You finally got that Canon 5D Mark III camera you have been desiring and now you are trying to figure out how best to take advantage of all it's great new features. Here are five ways I have customized my camera to best fit my needs while shooting weddings, events and portraits.
There are many different ways you can customize your camera's settings and I'd definitely encourage you to explore the camera and play with the settings to find out what works best for you. Here are the 5 settings I have changed to make an already great camera even better. While the focus of this article and accompanying screen shots are from the 5D Mark III it is also relevant to other cameras as many of these settings can be located on numerous camera models.
1. Change the DOF button to immediately change One Shot to Ai Servo
The DOF (Depth of Field) button is one of those forgotten buttons that most camera users hardly ever use or even know it exists. It is located on the front of the camera by the lens mount below the shutter release button. Since I never use it to check the depth of field, I decided to assign it using the Custom Menu Settings so that when I press and hold the button down it changes my camera from One Shot to Ai Servo.
By making this customization I can shoot most often in my favorite focus setting (One Shot) but when I encounter movement in my photo (people walking towards me for example) I can use my ring finger on my right hand to hold this button down thereby changing my settings from One Shot to Ai Servo allowing my camera to track the subject and continually focus on them.
2. Use only cross-type Autofocus points
While I appreciate that the 5D Mark III has 61 Auto Focus points, I really only want to use the 41 points that are cross-type focus coverage thereby giving me a higher level of focus. In order to insure that I am always using one of the cross-type focus points I turned off all others. It's very simple to do.
Just go to the fourth page on the AF settings of the Menu. There choose the second option down "Selectable AF Point" and then "Only cross-type AF points."
3. Turn off Star Rating 2-5
While out on a shoot I love using the new "Rate" button so I can do some initial culling in camera. I do this for two reasons. 1. So I can show some of the best photos at the end of a shoot to the clients immediately using the in camera slideshow and set it to only show the photos I rated good. 2. I can download the photos I star rated during the dinner time at a wedding to quickly create a slideshow of some photos from the wedding.
The camera allows you to rate photos 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 stars. I don't need all those options. I either rate a photo with one star or no star. So I went in the camera and turned off 2-5. Here's how to do it.
First, go to the third page of the yellow wrench.
Now press the "Q" button on your camera to bring up the settings for the Rating button.
Then just toggle off settings 2-5. Now when you press the Rate button you either get one star or press it again it will turn it back to O. No need to cycle through ratings 2-5.
4. Change ISO speeds to 1-stop increments
I like to keep things simple on the camera whenever I can. For me I have really found no reason to have precision control over my ISO speeds. So rather than change them in 1/3 stop increments I changed it so my ISO only changes in full stops. I still get plenty of control, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200...
5. Change ISO using Set button and Shutter Speed Dial
One other customization that I love is while I am looking through my viewfinder if I feel need to change my ISO all I need to do is use my thumb to hold down the SET button (large button in the middle of the large dial on the back of the camera) and then rotate the Shutter dial on top of the camera. I have found this to be much easier than trying to choose the correct ISO button on top of the camera.
Lastly, here is a bonus tip. It surprises me to find out how many Canon photographers are not using this menu function on their camera. In fact, it is probably the one I use most often. In the camera menu settings if you move all the way over to the right you will find a green star with the title "My Menu."
What this allows you to do is set up that page so that you can put your favorite, most accessed menu settings on one page so that when you press the menu button it will take you right to a page of those menu options. That way you can access them quickly without having to try and page through your menu system. For instance on "My Menu" I have...
A. White Balance - allows me to quickly dial in my custom Kelvin temperature.
B. Format Card - easily format my cards before a shoot.
C. Custom Shooting Modes - so I can register my settings to C1, C2 or C3
D. Record Func+Card - so I can choose which card to play back photos from
E. Custom Controls - in case I want to change any custom settings
F. Slide Show - so I can quickly set up a slide show on my camera to show clients photos that I have already rated from the shoot. After choosing to play a Slide Show just go into the settings and select to have it only display the photos you "rated" that way it doesn't show everything you shot.
There are many others that I have on the camera, such as back button focus, but I felt like these might be ones that are not quite so obvious and could help people setting up their cameras. What are some customizations you have on your camera? Let me know in the comments below. If this has been helpful please be sure to share it with others.