• Carl Mckie

Using the Memory setting and FN button on Sony Alpha cameras

Updated: Jun 2, 2019

This is an often overlooked and under used feature on many camera models, not just Sony Alpha. Partly I think that a lot of people in general do not use their camera anywhere near to its full potential, and stick in fully automatic modes and just move the exposure compensation dial now and again or the other side of the coin where people think they have to dial in the settings every time they change what they are doing—what a waste of time and how many missed shots?? Having a group of settings assigned to a position on the mode dial allows you to quickly change from (for example) action to portrait or static type photography, or still photography to film rather than go through the menu pages changing a setting at a time you have a group of settings dialled in and saved, yes you may have to still alter exposure compensation or aperture –but that is just one setting!! You can go from aperture priority to memory 1 on the mode dial in three clicks and the camera is in the most part set up for something completely different. Now with the Sony (and most other brands of camera) menu getting ever longer the ability to have certain settings accessible quickly at the turn of one dial should not be overlooked, most of the higher end cameras now have two or three memory spaces available as well as the customizable Fn button, where features that you change regularly can again be accessed without the need to go through page after page of the menu

The Fn button can be assigned up to twelve of your most commonly altered settings, focus mode- MF/AF – flash/ fill flash, metering mode etc, in fact nearly all settings can be placed into the Fn”menu”- as that is what it is –a small useful menu of settings that you access the most. It can be used in conjunction with the memory setting function to quickly fine tune the settings you may have pre dialled in there, or in its own right to change one or more settings

Both of these features are simple to use on all the Sony range and a little time spent setting up will pay dividends in the field:

The Fn button menu is totally customizable and you can change all or some of the default items simply by going in to the main menu and finding the Function menu settings tab, (this is on different pages in the menu system depending as to the model and age of the camera you are using) but it is there, so locate and scroll to highlight it, then press the centre button on the back of the camera and a list of the positions appears –function upper 1 through 6 and function lower 1 through 6.Highlight the position and again centre button back of camera will bring up the options available , highlight your item pressing the centre button will then assign it. You can assign any or all of the positions in the Fn menu to your own choice, and when done will give you access to your most used features.

Setting up the memory is also very similar and simple, but allows you to change as many settings as you want with the turn of one dial. First enter the main menu and go through changing the settings that you need dialled in, when you have all the settings how you require them, locate the MR 1 / 2 memory tab and press the centre button back of camera- the display on the back of the camera now changes to the memory display which shows the settings you have selected and allows you to highlight and select the number 1 or 2 which will then become the position on the mode dial(top of camera) where you will be able to access your preset

On some models of Sony cameras there is a further memory feature and you will see memory recall as an option in the main menu, this feature is slightly different in that it saves settings to the memory card and not the camera and typically appears greyed out until you have “saved settings” stored in the memory feature, also greyed out or not visible at all will be an option to save to a particular card slot unless you have two cards inserted in the camera. It works by saving memory settings that you have saved to the camera and saving them to your memory card and uses the M1, M2 etc positions to locate them. I don’t find much use for this method of saving settings personally, but if you where to re format the camera it could be an easy way to re enter your groups of settings, camera settings should be saved to your computer as re formatting the card itself would delete them, when the memory card is plugged into a computer the settings are to be found in a folder named private, strange name, but makes you aware of it, and more likely to check it before accidentally deleting it.Other possible uses for this feature, if you use two camera models that are the same or Setting up a camera for someone else could also be done quickly with this feature.

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Carl Mckie ,Oxford ,United Kingdom