Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Macro Photography Tips and Digital Photography Reviews

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Sony A77 II Tips for Beginners

The Best Sony A77 II Tips

Learn Meta’s Sony A77 II Tips for Beginner Macro Photography and Close-up Photography. Meta’s Sony A77 II Tips include:

Sony A77 II Mirror Replacement

Sony A77 II Back Button Focus

Sony A77 II Focus Hold Button

Sony A77 II Manual Focus Tips

Sony A77 II Shooting in RAW


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The Sony A77 II Mirrorless SLT Camera – 12 fps – 24 Megapixels

If you’re new to Sony Alpha Digital Photography or are new to the Sony Alpha A77 II, it can be a bit overwhelming by the huge number of Settings and Options on this new Sony A-Mount Camera. Many people ask Meta:

What are the Best Sony A77 II Settings to Use?
Why do you Shoot in RAW with your Sony A77 II?
What’s the Best RAW Editing Software for the Sony A77 II?
Sony's Alpha 77 II SLT Cameras

The Complete Guide to Sony’s Alpha 77 II (PDF)

– Gary L. Friedman

This very easy-to-understand yet thorough guide provides a complete Alpha 77 II instruction manual which explains each setting in plain English and provides hundreds of visual examples as well. There is no better way to learn about and get the most out of the Sony Alpha 77 II camera. Sony Camera Expert Gary Friedman includes his Printable Reference Cards. This Detailed Reference Book and Reference Cards are Highly Recommended for all Sony Camera Photographers!

Download Color PDF Version (599 Pages $26.45).

Black and White Paperback Book Edition

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Sony A77 II Do It Yourself Translucent Mirror Replacement for the Sony A77 II

Sony A77 II Translucent Mirror – Genuine Sony Replacement Part

Don’t pay over $400 to have the Sony Service Center take up to 2 weeks to replace your Sony A77 II Translucent Mirror. This Genuine Sony Part Number A1855640A Translucent Mirror Replacement Part is a very simple 3 minute snap in repair job. Remember to never ever touch this fragile film mirror when cleaning your Sensor, as it dents and damages very easily.

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How to Set Back Button Focus on the Sony A77 II

Sony Alpha 77 II – Back Button Focus – How to Set It

On most Modern Digital Cameras, when you press the Shutter Button half way down, the Auto Focus locks onto your subject. When you press the Shutter Button all the way down to take the shot, if you happen to move the camera slightly or decide to adjust your composition, there’s good chance that the camera will try to Auto Focus once more, but this time, not on your subject. This will cause a lot of out of focus shots. A simple fix is to turn off the Auto Focus Function with the Shutter Button.

Sony Alpha 77 II – Focus Standard

When in Auto Focus Mode, Focus Standard (aka Back Button Focus) is already assigned by Default to the Center of the Joystick on the Sony Alpha 77 II – Give it a try! Holding down the Center of the Joystick will continuously Auto Focus the Camera! This is the only real means of assigning a real Back Button Focus on the Sony Alpha 77 II. Remember to turn off the Auto Focus Function with the Shutter Button, so it isn’t trying to Auto Focus every time you take a shot.

MENU –> Gear 6 –> Custom Key Setting –> Center Button –> Standard
MENU –> Gear 4 –> AF w/shutter –> Off

Back Button Focus takes some time to get used to, because you’ll have to always remember to always Auto Focus using the Center of the Joystick, instead of just pressing the Shutter Button. If you don’t like the way this works, try using the Focus Hold Button Procedure below.

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How to Set the Focus Hold Button on the Sony A77 II

Sony Alpha 77 II – Focus Hold Button

If you’ve ever used a High End Telephoto Lens, such as the Sony 70–200 f/2.8, you’re familiar with the Focus Hold Button(s), located near the focus ring. When a Focus Hold Button is held down, it temporarily deactivates the Auto Focus. This Focus Hold button is very handy when shooting Macro Photography and is found on the Sony 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens or the Sony 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens.

Focus Hold Button (this “Button” doesn’t actually exist on the Sony Alpha 77 II) can be assigned to the Preview Button (Hidden Unmarked Bottom Front Right on Camera). The Preview Button can then be reassigned to the Back C Button. Now this works exactly the same as the Focus Hold Button on High End Telephoto Lens, using your left middle finger to temporarily deactivate the Auto Focus.

