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!

Ditch your Phone and Tablet Cables!

Wireless Tether

One of the most common questions I get is how to take photos (and videos) off your phone.  Whether you are working with an iPad, an iPhone, Android or any portable device, tethering these devices to your computer really has become so tedious. There are some handy features to post content directly online like the WordPress app, and even YouTube posting functionality built into many of these devices.  But when you want to tweak your photos or videos on a computer, it’s kind of tedious to use those darn cables every time. Well fret no more, because you can ditch those cables for data transfer!  (Just don’t throw them out – you still need to charge up periodically!)

So, how do you do it? The simple answer is Dropbox! This handy little app has made my life so much easier. No more pesky file limitations on email, data messaging or any of that rigamarole.  Check out the YouTube Video I put together to help explain this:

Video War: Canon versus Apple

Video Warws: Apple and Canon

So, as I start kicking the tires more with the Canon G12, and looking at things like image quality, resolution, post production, and all sorts of tests, one that came to mind was to run some video tests! Since we’ve been talking about the convergence of photography and videography for a while now, that seems to make at least a little sense, right? Okay – so here’s the crazy test #1 that I just decided on a whim to run:

I positioned both my iPhone camera and the G12 at the same position on the kitchen counter. Then, I slid a Sprite can slowly toward the lens of each. This way you can see the video quality as objects move closer to the lens, and the quality of the light that each is capable of as well. Before I get into that though – let’s consider some other factors:

1. How easy was it to export the content?

iPhone: It wasn’t too bad – I have a Dropbox account, so all I had to do was upload it to my Dropbox account, then download from there to my computer before doing a final upload to the blog here for you all to view (no editing, I promise…it’s super boring!)

Canon G12: Also not too bad – I removed the card, and with my FTp client open, simply copied the file up to the blog. Here, I think Canon gets the nod, just because it was a tad easier, but it’s a barely perceptible nod, to say the least!

2. What about the file types and sizes?

iPhone 4s – It saved as an MOV file – no big surprise there, after all, that’s the Apple way of handling video files for as long as I can recall with Quicktime, right? The file size is for about 21 seconds and comes in at 50 MB. Not gargantuan, but for the super impatient, this could be a deal breaker for that short a set of footage. Youtube loads stuff pretty quick, so not a huge fan of this. But, let’s see what the G12 can do…

Canon G12 – It also saved as an MOV file – which for some reason, surprised me…I don’t know why I thought it would be an mp4, but anyway, that’s what it did. The file size for about 30 seconds and also comes in right at about 50 MB. So, it seems to handle video processing just a little bit better than the iPhone. I guess not a huge surprise since Canon has been in the video biz for as long as I can remember – longer than Apple for sure! It may not seem huge, but it can take a few seconds and for the impatient types out there, that could be a deal breaker, esp for a 30 second boring video of a Sprite Can, so here again, I would have to give a slight nod to the G12…

Now, let’s take a look at the actual video qualities (ready to sip some coffee?):

Canon G12

iPhone 4s

Canon G12: So, what did we learn from this? Well, for me I saw that the G12 handled the horribly low and bad lighting better than the iPhone. Youtube wanted to clean it up for me, but in the interests of keeping things as close to original quality as possible, I said “no”. As for focusing and such – the Sprite can lost focus rather quickly which surprised me. I would have thought that the G12 would have stayed sharper longer.

Apple iPhone 4s: Hmmm…another boring video of a Sprite can sliding across a counter. Again, horrible lighting, but what’s this: the focus stayed on longer for the iPhone than the G12?!?! It also seemed to handle the low lighting well enough – even though it’s still pretty garish, but dare I say that in terms of rough video quality from this very non-scientific comparison, the iPhone gets a bit of a nod instead of Canon! Interesting!

What say ye all? Which one wins the first round? More tests should be forthcoming, but it looks like the G12 gets a nod in 2 out of 3, but the critical 3rd – quality – the upstart iPhone 4s takes the cake. All things considered, my knee-jerk is to give the entire round to Apple! Is this deserving? What’s the collective think?

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.