Any non-professional Canon DSLR body has the so-called “Camera User Settings” which are directly accessible via the knob for changing the shooting mode (exposure mode dial), which is located in the upper left side of the camera. They are indicated as follows: C1, C2 and C3. Canon 7D, Canon 5D Mark II, 60D, 550D but other models of these classes also have such modes.

Translated by Maya Golemanova

I guess most of you have not paid the due attention which is a big mistake. They serve for saving the selected settings which you often have to use and change. The proper setup and use will facilitate your work, especially for reportage and wildlife photography.

Given the fact that all modern cameras offer video recording, I will offer you setup options for shooting, as well as for video footage.

Each of the “Camera User Setting” C1, C2 and C3 modes makes a copy of all the settings in your camera at the time of its setting – white balance, color profile, speed, aperture, ISO value, frame rate, mirror lock-up and the like.

While shooting in one of the “C” modes, you can make any setting changes as you can do in M mode. But every change you make is reset when switching to different modes, turning the camera off or entering into standby.

Shooting action (wildlife, sports) usually requires faster speed and wide-open apertures as not to increase the ISO values. Furthermore, we must be ready for for something unexpected at any time, thus the mode to which we will set the values has to be easy to set without having to look at the camera.

That is why C3 mode is appropriate. No matter what you are shooting, at a time of action you just turn the exposure mode dial to the end in C3 and then immediately start shooting.

Suggested settings for C3 mode for ordinary sunny day are 1/1250-1600 sec., f/4-6.3, ISO 400 or auto-ISO if the camera has such. Before shooting it is better to check the proper exposure and if necessary to enter accurate values.

In C2 mode I choose settings for shooting relatively static objects (eg. a calm bird): 1/125-320 sec., f/4-8, ISO 100-250, or auto-ISO. This will give you sharp images with no visible noise.

The C1 saves the video mode – stick to 1/50 sec., aperture can be smaller – f/8-16, ISO 100. In an ordinary sunny day, the ISO value should always be the lowest possible as to avoid increasing the speed which in turn makes the moves of the object look less smooth.

It is good to be prepared in advance, especially when you shoot videos because eventually you won’t have a RAW file that you can do whatever you want with. Choosing of the correct color temperature is crucial.

Due to the quality displays in modern DSLR bodies, you can be sure that what you see are actually real colors that you will eventually see on the computer.

You can set +1 saturation in advance and reduce the contrast if you shoot in sharp light as to give your videos more vitality.

It will be a good idea if in cases of bright sunlight you change the standard color profile with neutral, which visibly reduces the contrast and makes the image look milder. In the neutral profile, you can pick saturation of +2 or +3 since it has clearer colors of the default settings.

It is important for the video to have a good quality so you won’t have to work on it later. Video processing is entirely different matter and requires more time and knowledge as to make things well.

Note that the video made with Canon 7D and 60D cameras is not very susceptible to post-processing, although the sensor of these devices is much higher than the sensors of standard video cameras (therefore, it is logical to expect an even better dynamic and material that can be easily processed). This is one more reason to make everything possible to shoot ready videos which you will only have to put together.

With these three modes and one main mode regarding the M, I shoot good quality images in various circumstances, including multiple video clips. It is also important that the ready presets mean less moves and clicks during birds and wildlife shooting, and respectively, less concern for them.

If you are not interested in videos or your camera cannot record such, you can use settings for slow motion panning in free “C” mode and shoot more often with this “creative” technique – 1/5-50 sec., f/8-16, ISO 100 and usually slightly under-exposed settings in general.

In conclusion I would like to express my regret that cameras such as Canon 1D Mark IV and Canon 1D X C don’t have such C modes regardless of the form – whether just a button or in a combination with joystick, or even simply as a software in the menus. These modes are indeed very valuable and helpful and do a great job.

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