47 Steps to the Perfect Canon EOS-1D X Mark III Setup

With a Canon EOS-1D X Mark III in hand, it is time to set up the camera for use. Following are the 46 steps I took to make an out-of-the-box 1D X III ready for use.

  1. Open the box, find the battery and charger and plug it in. If you have another charged Canon LP-E19 (or LP-E4N) battery available, you can continue to the battery-required steps without a wait.
  2. While the battery is charging, unpack the other items you want from the box. For me, this is primarily the camera, the eye cup and the neck strap.
  3. Pause for a moment to grip the camera, taking in the 1-series camera awesomeness (right up there with new car smell) and the new-camera grippyness.
  4. Download the Canon EOS Solution Disk software (download) and install it on your computer. Canon Digital Photo Pro (DPP), EOS Utility and Lens Registration Utility are the options I install.
  5. Attach the eyecup
  6. Attach the neck strap (unless I am planning to use very large lenses)
  7. Record the camera's serial number and ensure that proper insurance coverage is in place.
  8. Important: Turn the vertical grip on (switch near top of vertical grip — why is this off by default?).
  9. Insert the battery (ideally, after charging completes).
  10. Power the camera on.
  11. The date and time setup screen will show at startup the first time. Use the Rear Control dial and the Set button to update this information.
  12. Insert one (or two) memory card(s) (format them via the tools menu option before taking pictures).
  13. Scroll through all of the menu tabs to configure the camera as follows:
  14. Shooting Menu, Tab 1: White balance: AWB-W (Auto: White priority)
  15. Shooting Menu, Tab 1: Picture Style: Neutral with Sharpness Strength set to "1" (Note: the low contrast "Neutral" picture style provides a histogram on the back of the camera that most-accurately shows me blown highlights and blocked shadows — I usually change the Picture Style to "Standard" in DPP after capture.)
  16. Shooting Menu, Tab 1: Lens aberration correction: All disabled (though I suggest leaving CA correction enabled for most uses — all adjustments can be applied in DPP)
  17. Shooting Menu, Tab 2: Img type/size: Use top dial to set RAW to "RAW" and Rear Control dial to set JPEG to "—"
  18. Shooting Menu, Tab 2: ISO Speed Settings: ISO Speed range: L(50)-H3(819200) (the defaults may be a better choice for most)
  19. Shooting Menu, Tab 2: Auto Lighting Optimizer: Off
  20. Shooting Menu, Tab 2: High ISO speed noise reduction: Off or Low (noise reduction is destructive to images details — I prefer to add NR sparingly in post. Having a noise reduction option enabled will provide a good base starting point for noise reduction settings for post processing in DPP.)
  21. Shooting Menu, Tab 3: Image review: 4 sec.
  22. Shooting Menu, Tab 3: Release without card: Disable (I highly recommend this setting change — it should be Canon's default)
  23. AF Menu, Tab 2: AI Servo 1st image priority: Focus (I want the images in focus more than I want the time-priority capture)
  24. AF Menu, Tab 2: AI Servo 2nd image priority: Focus +2 (same reason)
  25. AF Menu, Tab 4: Orientation linked AF point: Separate AF pts: Area + pt
  26. Playback Menu, Tab 3: Playback information display: Enable 1 and 3
  27. Playback Menu, Tab 3: Highlight alert: Enable (enable the "blinkies", flash portions of image that are overexposed during image review)
  28. Playback Menu, Tab 3: Playback grid: 3x3
  29. Playback Menu, Tab 3: Histogram disp: RGB (I want to monitor all three color channels for blown or blocked details)
  30. Playback Menu, Tab 3: Magnification (apx): 10x
  31. Tools Menu, Tab 1: Auto rotate: On/Computer only (this provides the always-largest playback image size on the camera LCD)
  32. Tools Menu, Tab 2: Viewfinder display: Viewfinder level: Show, VF grid display: Enable
  33. Tools Menu, Tab 2: Info button display options: Electronic level only
  34. Tools Menu, Tab 3: Beep: Disable
  35. Tools Menu, Tab 4: Custom shooting mode (C1-C3): Auto update set: Enable (see also: Configuring Custom Shooting Modes)
  36. Tools Menu, Tab 4: Copyright information: Enter author's name: [enter name]
  37. Custom Functions, Tab 1: Bracket auto cancel: OFF
  38. Custom Functions, Tab 1: Bracketing sequence: -0+ (captures shortest frames first and sequences images from dark to bright)
  39. Custom Functions, Tab 3: Restrict shooting modes: Enable all (adds C2 and C3)
  40. Custom Functions, Tab 4: Restrict drive modes: Disable: low speed continuous, Silent HS continuous, Silent LS continuous
  41. Custom Functions, Tab 5: Rec card, img size setting: Off (I don't use this button. being able to turn it off prevents inadvertent changes)
  42. Custom Functions, Tab 6: Av setting without lens: On (allows me to prepare the camera for a specific, not-yet-mounted lens)
  43. Custom Functions, Tab 6: Custom Controls: Smart controller: Direct AF point selection, Set: Mag/Reduce; Multicontrollers: Direct AF point selection; M-Fn2: One Shot/AI Servo
  44. Custom Functions, Tab 7: Smart controller: On
  45. Custom Functions, Tab 8: Default erase option: [Erase] selected
  46. My Menu: Add the first tab; Register the following options for Tab 1: Date/Time/Zone (great for monitoring what time it is), Format card, Mirror lockup, Anti-flicker shoot, Sensor cleaning
  47. Mount a lens, focus on a subject, and adjust the diopter (remove the eyecup)
I of course make additional menu and other setting changes based on current shooting scenarios, but this list covers my initial camera setup process.

To copy this configuration would mean that you intend to shoot similar to how I shoot — including shooting in RAW-only format. While my setup works great for me, your best use of this list may be for tweaking your own setup.

If you can't remember your own menu setup parameters, keeping an up-to-date list such as this one is a good idea. Anytime your camera is reset-to-factory state for some reason, such as when being serviced, you will be ready to restore your setup quickly while ensuring that you do not miss an important setting. If you purchase another same or similar camera, you will be able to quickly set it up.

More Information

Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

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Posted: 2/18/2020 8:42:56 PM ET   Posted By: Bryan
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