From the factory your Canon DSLR is going to be setup for ease of use and a direct path from the box to use. There are a few small changes you can make to the configuration that comes from the factory to make your camera more fool proof when in the heat of a shoot, or for it to work better for you. The options below are all from my Canon 6D. Your camera might not have all the options my camera has, it may have additional options, or they may be under different menu headings. I highly recommend flipping through the manual that came with your camera, or looking into an in-depth camera video specific to your camera. KelbyOne has a great line of such videos.
Shooting Menu Options
Image Quality – RAW. I shoot everything in RAW format, gives me the maximum amount of data to work with while processing.
Release shutter without card – OFF. You’ll only forget putting a card in your camera once to wish you had turned this option on. Nothing like catching that perfect sunset, that perfect smile, or the rare bird flying through and not having anything to show for this.
Image Review – set this to the shortest possible length you’re willing to set it. I have mine set to 2 seconds. The longer this is set the shorter time your battery is going to last. Its also a good practice to avoid reviewing every photo you take. Once your composition is dialed in via your histogram, trust your eye.
Mirror Lockup – OFF/ON. I set this when shooting any sort of long exposure shots when I’m locked down on the tripod and want to do everything possible to minimize camera shake. Using LiveView also achieves this useful step in ensuring sharp photos.
Color Space – AdobeRGB. AdobeRGB is a much larger color space than sRGB. Want to know if you’re shooting in AdobeRGB or sRGB, just check the prefix of your photo files. IMG_ = sRGB. _MG_ = AdobeRGB. Just make sure you also setup your Lightroom and other photo editing software to also use the same color space.
Long exp. noise reduction – OFF. Some people might be tempted to turn this on for long exposures over 60 seconds, instead just put your lens cap on and shoot one dark frame to use in Photoshop for the same effect. Only consider turning it on if you are going to be changing your exposure settings very frequently and don’t mind effectively doubling each exposure time (and missing any shots that come up in the gaps).
Grid Display – 3×3+diag – this is the grid shown on the LCD screen in LiveView. 3×3 will display the rule-of-thirds, I’ve recently added the diagonals to the display which gives an additional visual guide.
Highlight alert – Enable. This is a great one, known as the “blinkies”. The best defense against clipping highlights or blacks, a quick glance at the playback to ensure no blinking warnings and you are sure to have all important data in all those pixels across your entire image.
Playback Grid – same options as the Grid Display available here, only for this option I only use the 3×3 grid. The diagonals are more information than I care to have laid over my photos on quick review.
File Numbering – Continuous. This is a must if you are not renaming your files in import into Lightroom or placing each shoot in its own folder.
Auto power off – like review time, set this as low as you are comfortable with. Mine is set at 2 mins. Shooting all day out on the trail, this can save a lot of battery life.
GPS – ON/OFF. Only use when you need it. Even when the camera is off this option will drain a significant amount of battery.
These are a situation-by-situation setup. I’ll cover some of my favorites in a future post.