5Dmk3 Custom Modes

huge advantage of Canon over Nikon, especially over the ergonomically primitiveNikon D800 and D800E, is having three complete and total camera-state preset positions on the mode dial. Once programmed, everything about the camera’s settings are instantly recalled as soon as you turn on the camera, or move the dial to that position.

These are of incalculable value for recalling different setups for different situations. I use one for landscapes, and one for family. Maybe you’ll use one for indoor night shots, and another for soccer. Unlike Nikon’s bogus “settings banks,” Canon’s C1, C2 and C3 recall everything, recall with the flick of a knob, and are usually locked so they don’t get reset by accident.

Think of these C1, C2 and C3 settings as Camera 1, Camera 2, and Camera 3. It’s like having three cameras around your neck, while only having to carry one.

For instance, since everything is recalled instantly, complex setups are easy to use immediately. I disable my external flash from firing in the menus so I can leave it turned on to use its red AF assist light in the dark without using flash in one C mode, while I let it fire in the other setting. This way it’s easy to focus my nightcapes in total darkness without having the flash fire in C1, and in C2 for family, the flash works as usual.

The 5D Mark III is the world’s best camera for when you’re shooting more than one kind of thing. If I’m shooting in Yosemite Valley, and suddenly my kids do something cute, I can keep my eye on the finder as I turn the camera, and in one click of the mode dial by feel, I’ve reset everything about the 5D Mark III to my own personal preset for kid’s action pictures, as opposed to the settings I was using a second before for grand landscapes.

Sure, if all I shot were sports, news or action, the Nikon D4 is a much faster, tougher professional camera for twice the price, and if all I did was shoot in a studio all day the Nikons are better because they allow easy in-camera 4:5 cropping, and if just want family pictures, the Fuji X100 weighs far less and works better in weird light, but when I want take one camera to do the work of all these at the same time, the Canon 5D Mark III is unbeaten.

The Nikon D800 is nice if you only shoot one thing, but a pain because you need to reset everything for every different shot.

Each of the 5D Mark III’s C settings recalls everything about how you have your camera set: sharpening, color, saturation (and every setting for every one of the ten presets in the Picture Controls menu), self timers, LCD brightness, time-out settings, autofocus settings, P Tv Av M exposure modes, resolution, file format(s), advance, metering, exposure compensation(s), white balance, WB tweaks, how many files the playback jumps when you move the top dial, everything in every menu, everything. The 5D Mark III instantly changes all of its settings as you click from one C setting to the other.

If you reset a few things to something screwy and want to return to your preset preset, simply turn the knob away and back to the C setting you desire, and it’s all as you preset it. You can select these by feel without taking your eye from the finder. If you set something screwy for one shot, don’t worry: after the camera times-out in about a minute (also selectable in a menu), when you wake it for the next shot, it’s back where you preset it. Never again will you make the first shot of the day at ISO 51,200 and 2,500K WB from the night before.

Each of these settings remains unchanged until you save a different set of settings to that dial position.

New on the 5D Mark III is that you can choose to have these settings automatically update as you change the settings, as Nikons do in their settings banks. Set this way, when you leave one setting, it will be as you left it when you return. This is handy for when you first get the camera as your preferences finalize, but I’d set it back to its default of fixed after you get comfortable.

If you save the same thing to two locations and set “auto update,” they both update until you change something in just one of them.