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Canon EOS 20D

By: Shawn Barnett and Dave Etchells

Slightly smaller and lighter upgrade brings greater speed and ease of use along with higher res and lower image noise.

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Page 10:Camera Modes & Menus

Review First Posted: 08/19/2004, Update: 11/19/2004

Camera Modes and Menus


Flash Off Mode: The first mode in the Easy Shooting Zone, Flash Off mode disables both the internal flash unit and any external flash unit connected. Focus is set to AI Focus mode, drive mode is set to Single, and metering is set to Evaluative. The camera controls ISO and Auto white balance as well.


Night Scene Mode: This mode is for taking pictures of people at sunset or at night. The autofocus mode is automatically set to One Shot. Drive mode is set to Single Shot, and metering mode is set to Evaluative. Since slower shutter speeds will be used, a tripod is recommended to prevent movement from the camera. The built-in flash is automatically enabled and synched with the slower shutter speed, so subjects need to remain still after the flash fires to avoid ghostlike afterimages. ISO is automatically adjusted by the camera. (For night exposures without the flash, Canon recommends shooting in Landscape mode.)


Sports Mode: This mode uses a faster shutter speed to capture fast-moving subjects. The autofocus mode is automatically set to AI Servo. Drive mode is set to Continuous Shooting, ISO is set to Auto, and metering mode is set to Evaluative. The onboard flash isn't available in this mode (since it can't cycle fast enough to keep up with the continuous exposure mode).


Close-up Mode (Macro Mode): Turning the Mode dial to the macro flower symbol sets the camera for capturing smaller subjects such as flowers, jewelry, and other small details. The autofocus mode is automatically adjusted to One Shot, the drive mode is set to Single Shot, and the metering mode is set to Evaluative. ISO is set to Auto. Close-up mode takes advantage of the current lens' minimum focal distance. However, an EOS dedicated macro lens and the Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX are recommended for better close-up photography. (Unlike the macro mode on most consumer digicams, Macro mode on the 20D has no effect on lens focusing range, as that parameter is entirely determined by the lens being used.)


Landscape Mode: Landscape mode combines slower shutter speeds with smaller aperture settings to increase the depth of field when shooting broad vistas and sweeping landscapes. This mode is also good for night scenes without people in them. The built-in flash is automatically disabled, even if it's already raised. Because this mode uses slower shutter speeds, a tripod may be needed. Metering is again set to Evaluative and ISO to Auto.


Portrait Mode: This mode uses a large aperture setting to decrease the depth of field, which blurs the background to emphasize the subject. ISO is set to Auto, metering to Evaluative, and AF mode to One Shot.



Full Automatic Mode: The final mode in the Easy Shooting Zone, Full Automatic is indicated on the Mode dial by a green rectangular outline. In this mode, the camera makes all exposure decisions with the exception of image quality. Autofocus mode is set to AI Focus. (AI Focus evaluates subject movement, automatically sets either one-shot AF or AI Servo AF automatically.) Drive mode is set to Single Shot, and the metering mode is set to Evaluative.


Program AE: This is the first mode in the Creative Zone of the Mode Dial. Program AE works similarly to the Full Automatic exposure mode, but allows more control over the exposure variables. Aperture and shutter speed are automatically selected by the camera, but you can bias the exposure to larger or smaller apertures by turning the Main control dial, which will change the combination of aperture and shutter speed so as to maintain the same exposure value, but with a different choice of aperture/shutter speed. Turning the Quick Control dial in this mode adjusts the exposure compensation setting, to increase or decrease overall exposure.


Shutter-Priority AE: This mode allows you to manually set the shutter speed anywhere from 1/8,000 to 30 seconds, while the camera chooses the best corresponding aperture setting. You have control over all other exposure variables, including exposure compensation.


Aperture-Priority AE: The opposite of Shutter-Priority mode, Aperture-Priority AE allows you to set the lens aperture (with available ranges depending on the lens in use), while the camera selects the most appropriate shutter speed. Again, you have control over all other exposure variables, including exposure compensation.


Manual Exposure: This mode provides the same range of exposure control as the other Creative Zone exposure modes (except for exposure compensation), but lets you control both shutter speed and lens aperture independently. The shutter speed range is extended to include a Bulb setting. A display in the top LCD panel reports whether the camera thinks your settings will result in under, over, or correctly exposed photos.


Automatic Depth of Field AE: This is the final mode in the Creative Zone, and is meant for taking pictures of large groups of people, landscapes with foreground detail, or any subject with elements of interest at varying distances from the camera. This mode puts the camera in control of both the shutter speed and aperture values, but you can adjust the other exposure variables. (This mode cannot be used if the lens focus mode is set to manual.) When shooting in Automatic Depth of Field AE, the camera sets both the exposure and focus distance to achieve a sharp focus over a wide depth of field. It uses the autofocus system to measure the distance to the subjects covered by each of the three autofocus zones, and then attempts to set the focusing distance and lens aperture so as to render all three subject areas in sharp focus.

