The Digital Journalist
Tech Tips

by Chuck Westfall

March 2006

I would like to use the remote capability of my EOS 20D (via Zoombrowser EX) in my studio. However, I am always shooting verticals and the thumbnail display on the bottom means the picture is vertically shrunk more than I would like. Can I get rid of the thumbnails or move them. I looked in the help and saw no reference to this.

The best way to solve this particular problem is to launch EOS Capture from within Digital Photo Professional rather than ZoomBrowser EX. This will allow much greater control of the size and orientation of the thumbnails, the tool palette and the image display.

This may sound trivial to most digital users but, I am just beginning with the medium hence this question...what is Firmware and how does it get into the camera? I have bookmarked a site that shows an updated version and thought it important to put into my 5D, but do not know how to even begin ... can you guide me or send me to a site that can?

Try this site as a starting point:

EOS 5D Firmware

This is the home page for the newest currently available firmware update for the EOS 5D. It explains what the firmware update will do, and then contains a Q&A section followed by detailed installation instructions. There is also a downloadable PDF installation instructions file that you can access after agreeing to the Software License Agreement at the bottom of the Web page, together with downloads of the firmware update for Mac and Windows users.

Firmware itself is actually software that can be loaded into your digital camera. Canon typically issues firmware updates to correct operational glitches that are determined after a product has been shipped to the market. It would be a wonderful thing if firmware updates weren't necessary, but the reality of modern product design and manufacturing is that various glitches cannot be known until a product actually ships to customers. Although Canon does its best to solve as many problems as possible with each firmware update, history shows that often there may be as many as 3 or 4 firmware updates offered during the market life of the product involved. Thus, firmware version 1.0.3 may be the first update for the EOS 5D, but chances are good it won't be the last.

This is one of those "is the glass half empty or half full?" scenarios: One could always ask why all potential firmware issues could not have been resolved prior to shipment, but on the other hand, the fact that Canon continues to improve the performance of its products is laudable, and it certainly beats the alternatives.

On the subject of Canon warranties: Do they apply worldwide or just in the country of purchase? I am talking about top end digital bodies and lenses.

Canon provides EF Lenses with worldwide warranties, but the warranties for both PowerShot and EOS Digital cameras are valid only in the country where the equipment was purchased.

Your Tech Tip discusses an exposure metering issue with non-EOS lenses and the 20D ... [I] was told that the 20D included a feature to compensate for this problem. Can you tell me if the same problem is to be experienced with other EOS bodies such as the 5D, 30D or Digital Rebel XT/350D? I use and enjoy a 16mm Zenitar, microscope and bellows lenses so I would consider this a serious problem worth avoiding.

All EOS cameras have one or more exposure compensation programs built-in to handle focusing screen brightness issues with coupled lenses, i.e., Canon EF lenses. As I tried to explain in the earlier Tech Tips article, there can be no such compensation program with non-coupled lenses, mainly because the camera has no way of knowing what the working aperture is. Consequently, it becomes the user's responsibility to apply exposure compensation as required based on the particular shooting conditions involved. To repeat, none of the EOS cameras, film or digital, have any special magic when it comes to providing exposure compensation values with non-coupled lenses. The best we can say is that standard focusing screens for the EOS-1 class cameras are likely to require less exposure compensation than the screens for other current EOS digital models, simply because the standard screens for EOS-1 do not have as much of a brightening effect as the non-interchangeable focusing screens for other models like the 20D, etc. But even the standard focusing screens for the 1D class cameras may require exposure compensation with non-coupled lenses. For best results, we recommend making test shots with the equipment you plan to use, at the working distances and apertures that are appropriate for the results you are attempting to achieve.

I use the ST-E2 a lot in my work, both as a mobile solution to off-camera flash and as well as an autofocus assist in low-light conditions, which actually is where I do the bulk of what I shoot. It is a wonderful device, but like anything, there's room for improvement. I'd like to see a few things:

1. A screw-type locking mechanism for the foot, much like the foot of a 550EX or 580EX. The clip is decent, but I've knocked the ST off a few times even with the clip in.

2. A different power source than the 2CR5 type cell. Preferably something rechargeable. Those 2CR5 cells add up over time.

