Mike Chan
Mike Chan

Mike is part of the Canon Digital Learning Center team as a Technical Specialist providing Online Educational resources to professional and advanced amateur photographers.

In-Camera Culling with the EOS 5D Mark III

October 15, 2013

So, you’ve just shot that destination wedding, event or portrait shoot and you are on your way home. With a few hours to kill on the plane or train ride home, might as well make use of your time and cull your images from the shoot (please don’t cull and drive, that would be bad)!

For those who are unacquainted with culling, it is simply the process of paring down your full set of images from a shoot to a set of preferred images that you can then hand off to your client. Most people will come home from a shoot and load the images to a computer, then start going through them and rating them in an editing program of choice. While this is the norm, more time is spent sitting in front of the computer than marking them in-camera. If you are travelling home and don’t need to pay attention to the road, you might as well get started on that culling process to edit faster.

Within the EOS 5D Mark III camera, there are numerous built-in features that will speed up culling in-camera and also make it not as cumbersome as you might think. We’ll discuss a few of these features below.

Star rating system

The EOS 5D Mark III, like many other recent EOS models, include a five-star rating system. This lets you review your photos and assign each with up to five stars. The star ratings are used to denote the level of importance in your set. The nice thing about assigning ratings in-camera is that it will write the rating into the metadata of the file. Your photo-editing program then reads this and you can begin sorting your photos the moment you upload to a computer and open up your program.

The EOS 5D Mark III is different than any other EOS camera thus far (as of Oct. 2013) in that it includes a dedicated “Rate” button on the back of the camera. As you are viewing each photo, you can simply press the “Rate” button to assign 0-5 stars to each photo. But there is another way to assign ratings on the camera. As with other recent EOS camera models, you can access the ratings panel by pressing the “Q” button when viewing a photo and then scrolling down to the star icon.

Using the SET button to check focus

Canon Technical Advisor Brent Ramsey has previously written step-by-step instructions on how to shift the magnify button to the SET button to check focus. While this is very useful during shooting, it is also very helpful while reviewing your images to check focus. We will even take it one step further and change the magnification so that it will zoom to 100% at the FOCUS POINT.

To achieve this, the setting is found in: Playback menu (blue tab) -> PLAY3 (3rd box) -> Magnificatn (apx) -> Actual size (from selected pt)

This is incredibly useful as you are able to check the sharpness at your focus point almost instantly. In a portrait shoot, for example, the focus point is usually at the eyes. With a single press of the SET button, you are able to judge your focus, which for most people will determine if the photo is a keeper or not.

Compare images

The EOS 5D Mark III includes a comparison tool where it will allow you to view two images side-by-side. Most event shooters take more than one shot of the same scene to ensure they have the perfect shot. This tool helps you decide which to rate and which to throw away while culling in-camera.

To access this feature, press the paintbrush button on the back of the camera while in playback.

Within the compare view, you are able to perform functions such as switching between left and right images, zoom into either image, switch either image to another image, show EXIF data, show histogram for both images and more. For a complete rundown of the functions and features, refer to page 259 in your manual.

Modify the delete button

In Canon’s current line up of high-end EOS bodies, there is a custom function option to modify the way the delete button functions. By default, when a user presses the delete button, it presents a selector to either “Cancel” or “Erase” the image. If you want to delete that image, turn the dial to “Erase” and then press the SET button. Starting off on “Cancel” is the default as this is a safety from accidental deletions. With this custom function, the default can be shifted so that when the delete button is pressed, the selector is automatically on “Erase” instead of “Cancel.” From there, all it takes is a press of the SET button and the image is deleted.

To achieve this, the setting is found in: Custom Functions (orange tab) -> C.Fn3:Others (3rd box) -> Default Erase Option -> [Erase] selected

Personally, I like to delete any image that is completely unusable when culling in-camera. Images that are completely out of focus, people walking in front of the subjects, accidental pictures of the floor (everyone has had at least a few), etc. are completely useless and, at around 30 megabytes per RAW image, just a waste of hard drive space. Deleting these images during in-camera culling also makes downloading the images to your computer faster.

The EOS 5D Mark III has many firsts for EOS bodies and if Canon’s engineers added them in, why not take advantage of them and incorporate them into your workflows? So, the next time you are on your way home from a shoot and looking for something to do, crank up your music and cull your images in-camera. It’ll save you time later on when you’re sitting in front of the computer.

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