The Custom Menu for Custom Shooters Of Kustom Cars

on August 16, 2016

Pardon the Kustom there in the header - it is an affectation of the hot rod publishing world to refer to modified motor cars in a weird way. Not that some of them do not deserve it...a fillet of lead and 14 coats of Candy Apple can hide a multitude of sins. At least the magazines don't use an inappropriate a'postrop'he or several ümlaüts...

No, we speak of the custom menus that some digital cameras have - collections of settings that may be different from those that ship from the factory. Settings that might suit the camera better to the needs of a particular individual. Special combinations for particular jobs.

All cameras that have adjustments can be changed - we did it in the days of film by buying different film, exposing it at odd settings, and then trying to see if we could bully the emulsion into an image later in the darkroom. Now we do it with WB, ISO, Colour Space, Sharpness, Foam, Azimuth, and Snarkiness settings. (Those last three are imaginary, but camera designers are imaginative people so don't get comfortable yet...)

Many cameras provide what they refer to as custom "channels", "settings", "programs", or " sets" that let you have a bunch of ready-made changes you can access at the press or turn of a control. Thus, if you are doing one class of shot regularly that requires a special WB or dynamic range or exposure compensation, you can get it without navigating the menu again on site. My Nikon D300's were good for this.

Make no mistake - you WILL do some serious button pushing to set up the custom system in your camera but you can do it slowly in logical sequence at home. And you can have 2, 3, 4 or more of these optional layouts ready all the time. Go to a new job or a new shoot and twist one dial, once.

Wise manufacturers have arrangements in their menu systems to identify these custom sets by name - actual written titles that you button into your camera. Otherwise, if you are just confronted by seeing Custom 1,2,3, etc you quickly forget what exactly it is that you are coping with and the whole exercise is difficult.

If the camera maker has made provision for a "Q" button in the back of the camera it can show you a small précis list of the the most important settings and you'll get a quick visual confirmation of what's going to happen. Here again it is wonderful if the maker has made arrangements so that you can decide for yourself what will be shown on the Q window.

Specifically, I know Leica will do this. So will Fujifilm. So will Olympus. It means you can suit yourself rather than others - I know I went into my Fujifilm X-T10 and X-E2 and threw out the noise reduction setting and dialled in flash compensation as it is far more important to me. I don't need to change much for my purposes but I do make use of 2 additional recipes in addition to the basic set-up, and the convenience it gives is amazing.

Historical note: I remember that Konica-Minolta had a system of small computer cards that you plugged into some of their last film cameras to program them in the same way. It was a gimmick before its time and deserving of all the criticism levelled at it at. But it was a signpost to the future.

For Basic Camera Training hit up Shoot Workshops' Learn to Shoot course