3. Radio? I know this would entail an entire overhaul of the EOS flash system, but one can hope.

4. Eventually integrate ST-like functionality into the bodies of cameras themselves.

Otherwise, this little box has been a great purchase!

Thanks for these constructive suggestions. I'm happy to pass them along to Canon Inc. for consideration towards future products.

A big thank-you to Canon for finally putting mirror lock in the drive control menu on the 30D, and I assume future DSLRs from Canon. A question - why did such a simple solution take so long to implement? Is it technically possible via a firmware update to extend this feature to older cameras such as the 5D? I ask "technically" because commercially I think the reply will be no! Also I find that as a photographer I try to avoid putting the subject in the dead center of my viewfinder, rather preferring to work with the outer AF points. I think it would be nice if Canon (and other manufacturers) placed the AF points in a more spaced out fashion, with perhaps the option of ONLY using the outer focus points. Even when all the AF points are selected, the central ones being more sensitive are more likely to pick up a subject to lock on, but that's exactly what I want to avoid. I therefore think it would be a good idea to add the choice of only outer AF point selection. What do you think? Focus-recompose is not always practical with fast-moving subjects.

If you are talking about the 30D's ability to lock the mirror for 2 seconds prior to shutter release when the camera is set to its self-timer release mode, it's nothing new. All EOS Digital SLRs have had this feature since the EOS-1D in 2001. However, we are still hoping that Canon Inc. will improve the accessibility of the mirror lock function for standard operation even when the self-timer is not being used.

The 45-point Area AF system on the EOS-1-class digital SLRs increases the coverage of the AF system. In fact, the focusing points cover almost the entire picture area on an EOS-1D Mark II N when the camera is equipped with one of the new focusing screens that shows the crop lines for 4x5 or square aspect ratios. Custom Function 13-3 on an EOS-1 class digital camera lets you select only the peripheral focusing points via the Quick Control Dial on the rear of the camera.

Love my 5D cameras -- one question I have and can't find any answers online or in the instruction book: In setting the Picture Style -- sharpness, etc. -- in the multiple modes (Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome) do these settings apply to both JPEGs and RAW? I've been told that they have no effect on RAW images.

Picture Style settings for sharpening, contrast, saturation and color tone provide a starting point for editing compatible RAW images when they are opened in Canon software such as Digital Photo Professional or RAW Image Task, but they do not affect the RAW image data. However, Picture Style settings in the camera are applied to in-camera JPEGs, and should be chosen with care according to the effects you are trying to achieve.

What's the best way of storing a 600mm f4 lens? I hear conflicting tips all the time. Should I close the trunk that came with the lens and use some silica gel in it (the room is air conditioned), or keep the trunk open to let the air flow?

There is nothing wrong with storing an EF600mm lens in the supplied trunk with the lid closed, but many professional photographers find it more convenient to use independentl made trunks or cases that are designed to hold additional equipment. I can't endorse products made by other manufacturers, but you may find it worthwhile to seek the opinions of other professional photographers on Web forums like:

Rob Galbraith

Sports Shooter

Working photojournalists who use professional equipment, including our 600mm lenses, regularly frequent these Web sites.

I can't seem to find anywhere how, or if it's even possible, to load images from my computer to a memory card that's in my camera. I have a 1D and a MkII. Here's what I'm trying to do: I have a few shots I've taken at various venues to set my custom white balances, and I've downloaded them to my computer along with the images from that particular event. When I've archived the images I format the card. But I still have the file I used for WB in my computer. My idea was to copy the white balance images on an SD card for my MkII, keep it there, and select from there when I want to set the white balance at the venue(s) I shoot most often. How do I upload/download that file back onto a card so I can have it when I head out to the same venue again and just select the file when I go through the white balance routine on the camera? If I can do this, do I copy it into the DCIM folder, or create a new folder and stick it in there? I have copied images from my computer to a card before, but when I push the display button on the camera, nothing is there. I have no idea where it went. It shows up on my device (on the computer) when I double-check it to see that it was copied, but the camera acts like it's not there. I've also read about Personal Settings, but that has me totally confused. When I look at doing that, I, again, can't figure out where to put the file. On the computer? On a memory card? And if on a card, where? If my question and situation makes sense to you, can you help me make sense of this and how I might go about it?

