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Monday, 14 September 2015


Thank you Mr. Weese. Great advice, but too many Photo Enthusiasts are control freaks—if it ain't manual, you ain't a real man. The comments should be interesting.

But watch out if you have a Canon 6d. Every time it goes to sleep it resets itself to the current custom mode settings. If you chose a custom mode based on Manual, any exposure adjustments you subsequently make will be quietly wiped out if you let the camera go to sleep. My 5d2 and E-P5 did not reset settings until powered off or a new mode chosen, which makes a lot more sense.

I think that is a GX-7... (not G7).


I do the same thing with my Olympus EM1, though it doesn't have the nice "Custom " mode dial labels Panasonic does. Instead I can assign a mode to an unused part of the dial like the art filters or the storyboard and then try to remember what is what. I can also assign modes to a dozen different buttons, but that leads to trouble since the camera reverts back to default if it falls asleep or I turn it off, plus it's easy for me to hit a button by accident, as you note. The mode dial keeps it in the custom mode. I like one mode for color, one for black and white, one for action, and one for low light with auto-iso.

This works brilliantly on a camera like the GX7 where everything is on a button or menu. It's less effective on a camera like the GH4 where key settings are on switches. For example my mode C1 is always set up to do a high speed burst with exposure bracketing. It worked on the Canon 7D and works well on the GX7 but on the GH4 I still have to remember to fiddle with the shooting mode. Annoying.

I'm interested in learning more about how you set up the other custom modes, and the rationale behind them, as I'm always eager to learn from the pro's. Thanks.

[OK, briefly, comparing to C1, C2 switches AE to shutter priority and AF to face detection. This is "people coverage mode," for a parade, or a gallery opening. C3-1 switches AE to program—with this particular camera P works well in rapidly changing light, like walking through sun and shade on a city sidewalk, and program shift is easy to access. C3-2 switches ISO to fixed 800 when I want a faster shutter speed than auto ISO provides in, say, deep shade or rainy day lighting.—Carl]

My Olympus Pen series have four custom settings which can be allocated to just about anywhere. They can be a little complicated to get a handle on initially, but well worth the perseverance. I would be amazed that anyone would not avail themselves of these very useful functions. I have my EP-5 with 25mm 1.4 lens set up to mimic my old Pentax Spotmatic II film setup. (Manual mostly). Works a treat... but customability and flexibility of the digital doppelganger is astounding.

They're great! I wish I had more than 3 to choose from.

Yep, I also assigned the "Story Mode" on the E-M1 PASM wheel to the settings I use when shooting b/w. Very useful.

I have just bought a second back up camera and was amazed with the touch screen for focusing. I am still of the old school of photography using the viewfinder and the focus points, but this comes in handy for quick picks.

One more thing, I just noticed that this resourceful person has made some templates available for various Olympus mode dials if you can print labels....


Nice practical essay, Carl, on a topic little-covered in primary or even secondary camera documentation.

Years back I did take a swing at using custom preset sets. And they did come in handy. But partially because I tend to use quite a few different cameras I could never remember which set served what purpose on which camera. So I'd just end up perusing menu settings anyway.

The advent of customizable "quick menus" on many camera models in recent years has become far more useful for methan preset sets. This is typically a user-configurable group of a dozen or more settings that can immediately be displayed and changed via a "Q", "Q Menu"' or "Fn" button. I typically will spend lots of quality time with a new camera determining which settings (among those offered by the camera) I will most frequently need to change and set them up on the camera's quick-menu. It has completely eliminated my trying to remember the differences between C1, C2, C1, etc.

Still, custom presets are the only practical alternative for someone who finds they really need to routinely fiddle with settings not configurable on a quick-menu. I've not found any on my cameras that aren't covered by either a quick-menu or a direct function button. But others may.

Now if Panasonic would just do something easy and let you use the Image app on your smartphone to program the Custom modes. I have to go back into my PDF manual to figure out how to change the settings. Imagine if there were a simple page in the app where it listed all the options - PASM, focus mode, ISO, IS, drive, etc. - and you could just tick the boxes.

I don't know if other cameras do this, but one of the features I like about the OM-D series is the flexibility of using RAW and JPEG even if the camera is always set to RAW. For example, I always shoot RAW files. But if I want use a Picture Mode (say B&W so I can see the results in the LCD before shooting) the camera is smart enough to still shoot RAW but saves both the RAW and JPEG files for that shot. A nice touch, I think.

