What is a Custom Mode?
A Custom mode is a camera setting that allows the photographer to instantly recall a pre-saved camera setup configuration by simply turning the top dial (or via a button press and dial turn on the 1-Series models) to one of the designated "C" modes.
Canon's mid and high-end EOS DSLR cameras have between one and three Custom ("C") modes available. The current EOS **D models (the EOS 70D
and EOS 60D
) have one Custom mode and the EOS 6D
has two. Canon's high end models, including the EOS 7D Mark II
, EOS 5D Mark III
and EOS 1D X
, have three "C" modes. The lower-end Rebel (***D and ****D) series cameras do not have custom modes available. How to Configure a Custom Shooting Mode
Configuring a "C" mode is very easy. Simply adjust all of your camera settings as desired for the "C" mode being programmed and then find and select the "Custom shooting mode" menu option in the "Tools" tab. Next, select "Register settings". If more than one "C" mode is available on your camera, the mode number desired must then be selected. Done. That's it. That "C" mode is programmed.
Two other "Custom shooting mode" menu options are available. The first is "Clear settings". I don't recall ever using this one. I simply program over the top of an already configured "C" mode if I want to make a change. I haven't felt a need to clean up any no-longer-needed "C" mode.
The other available option is "Change Auto update set". While a "C" mode is being used, camera settings can be changed. When "Change Auto update set" is set to "Enabled", any camera setting changes made while in a "C" mode are saved to the respective "C" mode. The camera will retain the new settings even after being powered off. When this option is set to "Disabled", the camera will revert back to the originally programmed settings when the camera powers off. My cameras are all set to "Enabled". "Enabled" requires a little more attention to the as-last-configured settings when beginning to shoot, but ... I found "Disabled" to be somewhat maddening and requiring even more constant attention. Bryan's Custom Mode Settings
I am generally using camera models with three Custom modes and I have a standard configuration that I use on all of my cameras. Being configured identically means that it doesn't matter which camera I am using, I know which Custom mode to use when the configured-for situation presents itself. That configuration and my thought process behind it as follows: Custom Mode 1: Action Photography
The action photography I do has general overarching camera settings requirements that lend themselves perfectly to a "C" mode.
My most-used standard camera mode is "M" (Manual) and this is what I programmed "C1" for. I use "M" mode for about 95% of my photography with "Av" (Aperture Priority) mode picking up 4.8% of the remaining mode use (most often when shooting under rapidly changing light levels such as a partly-cloudy sky when Auto ISO in "M" mode is not desired). My programmed manual exposure settings include a wide open aperture (usually from whichever lens I used last), an action-stopping 1/1600 shutter speed and Auto ISO. If the light is constant, I change the ISO to a specific setting at the venue.
My "C1" is configured for AI Servo AF with a single AF point selected and the camera's highest speed burst drive mode selected. If shooting under very low light (such as an indoor gym), I select a slower/longer shutter speed to allow reasonable ISO settings to be used.
Having an action mode ready for immediately use has great benefits that include being able to properly photograph a running animal that was calmly feeding just moments before. Custom Mode 2: Landscape and Still Life Photography
I am very frequently shooting landscape and still life subjects from a tripod and my typical settings for such photography are programmed into "C2". Once again, my selected exposure mode is "M". I generally leave the aperture set to f/11 (full frame) or f/8 (APS-C) to plan for as much depth of field as I can get without compromising sharpness (due to diffraction). The shutter speed I need varies widely when I'm in "C2" mode. It is usually set to whatever shutter speed I last used and usually needs to be set for the current situation. My "C2" ISO is set to 100 for the least noise possible.
I have One Shot AF mode selected along with the single center AF point. Key for ultimate image sharpness is that mirror lockup and the 2-sec self-timer are selected in my "C2". With the mirror automatically raising 2 seconds before the shutter release, all vibrations, including those caused by my shutter release button press, subside before image capture begins.
I usually have Long Exposure Noise Reduction enabled in "C2".
While "C" modes are great for setup speed, my "C2" needs are not usually happening fast. But, having this configuration readily available still saves me a lot of setup time. Convenience has a lot of value. Custom Mode 3: Situational-Dependent
Basically, I leave "C" mode 3 unprogrammed until needed at each event venue. Technically, my "C3" is programmed to whatever settings I used it for last, but ... those settings are likely irrelevant to the new situation. My use for this mode varies greatly, but the overriding reason I setup "C3" is to be able to recall a venue-specific camera condition the instant I need it. I use "C3" more infrequently than "C1" and "C2" because my needs outside of the regular M and Av mode are primarily captured in my Mode 1 and 2 settings. How are Your Custom Modes Programmed?
The variation of camera setup needs between photographers can be dramatic. Give thought to your own "C" settings.