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Friday, November 29, 2013

Useful Tips For Using Canon EOS-5D Mk III Camera

Canon released a major upgrade, Firmware Version 1.2.1 to the EOS-5D Mk III camera back in April 2013. The Mk III has been my pick for the best value, full frame camera ever since its introduction and the Mk IV will be coming out next year. The following are a few tips to get the most out of the current model loaded with the new software.

Using the Rate button

The Mk III features a Rate button on the left of the rear LCD screen that has been designed to make it easier to find images when editing. In general, when shooting, you know when you have taken a good frame. However, if it is in a sequence of similar images, finding it again while editing can take a little time. By using the Rate button on the EOS 5D Mark III, you can add a 1-5 star EXIF compatible rating so that when you come to sorting your pictures out later, your best images are easier to find. Those you have tagged will be at the top, and while you don’t want to miss the action looking at the back of the camera rating images, a single press of the Rate button in playback gives a star rating that can be easily done in the downtime between the action.

Using Multiple Exposures

If you plan on using the in-camera multiple exposure capability in cameras such as the EOS 5D Mk III, you need to remember where exactly the image elements are in relation to each other. For example: overlaying the moon on a landscape. To make this easier, use the viewfinder grid and the focus points to provide a visual reference of where subjects are from previous images, relative to the current image you are creating.

Using Compression Settings

With the EOS 5D Mk III, Canon introduced compression settings in the Movie shooting settings to go along with the resolution and frame rate selection. The two options are IPB and ALL-I. Essentially, IPB is a compressed setting, a lot like the files from an EOS 5D Mark II, whereas ALL-I is an intra-frame codec where every frame is treated as a key frame and uncompressed. ALL-I footage will be around three times larger than IPB. Which you choose will depend on your needs. If you need to keep file sizes down, then IPB is the best choice. However, for almost all other uses, ALL-I is the best choice because the resulting footage is easier to edit on lower powered computers and produces better image quality by allowing you to edit more accurately on a frame-by-frame basis.

Using HDR

If you want to create HDR images using an EOS 5D Mark III, this can be done in-camera. Within the camera settings for HDR, there are options for shooting with 1, 2 or 3 stops of exposure bracketing. While all three settings can work well, if you plan on using one of the “Art” settings for combining images, you will find the best results are obtained by keeping the exposure bracketing range to 1 or 2-stops rather than the full 3 stops, though it is worth experimenting to see what suits your taste.

Using Multi Function Lock

If you find yourself regularly changing settings on the camera accidentally while moving around, then making use of the multi-function lock can avoid issues when you come to shoot in a fast-paced environment. The lock switch below the quick command dial can be used to lock the main dial, the multi-controller or the quick control dial – simply select which you would like to lock through the custom function in Group 2 Disp./Operation. When you come to change a setting, you may see L displayed in the viewfinder and on the top LCD panel. If this happens, you will be unable to change the setting because the multi-function lock is set. Simply flick the switch and the camera will return to normal.

Using C Modes

Using the C Modes on the EOS 5D Mark III makes it very easy to set up three different camera settings ready for instant recall – for example, C1 might be for movie shooting with the appropriate shutter speed set for the frame rate you record at while C2 might be an instant switch to Tv mode with a fast shutter speed set ready to capture action at a moment’s notice. However, since you may have three different shooting modes set (one in each C Mode) it can be difficult to remember exactly what is where. If you need to find out quickly, then pressing the INFO button to display the camera settings will show you which shooting mode is registered on each of the C Modes.

Using Menu Navigation

The menu structure of the EOS 5D Mark III offers quick navigation by grouping settings into tabs and sub-tabs. However, with the sub-tabs, moving from one major group to the next can require several clicks of the dial or nudges on the multi-controller. If you need to move between major tabs quicker, you can make use of the Q Button. Located just above the quick command dial on the back of the camera, pressing this will jump you from one major tab to the next, thus speeding your movements through the menu system.

Using The Lock Switch

When shooting HD Movies with a DSLR, the general rule is to set your shutter speed based on your frame rate and then don’t change it during filming. By default, the shutter speed settings are made using the main command dial behind the shutter button, though it is possible to switch it to the quick command dial using the Custom Controls if that suits you better. Either way, to avoid the shutter speed being changed accidentally, it is advisable to make use of the Multi function lock switch. In C.Fn2 there is an option to choose which control the switch locks - set this to lock whichever of the dials you use for setting the shutter speed and you can then be sure you won’t accidentally knock your settings.

Checking Battery Life

When checking the battery life of an LP-E6 battery in the EOS 5D Mark III menu, you may see a message saying “Use this battery?”. If this happens, it usually indicates an issue with the battery or the communication between the battery and the camera. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t continue using the battery. If you select ‘OK’ you will be able to keep on shooting, but you may not be able to see the battery info screen and if you can, you need to be careful in relying on what it reports as it could be wrong. The best option, if you see this message, is to ensure you have a spare battery with you in case it runs out suddenly.

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