Canon Custom Functions: Shutter and Focus

Shutter Programming on the Canon DSLR Line

That’s right – two videos in two days…quite exciting for me – the blogger of 3x/week!  I’ve got a lot of content forthcoming and for some of it, am so excited I just don’t want to wait anymore.  Some people call me crazy – they say “Hold off…space it out, pace your posts and give people information piecemeal.”  I say, “No way, the audience always wants more than what I am giving…”  So, that’s what I am doing – a second video tutorial in as many days – this one:  How to adjust the Custom Functions in your Canon SLR!


One of the least understood areas of any SLR is that of custom functions.  Once you start getting into customizing the configuration of something already as complex as a DSLR, people quickly lose interest in the minutia.  The problem is that some of the configuration settings can be made to really help you improve your photography.  One of these is moving the focusing mechanism off your shutter release.  The shutter release really does quite a few things – it opens the sensor to the light, thus letting an exposure actually happen.  It also programatically tells the camera to immediately meter the scene to evaluate exposure values, and also by default starts to search for a focusing point.

That’s a lot to ask from one button, and often times when composing for an image, many photographers find that focusing for one item in the scene, then composing for another is very useful in getting a creative vision to life.  To do this normally, you have to press the shutter only halfway down, recompose while holding that delicate balance, and recomposing.  Yes, there are other ways to do this by picking a single focusing point, but why even do that when you can make focusing its own dedicated function?  Most DSLR’s these days actually have a spare button built in for you to program to one of many different options.

Nevertheless, people still fear the custom functions.  Something about the words “custom”…”function…”program”…makes people cringe and run quickly in the opposite direction.  It’s really not that difficult though, and easy to adapt to.  Once the adjustment is made, you can now use your thumb to focus and your finger to capture!  It’s such a seamless transition, many photographers don’t even bat an eye, and they almost always notice a greater sense of creative control – which is why we buy SLR’s in the first place.  Want to see how it’s done?  Watch my short 2 minute video here on the process.  You’ll be amazed at how easy it is!

For RSS readers, visit the blog – it’s a YouTube embedded one this go around!

Where is Canon’s Mirrorless Camera?

Canon has been an industry leader in the photography world for a long time.  Heck, for the longest time they’ve been a part of one of the most intense debates in the photography industry (Canon vs. Nikon), remember those?  That being the case, when mirror-less cameras hit the scene a few years ago, the expectation is that either one (Canon or Nikon) would release one, and then the other would come out with something newer/better/cheaper/faster…whatever.  It’s how the consumer market is guaranteed that competition will always exist, which means better technology, cheaper prices, and improvements will never really stagnate – as long as we thrive for it, and being the gear hounds we are, how can we not?

So, when Nikon came out with a mirror-less camera we all waited with baited breath to see if and/or when Camera would drop it’s hat into the ring.  Yet, it hasn’t come.  In the interim, other vendors saw the opening, and seized the day.  So much so that there have been podcasts, blog reviews, and articles galore extolling the various pros and cons of each vendor out there.  Take a look at the laundry list of mirrorless camera vendors and their options on the marketplace:

  • Nikon:  J1 and the V1
  • Sony:  NEX F3, NEX 5N, and NEX 7
  • Samsung:  NX20, NX210, and NX1000
  • Panasonic:  Lumix GX1Xs, Lumix GX1KS, Lumix GF15K
  • Leica:  M9, and M9-P
  • Olympus:  PL1, PL2, P2, PL3, PM1, P3 (All from the PEN line)! and the OM-D5
  • Fuji: X100, X10, and the XS-1

That’s a full 25 variants of mirror-less cameras to choose from seven pretty respectable vendors.  The prices all seem to be relatively in the same bracket ($500-$1200), and the ideas are the same:  SLR quality images without the bulkiness of the mirror needed for traditional SLR camera bodies.  The result:  high image qualities and more compact sizes.  Along with these new form factors arises the opportunity to re-invent the entire product line.  The vendors are lining up, as are the consumers, so the only question that remains is:  Where is Canon?

