Custom modes (C1, C2, C3 on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II for example) are ways to register predefined configuration parameters and associate them to a specific camera dial control. This way, complicated & hard to reach menu items can be activated quickly when needed.

This can be used for both photography and video!

Not all Canon cameras have these custom settings on the mode dial – only the ‘pro’ level cameras.

How to set it up

Setting a custom mode is easy: select ALL the desired camera settings, including the custom functions, then go into the menu Camera User Setting, Register then select the dial position you want it to be associated too. From now how, when ever you put the dial on the selected custom mode, all the camera settings are going to be set as those at the time you registered the settings.

Note: if you select a custom mode then apply some changes, these changes will not be registered. They will be lost when the camera powers off which can happen quickly if you set your camera to auto power off after a short period of time. This is contrary to other dial controls where the last setting is kept between on/off.


Photographers have found various uses for this feature, including:

  • giving a quick access to mirror lockup
  • activating the highlight tone priority
  • quickly switching between completely different camera settings to adapt to shooting conditions

As you can see, Custom modes are quite useful, make sure you take a moment to register at least one with your favorite settings.

How do you use Custom Modes?

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chief astronomer at planet5D LLC
Mitch "planetMitch" Aunger is the creator and mastermind behind — which covers every aspect of HDSLR cameras (and a whole lot of other cameras as well). A lover of photography since his early days, he graduated to selling stock photos to make a little bit of spare cash. It wasn’t much, but it allowed him to upgrade to better cameras as well as computers, and it wasn’t taking money away from feeding his family.
He loves the stories that the still image can tell. In the summer of 2008, he read a story written by Arnold Kim called “I Quit My Job” — Arn is the owner of He started macrumors in 2000 as a hobby, and by 2008 he was making more money with the site than he was on his day job, so he quit. The surprise to the story is that he was a doctor making more than six figures! Right then and there, planetMitch dreamed about doing the same thing.
September 2008 rolled around, and Canon announced this new version of the incredible 5D — the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. It was the first Canon DSLR to shoot full HD video and the earth moved! (It really was a huge deal in the photography world.) planetMitch knew if there was ever a chance to ride a wave of something he was really passionate about, this was it — and the blog at was born. It is now one of the most popular HDSLR blogs on the planet, and he is making a full-time living from blogging. He couldn’t be happier!
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