Canon 40D - what default settings would you change for general photography?

Discussion in 'Canon' started by EAL, Jan 5, 2008.

  1. EAL

    EAL Guest

    The question would apply to many cameras, but I'm playing with my 40D
    right now...

    For general shooting, I suppose (possibly after a few weeks) most
    would set the control dial to P.

    You might shoot raw, or not, depending on how much space you have left
    on the card.

    What about the default contrast/sharpness settings?

    Would you set a single focus point instead of 9?

    What about the flash sync speed... it's pretty annoying to have the
    shutter do a 1/2 sec exposure when you want a close-up of some object
    that is in some shady location.

    Other suggestions?

    EAL, Jan 5, 2008
    1. Advertisements

  2. EAL

    Matt Ion Guest

    I did that with my 300D right out of the box.
    I'll usually shoot highest-quality, largest JPG, for ease of processing
    and workflow, and switch to RAW when the subject/desire/intent calls for
    it, particularly for landscapes, high-contrast or low-light scenes, and
    the like - places where I want to make use of the additional dynamic
    range provided by the RAW format.
    My rule of thumb is to leave all these settings at "0" or default -
    these things are easy to tweak in software, and it's better to NOT have
    the camera apply excessive processing first. Remember, it's much harder
    to UNDO something the camera has done to the picture, than to simply do
    it manually later.
    That would depend entirely on what I'm shooting. I'll usually use all 7
    of my 300D's focus points - the camera can often be aimed to "encourage"
    a particular point to lock on, and holding focus-lock then allows me to
    recompose. There are rare times I'll select a specific focus point, but
    I find making the change usually consumes more time than it's worth, and
    can screw me up later if I forget to set it back. In fact, I'm more
    likely to simply switch to manual focus than to select one specific
    focus point.
    That, too, will vary with the situation. Sometimes you want a slow
    shutter sync, to get particular effects. Sometimes you want it faster
    to reduce or virtually eliminate the effect of ambient light.
    Take a course - community college, online, or whatever suits you - in
    basic photography. It doesn't need to be a digital-specific course,
    just something that teaches the theory and application behind concepts
    such as exposure, exposure compensation, depth-of-field, adjusting
    shutter and aperture for different purposes, and so on. A good grasp on
    the basics will make it easier to see and understand what's happening
    when you choose various settings, and determine what settings to use to
    achieve a particular outcome.
    Matt Ion, Jan 5, 2008
    1. Advertisements

  3. EAL

    Neil Ellwood Guest

    My suggestion would be to go to your local lending library and borrow a
    couple of books on photography, study them and then go out and practice.
    Neil Ellwood, Jan 5, 2008
  4. EAL

    Warren Guest

    When I got my first SLR (actually a DSLR) I bought "Understanding Exposure"
    by Bryan Peterson. Very helpful.

    Warren, Jan 5, 2008
  5. EAL

    Tony Polson Guest

    That's heresy!

    Everyone on Usenet knows that the best way to improve your photography
    is to buy more expensive equipment and use it in Program mode.

    Tony Polson, Jan 5, 2008
  6. EAL

    Mark B. Guest

    I have the 30D, but the questions you asked apply to both...
    Nope, I shoot Av most of the time.

    I shoot raw 99% of the time.
    Not necessary with raw.
    I leave it on the center, and move it to one of the other points when
    When shooting flash indoors or shade, I put the camera in Manual and let the
    flash expose automatically. In well-lit situations when I just want flash
    for fill, I'm usually shooting in Av and I'll usually dial in a negative
    flash exposure compensation.

    Experiment - there's no film to waste, just your time :) Really, the best
    way to learn is to play around with the settings to see what works. There
    is no single setting that works in all situations.

    Mark B., Jan 5, 2008
  7. EAL

    Shawn Hirn Guest

    Its a digital camera so experiment with the settings you like best.
    There is no right or wrong answer. Me? I would leave the camera on the
    default settings for most shots, and just adjust shutter and aperture as
    needed, and also shoot in the highest resolution jpeg.
    Shawn Hirn, Jan 5, 2008
  8. EAL

    Paul J Gans Guest

    Irony it is, but it is just a bit unfair. As with everything
    in photography, it depends on what you photograph. Being
    blessed with young grandchildren, if I have my camera out I
    have it set to "P" because I frequently want grab shots.
    And because I'm frequently indoors I have the flash set to
    automatic and the ISO to 200.

