Canon 7D Setup for Underwater Photography

Here are my basic setup notes for my Canon 7D. I shoot primarily Wide Angle and use these settings –

My Basic lens setup is either a Tokina 11-16 2.8 or a Canon 16-35 L series 2.8

Camera in manual mode. I prefer this mode as I can make quick adjustments for stills and in video I use it only changing the ISO to Auto.

Menu 1 Settings –
Quality – RAW
Red Eye – off
Beep – On
Review Time – 2 seconds – Allows for a quick glance but doesn’t kill the battery
Peripheral illunin. correct. – Disable
Flash Firing – Enable – I use an Ikelight housing currently with YS90 strobes so I use all manual power settings on the strobes – I will do a additional Post just on strobe lighting as it is an art unto itself.

Menu 2 Settings –
Expo.com./AEB – 0 as I shoot in manual mode this doesn’t affect my exposure.
Auto Lighting Optimizer – Disabled. Can mess with your exposure in unintended ways
White Balance – This can be a bit tricky. I have been using AWB with good results lately. At first I always dialed in my color temp, and I still do in circumstances I can control my lighting. In the open ocean in California – AWB has been the best results for me this year. In Asia it was better setting my color.

Color Space — Adobe RGB – gotta fit in with the standard!
Picture Style – I use neutral as a base. I do have a Cine Style setting I use when working with models underwater. I will do another post focused on underwater models and have setting ideas there.

Menu 3
ISO Auto – I use Max 3200 – Super grainy but can save a shot in a pinch. I do like to keep the ISO as low as possible – usually 160 or 320

Menu 4
Live View Shoot – Enable – Sometimes I have to look at video screen to see pics so this mode can be useful. Makes for slower stills at times
AF Mode – Live Mode – I use the AF-On Button to set focus. I read that focusing on your fins first is useful and since then I have used this technique in the open ocean or when there are lots of particles that con confuse the AF.
Grid Display – off
Metering timer – 10 minutes – I like being able to see exposure at a glance and at the 1 minute setting I am missing it to often UW.

Custom Functions
C.Fn I: Exposure
1. Exposure leve increments – 1/3 stop for more accurate exposure
2 ISO speed settings – 1/3 stop for more accurate exposure
3.Exposure ISO expansion – OFF – Some people like this but I have found it to be too grainy at the extremes.
4.Bracketing Auto cancel – ON
5 Bracketing sequence – ): 0.-.+ Hardly ever use bracketing but when I do I prefer this sequence
6.Exposure safety shift ; disable
7. Exposure Flash sync.- Auto

C.Fn II: Image
1. Long Exp. Noise reduction. – off not useful underwater
2. High ISO Speed noise reduction – Standard
3.Image Highlight tone Priority – Disable – can cause overexposure in the highlights

C.Fn III: Autofocus/Drive
1. AI Servo Tracing Sensitivity – I put this one to the right of the middle. Fast but not max
2. AI Servo 1st/2nd Imag priority – 3:Release/tracking priority – to help keep objects
3. AI Servo AF Tracking Method – 0:Main Focus Point Priority – I like to get focus on my subject then move the camera to keep it in focus.
4. Lens Drive When AF impossible: 1:focus search off
5. AF Microadjustment – Disable
6. Select AF area selec. mode
7. Manual AF pt. select pattern – O:stops at af area edges
8. VF Display illumination – Auto
9. Display all AF points – 0:disable
10. Focus display in AI servo/MF – 0:Enable
11. AF beam assisted firing – disable – doesn’t work in housings
12. Orientation linked AF point – 0:same for both Vertic/horiz.
13. mirror lockup – disable

I use the settings on the back by either hitting menu twice or the info button 3 times then the Q (with a box around it) to be able to edit these on the fly (adjusting exposure through iso, aperture or shutter speed)

I tend to start out at 125 shutter at 32o iso and a 4 or 5.6 stop as a base setting and go from there. I sometimes use the same setting but put the iso on auto to help with exposure but still give me a focused sharp subject. I would rather have it get a bit grainy then lose sharp exposure or create blur from motion.

Next time I’ll break down of few photos.

This entry was posted in Thoughts.