Here’s a few of my favourite/must-have custom functions on the 5D2, some of which are similar to custom functions found on the 40D and perhaps other Canon cameras.
AF Point Selection Method
This allows you to use the multi-controller (known to me as the ‘joystick thingy’) instead of the quick control dial (known to me as the ‘wheel thingy’) to select the AF Point, directly. By default when none of these functions are enabled, you have to press the AF Point selection button first, and then choose the AF Point using either the wheel or the joystick. Having this function enabled on either the joystick or the wheel allows you to choose the AF point directly, eliminating a step in the process. In addition to this, the benefit of enabling the joystick in this custom fuction is you can get to the AF point directly without pressing any buttons prior. With the wheel you have to cycle through each AF point until you arrive at the one you want. It’s a lot quicker to get to using the joystick in fleeting moments, just be mindful not to accidentally knock the joystick while shooting.
This one is great for all the focus & recomposers out there. It basically separates focusing from metering/exposure lock. With this enabled, the AF-ON button is used strictly for aquring focus, the shutter button is used for metering and AE Lock. So in practice, you can aquire focus on one area of the frame by using AF-ON, meter from another area of the frame by half-pressing the shutter, with the shutter held half-pressed, frame your shot and full press the shutter to shoot it.
This one’s more of a personal preference. By default when doing a 3 bracket exposure, the camera will capture the sequence on meter, one under and one over (exposed). When you take your images back to review, visually (I find) it can look a little confusing to try and find the first shot in the sequence because of the unusual order. My eye usually notices the under or over exposed images first and then look for the on-meter shot which is the first in the bracketed sequence. Having this function enabled basically takes exposures in ‘logical’ sequence so it starts at under, on-meter then over. After uploading the images it’s very easy to see where the sequence started and ended because it follows a natural progression. I can think of a reason why you wouldn’t want this enabled… can you?
SET Button / Image Playback
I like to use the SET button for image replay purely to keep my left hand fixed on the focus/zoom rings on the lens without having to move my left hand to the back of the camera to push the play button in order to review the image. This sounds rather dubious but in practice, especially if shooting say a tennis match or a situation that requires you to be attentive, you want to reduce the amount of time it takes to review the images shortly after so you can recompose yourself quickly to take the next shots. Yes, you can set the camera so it automatically replays the image after the capture but it won’t allow you to zoom into the image to check focus, etc. until you actually push the Playback button on the left side of the camera.
Enabling this fuction allows you to capture your sequence, leave your left hand exactly where it is on the focus/zoom ring and simply move your right thumb over the SET button to replay the image as well as zoom in/out to check focus. While this is all happening if you see something about to happen around you, you can quickly switch back to taking the next shots quickly and you don’t have to brace the zoom/focus rings again. It’s basically a one-handed operation to review the images in detail.
Having used a Nikon D3s, I much prefer Nikon’s way of image review, SO much quicker!
Long Exposure Noise Reduction
I can’t remeber (correct me if I’m wrong) but I think this setting used to be enabled by default on the Canon 40D, for whatever reason it’s disabled by default on the 5D2. If you’ve ever taken a long exposure on a Canon 40D or even a 5D2 of the night sky or very dark scenes without this enabled, you will have noticed a lot of inherent digital dandruff in the image. Enabling this fuction does work and is quite noticeable, with the only drawback being that it takes double the time to grab the shot (1st half for exposure, 2nd half for noise reduction exposure). Noise is mainly prevalent in dark areas of a digital image, so the night sky or a dark scene will exhibit this quite easily, and in abundance.
So say you’re taking a 15 second expsore of the night sky, the camera takes the first 15 seconds for exposure, but then takes an additional exposure of the same length of time (in this case 15 seconds) with the curtains or the shutter closed depending on whether you’re using Live View. You’ll hear it when this happens, it’s usually an obvious ‘click’ sound. During the 2nd part of the expsore you can move the camera because all it’s doing is taking an exposure with the curtains closed for an equal amount of time. Following this it then looks at the natural inherent noise produced during the blackout and uses a certain algorigthm to subtract the noise produced during blackout from the 1st exposure, so you get a cleaner image. I have done a test with this enabled and disabled and the difference is quite noticeable for night sky photography.