2 May 2009

My Menu - what do you use it for?

When Canon launched the EOS-1D Mark III they added a new menu to the tabbed arrangement. Called  My Menu it lets you put six of your most regularly accessed functions on a single personalised menu tab. Judging by the number of photographers we've seen who have never ventured in to this green tabbed menu it's time to write something to help you make use of it. If you have a camera that was launched after January 2007 then you have My Menu in your camera and this applies to you, so that's all the current models at least.

Locked up mirror
One thing that photographers who have shot Nikon in the past often ask is: Can you make mirror lock up easy to access? Maybe Nikon cameras suffer from more mirror induced shake than Canon ones, but never mind My Menu is the answer. Since Canon puts mirror lock up in the custom functions menu it's quite a combination of key presses to get there. But with My Menu you can register individual custom functions directly in the menu. 

Highlight alert
Another feature that some photographers use is the highlight alert display. Basically areas of the image that are near to complete burn out flash on the playback displays. This can be a real help if you're trying to get the exposure all the way to the right without burning out. However if you show pictures to models and people who just want to see how the shoot is going then it's best to turn this off, they don't need to see all these flashing bits of the frame where you intentionally pushed the exposure to the limit. Putting Highlight Alert in the My Menu let's you quickly change between the settings.

My Menu as the default
Normally when you press the menu button on the cameras they return to the same menu as you last accessed but My Menu can be set as the default menu to be shown each time you press the MENU button on the camera. This makes you six pre selected menu items available to you directly. It's great when you have the items set correctly on the My Menu for your way of working, but actually a pain in the neck if you are still working through getting your settings sorted out.

As a guide here's some of the things that often make the My Menu on our cameras
  • Format - as soon as I put a new card in the camera I need to format it, so this is often the top item on the My Menu
  • Highlight Alert - for precisely the reasons mentioned above this one often appears. However highlight alert function is only on EOS 40D or higher models.
  • Highlight Tone Priority - for wedding shooters and even landscape photographers this one can help keep detail in the highlights, but it's downside is more chance of blocking up in the shadows.
  • AF point selection method - For cameras with quick control dials on the back I often use this to move AF point selection to the rear control dial with EOS-1D models. Then I don't need to do so much focus lock and recompose. It works for me in studio shooting situations and also reportage type work. Subjects are less aware of you if you don't keep waving a camera around!
  • Flash control - since all these models with My Menu have the ability to control the flash settings of Speedlite 580EX II and Speedlite 430EX II from the camera menu I tend to leave this in the My Menu too if I'm doing a lot of work with flash. It's simple to switch it out if I need something else.

Did you know that My Menu items can be set from the EOS Utility software. Start EOS Utility with the camera connected and then choose the Camera settings / Remote shooting item. Once the remote shooting panel appears you will find a green tabbed item in the middle of the screen. Here is where you configure the My Menu for that camera. Clicking on the My Menu settings text will display the currently set My Menu items from your camera and give the ability to add new items, remove items and even re-order the items in the My Menu. It's all quite simple and can also be changed at the camera menu too.


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