This post is by Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com) from Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)
The Canon EOS R6 Mark II is loaded with features. Here are five settings you might want to change or customize to get a better experience.
Photo: John Greengo
The Canon EOS R6 Mark II is a modern mirrorless ‘jack of all trades, master of none.’ While it may not be the ‘best’ in any one genre of photography or videography it is a highly capable all-rounder for photographers seeking a versatile tool.
In this series, Five Tweaks, I discuss overlooked or under-appreciated options and explain what they do and who they are for. Though this article is on the Canon EOS R6 Mark II, the features mentioned below, or similar ones, can be found on many other cameras. Be advised that similar features may go by a different name on different brand cameras and may operate differently in slight or significant ways.
1. Digital tele-con [Shoot Menu1]
One of the first and most important lessons to understand in the world of digital photography is to be highly skeptical of anything called “Digital Zoom.” While this name at one point probably sounded futuristic it’s usually nothing more than cropping an image in the camera. “Digital tele-con” is Canon speak for digital zoom with a very slight twist.
The idea behind digitally zooming in, is to get closer to a subject using digital manipulation rather than the optical elements of a lens. The primary benefit of digitally zooming in on a subject is so that a small or distant subject will be larger in the frame and in the viewfinder. Having a larger subject in the viewfinder may result in more accurate focus, exposure, and better composition.
Canon’s “Digital tele-con”, short for digital telephoto converter, is where the camera magnifies the center of the image, by 2x or 4x and then increases the resolution of the resulting image up to 24 megapixels. The 2x image is upscaled from 12 MP to 24 MP, the 4x is upscaled from 6 MP to 24 MP.
The slight benefit to doing this in-camera with the R6 Mark II is that Canon knows a bit about its lenses, sensors and how sharp images are created. The ‘up-ressed’ images are a tad better than just a cropped and enlarged image in many post-production programs.
To be very clear, Digital tele-con is nowhere near as good as using a longer focal length lens or getting closer to your subject. It’s also worth noting that this feature doesn’t work with Raw images and will only apply to JPEG or HEIF format options.
You can turn to this feature if you’re at the end of your optical options, are absolutely sure you want the 2x or 4x crop frame, and if you are satisfied with JPEG images. Digital tele-con may also be useful for those that want to minimize post-production time and value getting fast results straight out of the camera.
2. High frequency anti-flicker shooting [Shoot Menu 3]
- HF anti-flicker shooting
- Auto detecting
This feature is used to avoid banding, light and dark horizontal streaks, that can occur when shooting under an LED light source. This feature should not be used in traditional (non-LED) lighting situations.
HF = High Frequency
Most LED lights work by emitting rapid pulses of light. The rate of the pulse is fast enough to avoid detection by the human eye but the electronic shutter’s process of scanning light onto the sensor will showcase the inconsistent nature of the LED light.
Popularity of LED lights has grown in part to their energy efficiency, low cost, and versatility in a variety of applications. While photographic quality LEDs that don’t have this flicker problem exist, the vast majority of LEDs you’ll encounter in the real world will have some sort of flicker, especially when dimmed.
Side note: “Anti-flicker shoot”, listed just above this feature in the menu is for avoiding flicker caused by fluorescent lights (which pulse at much lower speeds) instead of LEDs. Be careful to select the correct one for your needs.
Canon EOS R3 | ISO 25600 | 1/8000 sec | F2.8 | Canon EF 300mm F2.8 L IS USM
Photo: John Greengo
Just a matter of time
Most cameras don’t capture a single moment in time: starting and ending the exposure isn’t instantaneous, so they actually capture a series of slices of time. If an LED is flickering fast enough, some of these slices will be made up of more ‘on’ phases and some will capture more ‘off’ phases of the LED, leaving dark bands across the image.
It’s most visible in electronic shutter mode, where there’s more lag and hence more time for these bands to occur, but they can become visible at fast shutter speeds, even in mechanical shutter mode. HF Anti-flicker lets you adjust the shutter speed in tiny increments, to try to find an exposure time that exactly includes sets of complete on/off cycles, so that every slice of time includes the same number of on and off cycles, and ends up the same brightness.
You can either adjust the shutter speed manually to try to find one of these well-matched exposure durations or use the camera’s ‘Auto detecting’ mode that tries to analyse the scene to select an appropriate fractional shutter speed.
If you want to set it manually you will need to be in an exposure mode that allows for manual selection of the shutter speed e.g. M (Manual), Tv (Time value, known as Shutter priority on most other brands).
For video shooters the result of LED light flicker can be an image that flickers in brightness, but banding may also be present. The problem and the solution are thankfully the same – in (Video) Shoot menu 2 is “HF anti-flicker shooting” which works in the same manner (highly precise shutter speeds) to reduce or eliminate flicker with video.
3. Orientation linked AF point [AF Menu 4]
- Same for both vert/horiz
- Separate AF pts: Area+pt
- Separate AF pts: Pt only
Have you ever moved your focus point to one side of the frame then rotated the camera for compositional reasons only then to be left with the focus point in the wrong location? If you find this frustrating, linking the focus point to the orientation of the camera is for you.
This problem can be especially frustrating to sports and portrait photographers who routinely switch between horizontal and vertical formats but desire to keep their subject and their focus point in a similar placement within the frame.
With separate focus areas for horizontal and vertical you can have your selected point of focus in the right location for keeping a similar composition.
