If you want to make the most of what your photography, customize your camera!
Camera designers try to design cameras that “work” for everyone. For the most part, they do.
They ship them with default settings that reflect their best guess on how most people will use the camera. However, it’s impossible for them to design a camera that’s perfect for you.
Because camera companies know that they can’t keep everyone happy, they keep changing their interface. You may have noticed they don’t even keep things consistent across their own camera models! It seems like they constantly change button placement, menus and ergonomics across their various product lines and from generation to generation.
This is what Thom Hogan calls “moving the cheese.”
Don’t get me started on the differences between companies. It is a huge reason why some people prefer Canon to Nikon and vice versa.
Luckily, if you’re shooting a DSLR, you’ll have the ability to customize your camera so you’re not letting an engineer/designer limit your shooting.
Consider your approach
Thing is, there are as many different approaches to photography as there are photographers. Customizing your camera allows it to reflect your unique approach. I do it with all of my cameras.
- What camera settings do you change most often?
- What buttons are easiest to reach with your fingers as you hold the camera?
- Which ones cause you to take your eye away from the viewfinder in order to find the right button?
- Are there any tweaks you can do that would lead you to create better photos (both technically and artistically)?
- Can you make changing settings feel like it’s second nature?
Basically, I want to get the technical side of photography out of my way as quickly as possible so that I can focus on the artistic side when on shoot.
So get out the manual, or if you’re like me, just dive right into the menus and take a look at every possible customization.
What I customize
Camera companies want to keep things simple for beginners. Consequently, you’ll find that lower end cameras won’t allow for as much customization as higher end ones.
Here’s some of the settings and controls I look to change (and why):
- Back button autofocus (better photos & faster operation)
- Logical (to my mind) Command dial direction (faster operation)
- ISO button placement (faster operation)
- Autofocus controls (better photos)
- Video ready picture styles (faster switching)
- Customizable menu for often used features (faster access to functions)
Basically, I’m going to do everything I can to make the camera work for me. I’ll customize every manual function button I can.
Why do camera companies only allow certain functional customization a for their buttons? It doesn’t seem like there’s be any technical reason behind it.
For example, I change my frame rate quite often and yet I can’t assign this to a manual function button on ANY of my cameras.
All they’re doing is limiting my ability to turn their camera into the perfect tool for me…
Customize your camera!
Take control of your photography and don’t just tolerate the niggles in your camera’s interface. Finally take time and get familiar with it to figure out if you can customize your camera to be a more effective photographer.
You’ll be glad you did.
Let me know how you go and holla if you have any questions.
PS The one drawback if you customize your camera is that you’re less likely to be able to give it to someone else to take a photo of you and your partner when on holiday.
Your customization may even confuse seasoned pros. But don’t worry about them, they already know how to customize a camera that suits their approach. 😉