Personalising your camera

When you first get a new camera it’s so tempting to get out and shoot right away, but I have learnt that it’s better to personalise a camera to my way of shooting as I find that this helps me to learn the new camera faster, and ensures I get what I expect right from the start.

Step 1 – set the dioptre correction on your viewfinder

All digital EOS cameras have dioptre correction on the viewfinder. I always make sure that the viewfinder on my cameras is set for my eyes. Many years ago one of Canon’s pro-reps explained to me the way to do this properly. You take the lens off the camera, and then you adjust the dioptre correction until the focussing screen and typically the focus frames on it are sharp. The dioptre adjustment is the little wheel next to the optical viewfinder, on EOS-1D models it’s hidden behind the eyecup, so you need to remove the eyecup to make the adjustment, but are unlikely to move it once set and the eyecup is replaced.

If you try to do the adjustment with a lens on then you will naturally try to optimise the dioptre setting by looking at sharpness of the scene through the lens, and depending on where the lens is focussed, you might not be settting the viewfinder dioptre correctly.

Step 2 – your pictures should have your name on them

Setting the owners name in the camera from EOS utilityThis is not a camera control or operation personalisation step, but possibly one of the most vital ones for me with a new or loaned camera: I set my name in the owners name field. Now each and every picture I take with the camera will automatically have my name embedded in the image meta-data. To do it you need to connect the camera to your computer and run EOS Utility. It’s on the free CD that’s in the box with Canon cameras, probably still shrinkwrapped to the manual you left in the box too! Once EOS utility starts then go to Camera settings/remote shooting and then the tools to get to the space to enter your name. I’ve even see some photographers put their mobile telephone number in this field as well as their name.

There are some limits to the characters you can use, and you can only have 31 characters in total. However the best part is that you cannot remove or delete this setting without reconnecting the camera to a computer and changing it to something else or deleting it. Simply clearing a camera to it’s default settings won’t remove your stored name.

With Canon’s EOS Utility, and Downloader Pro and BreezeBrowser software you can file images by owners name automatically as you import the pictures to your computer. 

Step 3 – make the features you want to use easy to access

My Menu configurationThere’s some unwritten law that change is good, but sometimes moving a function I need from one menu group to another annoys me, especially when I only have the camera on loan for a short period of time. The key things I like to access in the camera menus are format, highlight alert, flash settings and the rest depend on the kind of pictures I plan to take. To make my chosen settings always in the same place I use the My Menu feature and put my chosen functions in My Menu so that they are all in the same order whichever camera I am using. Now If I need to format a memory card, it’s the first entry on the green My Menu tab, highlight alert is second and so on. Often I find that over time I change the last three entries of the six items that can be allocated to My Menu as I get more familiar with a camera.