75 Canon photography tips for taking control of your camera

Get more from your EOS camera with this exhaustive guide full of Canon photography tips.


Get more from your EOS camera with this exhaustive guide full of Canon photography tips.

75 Canon photography tips for taking control of your camera

Inside this guide you'll find all you need to know to become a better Canon photographer. We begin with basic setup to help you get to grips with your DSLR, before progressing to Canon's shooting modes.

Read more: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review

We then move on to depth of field and focusing, explaining clearly how, using apertures, focusing and focal length, you can control depth of field, before offering up some smart advice for selecting shutter speed.

We also help you step up to Manual mode, show you how to make the most of lenses, and then, without drawing breath, we brighten up your life with essential flash photography skills.

Finally, we round things up with a selection of cool ways that you can customise your camera.

So, what are you waiting for? Read on to discover the 75 best-ever Canon photography tips, tricks and techniques...

Canon photography tips: setting up your EOS camera

Canon photography tips: format the memory card

01 Formatting your memory card
Get into the habit of formatting the memory card before every use. This will delete all the images and data, including protected images, so make sure you transfer everything to your computer before doing so.

You should always format the card in the camera you'll use it in; you'll find this option in the yellow Set-up menu, but it can also be included as a My Menu option on EOS cameras that offer this feature.

By formatting your card rather than deleting all the images on it, the overall performance will be improved - use the 'Low level format' option occasionally to completely wipe the card of all 'hidden' files.

SEE MORE: Memory cards for cameras - how to choose and use the right storage device

Canon photography tips: select AF points

02 Selecting AF points
Your camera's focusing system is made up of a grid of AF points towards the centre of the viewfinder. A typical mid-range DSLR has 9 AF points, while some of the pro models have up to 61 AF points. By default the AF system will be set to Automatic Selection and all points will be active.

To check, press the 'grid' button and all the focus points should light up. The camera will lock onto whatever is closest to you, and this may not be the subject. So take control and manually select an AF point by scrolling through them with Main dial. Some DSLRs let you select groups of AF points, which can be useful for tracking moving subjects.

SEE MORE: Canon cameras: the full and complete range explained from IXUS to EOS

Canon photography tips: raw image quality

03 Setting Raw image quality
A Canon camera can record photos in two Image Quality formats: JPEG and Raw. JPEGs are processed by the camera and are much smaller files because they're compressed before being saved on the memory card. Raw files are much larger in size, so you can't squeeze as many onto a card. They also take longer to be saved, so you can't shoot as many in quick succession.

If you're shooting fast-moving action it may be better to use JPEGs. However, Raw files offer superior quality as they retain more detail, but they do need to be processed in Raw software, such as Canon's Digital Photo Professional.

04 LCD brightness
You can adjust the LCD brightness in your camera's Set-up menu. But do note that the brighter the display, the quicker the battery will be depleted.

05 AF confirmation
When you half press the shutter button to focus, the focus confirmation light will blink in the viewfinder. Once focus is achieved this light will remain on.

06 Sharper image
If the image in the viewfinder looks blurred, but the AF confirmation light is on, try adjusting the eyepiece dioptre behind the rubber eyecup.

07 My Menu
Scrolling through the camera's menus can be a chore: add your most frequently used functions to the green My Menu option to quickly access them at any time.

SEE MORE: Canon EOS 5DS / 5DS R Review

Canon photography tips: extend battery life

08 Extending battery life
Your EOS DSLR comes with a lithium-ion battery, which needs charging before you first use it. Treat the number of possible shots per charge listed in the camera manual with a pinch of salt. There are many variables that exhaust batteries faster. Live View is a big drain, but so too are excessive image playback, continuous autofocus and image stabilization. Consider cutting back on these when you're low on juice.

SEE MORE: 4 ways to extend the life of your battery

Canon photography tips: switching lenses

09 Switching lenses
The most important thing, when changing lenses, is to protect the sensor from dust and dirt, so avoid doing it in windy conditions. Switch off the camera and, before you remove the lens, make sure its replacement is to hand. Angle the camera down, so that debris can't fall into it, and change lenses swiftly. If automatic sensor cleaning doesn't kick in when you turn on the camera, activate it in the menu.

SEE MORE: Canon EOS cameras: 100 things you never knew they could do

Canon photography tips: master your Canon DSLR modes

Canon photography tips: fully automatic

10 Fully Automatic
The Full Auto (green box) or Scene Intelligent Auto (A+) modes, depending on your DSLR, work in the same way - by analysing the scene and automatically selecting the best settings to capture it. In A+ it will also set an 'Auto' Picture Style, which adjusts colours too.

You simply aim at your scene or subject, press the shutter button halfway for an AF point to achieve focus, then fully press the button to take the shot. Your camera will set everything from exposure brightness to ISO to metering, and will also change the AF mode from One-Shot AF to AI Servo AF if your subject moves or is moving. The flash might pop up if lighting conditions are low.

SEE MORE: 49 seriously good Canon DSLR tips, tricks, time savers and shortcuts

Canon photography tips: no flash photography!

11 No flash photography!
The Flash Off mode ensures the built-in flash doesn't pop. This can be helpful if you're shooting indoors in places that have a ban on flash photography (such as art galleries, museums and churches). It sets a high ISO setting (and suitable shutter speed) in order to prevent camera shake.

12 Handheld Night Scene
This mode helps you capture city scenes at night without a tripod. It does this by pumping up the ISO and combining four shots to create a 'stable image'.

13 HDR Backlight Control
This easy HDR mode is useful for high-contrast scenes. It takes three shots at three exposures and combines them to improve shadow and highlight detail.

14 Night Portrait
Shooting portraits at night? Use this handy mode. Your camera may activate the pop-up flash, or suggest you use a tripod if it determines the exposure will be slow.

SEE MORE: Canon vs Nikon: best camera for portraits

15 Close-up
This mode optimizes the camera settings for photographing small objects, although it won't enable your lens to focus closer than its minimum focusing distance.

16 Program shift
Program AE (P) is a step up from the Basic Zone modes. It sets the aperture and shutter speed, but you can 'shift' the combination selected by turning the Main dial.

Canon photography tips: Creative Auto mode

17 Creative Auto mode
The Creative Auto (CA) mode (found on the EOS 500D and later) is perfect for enthusiast photographers looking to break out of the auto modes. In CA mode you can change a few key settings, including flash and 'ambience'. Press the Q button, then on the rear LCD you can use the dial to change the depth of field for more or less background blur.

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mountain biking cycling photography tips: flash

18 Sports is for all action
Not just for sporty subjects, Sports mode is great for anything that's moving fast - such as wildlife, motorsports and children! It will use your DSLR's fastest continuous shooting speed (such as five frames per second) and sets a very fast shutter speed (around 1/500 sec) to freeze any action in shot. To do this, your camera will often need to set a high ISO, especially in low light, and this could be as high as ISO3200.

19 Landscape mode
This auto mode will help if you aren't confident setting the aperture manually. It's best used with a wide-angle lens to further increase the front-to-back sharpness. To maximize depth of field, your camera will set a narrow as possible aperture, although this could be as wide as f/5.6 in low light. It will capture vivid blues and greens and sharp images suited to landscape shots, but will only record a JPEG image.


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