Do you Customize your camera ?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by hjoseph7, May 13, 2020.

  1. Most DSLR's these days come with USER modes which are usually placed on the dial that lets you select Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Bulb, Manual. Some cameras come with USER1, USER2, USER3 or U1, U2, U3(Nikon), C1, C2, C3(Canon). You select one of these modes enter the camera parameters of your choice and the camera saves these parameters so next time you use the camera you don't have to enter them again. Some people swear by them like Ken Rockwell who is always talking about User Modes when reviewing gear.

    Most cameras offer 1 or 2 User modes. Some higher end cameras offer 3 User modes. The Pentax K1 offers a whopping 4 User modes. I don't know too much about User modes because I never use them. To me remembering Shutter speed, ISO, Aperture is enough. Maybe if I'm shooting Flash then Guide numbers and flash-to-subject-distance comes in handy. I don't think I can remember what parameters I stored in U1, U2, or U3 unless I wrote them down somewhere ?

    I once changed the back AE-L button to Auto Focus on my Canon EOS-3, because the shutter was too sensitive. Once in a while I might add a couple of Special-Functions, but usually I try to avoid this. Maybe if I was a professional, or I shot the same type of pictures over and over again, the User Modes might come in handy, but to me 1 or 2 User Modes would be enough.

    Once in a while I shoot weddings, no more than 10 a year. Even then, every wedding is different. The lighting is different, the people are different, the setting is different. I would need 10-20 User settings just to keep up. "Today I will use U3 for this wedding !" This just does not work for me.

    I once owned a Canon 7D. The camera had a reputation for being very customizable. The operating manual was 3 time as thick as your average operating manual, because of the extensive instructions on how to customize that camera. I said to myself the next rainy day I will sit down and read the entire manual, which I never did. Maybe I was missed out on something, but I'll never find out because I trade it in for another camera that did not hog the battery so much.

    No pun intended for those people who like User modes I would just like to know how and why you use them and if there is any benefit in using them.
    Last edited: May 13, 2020
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  2. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    The only way I customise mine is to wrap a small portion of gaffer tape on areas of the bodies, making them far less attractive to would-be thieves, and adding a little 'street-cred' !
  3. I've always find that these different user settings are more trouble than they are worth. Bu then I don't encounter different photographic situations where its necessary to change settings in a hurry.

    The only time I tried to customise my D700 was to set the function button to engage live view. I quickly cancelled it as I kept pressing it accidentally, scaring the hell out of me.
  4. I set up all of my bodies for back button focus. They all also get a RRS "L" bracket compatible with the quick release on my tripod. From there, it just depends. I still haven't really investigated the U1 and U2 on my D7100, mostly because I don't have them on other bodies. I'll assign the fn button or the DoF preview button to toggle the level in the viewfinder, and I program my control dials to all rotate the same way for like functions (to the right for more exposure, left for less). I do try to make the controls on my various bodies as identical as possible, for obvious reasons. I almost never shoot video, so I like when I can reassign the video button, but this is not available on all bodies. I wish I could swap command dials so the front controlled the aperture (since it's closer to the lens) and the rear control the shutter speed. Oh, well...
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  5. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    I do program them on cameras that have User modes available. One invariably for Monochrome, another for landscape - one of my cameras has 3 - I have not used the third. It is a fast and convenient way to make a variety of changes in advance without needing to access the menus in the field. I am not particularly fond of post processing and do as little as possible.
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  6. Precisely for the reasons you give, I don't personally use any camera photo presets. I do have the back-focus button enabled but that's about it.

    As you say, for me each photographic situation is different. I adjust exposure settings to best suit the photographic situation of the moment.
    I shoot exclusively in RAW and I want my captured images to be as 'neutral' as possible. Any adjustments to exposure, color temperature, presence/contrast, vibrance/saturation, etc I want to do in post-processing.

  7. I've tried, but yet to succeed. Even though I do broad classes of shots, say macro, the conditions for each one tend to be very different. The other problem I have, and probably the real killer, is I can never remember what set up I've assigned to what number. It would be great if they let you name them and have it show up on the screen somewhere.
  8. For mirrorless cameras only, to change the EVF effects which are buried in settings menus. I have 3 custom settings, (1) default, (2) to engaged a faster refresh rate for the EVF, for sports/animals, and (3) to eliminated exposure simulation in the EVF which would darken the view when you set negative exposure compensation or underexposed in manual mode. Used this for indoor flash when I want to control ambient exposure. I keep the setting descriptions in the Iphone "Notes" app.
  9. I have the REC button set to change ISO and the Fn button set to change image area. I used to have the AE-L/AF-L button set to change Non-CPU Lens Number, but since chipping almost all the lenses that could be chipped and selling the rest, i no longer need to access that function as much, so it has reverted to its labeled use.

    I also have about twelve items in My Menu, and some of them get used a lot.

    I do not use settings banks and custom menu banks.

    I will now kill myself, as my life has just been revealed with great clarity to be utterly pointless. ;)
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  10. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I played with them but don't use them. For me, it has proved more useful to restore a camera to its "Rest Position" when I finished using it.

    As an example, typically for my (Canon) DSLRs, they go to bed with a lens on and: M Mode ISO 400, 1/200th, F/5.6, Evaluative Metering, raw + JPEG(L), One Shot AF, Single Drive. No: EC, FEC. CF restored if I have changed them, etc. I rarely turn the power "OFF".