Sony Alpha 77 II – Focus Hold


MENU –> Gear 6 –> Custom Key Setting –> Preview Button –> Focus Hold
MENU –> Gear 6 –> Custom Key Setting –> C Button –> Aperture Preview
MENU –> Gear 6 –> Custom Key Setting –> Focus Hold Button (Lens) –> Focus Hold

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How to Use Manual Focus – Peaking Level and Peaking Color

Manual Focus for Macro Photography – Recommended

If you want total control of your Camera’s Focus, there’s nothing better than the Old Fashion Manual Focus, especially when shooting Macro Photography.

To make Manual Focus easier to use, you should Enable Peaking Level and Peaking Color.

Sony Alpha 77 II – Peaking Level and Peaking Color

MENU –> Gear 2 –> Peaking Level –> Middle or High
MENU –> Gear 2 –> Peaking Color –> Yellow

When in Manual Focus, these two great options will brightly highlight the outline of the subject that is in focus in Medium Yellow or Bright Yellow. This is extremely handy in Macro Photograph, where your Depth of Field is often very shallow and you are shooting in Manual Focus. You also have the option of using Yellow, Red or White for Highlight Colors, with Low, Medium or High Peaking Levels.

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Why You Should Shoot In RAW on the Sony A77 II

Meta’s Top 8 Reasons to Shoot in RAW on the Sony Alpha 77 II

RAW is a native file format that captures the image data directly from your Sony Alpha A77 II’s Sensor. There’s no in-camera processing (HDR, MFNR, Panoramic, Handheld Twilight) or any type of compression applied to RAW Files. Sony uses their own ARW file format, which is similar, but different from other camera manufacturers.

Meta uses just one Photography Processing Application, Alien Skin Exposure X3, (No More Photoshop or Lightroom Fees) for all of her RAW Post Production Workflow, RAW Photo Editing and Watermarking. Alien Skin Exposure X3 replaced a number of Meta’s RAW Processing Applications. Using just one Application has made Meta’s RAW Post Production Workflow much more efficient.

Meta shoots her Sony Alpha A77 II in RAW, ISO 50, Manual Mode, Manual Focus, Cloudy White Balance. She uses a very Sturdy Tripod and a Sony Remote Shutter Control.

Meta’s Top 8 Reasons to Shoot in RAW vs. JPEG.


1) Higher Quality Images – Higher Levels of Brightness and Colors

RAW Files are uncompressed with 16 bits (65536) of information.
JPEG Files are compressed with only 8 bits (256) of information.
If Image Quality is Important to you, which would you rather use, 65536 or 256? That’s the biggest argument for Shooting in RAW. The more information you start with, the higher quality of your final images, with less banding in the sky, more colors and brightness. The effect RAW Shooting has had on Meta’s images is truly amazing!

2) Better Exposure Correction

When shooting in RAW, many underexposed and overexposed images can be quickly recovered using Alien Skin Exposure X3, because you have so much more information in the blacks and the whites to work with.

3) White Balance Color Correction

When shooting in JPEG, White Balance is applied to the JPEG image based on the Camera’s White Balance setting at the time.
When shooting in RAW, White Balance is recorded, but because you have so much more data to use, the Color Temperature and Tint (White Balance Presets) are easy to adjust in Alien Skin Exposure X3. Meta sets her cameras to Cloudy White Balance when shooting in RAW.

4) Better Sharpening and Noise Reduction – No JPEG Artifacts – No Double JPEG Compression

When shooting in JPEG, images are automatically compressed once in JPEG Format inside the Camera. If you do any Post Production in Photoshop, you’ll probably save your final image as a JPEG. This results in Double JPEG Compression, which adds JPEG Artifacts on top of JPEG Artifacts – Not Good! A General Rule in Digital Photography is “Never Compress an already Compressed File”. When you are shooting in JPEG, this rule is almost impossible to obey, especially if you Save As JPEG out of Photoshop.

Alien Skin Exposure X3 offers RAW Sharpening, RAW Masking and RAW Noise Reduction. If you Export your RAW images as Uncompressed TIFF Files, there’s no Compression between the Camera and the Printer, resulting in much higher quality prints.

5) Non Destructive RAW Editing

Think of your RAW Files as Film Negatives. Any RAW Post Production is saved in a Side File (where the tweaks and changes are recorded). The Original RAW File, like your Original Film Negative, never gets touched, so you can always go back to it and tweak it over and over again, or try different Presets and Effects.

