Custom Shooting Modes: What Are They and Why Should You Use Them?

The enormous degree of customization choices available with current digital cameras is one of their greatest advantages. For unique circumstances, menus, button arrangement, touchscreens, and other features may be adjusted. All current cameras offer a function called Custom Shooting Modes, which allows the user to save and remember unique user profiles in addition to programmable buttons and menus. I discuss CSMs and how they may substantially improve your photography and user experience in this essay and video.

What Are Custom Shooting Modes?

Custom Shooting Modes are denoted on your camera by the letter C, followed by a number. Most cameras will have a minimum of 3 available, identified as follows: C1, C2, C3, etc. In Canon’s EOS system, three of these modes are provided, and in Fujifilm’s X system, a user may create up to seven different profiles for different situations. At first, it is easy to mistake a custom shooting mode (which I will refer to as CSM for short in this post) with customizable menus or buttons, but these are fundamentally separate tasks. Here’s the difference: CSMs are global settings that affect the whole camera, and are used to save a dedicated user profile that can be immediately retrieved. Additionally, a CSM contains a specific shooting mode like Program, Aperture Priority, Manual, etc. (see the photo below where there is a small “M” next to C1 indicating that this particular CSM supports manual exposure, for example) (see the photo below where there is a little “M” next to C1 indicating that this particular CSM includes manual exposure, for example). When a CSM is registered, it memorizes and recalls not only menu settings, button layouts, autofocus settings, and the like, but it also remembers a specific shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance setting, image quality setting (such as RAW or JPEG), and picture profile. It might be best to think of it as creating a virtual picture of your camera’s settings at a moment in time, which can be instantly recalled when a similar shooting circumstance happens.

Why Should You Utilize Custom Shooting Modes?

Now that we’ve established what CSMs are, let’s talk about why they’re such a vital component of the overall system. Custom Photography Modes not only significantly enhance the overall workflow and logistics of shooting, but they also make it simple to maintain consistency when a photographic circumstance repeats itself over and over again. For example, when I am photographing headshots at my studio, I utilize the C1 setting on my camera, which is the default. When I press the C1 button on the camera, it immediately switches to manual mode and recalls all of the settings I had previously saved, including the shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, focus method, raw settings, button and menu configuration, picture profile, and anything else I had previously saved. My headshots are made in a controlled studio atmosphere, which means that the camera is ready to go without the need to double-check every single option prior to a session. The fact that I simply have to make minor tweaks depending on my individual client rather than beginning from scratch each time helps significantly with consistency, as well as making the following session much more efficient. It also ensures that I don’t make the mistake of accidentally setting the camera to JPEG instead of raw, which is something we’ve all done at some time and which can completely wreck an entire shoot.

The C2 mode on my camera is configured for street and family portraiture. One of the most significant developments for me has been the introduction of exposure simulation. In the studio, I do not want the EVF to simulate exposure because I am working with strobes; therefore, I have exposure simulation deactivated in my C1 configuration. Nonetheless, when I’m out with my camera, whether it’s for family shots, on-location portraiture with natural light, or street photography, I like to use exposure simulation so that I can see precisely what I’m going to get before pressing the shutter button. In addition, while using C2, my autofocus technique, base ISO, white balance, and image profile, among other things, change from when using other settings. So, instead of having to sift through many menus and manually alter all of these settings one by one when I’m outside of my studio, all I have to do is choose C2 when I’m shooting outside photo sessions and I’m ready to go.

Custom Shooting Modes Equal Less Missed Shots

Custom Shooting Modes have many applications, and it is simple to understand why. However, there is an additional advantage to using them. Missed shots and stupid mistakes will be reduced as a result of the use of CSMs. Consider the following scenario: if you are a portrait photographer who also happens to be an avid sports photographer, creating a CSM specifically for sports ensures that the camera is already set to Shutter Priority with the optimal ISO, focus mode, and so on and that you will never forget to make these adjustments to each set before your shoot begins, for example. When dealing with portrait customers, this is another case in which this is relevant. Early in my headshot and picture profession, I would spend the first ten minutes of a session playing with every setting, starting at the beginning of the session! Inevitably, this would cause stress for me, and embarrassment for my customer, who would be forced to stand there and continue to be bombarded with flash bursts until I worked out what I was doing (I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the picture). An appropriately configured CSM will come to your aid in such circumstances.

It’s Well Worth the Time Investment

Custom Shooting Modes were something I overlooked for a long time, mostly because I didn’t understand what they were for and partly because I didn’t want to spend the effort necessary to configure them. In general, I don’t consider myself to be a particularly tech-savvy individual, and I try to avoid reading instruction manuals whenever possible, preferring instead to figure things out on the fly (yes, this is just laziness). Unfortunately, I was unable to recall the settings I had used from one shoot to the next, resulting in a significant amount of extra work for myself and a delay in the consistency of my images.

Custom Shooting Modes

On the other hand, the tiny amount of time and work required in the initial setup of my CSMs has saved me numerous hours over the years and prevented me from making preventable mistakes with customers in my studio. It has also enhanced my client relationships because I no longer have to make huge alterations at the beginning of each session, but only little tweaks to my approach instead. Custom Shooting Modes are really handy, and if you haven’t used them yet, now is a great opportunity to get started with this function. It will increase the quality of your photographs and process, as well as make your life significantly simpler in the long term!

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