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Saturday, 04 May 2019


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Custom Modes are awesome. My Nikon's have two User Modes (U1 and U2), which are same thing as your G9's (C1, C2 C3). I don't think I could own a camera without these, they definitely make things easier for me.

"When pictures come first, then everything else falls into proper perspective."

-- Exactly!

If you can, you should save out your custom settings to a card just in case the first firmware update you install wipes your camera clean.

When you have a moment, tell us about C2:-)

The AF Point Scope function is also new on the LUMIX G9. It magnifies subjects that are far away to capture them in clear focus. Sounds like an AF punch in.

The complexity in Olympus and 4k Lumix bodies had me clearing the shelves and vowing to get a GX7, where Panasonic IBIS first appeared and 1080p was pretty cool. The complexity felt overwhelming and this was supposed to be a relaxing hobby/passion!

So of course my GX7 search found a bargain GX85.. and back on the wagon I climb ;^) I've learned that the G-series and OM-D bodies aren't for me, despite my preference for wx seals, more real estate and a better grip - inexplicable, and probably best if I don't analyze too deeply. Guess I'm complex too.

I definitely need to get my C modes in order; well done!

Mike, I don't know if you still use Fuji cameras, but these types of customizations are also available on most Fuji bodies. It was some time after getting Fuji gear before I got around to setting them up, but since that time they've proved quite useful largely for the reasons you list.

Given that 98% of my shooting is basically one way (with only the slightest variants), that is tripod shooting in aperture priority with 3 exposure bracketing and manual zone focusing; camera balanced and ready to rotate for pans. My Fuji X-Pro 1, with its quick menu, allows me to make "basic" changes like ISO and other fixed buttons like exposure compensation round out my needs. I feel that having shot for moons with a hunking heavy film Hasselblad - where everything was manual with no meters telling me anything - was the ideal background for my present condition as an "old man" with digital automatic everything!

I couldn't agree more regarding your admonition about surrendering to a camera and just letting it do its thing. However, I once did just that a couple years ago. I had been out in a familiar location with beautiful but fading light but without tripod. I arrived at a glorious setting and had virtually no time to prepare. I became flustered due to inability to quickly figure out the best settings and steady the camera. There was a bench nearby that I could rest camera on and estimate leveling. I set it to total full auto-everything, including ISO and clicked away while panning camera to 3 positions. The resultant 2' x 4' print has become one of my all-time favorites :-)

I need to do the same thing with my new used EM1 II. I think walk around with face detection off, low light with it on because that's when I usually use it.

You know what really seems to sing on these 20 mp m43 cameras...that 20 mm Lumix. Can't take it off. I might splurge on the Sigma 16mm 1.4 for a wider option too (or the Panasonic 15) but I think I've finally reached a point where I actually have some distaste for using zooms.

This is a thought provoking way of solving the problem of modern camera complexity. Sure, you have to invest some time up front in learning the menus and setting up your custom profiles, but once that’s done Bob’s your uncle. I’ve taken a different approach to solving that problem. One of the wonderful side affects of the creeping technological advancement of digital camera is that it’s actually EASIER to use manual focus lenses on them than in years past. I recently learned that if you own a m43 camera you can buy brand new manual focus lenses for the mount for next to nothing. I own a Meike 25mm 1.8 and the image quality is so so, but I’ll be damned if using it on my Oly EM10 ii isn’t reminiscent of using an old film camera. Using the focus magnifier allows me to get accurate focus, and now I’m no longer fighting the camera as it flippantly decides it’s own focus points. I leave the aperture dial at 5.6 to improve the image quality and make focus less critical, and move the shutter speed around until I’m exposing correctly. Pretty simple. I’m thinking about using this rig for a Mike Johnston suggested One Lens, One Camera, One Year photo excursion.

Mike, I meant to say “One Lens, One Camera, One Year”.

I have a Sony A7 camera. Reputedly they have confusing menus. Maybe. But you can create your own menu on this camera. Mine is a three page one and I never need to go to the camera's standard menu.

The combination of customs modes, personalized short menus, the function button display and programmed custom buttons lets me concentrate on light and composition.

I have recently re-programmed the custom buttons and had to resort to Dymo labels for orientation. The camera has a neoprene suit and the labels stick well. Yes, it looks crazy.

"I don't need the viewfinder to be perfect. But I need to know how it's imperfect." That is a very wise statement. Accept the camera as it is, a tool with all its quirks, but understand how to work with the quirks, not against them.

Ah you youngster, you!

If I were to attempt to fix myself up little set pieces like that, I'd instantly forget what the hell they were!

I shall remain keeping bodies set as totally manual as I can with the exception of auto ISO which is easy to quit in difficult situations such as severe backlight; if using either of my two af lenses then I keep the body and lenses set at S and override where needed. (I can with my 50G but not with my 180mm which can't be used that way: it's either af or manual, period.) Of course, the rest of them, being manual, work sweetly enough, the only glitch being the combination of my old eyes and the poor screens digital cameras employ for manual use.