Uploading images to your Canon digital SLR is part of the Camera Window software's function set. In our current software, Camera Window is the app that appears on your computer screen when the computer detects either a connected compatible camera or a card reader with a memory card that has a DCIM folder on it.

For detailed instructions on how to upload images via Camera Window, please refer to the Software User Guide for ZoomBrowser EX (if you're using Microsoft Windows) or ImageBrowser (if you're using Mac OS). Here is the URL to download PDF versions of these guides:

BeBit Information

Here's a tip: when the software asks you if you want to upload "as is" or at a specific resolution, choose one of the specific resolutions. It doesn't make much difference which one you pick, just don't pick "as is."

I have been investigating the possibility of triggering the shutter of the Canon 1D MkII electronically for the purpose of photographing insects in flight. I came to the conclusion that none of the Canon cameras available at present would be usable for this application due to the long shutter lag. Let me explain: The shutter lag of the Canon 1D MkII is something like 55ms. When P.Fn-26 (Minimize shutter lag) is activated the shutter lag goes down to about 40ms. This however is only when the lens is set to its maximum aperture. For smaller apertures it takes a bit longer. From the above behavior I conclude that the camera works as follows: When you press the shutter button down from the halfway position it takes 40ms for the mirror lift. Thereafter it takes between 0ms and 15ms for the aperture to stop down. The only difference P.Fn-26 makes is to allow you to choose between "consistent 55ms" and "as fast as possible (40ms to 55ms depending on aperture)."

Assuming my understanding as explained above is correct, then:

1) Why is the shutter lag still that long when you use the mirror lockup function? If the mirror is already up and the lens already stopped down, why is the shutter lag not closer to 0ms?

2) Why does the camera wait for the mirror to lift before stopping the aperture down? If the lens is stopped down at the same time as the mirror is lifted it will always take 40ms and the shutter lag will never be longer than this.

If the EOS-1D Mark II were a 35mm SLR, your requests would be reasonable. In fact, we did get release time lag down to 6 milliseconds with the EOS-1N RS, and release time lag for the EOS-1v with the mirror locked was also quite short. However, the EOS-1D Mark II is a digital SLR, and it therefore has a different set of requirements to prepare for exposure. The most significant requirement in this context is the initialization of the image sensor for noise processing. Initialization takes place during the 40-millisecond interval after the shutter button is fully depressed, and this step can neither be reduced nor eliminated. The answer to your second question involves the sequence control that's burned into the CPU that controls camera operation. I will be happy to relay your request for this specification to be changed.

Thanks to one and all for reading Tech Tips! That's it for now. See you in April!

You are invited to submit questions about photo equipment, imaging technology, or photo industry trends that may have a bearing on your work or interests. I cannot promise to answer everything, but I pledge to do my best to address the issues that concern you. (Please use the e-mail link provided at the end of this article.)

© Chuck Westfall

After earning a degree in Professional Photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology and accumulating some valuable on-the-job experience during a 10-year stint in commercial photography and photo retail, Chuck Westfall began his corporate career with Canon U.S.A. in 1982 as a Technical Representative. He has steadily advanced through the ranks to achieve his present position as Director of Media & Customer Relationship for the company's Consumer Imaging Group, working out of Canon U.S.A.'s headquarters office in Lake Success, N.Y. Among his many assignments, Chuck Westfall is currently Canon USA's main media spokesman for new camera products. He also provides a unique insider's perspective to financial analysts who follow the company's CIG sales and marketing activities.

Chuck's involvement with digital cameras began in 1994, when he assisted Canon and Kodak engineers in developing the EOS-DCS series of professional SLRs. Since then, his responsibilities have expanded to include participation in the development and launching of many other Camera Division products, including Canon's professional and consumer-oriented digital cameras. Over the last 10 years, Chuck has continued to participate in the design, development, introduction and marketing support of camera products. Most recently, he supervised the launch of a comprehensive on-line and on-site dealer training initiative for the Camera Division.

On the personal side, Chuck married his beautiful wife Ying in 2000 and they have been blessed with a wonderful 2-year old daughter, Anna. As Chuck says, "Bringing up the baby is a blast, and we're enjoying every minute of it."