Martin’s Canon EOS 5Ds R Camera Settings

by | Aug 5, 2016 | Fundamentals, Gear, Tutorial | 12 comments

I’ve been asked to share my Canon EOS 5Ds R camera settings a number of times, so this is just a quick post to share a list of the main changes I make. There are other changes, but I feel these are the ones that are important to my shooting as a mainly landscape and wildlife photographer.

I’ve used the menu name from the camera for reference. For example, the first item is SHOOT2 which is the second of the menus with the Camera icon, on the far left.

I’ve also added my reason for selecting this setting in parenthesis after each setting.

Color space = Adobe RGB

(This gives the JPEG preview created a wider color space, and affects the histogram slightly, but because I shoot raw, it doesn’t make a difference for my final image)

Grid display = 3×3+diag

(I like to have these lines visible to help me with composition and to keep horizons straight when I’m hand-holding the camera.)

Case 2, but set Tracking sensitivity to -2, Accel./decel. tracking to 1 and AF pt auto switching to 0.

(I’ve found these to be the best settings to track wildlife and birds in flight, even against a contrasty background. If you don’t shoot these subjects, you’ll need to find your own best settings.)

AI Servo 1st image priority = Focus (far right)
AI Servo 2nd image priority = Focus (far right)

(Setting both of these to Focus can slow focusing down slightly, but I don’t want a photo that isn’t in focus anyway, so I’d rather take a frame-rate hit than get a bunch of out of focus images.)

One-Shot AF release priority = Focus

(Same reason as above.)

VF display illumination = Auto
While in the screen where you select Auto, hit the Q button and select Illuminated

(This makes the focus points display when focus is achieved.)

Highlight alert = Enable

(Displaying blown out highlights helps you to prevent, well, er, blown out highlights.)

Histogram dis = RGB

(I use a technique called Expose to the Right or ETTR, so I look at the histogram to check that the image information is almost touching the right side of the histogram, but the single Brightness histogram can be misleading, because it’s an average of all three colors. I turn on the RGB histogram and ensure that the right-most color is almost touching the right shoulder.)

Viewfinder display = Electronic level = Show, Grid display = Show, Show/hide in viewfinder = Everything on

The main thing here is having the Electronic level always displaying in the viewfinder. I just like to get my images level. Everything else is optional, but I turn it all on.)

Safety shit = OFF

(I don’t want the camera doing anything automatic. I just don’t.)

Multi function lock = Everything on

(I use this so that I can flick the Lock switch on the back of the camera, and it will lock my dials, so I can’t accidentally change my shutter speed or aperture, especially when I’m using a Black Rapid strap, with the camera dangling upside down. You have to disengage the Lock switch to make any changes, but I find this less annoying than finding I’m accidentally changed my shutter speed from 1/1000 to 1/15 and all of my images are supernova.)

Custom Controls = I set these up as in the following image…

(Again, this is totally up to you, but I like these settings. One of the main ones is setting the SET button to magnifying the image. Canon cameras used to have Zoom buttons easily accessible with your thumb, but since they removed these buttons, I use the SET button as you see below. Note too that I set the shutter button to only meter, and not activate the autofocus. I focus only with the back focus button. If you don’t use this technique, and don’t want to try it, I don’t recommend changing this.)

Canon EOS 5Ds R Custom Controls

Canon EOS 5Ds R Custom Controls

My Menu

I also add the following items to My Menu. The main takeaway here is adding the Tracking sensitivity, Accel./decel. tracking and AF pt auto switching settings to this menu. This gives me easy access to these settings to tweak them as necessary for fast paces AI Servo shooting.

Canon EOS 5Ds R My Menu

Canon EOS 5Ds R My Menu

Note that many of these settings are available on earlier 5D cameras and many other Canon cameras.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.

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  1. Liam Douglas

    Martin, you might want to let readers know if you set the Color Space to Adobe RGB it kills their Custom Filename Prefix.

    • Martin Bailey

      Hi Liam,

      It doesn’t kill the prefix, it changes it and people just need to work with it. It’s been sixteen years since I figured out what was happening there, but it wasn’t difficult to figure out, so I’ll leave that to people to figure out too, but I expect most people already know.


  2. UTA Kirchlechner

    FYI if it changes the custom prefix _ i cannot download the files into my computer. i need to use the srgb

    • Martin Bailey

      Thanks for the information Uta, but I’m curious as to why this prevents you from downloading your images to your computer?

  3. Nik

    Thank you for sharing this! In addition, I’d be really curious to also see the detailed settings that you have selected for the AF-ON button auto focus options. I assume you shoot AI servo? What about the AF area selection mode?


    • Martin Bailey

      Hi Nik,

      I share all of those details in my post on Shooting and Focusing Techniques for Telephoto Lenses here:

      I hope you find it useful!


      • Nik

        Thank you so much for the quick reply!

        I only just found your site and podcasts, but what an incredible source of knowledge and information! I love it!

        • Martin Bailey

          I’m pleased you found us Nik, and hope you continue to enjoy the content I share.

  4. Paulo Silva

    Hi Martin
    I have a question about the use of the HighLight Tone Priority. Do you use it and if you do in what situations ( shoting birds, land cape, or other)?
    In image quality maners what is your opinion about it?
    Thanks in advance
    Best regards

    • Martin Bailey

      Hi Paulo,

      No, I never use Highlight Tone Priority. It basically underexposes your image, then brightens it up with software algorithms, and I don’t like that. I prefer to watch the highlights myself. Also, HTP forces the lowest ISO to 200, and I don’t like that either. Plus, I have no reason to believe that it will help to improve image quality at all.

      I hope that helps.


      • Paulo Silva

        Hi Martin
        Thanks for your reply. I was thinking some what the same but it’s always good to have feedback from one who realy knows about.
        I realy apreciate your posts about techniques and the way for getting better photos..
        Mry Christmas

  5. marcello

    G day
    I have searched the internet a no quick and clear instruction was given. Canon do not say anything about this.
    I NEED TO SET THE HISTOGRAM ON THE SCREEN FOR THE CANON 5 DSR is urgent and very difficult to fing clear and quick direction without wasting useless words regarding this.
    Why the canon manual do not explain this is a mistery.

    thank you marcello


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