    Having a "Rest Position" for any camera is an old habit that I acquired when I was at College: I know exactly where any camera is at when I pick any camera up.

    For the DSLRs I have saved to memory and I do use a couple of different "Picture Styles". These affect the in camera production of the JPEG image and have influence on the Histogram and Blinkies.

  11. This is really two separate questions: customizing the controls, and using the custom user modes. I make use of both.

    Yes, the manuals are thick, but that's a function of how many choices they give you. When I got by 5D III years ago, I left the manual out, and every once in a while, I'd sit down with it for a while and work on one section.It was too much to do at one sitting.

    Based on that, I substantially customized the assignment of buttons to make them convenient for me. I no longer recall all of the settings I changed, other than switching to BBF, setting the dials so that both had movement in the same direction for decreasing or increasing exposure, and setting the picture style to "faithful" to get the best possible histogram for representing the raw file. (I almost never shoot JPEG.) However, I recall that I set quite a number of them.

    I also use two of the three C user settings. One is my default for candid flash shots of kids, and the other is my default for flash bug macros. I don't necessarily stick with those settings, but having them assigned to C settings allows me to get to a reasonable set of settings almost instantly. So, for example, if I am about to take a candid of kids and realize that my settings are still what they were for landscape or macro work, I don't have to fiddle; I just change to C1 and shoot. I'm not stuck with those settings, so it's no problem if the situation calls for something different.
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  12. Using Sony cameras, I have tried using user preset modes for switching between still and video, however not all of the important parameters are saved and reloaded. Instead, I program various buttons with frequently used features, the Quick Function menu (accessed by the Fn key, and a Custom Menu folder. All of these can apply to both modes of operation, or just still or video. While that saves a bit of menu-diving, you still are wise to verify the settings.

    There are a lot of options for auto focus, which work better for some situations than others. A lot depends on what you are shooting, and why. If a setting works well, you keep using it. When it doesn't work, you look for a better setting. Everyhing I need to know about AF is in the Fn menu.
  13. More than just two questions really.

    I customize the settings to produce RAW files with smaller and simple jpgs for quick and dirty. I don't trust any of the "customizer" options on any camera all that much, and prefer to work with RAW or other more basic formats in Photoshop or other graphics processor.

    I do however, often change the external appearance by filling in white brand names, etc. This makes the camera less identifiable and less attractive to thieves (I think).

    I also do cosmetic modifications.

    I think that this is a more-or-less successful cosmetic modification, but some think it is sacrilege.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2020
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  14. OP, no custom settings. I like manual controls anyway.

    I add a soft release button either glued on the flat button or screwed in the cable release hole depending on what type of button it is. I also add a thin wrist strap and UV filter.

    For some uses I use gaffers tape to cover stray lights and reflections if shooting infrared flash in the dark.
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  15. Just a couple of Hello Kitty stickers.
  16. The Fuji's are very handy in that I have just a basic setup and then change anything else on the fly if needed. ISO is super easy and fast, and all the parameters I need are visible in the eyepiece. Never felt slow. Then again, my iPhone is even easier and I use it more than anything probably.
  17. I just bought a Sony a7Riv, which absolutely needs customising straight out of the box.

    The default button configurations are pretty useless for some functions, and other controls have no use assigned to them at all!

    So I've found that an hour or two spent reading the manual and assigning functions to the customisable buttons and 'nipple' is time very well spent.

    It's just a shame I can't transplant the exposure compensation knob from the crowded right-hand side of the camera to the bare top plate on the left-hand side.
  18. The hard part of customization is learning what the options are, what they do, and which ones you want to use. That done, it takes less than 15 minutes to set up a new camera or restore one which was reset for some reason. I'm on my 5th Sony A7, so it's old hat for me.

    I don't mind the crowded right side, but I would like the A7's to have a locking exposure compensation dial, like the A9. I've accidentally moved it by holding the camera to keep it from bouncing at the end of a strap, spoiling many shots.

    The A9 has a dual-layer mode dial on the left, which is very useful.
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
  19. I wish Nikon hadn't put the button for changing the metering mode on the top left side of the camera. I change the metering mode quite often, and I don't know how I'm supposed to reach this button while keeping my left hand under the lens, where it belongs, especially if the lens is a long, heavy one! What I have to do, when a long lens is mounted, is point the lens down to avoid torquing the mount, set the metering mode, and then resume shooting. Alternatively, had I enough dexterity, I could use just my right hand to simultaneously press the metering mode button and turn the command dial to change the mode. But it's very awkward.

    Nikon allows us to reassign the movie rec button to ISO, but they don't let us assign any other button to metering mode. That sucks.
  20. That's been implemented on the a7Riv. There's a little popup locking button in the middle of the compensation knob. Quite a neat design: Press the locking button once, and it pops up to allow the dial to be turned. Press it a second time and it stays depressed and locks the dial. However, I personally feel it wouldn't need such a complicated mechanism if it was just moved to the empty top-plate space to the left of the finder.
    I think you're in a tiny minority there. I might use spot metering once in a rare while. CW averaging - hardly ever. So swapping metering modes quickly isn't an issue for me. Nor the great majority of users, I suspect. And spot-metering is usually a slow process anyway. At least for landscapes.

    Also, the 3 figure Nikons and above have the meter-mode button on the right, next to the top LCD display.
    Last edited: May 20, 2020
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