Custom Function 12

January 13, 2009 ·

Michael Reichmann

Ready, SET, Go

Most contemporary 35mm cameras feature what are calledCustom Functions. For those just entering the fray, or if you’ve been under a photographic rock for the past 15 years, Custom Functions are a response to modality in camera design.

Say what? 

Back in the good old days (before about 1985) cameras had mechanical dials and knobs. You turned them and they changed some function of the camera‚ always a single function like shutter speed or aperture, because they were mechanically coupled.

Today cameras have a plethora of buttons, wheels and knobs, and almost every one of them is an electronic control. In other words, what it does at any time depends on what the designer (or photographer) wants it to do. That’s modality, and that’s whatCustom Functionsallow you to do‚ change the function or "mode" of a particular switch. (Aren’t you glad you asked?)

Function 12

TheD30allows, thoughCustom Function 12, for you to turn the rearSETbutton into a control to quickly change either theISO speedor theImage Qualitylevel.  Both of these are normally settable via the rear CRT panel. But by setting the one that you prefer withFunction 12you can change them on the fly without accessing the CRT.

While some might want to use this to change theQuality Level, for me the magic of this control is being able to set theISO speedalmost instantly. TheD30is remarkable in its ability to shot very high quality images at speeds up to ISO 400. My tests, as well as those of others, have shown that there is only a slight image degradation when shooting at 400 Vs. 100. For anyone coming from many years of shooting colour film, having an ISO 400 capability that’s this good is close to astonishing. Having the ability to instantly switch to it between shots, without having to change camera bodies or reload film, is close to magical.

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Michael Reichmann is the founder of the Luminous Landscape. Michael passed away in May 2016. Since its inception in 1999 LuLa has become the world's largest site devoted to the art, craft, and technology of photography. Each month more than one million people from every country on the globe visit LuLa.

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