.

It makes sense to have it as a teaching setting, but does it make sense to have on a flagship body? I understand on intro bodies, as I don't think someone would start their photography journey with the A1 for example (only in rare occasions).

If something goes wrong, wouldn't Program suffice? It is almost the same as Auto.

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The green "Auto" setting was handy recently. I was at an event with a friend (a visual artist). I handed them my A1 with 24-105, showed them how to use the zoom ring, and they were all set.

 

 

I use the Program setting when I hand my camera. But I never had a non professional asking to handle the camera, non-photographers tend to steer away in fear of breaking it.

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I agree with Tony. I have had students with cameras that are far beyond their ability and without the green button, they would not know where to start. 

But would someone buy the A1 without knowing what to do with it?! Those would be a rare specie.

I'm only talking about the flagship cameras though. I do believe Auto is necessary for intro and some mid-level bodies though.

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The magical "auto" setting is intended to be a problem solver.  Unfortunately, it can create more problems then it solves.  I have all my cameras set for back button AF.  The auto mode does not revert back to shutter=AF-On.  Handing a camera set to back button AF to an inexperienced user who expects to simply "press the shutter button" to take a photo is not going to work.  I've been in that situation before and ended up just having the other person use a phone to take a picture.  It was simpler than changing my BBAF settings or trying to teach them how to push two buttons at once.  Since the memory recall modes don't store the shutter+AF setting, you cannot use one of those as a "custom" auto mode either.

The "auto" mode is really only designed to work on a camera that has all other settings in default.  That makes it really useless for more advanced users wanting a quick "just press here" mode when handing off a camera.  "Auto" really should either be removed or enhanced to set custom button and dial options back to defaults too.

I had the exact scenario happened a while ago. I also back button focus and have everything customized to my workflow. My friend even though he broke my camera when it didn't make a sound with he depressed the shutter. I had it on silent electronic mode.

My reasoning was that you rarely hand over an A1 to someone that doesn't know how to handle a camera and have them take some pictures. And as you mentioned, the custom recall is just frustrating, and I don't want to remember everything and set it every time I format my memory. That is why I would like to see a custom setting in place of Auto in the new iterations of flagship bodies.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/4/2023 at 10:29 AM, pm-r said:

I agree for only the a1.  That body should not have the green Auto setting.  The rest should as so many photo enthusiasts buy all the rest of the bodies but the a1 is different IMHO.

I can't wait to see what upgrades they make to the A1, it should be very interesting in terms of hardware. Hopefully some of their engineerings are reading around these forums.

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9 hours ago, TrekRover said:

Hmmm.... I think the main use case for the auto would be the spur of the moment situation when you don't have time to fumble for changing settings.

But that's where the custom settings come in. I have one set up for overcast street photos, another for panning shots and the this for portraits. This leaves me with my manual setting for general work. If we can get more custom settings, that should give us more "presetting" for other kind of shots.

With the "green" auto, you might end up with a slow shutter and you want the opposite, or smaller aperture when you need it to be wider.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have actually thought about this quite a bit lately. At first, I was in agreement with you. Why would someone who buys an upper-end camera (even just my used A7R2) ever want to use AUTO or one of the SCN settings? But, I realized that even professional photographers (let alone amateurs who just want good gear) sometimes just don't want to bother with any settings at all. But they still want the quality they get from the camera they are used to (or even just the camera they have in their hands right now). People say: "If you don't want to be bothered by the manual settings, then just use your phone." But that is completely ignoring the differences between a phone and a "real" camera. The most important difference is that phones don't have viewfinders. I don't know about you, but I have a really hard time seeing what I am shooting on a phone's screen. What if someone who happens to own a high-end camera, is done working/thinking for the day and just wants to grab a quick photo of something without having to think at all? What if they are in a situation where they may need to grab a shot very quickly, but the lighting is also changing very quickly? And they know they will likely not have time to manually change settings, or even adjust exposure compensation. Auto may actually be the best solution.