6) Color Space

Color Space is a specific Range of Colors that can be represented in an image. The RAW Export in Alien Skin Exposure X3 offers 3 Different Color Space Exports – sRBG (Web), Abobe RGB 1998 (Photoshop) or ProPhoto RGB (The Widest Color Space Available). If your Printer can Handle ProPhoto RGB TIFF Files – Go for it!

7) More Efficient RAW Post Production Workflow

Alien Skin Exposure X3 offers Batch Processing of your images to easily process large groups of RAW Files, using the same exact adjustment settings. Alien Skin Exposure X3 can also sort through your thousands of images, remove images, rank images and compare images side by side. It’s extremely fast and efficient!

8) Most Professional Photographers Shoot in RAW

Joke: What’s the difference between a Large Frozen Pizza and a Professional Photographer? The Pizza will can feed a family of four!

If you are thinking of making the leap into Professional Photography – Seriously, you need to Start Shooting in RAW Today! Don’t put it off any longer! Your paying clients don’t want to see dull, lifeless colors, banding in the sky, oversaturated whites and undersaturated blacks, that are so very common when shooting in Super Fine JPEG.

Please Check Out the Alien Skin Exposure X3 Post Production Application, which lets you take Total Control of your RAW Production Workflow and RAW Photo Editing. You can even add a Watermark or Signature to the Exported File. Start to Finish RAW Post Production can be performed with just One Single Application, without paying Adobe for Photoshop or Lightroom Every Month!

You Can Thank Meta by Sending Meta a Donation!

Meta used to shoot in JPEG Super Fine, but once she discovered how easy and efficient the Alien Skin Exposure X3 Post Production Application is with her RAW Files, now she only shoots in RAW!

Still Not Convinced RAW is Better than JPEG? Paying Adobe for Lightroom and Photoshop Every Month?

Download a Free 30 Day Trial of Alien Skin Exposure X3!


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“Shooting in RAW, It Ain’t for Wimps”


OK, if Shooting in RAW were so easy, everyone would be doing it! Most people shoot in Auto Mode and in JPEG because it’s fast and easy, and it’s the default shooting mode on their Point and Shoot Cameras or iPhones. JPEG is Quick and Easy and it requires No Post Production. Shooting in RAW separates the Amateurs from the Professionals!

• All RAW Files Must be Post Processed – Post Processing takes time. You can’t quickly Print, E-Mail or Upload a RAW File online.
• If you’re one of those people that has to post everything they shoot Immediately on Social Media, consider shooting in RAW + JPEG.
• RAW + JPEG eats up a tad more SD Card Space, plus the JPEG File is Fine, Not Super Fine. This might be the best of both Worlds.
• RAW Files are Huge! The Sony A77 II produces 30 Meg RAW Files. Meta uses Fast 128G Sandisk SD Cards. (4,300+ RAW Images).
• Slower Camera Buffering! If you’re shooting your Sony A77 II at 12fps, expect to experience some Increased Buffering Time in RAW.
• Sony RAW Files are recorded in Sony’s AWR Format. Your RAW Processing Software must know your Camera’s Make and Model.
• Some Brand New Camera Models may not be in your RAW Processing Software yet, causing months of delays and frustration.
• Keep your Adobe Camera RAW Plug-In (ACR) updated often. As new Camera Models hit the market, your ACR needs to keep pace.
• Some In-Camera Features of the Sony Alpha A77 II, like HDR, MFNR, Handheld Twilight and Sweep Panorama don’t work in RAW.

TipIf you’re a big fan of the Sony Alpha A77 II’s Super Fast HDR Processing, you’re going to be very disappointed when shooting in RAW, because HDR is an Internal Camera Processing Function, so it’s Disabled in RAW. To make a quick switch back and forth between RAW and Super Fine JPEG, set one of your Fn Button Presets to Quality close to your HDR/DRO.

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Meta’s Macro Photography Tips for Beginners

Sony A77 II Tips

Meta hopes that you found her Sony A77 II Tips for Beginner Macro Photography and Close-up Photography interesting and an insight into Meta’s Magical and Miniature World of Macro Photography and Close-up Photography.

If you have any Macro Photography Tips for Beginners or New Digital Photography Products that you would like to see Reviewed on Meta’s website, please Contact Meta.

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“Oh Lord, won’t you Fund Me, a Sony Zeiss Lens?
My friends all use Nikons, I must make amends!”

~ Meta

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