Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Programming Custom User Settings for Canon DSLRs

One of the great features on the current Canon consumer and pro-sumer DSLRs is the inclusion of Custom User Settings on the Mode dial. You may have looked down at your Mode dial (the dial on the left side on top of the camera where we normally select M for Manual) and seen C1, C2, or C3 (if you have a 50D you will only see C1 and C2.)

The "C" options are programmable with just about every function on your camera. At LIGHT, we have found setting these custom modes is a huge benefit when shooting. When properly configured switching between shooting modes does not get any more effective or efficient.

LIGHT recommends setting the dials as follows (this is, of course, our recommendation and your own settings may vary)

C1 = Portrait. We consider "portrait" to be a broad category when we the shooter and the target, make that subject (old fighter pilot habits sometimes die hard) are both stationary. This applies to actual portraits, landscape, sea scape, macro, etc.

C2 = Action. We define action as either shooter, subject, or both in motion.

C3 = HDR Auto Exposure Bracket. We use the bread and butter setting of 3 shots 2 E.V. apart.

(Since 50D shooters do not have C3, LIGHT recommends setting C1 to Action and C2 to HDR. The normal M setting is used for "portrait.")

It is fairly straightforward to set the custom user settings. LIGHT offers the following initial parameters. We will assume shooting RAW.

To set the C1 custom user setting. Switch the camera to Manual mode by turning the dial to M. Once in Manual, set the following:
-Evaluative Metering
-Auto White Balance (remember the custom mode is a baseline, you may switch if desired later.)
-One shot auto focus (AF)
-Single shot drive mode
-ISO 100
-Aperture = f/8 This is a baseline. You will, most likely, need to change aperture based upon your desired depth of field and shutter speed requirements.
-Shutter Speed = 1/250 This is a starting point. You will, most likely, need to change shutter speed to reach the desired exposure.
-Select center AF point
-Quality = RAW
-Color Space = Adobe RGB
-Picture Style = Neutral

Once the camera is configured per above (or with your own desired settings) do the following:
-Push Menu
-Navigate to the last "yellow" menu and highlight "Camera User Setting"
-Push the Set button inside the secondary control dial
-Highlight Register and push Set
-Highlight Mode dial : C1 and push Set
-Highlight OK and push Set

To set the C2 custom user setting we must first discuss how you shoot Action. If you are a Manual shooter set the modedial to M. If you are an Aperture priority shooter consider switching to Manual in the future and set the mode dial to Av.

Once in either M or Av set the parameters as above with the following changes.
-AI Servo AF
-Continuous or Continuous High drive mode
-Aperture = set maximum aperture (when configuring this C2 setting LIGHT recommends attaching your fastest lens so any other lens will always be at maximum aperture. For example, LIGHT's fastest lens is f/1.4 so our C2 default is 1.4. If you subsequently put a slower lens on it will default to it's maximum aperture.
-Shuter speed = 1/500 This is again a starting point.
-ISO = 1oo but consideration may be given to increasing to 200 to generate faster shutter speeds in lower light conditions.

Once the camera is configured per above, follow the same procedures as above when setting C1 with the exception of highlight C2 this time.

To set the C3 custom user setting set the mode dial to Manual. Configure exactly as C1 with the following exceptions.
-Continuous or continuous high drive mode.
-Enable Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) by pushing menu and navigating to the second "red" menu. Highlight Expo.comp./AEB and hit the set button. Move either the primary or secondary control dial (camera dependent) until the ticks are at -2 and +2. Hit the Set button.

Once the camera is configured per above, follow the same procedures as above when setting C1 and C2 with the exception of highlight C3 this time.

With all three custom user settings configured you are now just a quick mode dial turn or two away from rapidly swiching from portrait to action to HDR.

How about that for effective and efficient?

Fiat Lux!



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  2. Just yesterday i had situation on fashion show then back side of stage was in bright projector light about 5500K . That condition you can shoot without flash, and if you use it bounced it will not reach result but burn 1/1 charge and flash will be empty then model start walk onwards. Thanks orgs front side was in dark ambient light, maybe around 3800K.
    I was trying to take all, model posing at the beginning of the stage, model walking into dark area. Model posing in front... I have so much missfocused failed shots....
    In the future i will use:
    C1: Setting for shot with flash disabled. WB as per light around 5500K. Autofocus one shot, top point.
    C2: slightly closed app to 3.5 maybe to make DoF deeper, as servo will miss a lot in the dark. Increased ISO to make flash recharge quicker and get more ambient light. Autofocus at servo, middle (strongest AF). flash enabled, bounced, WB to 3800K, flash with compensation filter 5500->3800K. Try to avoid direct line shot to get overexp background on back of stage.
    C3: quite high ISO to get ambient, flash enabled, bounced, 3800K, WB to 3800K. Top focus point, AF single shot (so that flash assistant beam will help).

    M: mode can be used as additional preset, so we have 4 custom settings

    All this madness should be entered in few minutes. Looks like Boeing preparing to touch down. Maybe i need to write procedure checklist on the card :)