Camera Preset Buttons: Quickly returning to your previous settings

Have you ever had to move between 3-5 different environments and maintain consistent exposure and color among each scene? Many photographers move between several locations every half hour (studio setup, indoor bounce flash, outside natural light, low light video) and have to quickly reset their camera's settings over and over again. Imagine only having to hit one button to revisit your camera's settings for an environment you were just in 20 mins ago! There could be a faster way to make those transitions...

Camera Preset Buttons: A Faster Way to Reset Your Settings from FStoppers on Vimeo.

UPDATE: Apparently Canon has already implemented custom dial modes in their current cameras tracing back to the 40D. It does not appear that they work quite as fast as the proposed 'radio preset' buttons described in our video but they do offer the same basic functionality nevertheless. Pete with sent us a video that shows how the Canon system works. I still think the radio presets would be much quicker but it is nice to know Canon has already put this feature into their cameras. Come on Nikon....this would be easy to add through the firmware since we do not have dedicated MPAS buttons but rather digital menus.

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GREAT Idea. Hope Nikon is listening. I would like it on the Grip rather than on the body. But hey I'll settle for anything.

Nice Job on the Website guys.

Canon already does this on many of their cameras, like my 5DII has C1, C2, and C3 on the mode dial if you turn it past Manual and Bulb.

Brett, I was told that too by my Canon shooters. However, after talking to them, none of them used this feature because it required a 'few simple steps' and they had forgotten those steps. I think this process should be EASY and FAST! I don't have time at weddings or events to go into menus.

If you have a canon with this feature, I would love to see a video on how it works so we can balance my idea with the current working option. My Canon friends still love the idea though and I think it would be very convenient.

Canon's setup is easy, there's two steps to assign settings to custom function, and to select it you just turn the control wheel (as if you were going from Av to Tv to M). Menu, Register Camera User Settings, and select C1, C2, or C3. They introduced it on the 40D in August 2007. Any photographer who doesn't know the basics of their camera's menu, or can't figure that out probably isn't worth their salt anyway. It's easier than custom white balance on a Canon, that's for sure, and compared to Photoshop? Patrick, I'll try to throw together a vid of it being set up this week.

Speaking of which, Nikon's 1-button Custom White Balance is great, Canon needs to pick up on that. Hell what I really wish is they used the same mount.. this proprietary crap is getting old. And why don't I have software on my computer where I can set up my camera's settings and then push them to the camera? I know I can control it while tethered, but this is 2010. There needs to be more flexibility in the firmware. Say for example if I never use 2nd Curtain Sync, I should be able to "hide" it and simplify the menu structure down to just what I need to access.

Response to Enrique, putting it on the grip would mean that if you ever go somewhere and shoot without the grip, you've lost that functionality. Sounds awful. Let's keep it on the body. I like the idea of having it setup like your radio in the car, although adding another 4-5 buttons to the body probably isn't that great of an idea. You could hit them accidentally and not realize it, but for me it's just one more place for moisture to get in. I like it on the control wheel with the other shooting/exposure modes, because that's just what it is.

I'm primarily a sports photographer but I do shoot some weddings, what I do a lot to save settings from venue to venue is back them up onto older CF cards, the 8-512MB variety. It takes 15 seconds to load on up the night before or morning of an event, and I'm right back to where I was when I shot there last time.

Okay one more thing, you see a lot of guys (especially on the sports photography scene) who tape up buttons and controls on their cameras so they don't change things by accident. Well my mp3 player has a sliding control to lock it. My iPhone has a button to lock it down. How about a "lock settings" slider on my camera? Some of them have an 'on off' selector for the battery grip controls, and some even have it for the larger control wheel, but I want one for every button on the damn thing aside from the shutter.

Nice website and videos guys, looking forward to updates.

Response to Pete: The reason I would rather have it on the grip is your point exactly...Too many buttons on the body. But your "LOCK" idea I like.

I, too, feel Canon's C1/C2/C3 options are far superior to Nikon's current customization options. With that said, Nikon could easily implement a similar solution without the addition of any new buttons or dials! Nikon does not use a dial like Canon does for shooting mode, but rather does it all digitally. There is a "mode" button and then you spin the thumb wheel to move to M, A, S, or P. Nikon should add C1, C2, ... Cn to this list. Scroll to the mode you want and release the "mode" button to use, or hold for 3 seconds to memorize ALL of the camera's current settings. This could be done in firmware! Our current cameras could be updated with this functionality! Please, please, please!

Hey Kevin, This is Patrick. I love your idea maybe even better than mine. I'm not sure how this would work in terms of changing the dial to C1 after setting your exposure and then having it save vs resort back to the last C1 setting but I like it a lot. I think we both agree that a feature like this needs to be added to the camera. Nothing drives me crazy more than setting up studio shots, then shooting natural light, then strobed and having to quickly bounce back and forth between those 3 settings (not to mention video settings where you can't shoot RAW). Let's hope Nikon hears our voice and adds such a simple feature to their next DSLRs either in button form or Firmware. Thanks for the comments

Hey fellas, just uploaded a vid (finally!) demonstrating Canon's custom shooting modes, how to set them up and use them on a shoot. I don't have anywhere near the video skills you guys do, but I think it covers the basics for those who aren't familiar with Canon's setup.

Here's the YouTube link:

Any way you can embed that into the FStoppers website?

I agree with Kevin, Nikon could rather easily add a few options in the firmware, the problem might be availability of allocatable internal memory to store the shooting parameters. Assuming they have the space, or the camera could borrow space on the removable media, you're in business.

I'm surprised nobody mentioned it, but this feature might be awesome:

1) In playback mode, choose a picture that you've taken before and that suits the environment/settings you'd like to shoot in.

2) Press the "depth of field preview" button, and the camera sets itself to the corresponding shutter speed, aperture, white balance, ISO, autofocus mode, flash power output, color profile, fps, ....

There's more than enough information in the EXIF metadata!
No need for an extra storage medium or an extra button.

Now, get back to work, Canon & Nikon engineers! :D

I do like this idea however it does have a flaw... If I take 100 images, then go inside and take another 100 images, when I go back outside, now I have to backup 100 images to find the last shot I took outside. I need speed or I wont use it.

Patrick Hall's picture

Yeah I agree. It's not that I can't figure out the exposure again, it is that I need it fast. I can quickly set my camera back to "ISO 800, WB 6000, SS 1/2000, etc" quicker than I can find an image taken 20 mins ago. My idea is for it to be lightning fast and simple like the button

do you realy set WB manually? i don't see any reason why not to shoot raw in the first place which comes with many other advantages. just give me 2 good reasons. thanks!

2 good reasons:

I like the look of the jpgs rather than raws out of adobe.

It's simpler and faster to shoot jpg.

Patrick Hall's picture

If you aren't setting your WB manually, then you are wasting time in post.

Is there anyway that older canon cameras that do not have C1/C2/C3 dial options, can be hacked to convert the pre-defined buttons (high speed, night, portrait, macro etc.) and convert them into custom settings that we want?