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Re: return to full auto setting
To set the camera to shoot fully automatically (camera selects f-stop, shutter speed, exposure, etc), turn to Mode Dial to the green rectangle icon, right next to the "P" on the dial.
To reset all settings to their original default settings, the procedures are on page 100 in the manual.
1. Press the Menu button and use the Jump button to go to the Setup 2 menu (far right).
2. Use the arrow keys to scroll to "Clear Settings" and press the Set button.
3. Scroll to "Clear all camera settings" and press the Set button.
4. Scroll to "OK" and press the Set button.
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I've been having the same problem. It annoyed me during a day out once.
Set the camera in one of the Creative Modes. -> Then go to Menu (the button on the left of the screen) -> Setup 2 (thats the furthest menu on the right) -> Custom Functions (3rd option down) -> Go to function 4 and change it to "0: AF/AE LOCK"
Automatic settings are not useful in all conditions. The built in flash is not good over 20 ft. Under low light conditions, an external flash is better option, but it costs additional too. Remember that shooting under low light conditions is always a difficult task. By the way, I don't know about such common problem in Canon XTi
The XTi allow to set different image size for manual modes an for AUTO modes. So you can set a Large size superfine for auto and RAW type for manual modes. So check the size settings under manual and automatic modes.
However, the "smal" resolution (1936x1288 px) on XTi will allow you to print good 5x7 photos.
This will happen if you have the camera set to manual and the aperture/shutter speed combination does not let in enough light. There's a wheel on the top of the camera with M, A, S, P, Auto settings - turn the wheel to select P or Auto and try again. Also, if you're indoors, you may have to use the flash.
You are exposure compensation in manual mode. If you want the shots lighter, either open up the aperture or slow the shutter. The exposure compensation feature is to override the automatic settings determined by the camera in the auto-exposure modes.