Definitely something I really miss from my Pentax in switching to a Fujifilm X-T10. Particularly, the Fujifilm camera treats them as "sets of presets you can apply", and not _modes_ properly (once you've switched to them, there's no indication _which_ mode you chose, just the settings are now all changed at once).

With Pentax, you can have different named presets. It's also ridiculously flexible about which options you want to reset to default on power off and which you want to retain. For example, I had mine set ISO to auto by default, to avoid the exact problem here of setting it too high (or too low) and forgetting.

Ah well. Can't have it all. (Although I feel a little like if Pentax and Fujifilm merged and took the best of both, I could.)

I have been using C1, C2, C3 on my Sigma Merrills and SD1M since acquiring them. My custom settings are for "studio shooting (1/125, f/8)", "bracketing with .7 differentials", and "normal at f/11." On the SD1M, the C buttons are on the dial with on-off and are so easy to use because once you set them, no need to hunt in the menu.

Unfortunately none of my cameras has any such feature. Probably next time around, if there ever is one. That's actually the single most tempting reason to go from my OM-D EM-5 to the MkII that I've seen so far.

To the best of my ability to understand the manual, my EM-5 has the single stupidest attempt at implementing custom modes I've ever seen. I can define them, and I can use them -- by holding down one of three inconveniently placed buttons *while* pushing the shutter release. I hope people lost their jobs over that; it's a degree of stupidity rarely seen in the wild.

Good tip Carl and one I have utilised many times in the past with my various Canon 1D, 5D and 6D iterations.
However, a word of warning to newbies to the technique.
Creating a custom setting is fine, but if I change an aperture, drop the shutter speed, or so some other adjustment as light and subject changes, then during a pause in proceedings the camera may go into Auto Power-off mode (after 4 minutes on my setup) and consequently when woken, ignores all the changes I had just made and reverts to the initial Custom setting.
This is really frustrating if you don't figure out what's going on in time.
I now reserve custom presets for a quick go-to set-up for alternative shooting options. Like a video mode, with sound levels, view options, manual metering and etc all ready for lights, camera and action. Or a high ISO low-available-light mode when I want to change from shooting with my off-camera flash (strobe for non-English speakers) with the minimum of fuss.
Also, when you turn off your camera with an auto-everything ready-to-shoot Custom Function set-up, then when you do pick it up to get that all-important candid moment you will not have to spend valuable time configuring modes.

[Reply When I know that I'll want a temporary control to "stick" I simply go back to the basic M/A/S/P modes with something like exposure compensation dialed in. This in effect gives me several more sort-of-custom modes as alternatives the my custom set.—Carl]

I agree. Custom modes were my #1 favourite feature on the one camera I've loved most for ergonomics - the Lumix GH2.

In my case, I set them for style/subjects: square b&w (A-priority), 3:2 b&w (A-priority, more contrasty "film emulation", 3 frames used for HDR bracketing), 16:9 (Manual, default shutter speed around 1/15s, pseudo-provia, 5 frames used for HDR bracketing).

That's two kinds of jobbing walking-around-shooting-trees modes nailed and one long-exposure vista. Primary reason for the choice was that when I had dSLRs, the one thing I hated most was the sore thumb from cranking the shutter-speed between 1/125 and 30s or bulb and back when changing scene/visualization.

The Sony RX100 also has custom settings. Since the RX100 is my sea kayaking and camping camera and I always try to schedule a trip during the Perseid meteor shower, I have one memory setting for meteors (15 sec, f/2.8, daylight white balance, infinity focus, etc.) and another for daylight photography from a bouncy boat (shutter priority at 1/500 sec, auto exposure, auto focus, auto ISO, etc.). A handy thing about the RX100 is that I can always modify the memorized settings on the fly, so for example if the lighting calls for it and I'm shooting wide angle from my kayak, I can easily change the shutter speed from the default 1/500 sec to 1/250 sec.

I have an Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII. I have set some custom functions. When new firmware is issued, it wipes out one's custom functions (assigned to Fn buttons). I have to go back to e-mails from Oly tech-support to re-set them. Does anyone know: If I were to save my settings as a Custom Setting, as advocated in the article, do the Custom Settings survive a firmware update?
(I've been avoiding firmware updates because re-setting everything is too much trouble. But now Olympus has a major firmware 2.0 coming for my camera, and some of the new capabilities will be important.)

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