Don’t get me wrong – I can totally understand the idea of “getting it right the first time”, and if Canon is digging their heels in to make the EIS gear (electronic Imaging System versus the EOS line, which is electronic optical system) the best thing since sliced bread, then so be it.  By the same token, I am also of the ilk that one can only “sit on the pot” for so long.  It’s time to bring it out, and Canon looks to be poised to do just that.  The first word on the street was that Canon was going to announce this new device in May.  When that date came and went, the rumor-mill started churning again, and folks started thinking the technology (or at least a hint of it) was revealed in the 650D in June.  But now, with June pretty much in the books, July seems to be the month of choice (why am I not surprised…?)  Most are picking July 24th to be the date.

So, you have to at least give a nod of respect to Canon for putting the photo world to it’s knees (listening for the rumors to reveal themselves).  So, where is the camera now?  Undoubtedly, the device is already in the hands of some of the industry notables like Vincent Versace, the DPReview crew, the PDN crew, and others out there (how many “crews” are there anyway?  Is it me, or could we stand to do with a few less crews?  LOL).

We wait with baited breath…

What will it likely be?  There’s been tons of guessing about MP counts, frame rates, lens mounts, and all the rest of the stuff.  But when push comes to shove, I can tell you with nearly 100% certainty that I will not buy it!  Why not, you ask?  Because while it may be the first in the Canon lineup, it’s still the first!  First generations of any new product line are likely going to be riddled with flaws.  Let’s face it – the first release of any new product line uses the consumers as the beta testers.  We report back (unwittingly I might add), on what we like, what we don’t like, what works, and what doesn’t.  Then the next release comes out, ostensibly deemed a “pro-sumer” line, which is inevitably followed up by a “professional” line.  Heck, even CanonRumors themselves, acknowledged that is likely to be the case!

Nevertheless, I sit here with baited breath, just like everyone else.  What will the masses say when it does eventually happen (because with the popularity of mirror-less cameras, it’s no longer a question of “if”, but “when”)?  Who knows.  Are you waiting?  Gonna pounce?  Or are you happy with your own gear?  Remember, as a sage author once said:  “Gear is Good…but vision is better”

Have a great weekend, happy shooting, and we’ll see you here again next week with more articles, photos, and nuggets of inspiration!

Running Off the Grid



A friend of mine is going on an extended backpacking trip, and space is already tight, so he approached me to see if I had any ideas on how he should go about running his SLR for an extended period of time without being able to charge or re-charge.  A couple ideas came to mind:

1.  First, just buy a battery for each day – not the cheapest route, but the easiest way to ensure power is had all along.

2.  Second, what about renting these accessories?  If he has two of his own, then renting 5 would run half the cost…

3.  Another option was to get a battery grip.  Here he could use his own for as long as possible, then switch to disposable AA batteries…

4.  Last but not least, solar power…I’ve considered these and even saw them in REI – they were a tad expensive and I am not even sure how one would go about connecting these to an AC charger.  You’d need the solar panel, then a male USB/AC converter, then the charger.  And the other factor would be how much of a charge you could get off that…in addition to weather concerns.  What if it’s not all that sunny?

Given the options, my final recommendation was to go with option 3.  It’d be a sound investment, would actually make the gear easier to hold on to, and often more stable than going w/out.  He agreed and will likely buy based on my recommendation.  It’s always a good feeling to be helpful to others, but before he does, I asked him to hold off for a day or two if possible, because I wanted to throw the question out to the readership…what ideas does the audience have for my friend?

Some of the rental outfits I’ve pointed him to include:

I’ve not had the benefit of experience with any of these vendors as we have a local camera rental shop that gives pretty good rates, so I always rent local from them.  Anyone have any experience with the national rental outfits?  Would really be helpful to get some external input here as he is leaving soon on his trip and could use some direction.  Sound off with your ideas!

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