As DSLR systems get more sophisticated, the ability to quickly find precious features is a valuable skill. There are three EOS camera features that, while they have been around for several years, very few photographers seem to know about or use: Quick Control Screen (Q), My Menu, and Camera User Settings (C1, C2, and C3). These features help imagemakers streamline camera settings, work much faster, and avoid potential mistakes –habits that are crucial in an increasingly fast-paced industry.
This article will describe the differences between the features, how to use them, and explore some circumstances in which they are helpful. Note that the features described here work the same on the EOS 60D, EOS 7D, EOS 6D, EOS 5D Mark II, and EOS 5D Mark III. However, the Camera User Settings ("C" modes) are not available in the Rebel series.
Sometimes, a photographer may want to change two or more basic camera settings at the same time. The Quick Control Screen on recent EOS digital SLRs makes it easy to do this quickly, with numerous controls in one location.
Whether shooting stills and viewing through the viewfinder or via Live View, by simply pressing the Q button on recent EOS models, the main shooting settings like Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, White Balance, File Quality setting (RAW or JPEG), are displayed on the LCD monitor. As an example, let's assume one wants to quickly change the selected ISO. The steps would be:
- With the camera on, press the Q (Quick Control Screen) button
- Use the Multi-controller or rear Control Keys (Rebel models) to select ISO.
- Turn the camera's top dial to change the setting.
The same exact steps apply to modify the Exposure Compensation, White Balance, built-in flash control, Picture Style, and other important settings.
When shooting movies, the Q button serves a similar purpose. Pressing it brings up a series of icons for different shooting functions, any of which can be highlighted using the Multi-controller (or Control Keys on Rebel models). Once highlighted, turning either the top Main Dial, or rear Quick Control Dial allows immediate adjustment to that setting.
Similar to the example above, a shooter may sometimes need to make two or more settings to items in the camera's Menu. Rather than make several trips to different menu screens, frequently used settings can be memorized Under the My Menu tab, and called-up from a single Menu location. Up to six different menu options or custom functions group settings can be saved.
To access these valuable options, visit the last menu tab on the right, with the green star-shaped icon. Accessing these settings is so simple that it is somewhat surprising that not every photographer is taking advantage of this feature. Select "Register" and press SET. A long list of options and functions will become available. The user simply chooses the options that are used most often.
The author's favorite options are:
- Movie Recording Size
- Custom WB
- ISO Auto
- Battery Info
- Mirror Lockup
Two helpful options when using My Menu: First, after up to six settings are registered, they can be sorted in any order. Simply select "My Menu settings" > "sort," select the menu item whose order is to be changed, click "set," use the Quick Menu Dial to reposition it, and then press "set" once again. Secondly, when you press the MENU button on the camera, you have the option of having the camera always display the My Menu screen first (or, displaying the most recently-used screen). To change it to always start from My Menu, go into "My Menu Settings", and enable "Display from My Menu."
One final note: items you select for My Menu are never removed from their original menu locations; you've simply created a copy of them under the green My Menu heading. And, you can always remove an item from My Menu at any time – simply select "Delete item/items" or "Delete all items" from the "My Menu settings" screen.
Most camera settings can be registered under the third and last feature covered in this article, Camera User Settings. Setting up a Camera User Setting is really simple:
- Make whatever settings you want to memorize... shooting mode, WB, specific Custom Functions, ISO, and so on, in the same manner you normally would.
- Navigate to the settings tab (yellow box with wrench).
- Select "Camera User Setting" (on EOS 5D Mark II, EOS 7D and EOS 60D) or "Custom shooting mode (C1-C3)" (on EOS 5D Mark III and EOS 6D) then press "set."
- Now select "Register."
- Select one of the available User Settings (choose from C1, C2, or C3).
When is this helpful? Many photographers use this feature while shooting video. Some typical settings might be as follows:
- C1: 1920x1080, 30fps, ISO 640, 1/60, White Balance at 5500K
- C2: 1920x1080, 24fps, ISO 640, 1/50, White Balance at 5500K
- C3: 1920x720, 60fps, ISO 1250, 1/125, White Balance at 5500K
Since most video shoots require at least two cameras (sometimes three or four), having the same camera settings prerecorded on each camera allows users to efficiently and quickly access features they want to use, as well as avoid critical mistakes, like shooting at different resolutions. Keep in mind, of course, that this can also be used for still-image shooting. The Camera User Settings simply let you instantly dial-in a known starting point of pre-determined settings, for certain shooting situations.
It is important to know that while changes to the Camera User Settings can be made at any point, if the camera is turned off, goes to sleep via Auto Power Off, or another Shooting Mode is chosen, the settings will return to their defaults. There is an advantage to this feature, in that one can always start using the camera from a known point.
Should one want to clear the Camera User Settings, simply return to the third settings tab and then press "Clear Settings." The respective Mode Dial position will clear your previously memorized settings from memory, and you can create another set if you desire.
The Quick Control Screen allows for very fast access to current settings and allows fast and easy changing of two or more, on the spot. My Menu saves up to six of the most used or favorite settings. Camera User Settings allows one to very quickly "reset" the camera, and start from a known point with your preferred settings already programmed.
These highly flexible EOS camera features will help photographers customize their camera settings, and streamline their shooting workflows.
The CDLC contributors are compensated spokespersons and actual users of the Canon products that they promote.