Photos: John Greengo
How to use
The default setting for this features is “Same for both ver/horz” which keeps the focus point at its chosen location, relative in the frame, no matter how you orientate the camera. This is fine for basic operation or when you are shooting straight up or down as the camera can’t detect a desired orientation.
When this feature is set to “Separate AF pts: Pt only” the camera uses its orientation sensor to detect which direction is up and will remember where the focus point is for that orientation of the camera.
Start by orientating the camera in a horizontal position and moving the focus area to a desired location. Next rotate the camera to vertical, with the grip on the top side, and move the focus point to your chosen location. Then rotate the camera to vertical but with the grip on the bottom side and set a second vertical focus point position.
As you rotate the camera from horizontal to either of the vertical positions the camera orientation sensor will be activated and the focus point will reposition itself to the last chosen location for that camera orientation.
When the camera is set to “Separate AF pts: Area+pt” it works as in the previous explanation but with the added twist of also changing which AF area option is applied to each of the three orientation options (horizontal, vertical grip up, vertical grip down).
This feature is beneficial if you find that you need a smaller or larger focus area when rotating the camera to a different orientation. This option gives you the greatest amount of customization as it allows you to determine where and how your camera focuses depending on how you hold your camera.
4. Switch to registered AF func. [Custom Menu 3/Customize buttons]
- AF area
- Whole area tracking Servo AF
- Subject to detect
- Spot detection
- Eye detection
- Tracking sensitivity
- Accel./decel. tracking
Imagine being able to change the way your camera focuses applying up to 7 different parameters, with a single press of a button. The ‘registered AF func’ option allows you to program one of 4 buttons (AF-ON, AE Lock, AF point selection, Lens function) to change the focus system in a dramatic way.
While focusing with a half-press of the shutter release button is the default, back-button focusing is great option for advanced photographers. Employing this feature takes focus customization to the highest level. By having different buttons pre-programed for different focusing parameters you can switch AF setups by just pressing a different button.
For example you could have your camera set up to focus with 1-point AF with the AF-ON button and have the AE-Lock (asterisk) button set to Flexible Zone AF 1 with people tracking and eye detection. You could then switch back and forth between a precise focus point and a wide area that recognizes people and will focus on their eyes.
Before setting this feature up, you may want to jot down the two, three, or four focus setups that you want to access quickly. You’ll need to understand the focus options listed above to make a proper list.
Within the registered AF function detailed settings the left column allows you to check mark the items you want applied and the right column allows you to set specific settings.
You can customize back-button focus functions by going into the Custom Menu page 3 – Customize buttons, selecting “Shutter butt. half-press” and setting it to either “Meter start”(recommended) or AE lock. This will allow you to focus with the AF-ON button and the camera won’t refocus your images when you press down on the shutter release. This allows for separate control of focusing and shooting which can allow you more precise control of each feature. Be advised that the AF-ON button needs to be set to “Metering and AF start” or another AF setting that activates the focus system for this to work.
Setting up a registered AF point
The most popular button for setting up this feature is the “AE Lock button” (asterisk) as it’s very near the AF-ON button. Go to Custom Menu page 3 – Customize buttons, and select the AE Lock button (asterisk). A list of several dozen available features will be shown, look for “Switch to registered AF func.” The icon for this feature is an “AF” beside a left right arrow.
Selecting this function is not enough, you need to configure the details of how it is to work by pressing the INFO button. You’ll now be in the detail setting of the registered AF point where you can decide which of the 7 parameters will be applied, and in what way. Use a checkmark in the left column for features that you want applied. Use the right column to set specific settings for that particular feature.
5. Default erase option [Custom Menu 4]
- [Cancel] selected
- [Erase] selected
- [Erase RAW] selected
- [Erase non-RAW] selected
This feature allows you to customize the exact nature of the erase button. The most useful aspect of this customization is that it allows you to determine how many button presses it takes to delete an image.
The default setting [Cancel] selected means that when you press the erase button the options of Cancel and Erase are displayed on screen with the Cancel option highlighted. Press the set button to cancel the erase process or use the dial to select Erase, then press the set button to erase the image.
This default option by Canon (and other manufacturers) has always irritated me a little bit. I would have thought that the majority of the times the erase button was pressed it was because someone wanted to erase an image, not that the pressing of the erase button was a mistake. This standard setting requires 3 actions, (press, turn, press) to delete an image. I believe this to be slightly laborious.
If you would like to shorten this process to simply two steps (press Erase, press Set) set this feature to [Erase] selected. This is my preferred setting as it still leaves a layer of protection against mistakes in that it still requires pressing two different buttons before an image is erased. It takes away the unnecessary dial turn, and makes the deletion process a bit quicker, especially when working with a large number of images. This setting may not be good for anyone with fumble fingers or those that want that extra layer of protection.
Several options are available when pressing the erase button. The second option of “[Erase] selected” will allow images to be erased in two steps rather than three.
Two additional options are available: [Erase RAW] selected and [Erase non-RAW] selected where you can target either Raw or non-Raw (JPEG or HEIF) images for deletion. This feature may be helpful for those working with unusual post-production workflows where there is a desire for only specific images to be left on the memory card.
John Greengo specializes in photographic education through online training, books and international photo tours. His photographic teachings have been viewed by millions around the globe.
These tweaks are just a few tips on how you can get the most from your camera. In the Canon EOS R6 Mark II: Complete Camera Guide, a 9-hour video course, he will take you through all camera operations to help you set it up for your needs. John offers a multitude of classes covering a wide range of photographic topics including landscape, travel and gear-specific tutorials.