    That way I don't lose shots due to fiddling while my subjects
    exit the room at top speed.

    If I am out and around just to photograph, I often chose aperature
    priority and go from there. But again, it depends on the lens(es)
    I'm using.
    Paul J Gans, Jan 5, 2008
  9. EAL

    EAL Guest

    Yah, excellent advice, albeit idealistic... myself, I've already read
    a couple of them, and shot a Rebel for 2 years before buying the 40D.

    I find it puzzling that the 40D, a fairly advanced camera, is
    seemingly designed for the point-and-shooter, with all those basic
    settings on the control dial, and many presets in the creative
    settings that again suggest a user who isn't going to do any

    So, I'm getting control of the machine by setting it to my
    preferences, but am hesitating in some cases, wondering if it is the
    best way or wondering what I might be losing in order to gain
    something else.

    That's why I was asking what others do.

    Back to your advice to read... how many people go to the library and
    sit down to study a couple of photography books before using a
    brand-new 40D?

    And for that matter, how many of them would understand what they are
    reading without having experience with the camera?

    EAL, Jan 5, 2008
  10. EAL

    EAL Guest

    That suggests indoor shooting with an external flash, or situations
    where DOF is important, plus you are not going to use the main dial.

    Whether you shoot P, Tv or Av makes no difference to the picture you
    end up taking, assuming you DO use the main dial, because all three
    modes will give the same shutter and aperture settings.
    Might not be an option if your CF card is nearing its capacity.
    Good suggestions on using flash.
    Yes, to a point. Properly done experiments are very time consuming.
    I've taken hundreds of shots just testing the autofocus on a previous
    camera. If you set out to experiment with such things as noise levels
    at different ISOs, comparing in-camera sharpening with P-P sharpening,
    diddling with exposure levels to improve dynamic range, and so on, you
    will spend weeks on it. Smart people learn from what others have done
    if the info is available. I would rather be taking pictures.

    EAL, Jan 5, 2008
  11. EAL

    Mark B. Guest

    See below - indoors I typically shoot manual with external flash - I start
    at 1/60, f/5.6, and ISO 400. I'll shoot lower ISO if possible, and adjust
    the aperture and shutter speed if necessary.
    Never been a problem with a pair of 2GB cards (along with a couple 1GB) and
    a portable storage device, though I haven't had to dump to the psd too
    often. On the 40D, I'd go with a pair of 4GB cards. Cards are too cheap
    not to have enough.

    Go to manual exposure, and bump the ISO to 400 - higher if necessary.
    I do a bit of both.

    Good luck,
    Mark B., Jan 5, 2008
  12. The DSLR beginner is well advised to avoid these settings, in order to
    learn the basics of manual control. Once that's been done, he is then
    in a position to start learning how to be able to take proper
    advantage of those "basic" settings. Hopefully by that time he has
    gained enough technical confidence not to be embarrassed by being seen
    to use a camera setting that a P&S user would use :)
    Chris Malcolm, Jan 6, 2008
  13. [What settings to use]

