Canon DSLR Tricks, Tricks and Tricks

Most users use only a small part of the functionality of their cameras. Part of the reason for this is the lack of experience of novice photographers or poor knowledge of the capabilities of their DSLRs, but in many cases the reason lies in a completely different way — in the features of the functionality and controls laid down by the manufacturer.

Canon Camera Setup Menu

We have prepared for all users of Canon DSLRs a few tricks, tips and tricks that can help you better master the camera and use it more efficiently. The article will be interesting for both beginners and more experienced users.

Any DSLR, regardless of model, is a finely tuned tool that combines both well-functioning mechanical elements and high-tech electronics.

Most users use only a small part of the functionality of their cameras. Part of the reason for this is the lack of experience of novice photographers or poor knowledge of the capabilities of their DSLRs, but in many cases the reason lies in a completely different way — in the features of the functionality and controls laid down by the manufacturer.

Sometimes Canon does not choose the most obvious and logical option for grouping camera functions, because of which it may not be clear to the user how to access them (and even the instruction does not always add clarity to this issue). So, in order to effectively use your Canon DSLR, you need to know this:

Select RAW as the image format

There are several options for the format and quality of images available to the SLR user, but for best results you should always choose RAW (uncompressed or compressed without loss of quality). Images in this format show a better range of tones, and also give more room for maneuver when editing. The choice of this image format is almost always justified.

If shooting in JPEG, choose maximum quality

Although you should use the RAW format in most cases, there are situations when the compromise option is to choose the highest quality JPEG. For example, if you are going to shoot a continuous series of images, select JPEG with the highest quality — so you can increase the shooting time of the camera until its buffer is full.

Save space on the memory card if necessary

Choosing the highest quality JPEG can also be useful in cases where there is not enough space on your memory card, because you completely forgot about the need to take a spare one with you.

Timely update the camera firmware

Canon continues to improve the reliability and performance of its cameras, even after they left the factory. That is why it will be useful to regularly monitor the official website for an updated version of the firmware for your DSLR. Check in the camera menu which version of firmware you are using. Then go to the official Canon website and find the “Support” section, and then “Software.” In this section, you can check the relevance of the firmware used in the DSLR and, if necessary, download its update.

Try sRaw format

Many modern Canon DSLRs allow you to shoot not only in JPEG or RAW, but also in sRAW (RAW Size Small, that is, RAW small size), which saves space on memory cards. But you must remember that when shooting in sRAW, the camera uses fewer pixels, so the image file will contain less information than a regular RAW file, and you will have to put up with lower resolution or image quality.

SRAW setup screen

Perform diopter adjustment of the viewfinder

We already wrote about setting up the viewfinder in this article.

Adjusting the viewfinder taking into account the peculiarities of your vision will allow you to see the scene you shoot more clearly. For diopter adjustment, use a small wheel in the upper right corner of the viewfinder. Rotate it in one or the other side to adjust the viewfinder optics.

IMPORTANT! When setting up the viewfinder, focus on the sharpness of the numbers inside the viewfinder, and not on the sharpness of the scene!

Set Adobe RGB color space

One of the most deeply hidden options in your DSLR menu is Color Space. By default , sRGB is set as the color space , but if you select Adobe RGB, you can capture a wider color range. And this allows you to get better results when printing images.

color space selection

Format / clean the card before use

If you are going for a photo walk or just planning to shoot during the day, it is better to clean the memory card from the images on it, after copying them to a computer. Naturally, the easiest way to delete all the images at once, and not one at a time. To do this, you can use the «Delete All» or «Format» command. The first one simply deletes all images (except files protected from deletion), the second one deletes all the information from the memory card completely — whether it is protected from deletion or not.

Do not make noise!

Are you annoyed by the focus confirmation tone? This option is always enabled by default in Canon DSLR settings. Turn it off so as not to attract too much attention or to frighten the inhabitants of the wild that you are going to shoot.


If you are too keen on changing camera settings and want to return to the factory settings, then you can use the corresponding menu item to reset all settings. After that, the camera will return to those parameters that were preset in it at the factory. Then you can start experimenting with your DSLR settings again and again!

Make sure your photos are saved.

The function “Shooting without a memory card” is very convenient for demonstrating the capabilities of the camera when buying it in a store, but it is extremely harmful when using the camera. Because of it, you can shoot, forgetting to install a memory card, which will lead to the loss of all captured photos. To avoid this, look in the menu for the function “Shooting without a memory card” and turn it off.

Experiment with image styles

Canon offers many image styles. The most useful of them is monochrome. It allows you to determine which of the captured images are well suited for conversion to monochrome at the post-processing stage. In this case, RAW files will contain color images (you do not forget to shoot in RAW, right?)

Paradoxically, converting a color RAW image to monochrome during post-processing gives a much better result than photographs taken directly from the camera when shooting in black and white.

Use the program shift function

Program mode (P) is actually more useful than many users think. It automatically sets shutter speed and aperture based on the lighting conditions and lens used.

However, in program mode, you can not just aim the camera and take pictures — you can change the shutter speed or aperture value set by the camera. To do this, in program mode, you just need to turn the wheel located next to the shutter button. This is very convenient if you want to slightly adjust the parameters selected by your DSLR automatically.

Program shift

Aperture Priority

Aperture Priority (AV) mode is a great versatile option for creative shooting. You set the aperture value, and the camera selects the shutter speed taking into account the selected metering mode. You set the aperture using the Basic set, and the camera sets the shutter speed based on the metering mode and Exposure compensation that you set.

Aperture priority mode is also convenient to use for choosing a specific shutter speed. Everything is very simple: if you want to get the maximum shutter speed, you simply rotate the main dial until you see the desired shutter speed in the viewfinder. This mode is much more flexible in terms of use than Shutter Priority, in which you set the shutter speed, and the camera sets the aperture value.

The easiest way to adjust exposure

Your DSLR has many exposure modes and ways to adjust it, but the easiest way to check the exposure, whatever settings you use, is to take a picture and then view it on the camera’s LCD screen. The histogram will tell you the underexposed picture or, conversely, overexposed. After that, you can use exposure compensation to make the next shot lighter or darker. To do this, you need to press the Av +/- button, and then rotate the dial located behind the shutter button. Offset to the “+” side makes the image darker, to the “-” side — lighter.

What exposure compensation value should I choose?

If the scene (or subject) you shoot is predominantly dark, the camera will overexpose the image, so use negative exposure compensation. If the scene is mostly bright, choose an exposure compensation value of +1 or +2 — so you get a more balanced image in terms of exposure.

Partial metering

To shoot objects located on a bright or dark background, you will have to use exposure compensation so as not to get only the silhouette of the subject in the photo. You can also select a metering mode in which brightness is measured only in the center of the frame. This mode in Canon DSLRs is a partial exposure metering, and it copes well with the task in most situations.

Metering Modes

Focus Lock (AF-lock)

One of the most convenient features of DSLRs is focus lock, which allows autofocus to focus on a specific area of ​​the scene being shot. To use it, go into One-Shot AF mode, then gently press the shutter button halfway to activate the autofocus system. After the camera focuses without releasing your finger from the shutter button, recompose the shot and press the shutter button fully.

Auto Exposure Lock (AE-lock)

The disadvantages of focus lock include the fact that it locks both focus and exposure. And this can lead to incorrect exposure of the frame. To avoid this, use the exposure lock button on the back of the camera (marked with an asterisk). Use focus lock as described above, then when the frame is rearranged, press the exposure lock button to reset the exposure before taking the picture.