I don't know if I'd work like that if I hadn't learned my craft on film. The old knowledge becomes habit and thus pretty much automatic thinking to apply.

Again, I vote for a split-image screen as best accessory!


If we're on things that we've never understood (but probably ought to have got to grips with years ago), auto ISO on Nikons has never seemed straightforward. I've tried using it a few times but it seems to choose settings no one would ever choose, in particular using high ISOs even in bright sunlight and then compensating by opting for insanely fast shutter speeds. So, it's A mode for me except when using flash, and auto ISO is confined to the "well, apparently it has it but I never use it" list, a list that also contains custom modes and "focus tracking with lock on - Long / Normal / Short" (which I think has something to do with when the bear you are photographing goes behind a tree).

Mike said: I've never used Custom Modes on any camera before, ...

Say what? Ken Rockwell has been preaching Custom Functions for years, Custom Functions are little menu tweaks that let you configure the 20D to your liking. Giulio Sciorio, who has been sponsored by both Olympus and Panasonic, has been talking about Custom Functions since 2009. I've been telling people for years that my professional retoucher says there is no difference between my CR2 files and my JPGs. So I'm very surprised to learn that you have never tried Custom Functions before.

Welcome aboard—better late than never 8-)

BTW1 Get a LUMIX FL200L Flash to put that sparkle in the eyes—even in backlit portraits.

BTW2 Bobs my brother-in-law, not my uncle 8-)

[Yeah well my Leicas never had it, and neither did my 4x5. --Mike]

I just realized I've never used a custom mode or set up a "my menu" or anything like that on any of my cameras. Ever. Then it came to me that I nearly always shoot pictures the same way--aperture priority, auto white balance and ISO, Raw and center AF point only. The only thing I change regularly is frame rate, either continuous high or single shot. And I always keep the film simulation set for B&W even when I intend the final photo to be color.

Either I'm old and set in my ways or I'm too lazy to try anything new.

I tried custom settings once, but found remembering which functions are covered by custom settings (and what I used for each of those settings) far harder than just changing the settings as I go!

One other suggestion is to occasionally back up your camera's complete settings to your SD card (if your camera has that option). I do that when I make major changes to my "user presets" and then copy that file to my hard drive. I change the file name to the current date followed by a description of what I changed. That way I can always get back to my stable settings, even when I've tried something new with the user presets.


I think I am grateful that all my photography is slow paced and contemplative.

Mike, I think what would be interesting to hear would be a simple reveal of everyone’s custom settings, with which camera/lens combo, and maybe what type of shot they were used for... of those who use them, of course.

See my thinking is if I am shooting raw in A mode and have my exposure compensation where I want it? Then why do I need custom functions? Quick menus get me to other changes well quick if I need to. Maybe I'm just a luddite.

The last Nikon I owned, a D300 think, had memory modes but if one called up a memory mode and then made an alteration to the cmera it incorporated this new setting into that memory slot. Made the mode useless for me

I last used custom settings on an EPL1, because otherwise I needed to sit down with the manual to re-figure how I wanted the camera to behave. On the Nikon D700, all it does is remember the last settings you may have selected, rather than preserve them until you proactively change something.

On the G9 you actually have 5 custom presets because C3 is also C3-1, C3-2 and C3-3. If you would like to challenge your settings appetite download the Panasonic treatise on autofocus options in the G9. The detail is incredible.

There is no substitute for using your camera every day. Muscle memory fills in a lot of the blanks as you go along. Occasional use will lead to permanent befuddlement.

Exactly how I set up my Sony RX-1: C1 is my go to - manual everything; C2 is A, auto ISO, min 1/100th sec. shutter; C3 is a custom B&W jpg plus RAW set up / low light. It took me a good month of using the camera to work out how I wanted it set up, anda week to work out how to use the [insert profanity of choice] Sony menus to set the custom modes. If I had to change it now, it would take another [insert profanity of choice] week because I've forgotten how I did it.

Hi Mike,
Thom does an excellent job of explaining the various menu functions, implications and interactions with other functions.... in his books for Nikons...
I don’t know if it’s possible for you, but putting together a spreadsheet of such, including which buttons are customisable with what functions, and then what you want for each customisable function (C1, C2 etc) can help with planning out how to configure one’s camera. And you have a cheat sheet to check later when you start the head scratching of “why did I do that?”

I use a Fuji XT2. It has an aperture ring, an ISO dial, and a shutter speed selector. I set up the camera when I got it, and don't need to go into the menus, much less set up custom modes. Quit futzing with your camera folks!

Thank you for reminding me why I never want to buy another digital camera. Today I took out my Pentax 67ii for the first time in, I think, two years. I think I had to check to see which way the exposure compensation dial worked, but that's it: the rest of it was muscle memory, down to the use-the-self-timer trick to avoid having to carry a shutter release cable. And its not a camera I ever used that much.

I have two digital cameras, and every time I swap to the other one I have about a day's worth of nausea trying to work out which of the several hundred parameters I left in some odd state (even though I never do). At least the menu system on the Ricoh makes sense. I am done with this absurd, useless complexity.

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