Playback Mode: This mode is entered by pressing the Play button on the back panel. Playback mode lets you erase images, protect them, or set them up for printing on DPOF/PictBridge compatible devices. You can also view images in an index display, enlarge images to 10x, view a slide show of all captured images, or rotate an image. The Info button activates an information display, which reports the exposure settings for the image and graphs the exposure values on a small histogram.

Operating Menu: This menu is available in all of the camera modes, though a few of the capture-related options are only available in the Creative Zone. Pressing the Menu button calls up the Operating menu.

  • Quality: Sets the image size and the compression ratio. Options are Large/Fine (3,504 x 2,336 pixels), Large/Normal (3,504 x 2,336 pixels), Medium/Fine (2,544 x 1,696 pixels), Medium/Normal (2,544 x 1,696 pixels), Small/Fine (1,728 x 1,152 pixels), Small/Normal (1,728 x 1,152 pixels), and RAW (3,504 x 2,336 pixels, with lossless compression).
  • Red Eye On/Off: Turns the Red Eye Reduction lamp mode on or off (when on, the Red Eye reduction lamp lights before every flash exposure, and a countdown timer displays in the viewfinder).
  • Beep: Turns the camera's beep sounds on or off.
  • Shoot w/o card: Allows firing of the shutter without a CF card in the camera.
  • AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing): Sets the bracketing range for Auto Exposure Bracketing in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV from -2 to +2 EV (Creative Zone only).
  • WB SHIFT/BKT (White Balance Shift/Bracketing): Adjusts the white balance bracketing series, in arbitrary units from -3 to +3 in full-stop increments, also allows sophisticated biasing between Green/Magenta and Blue Amber. (secondary screen)
  • Custom WB: Lets you manually establish the white value by referencing a shot of a white card (Creative Zone only). (This mode on the 20D is a little different from the implementation used by other camera makers, in that it makes use of a previously-shot image of a white card, allowing you to store several white-point references on the camera's memory card and switch between them. It also allows a white reference to be shared between multiple photographers shooting the same event, simply by putting the same white reference image on each of their memory cards. Very handy!)
  • Color Temp.: Sets the color temperature in degrees Kelvin for the Kelvin white balance option. Choices range from 2,800 to 10,000 Kelvin in 100-Kelvin degree increments.
  • Color Space: Switches between sRGB and Adobe RGB capture. This is a nice addition, because it allows the user to still modify parameters.
  • Parameters: Lets you reference any of up to three sets of image-processing parameters that you can set on the camera. These parameters can affect contrast, sharpness, color saturation, and color tone adjustments in the same way that the Canon's RAW Image Converter software does when processing RAW format images. Also available are Parameter 1, the standard set on the Digital Rebel, and Parameter 2, set by default, and similar to the EOS 10D. Finally, there's a Black and White mode that allows adjustment of contrast and sharpness, or addition of Yellow, Orange, Red, or Green filter effects, and addition of Sepia, Blue, Purple, or Green tones. (secondary screen)



  • Protect: Protects the currently displayed image against accidental deletion, apart from card formatting.
  • Rotate: Rotates the currently displayed image 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise.
  • Print Order: Allows you to set up images for printing on any DPOF compatible device. Print options include setting the number of prints, and whether or not the date and/or file number is printed as well. (secondary screen)
  • Auto Play: Automatically plays captured images in sequential order as a slide show.
  • Review Time: When the Review function is set to On or On (Info), this setting controls the amount of time that images are displayed in the review, with options of two, four, or eight seconds, or Hold (which displays the image until the Set button is pressed, or the Shutter button is halfway pressed).



  • Auto Power Off: Sets power down time to between 1 and 30 minutes or to Off for no automatic shutoff.
  • Auto Rotate: When enabled, records the camera orientation information with the image. This makes portrait-format images to appear right-side up on the camera's LCD screen, but doesn't affect the picture data itself in the camera's JPEG or RAW-format files.
  • LCD Brightness: Adjusts the LCD brightness.
  • Date/Time: Sets the camera's internal date and time.
  • File Numbering: Extends consecutive file numbering between media cards or resets numbering with each new card.
  • Language: Sets the menu language to one of 12 languages.
  • Video System: Selects either NTSC or PAL video timing formats
  • Communication: Sets camera to work with a computer (Normal) or printer (PTP).
  • Format: Reformats the CompactFlash card, which erases all files (even protected ones).
  • Custom Functions: Sets a variety of custom camera functions for individual camera users.
  • Clear Settings: Resets all custom settings to their defaults.
  • Sensor Clean: Locks up the mirror and opens the shutter, allowing you to clean the sensor of any dust.
  • Firmware Ver.: Reports the camera's current firmware and allows user to update.

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