Blog - Michael Campanella Photography

My Canon 1D Mark IV custom functions for sports photography

Posted in Tips & Tricks on April 18th, 2012

I’ve had my Canon 1D Mark IV for about a year now and really enjoy using it. It was my first professional grade camera. Before using the 1D I was shooting with a Canon 40D, and since I’ve started using the 1D I’ve never been able to look at the 40D quite the same.

The Canon 1D Mark IV comes with an unbelievable amount of custom settings and functions. For someone upgrading from a more consumer orientated model it can be quite intimidating to go through them and make sense of it all. A couple of months back I made a post with YouTube videos that explained a lot of the custom functions, but I wanted to revisit it. Share some more good resources and my own settings.

For starters I found this document from Canon: The Canon EOS-1D Mark IV’s Custom Functions explained

That is probably the best guide you are going to find on the Mark IV and it’s custom functions. It really begs the question as to why it’s not included in the camera manual. The camera manual in comparison reads like an incomprehensible legal document. I really recommend not only reading that, but saving a copy of it. I normally find PDFs of my manuals and keep them in iBooks on my iPhone. Since this is a website and not a PDF I put the article in my Instapaper app instead. Instapaper even automatically strung all the pages together into one article. So it was a double win!

Now that I’ve shared that, let’s get on to the main event. Here are my current custom functions:

C.Fn I: Exposure

  1. Exposure Level Increments – 0
  2. ISO speed setting increments – 0
  3. Set ISO speed range – *
  4. Bracketing auto cancel – 0
  5. Bracketing sequence – 0
  6. Number of bracketed shots – 2
  7. Spot meter. link to AF point – 1
  8. Safety shift – 2
  9. Selectable useable shooting modes – –
  10. Selectable metering modes – –
  11. Exposure mode in manual expo. – 0
  12. Set shutter range – –
  13. Set aperture value range – –
  14. Apply shooting/metering mode – –
  15. Flash sync. speed in AV mode – 1
  16. AE Microadjustment – 0
  17. FE Microadjustment – 0

Here I think number 12 is worth visiting and experimenting with. It allows you to limit the range of the shutter. So you could limit it to 1/800 of second as the lowest point, which when used with auto ISO can be very effective for shooting sports outdoors with changing light conditions. Giving you security knowing the camera won’t drop the shutter to speed where motion blur might become a problem. Although it’s definitely not something you want to set and forget.

C.Fn II: Image/Flash exp/Disp

  1. Long exp. noise reduction – 1
  2. High ISO speed noise reduction – 1
  3. Highlight tone priority – 0
  4. Auto Lighting Optimizer – 0
  5. E-TTL II flash metering – 1
  6. Shutter curtain sync – 1
  7. Flash firing – 0
  8. Viewfinder info. during exp. – 1
  9. LCD panel illlumi. during Bulb – 0
  10. INFO. button when shooting – 0

C.Fn III: Autofocus/Drive

  1. USM lens electronic MF – 0
  2. AI Servo tracking sensitivity – *
  3. AI Servo 1st/2nd image priority – 0
  4. AI Servo AF tracking method – 0
  5. Lens drive when AF impossible – 0
  6. Lens AF stop button function – 0
  7. AF Microadjustment – 0
  8. AF expansion w/selected pt. – 1
  9. Multi-controller while meter. – 1
  10. Selectable AF point – 1
  11. Switch to registered AF point – 1
  12. AF point auto selection – 2
  13. AF point display during focus – 0
  14. AF point brightness – 1
  15. AF-assist beam firing – 0
  16. Orientation linked AF point – 1
  17. Mirror lockup – 0
  18. Continuous shooting speed – –
  19. Limit continuous shot count – –

The big ones here are numbers 2, 8, and 10. For 2 (AI Servo tracking sensitivity) I tend to stick with it at slow or the stop between slow and zero. Definitely never gone towards fast, and in my opinion even with it at slow it can at times be too fast to jump onto an intruding object.

C.Fn IV: Operations Others

  1. Shutter button/AF-ON button – 2
  2. AF-ON/AE lock button switch – 0
  3. Quick Control Dial in meter – 0
  4. Assign SET button – 0
  5. TV/AV setting for Manual exp. – 0
  6. Dial direction during TV/AV – 0
  7. Av setting without lens – 0
  8. WB + media/images size setting – 0
  9. Lock/Microphone button function – 0
  10. Button function when <OFF> – 0
  11. Start movie shooting – 0
  12. Focusing screen – 0
  13. Timer length for timer – 0
  14. Shortened release time lag – 1
  15. Add aspect ration information – 0
  16. Add image verification data – 1

Here the most interesting thing to note is number one. I believe the default configuration is set to 0 which has metering and autofocus both linked to the shutter button. I prefer to use setting number 2 which keeps metering on the shutter button, but moves the autofocus to the AF-ON button. In regards to autofocus performance I believe this makes the most difference out of all of the custom functions. I’m kind of surprised that it’s not the default configuration. Yes, it’s that much of an improvement.

So those are the settings I’m currently using. If you are a Mark IV owner I’d love to know how your settings look, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.


Freelance photographer and photojournalist focusing on sports, news, & entertainment. Available for assignment in Scandinavia and Europe.