    My "default" settings: (20D)
    - RAW only
    - AWB (not too important, since I use RAW anyway, seldom
    - AI Focus
    - continous shooting
    - Matrix metering
    - Flash 1/3rd stop underexposure
    - no exposure compensation
    - AF field: Center only (changed for flash shooting since E-TTL(2)
    considers the active AF field as important, so focus&recompose
    is a bad idea there)
    - ISO 400 (changed as needed to 1600, or in rare cases to
    - Tv preset to 1/80s (I might change that to higher speeds
    some day)
    - Av preset to f/5.6
    - M preset to 1/250s f/5.6 (for flash use, mostly, or when
    unchanged light conditions are expected and overexposure due
    to small area reflections might be a problem --- eg polished
    metal under clear sky.)
    - P on the dial --- for these quick-quick shots, otherwise I may
    as likely use Av or Tv, though I have learned that P usually
    strikes a good balance between aperture and exposure --- usually
    going earlier to fast exposures than I do, and, it turns out,
    rightly so.
    - SET button to "change parameters" => PA-1 -> all default
    (0 == middle) --- very rarely used
    - Long Exposure noise reduction (dark frame substraction) ON
    - Flash sync speed in Av: AUTO (I use M if I want something
    - Shutter halfpressed activates AE-lock, not AF + AE-lock;
    AE-lock button activates AF, not AE-lock
    - AF-assist: external flash only (no ugly AF-flashes from
    internal flash unit)
    - Exposure in 1/3rd stops
    - Flash fires (I change that if I use the flash for AF-assist
    - ISO expansion (H/3200): OFF (my ISO 3200 is ISO 1600 + 1 stop
    underexposure + 1 stop push in postprocessing, which gives the
    same image (the camera also just pushes 1 stop for ISO 3200),
    but keeps an extra stop for highlights.
    - Bracketing: 0, -, +, no auto cancel (used with AEB set to
    somewhere between +/-1 and +/-2 stops for HDR, if needed)
    - Superimposed display ON (lights relevant AF field(s) in
    - Menu: previous entry (so I can jump back and there again)
    - Mirror lockup disabled (I enable it sometimes for tripod
    - AF selection NORMAL (no quick selection shortcut)
    - E-TTL II evaluative (not average), so that reflections can
    be ignored
    - Shutter: 2nd curtain (but with flashes that can set that
    themselves (e.g. 550EX) you need to tell the flash or it
    will be ignored!
    Doesn't work with Canon's Master-Slave (IR) multi-flash
    system --- probably due to good technical reasons (you'd
    need an accurate clock in the slaves --- and it still
    wouldn't work correctly work with "bulb"!)
    - Safety shift on Av and Tv ON (i.e. if I set 1/1000s, and
    it's too dark (or too bright) to compensate with the
    aperture, even wide open, the camera reduces my time preset
    as a last resort)
    - Lens AF stop button function: Default AF stop (since I
    don't have such a lens, it doesn't matter to me).
    - Add original decision data: ON
    (This is a fingerprint of the image + EXIF (MD5), encrypted
    (SHA1) with a camera key. The "data verification kit" contains
    a smart card[1] that also can do these steps, so it can prove the
    originality of the data --- and the handful bytes is completely
    invisible in the MBs of image. Since it costs me practically
    nothing and may one day be very important ...)
    - 50mm f/1.4 with lenshood in normal position, lenscap on (I
    very often change that often to whatever lens I want to use,
    but this combination fits best into my camera bag and it's
    my low-light lens (and I do lots of available light shots),
    so I think it a good compromise.
    - battery grip attached with 2 LiIon batteries (always there)
    - neckstrap attached to camera (left) and battry grip (right).

    I take care to reset the camera to these settings (mostly ISO,
    M/Av/Tv presets, set to P), so I can kind-of use the camera blind
    and know what the camera is set to when I pull it from the bag).


    [1] the implementation in hardware makes the secret camera key(s)
    extremely harder to 'steal' compared to a software program that
    can easily be inspected and observed, especially when it runs.
    Wolfgang Weisselberg, Jan 9, 2008
  14. EAL

    EAL Guest

    Thanks! Pls see comments within.

    OK, AI focus changes automatically to AI Servo when the subject starts
    moving... but AI Servo isn't going to change focus if the subject is
    stationary, and also changes only if the subject moves... so it seems
    AI Focus and AI Servo are really the same... or can that be? What's
    the diff?
    I presume this is when using flash for fill.
    Probably would make it a *good* idea...
    Some of the points below I have to think about some more.
    EAL, Jan 10, 2008
  15. ["Followup-To:" header set to]

    AI Servo does not do AF-assist and is exposure priority (i.e.
    shutter goes off even while the AF is still working) and more
    things like "tracking" and "predictive AF" (where should the AF
    focus to, based on the observed motion of the subject?)-

    AI Focus is basically an "intelligent" switching between One Shot
    (default) and AI Servo. Though I'll set AI Servo for sports
    rather than rely on AI Focus for each shot.
    Nope, for that I'd use -2 stops (or rely on the flash automatic,
    depending on brightness). I just feel that my flash
    sometimes flashes a bit stronger than I want it.
    f&r does *not* work well with E-TTL, unless you use flash
    exposure lock.

    Wolfgang Weisselberg, Jan 10, 2008
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.