Sure, a lot of people who buy high-end cameras develop a certain level of ego that says that they must always do everything the hardest way or they just aren't a "real" photographer. But that is a false egotism. And, just because you never use AUTO, doesn't mean that no high-end camera owner will ever feel the desire to do so. Everyone is not you.

Auto is just a tool, like any other setting on your camera. Just like your camera is just a tool for capturing images. In some ways, I think a "professional" photographer is missing out if they let their ego convince them to not even learn how to get the best use out of the Auto or SCN modes on their camera. You should go out and experiment with it, just like any other feature of your cameral. Get to know how it "thinks," just like you had to get to know how your autofocus "thinks," how the metering modes "think," etcetera. If you let go of that "I am a pro photographer" ego, you might just find that it can be useful at times. 

As to handing an expensive camera to a novice: In this day and age, there is never a reason to take that kind of risk. I would never trust any other human not to simply drop my camera. People just don't pay attention to what they are doing. Just look at the number of people who walk around with broken screens on their phones. If they want a picture, let them take it with their phone. Or let them use their own expensive camera, if they have one. If you want a picture of yourself, but you aren't going to be satisfied with a phone quality image, then why are you going to be satisfied with a novice's framing of the image? Just either use a tripod, or accept what you are going to get with a novice using their phone. They are more used to that phone than holding your camera anyway. So, it might even turn out better than if you had risked your camera in their hands.

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I recently taught a sports photography workshop here in California. I had multiple, beginner level students, show up with A1's. If money isn't an issue and you are confident in your decision to pursue photography, even as a hobbyist, the A1 is a great investment. I teach all my sports photography workshops with Sony A1's and Sony GM lenses. 

As for the auto setting on a flagship camera, why not? In my opinion, a flagship camera should have every available option. I rarely switch my A1's off of manual, but if I wanted to go auto, at $6500 I would expect that option to be there. Not everything has to be done the hard way or manual way. I prefer it, but that is my preference, and by no means do I expect my preference to apply to other photographers. 

We all love options! 

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  • 3 months later...

No one will force you to use it.  Leave it there for those who will.  Same for the auto HDR - SO angry that the 6700 dropped this fun little feature.  It is a software setting, however and they COULD give it back to us.  I don't have time in my life to merge photos for the "pro-HDR" look.  Auto was quite sufficient.

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@Grant Robertson I understand not wanting to use a phone to take a shot, and I also do not like it and have a hard time with the screen.

Understanding scenes is a given as you advance your level and experience. That is why I would like the full green Auto to be replaced with a custom scene setting as I mentioned. I already have all 3 custom settings set to what I always shoot, I even have 2 custom recall buttons for 2 additional scenes/environments ready when needed. Especially, when I'm burned out and something caught my eye and want to grab the shot. Because the biggest risk I see with full auto is very low shutter speed, hence my lazy custom setting on shutter priority.

I agree, being professional doesn't mean to always be on manual. All my custom settings are not manual, and that came from trial-and-error. Even my ISO is on auto, unless I'm in a fixed lighting environment.

@Legndz Photography I would rather a flagship to give more customized settings than full auto. 3 custom setting is good, but 5, 6 or 7 like another brand is even better. As a beginner it will feel too much, but as your skills advance, custom settings is like a delegated work that has been agreed on all its aspects before leaving to work or vacation, or a walk.

Many of you have taught new photographers, I just had my first student last month, and I will not argue the need for the auto setting, as I lack experience there. But as a photographer with experience and understanding of my workflow needs of a flagship camera, I believe more custom settings should be added to a flagship camera.

@CarolineJensen this is why I want extra custom settings. If I hand over my camera to someone to take a picture of me with a family member, friend, or a pro athlete (cross my fingers), I want the shot to be a keeper. So I would set the camera to be on steroids to make it easier on a novice. Also I use back button focus, explaining that ruins the spur of the moment.

Don't get me wrong everyone, I'm not saying a "pro" should do this or that. It is only from my experience that I would like more custom settings. And if the cost is removing the full AUTO setting, I would welcome it. 

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