Canon 20D Menu Settings



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Canon 20D Camera Settings
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Part One - Menu Settings
Jim Doty, Jr.

I have received several requests for an article on how I set up my Canon 20D for photography. Although this article is specific to the 20D, it is applicable to more than one model or brand of camera.

I change the menu items less often than the top deck controls. I will cover some menu settings with more depth than others.

QUALITY. This is almost always set to RAW+Large Fine Jpeg  or to simply LARGE FINE JPEG (the highest jpeg setting). When I shoot in RAW mode I want to capture a lage Fine Jpeg at the same time. I covered the differences between RAW and JPEG settings in another article at this site which I won't repeat here. The points I make are still valid and the article is worth reading. There are several articles on the internet that imply or state that "serious" shooters always shoot in RAW mode. I don't agree. There are good reasons to set your camera to the highest JPEG setting. If you choose to use jpeg, then enjoy it and don't feel guilty because you read somewhere you should always shoot in RAW mode.

RED-EYE.  Always set to OFF.

BEEP.  Off. I do a lot of natural light shooting in religious ceremonies and the beep would be intrusive.


AEB. (Automatic Exposure Bracketing) Sometimes I use bracketing at plus and minus 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, or one full stop. I usually bracket in manual mode by setting the aperture (f-stop) for the depth of field that I want and bracket by changing shutter speeds. If your camera is tripod mounted (and it should be as much of the time as possible), this will give you images you can combine later in the computer when the tonal range of the scene is greater than your imaging sensor can handle.

WB SHIFT/BKT. I don't usually shift or bracket the white balance.

CUSTOM WB. I use custom white balance occasionally in tricky lighting situations when shooting in jpeg mode. Check your camera manual to see how to do this. In RAW mode I usually leave the camera on AWB (auto white balance) and set the color balance after the fact on the computer.

COLOR TEMP. Usually at 5200K.  Sometimes I dial this up or down as a digital version of a color compensating filter.

COLOR SPACE. This is always set to ADOBE RGB. This gives me the maximum color gamut when I open the images in a color aware program like Photoshop Elements or Photoshop CS (the "working space" in both programs is also set to ADOBE RGB). I do my own printing so the larger color gamut is important. If you shoot only for the web, or have your images printed by someone else, ADOBE RGB may not be as important to you.

PARAMETERS. Parameter 2. This gives me a more neutral output than Parameter 1. If I want to set Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation, and Color individually, I use Set 1, Set 2, or Set 3. I don't use the Black and White settings since I prefer creating a B&W image by converting a color image after the fact on the computer.


REVIEW TIME.   4 seconds. A quick look at the image tells me if I am getting what I want compositionally. The histogram (info setting) is a very valuable tool in quickly judging the exposure. I want to see both.  I don't check the review after every image, especially in fast moving situations like sports, but I do check it periodically.

AUTO POWER OFF.  4 minutes. The 20D is so fast to wake up from the sleep mode (unlike the 10D) that it is almost instantly on when I touch the shutter button so I won't miss a grab shot. 4 minutes is plenty of time before the auto shut down. With the 10D I set this to 30 minutes. The 10D is too slow to wake up (2 seconds) if a grab shot occurs and it has gone to sleep.


LCD BRIGHTNESS. Set according to conditions.

DATE TIME.  Set to where I live. I do not reset when crossing time zones since this happens too often to try and keep up. This is simply a personal preference.

FILE NUMBERING.  Continuous.


VIDEO SYSTEM. NTSC (I live in the U.S.)


FORMAT.   Once I have downloaded my memory card to my computer and AFTER I have burned all images to a back up CD or DVD, I FORMAT the card before using it again.  Don't ERASE all the images on the card or you could have problems down the road with the card and its file system. It is always best to FORMAT rather than ERASE all the images.  I do erase individual images as I go along, but that is a different situation.

CUSTOM FUNCTIONS.  See the link below to the Custom Functions page.

CLEAR SETTINGS.  I have never needed to use this to reset everything back to default, but it is there if I need to.

SENSOR CLEAN. Cleaning the digital sensor is a fact of life for almost all digital SLRs. Read the camera manual for instructions. Use a blower bulb, NEVER use canned air. Do this only after you have fully recharged the battery.

Part Two - 20D Custom Functions
Part Three - 20D Top Deck Controls

April 20, 2005


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