Canon EOS 50D Modes and Menus

The Mode dial on the left side of the Canon EOS 50D's top panel lets you select various exposure modes, with the same range of options presented as on the EOS 40D, with the exception that a custom mode (C3) has been removed to make room for the new Creative Auto (CA) mode (see description below). Canon divides the dial into "Basic" and "Creative" zones, the Basic range encompassing the Full Auto setting and the six scene modes in what Canon refers to as the "Image" zone. The Creative zone includes settings for Creative Auto, Programmed exposure, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, full Manual control, and the Automatic Depth of Field mode. There are also two Camera User settings, for registering up to two banks of settings for quick recall.


Here's a description of each of the shooting modes:

Flash Off Mode: The first mode in the Image Zone, Flash Off mode disables both the internal flash head 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 Portrait Mode: This mode is for taking pictures of people at sunset or at night, letting the flash illuminate the subject, while the longer exposure provides a brighter view of the surroundings. 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 will need to remain still for a few moments after the flash fires to avoid ghost-like after-images. 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 High-Speed 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. Note that unlike the macro mode on most consumer digital cameras, Macro mode on the Canon 50D 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 Canon 50D's built-in flash is automatically disabled, even if it's already raised. Because this mode uses slower shutter speeds, a tripod may be needed in less-bright lighting conditions. 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. Drive mode is set to Low-Speed Continuous Shooting.

Full Automatic Mode: The final mode in the Canon 50D's Basic 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, ISO is set to Auto, and the metering mode is set to Evaluative.

Creative Auto Mode: Canon has added a new exposure mode called Creative Auto (or "CA"). The CA mode is a cross between the green zone and program mode.

When set to CA mode, the 50D allows the user to adjust the flash mode, picture style, motor drive, and exposure compensation, as well as to use the program shift function and select between RAW or JPEG file formats, but the rest of the more complex features remain under automatic control. The 50D's rear-panel LCD display offers text help for each setting while in CA mode, for example prompting the user as to whether they want to blur the background with program shift, or make the picture brighter / darker with exposure compensation, etc.

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 dial, which will change the combination of aperture and shutter speed so as to maintain the same exposure value, but with a different combination of aperture/shutter speed.

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 apertures 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, allowing long exposures for as long as you hold the Shutter button down. (The rear display reports the elapsed time, from one to 999 seconds, as the exposure progresses.) A display in the viewfinder 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 lens aperture 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 nine autofocus zones, and then attempts to set the focusing distance and lens aperture so as to render all subject areas in sharp focus. (This is a really useful mode, I wish other manufacturers would steal a page from Canon's playbook on this one.)

, Camera User Settings Modes: These three final settings on the Mode dial allow you to save two individual sets of camera settings for quick recall. Useful when shooting an event with multiple light sources, such as a wedding and reception, these custom modes let you register camera settings for specific conditions and easily go between modes. You can save most of the camera's shooting mode options as well as the Custom Function settings. Settings are registered as C1 or C2 through the Camera User Setting menu.

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 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.


Canon EOS 50D Menu Details

Below are 50D menu options and their descriptions. Click on the image to see a matrix of screen shots showing the full menu layout.

Record Menu 1:

Record Menu Options: Screen 1
- 4752 x 3168, Fine
- 4752 x 3168, Normal
- 3456 x 2304, Fine
- 3456 x 2304, Normal
- 2352 x 1568, Fine
- 2352 x 1568, Normal
- RAW + L
-sRAW1 (3267 x 2178)
-sRAW2 (2376 x 1584)
-sRAW1 + L
-sRAW2 + L
Select image size and quality combination.

The 50D has two small RAW (sRAW) options, sRAW1 and sRAW2

Red-eye On/Off
- Off
If On, Red-eye preflash fires with every flash exposure
Turns all camera beep sounds on or off
Shoot w/o Card
- Off
If on, the camera will fire the shutter even without a memory card
Review Time
-2 sec.
-4 sec.
-8 sec.
If off, the camera does not display the captured image after capture, otherwise the image appears for the designated time.

Hold setting displays the image until the auto power off time elapses.

Peripheral Illumination Correction
If on, the camera corrects for corner shading "vignetting" in JPEGs, depending on which lens is detected (therefore, probably won't work with third-party lenses).


Record Menu 2:

Record Menu Options: Screen 2
Exposure Comp./AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing)
-Select EV variable
Step sizes from 0.3 to 2.0 EV, total range covers +/-2 EV, maximum span for a single series is +/-2 EV, but you can now go up to 4 stops darker or brighter from the recommended exposure.
White Balance
-Kelvin Temperature (2,500 to 10,000)
Custom WB
-Choose image for reference, then set white balance
White Balance Shift/BKT
-Set the color shift on a two-dimensional grid (Green/Magenta, Blue/Amber)

- Choose bracket (+/-3 Magenta and Green, +/-3 Blue and Amber)
Color Space
-Adobe RGB
Picture Style
-User Def. 1
-User Def. 2
-User Def. 3
-Sharpness (arbitrary units from 0 to 7)
-Contrast (9 units from - to +)
-Saturation (9 units from - to +)
-Color Tone (9 units from - to +)
Monochrome has Filter and Toning effect instead of Saturation and Color Tone.
Dust Delete Data

Captures a reference image for the dust reduction system, showing where dust is present on the sensor. Dust shadows can then be automatically removed from the images when they're processed through Canon's software.


Playback Menu 1:

Playback Menu Options: Screen 1
Protect Images
Sets or removes protection mark. Protected images can only be deleted by reformatting the memory card.
Rotates selected image clockwise, either 90 or 270 degrees
Erase Images
-Select and erase images
-All images in folder
-All images on card
Erases images.
Print Order
-Select image
-Set number of copies

-Print Type (Standard, Index, Both)
-Date (On, Off)
-File No. (On, Off)

-Mark All
-Clear All

Marks images on the memory card for later printing on a DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatible printer.

Transfer Order
-Select print

-Mark All
-Clear All

For transferring images to a computer. (Computer must be running Canon's EOS Utility software.)


Playback Menu 2:

Playback Menu Options: Screen 2
Highlight Alert
Enables a blinking highlight display in Playback mode
AF Point Display
If Enabled, the AF point used to set focus appears in red in the image display

RGB option displays individual histograms for each color channel, brightness shows only a single graph.
Slide Show
-Select images



-All images

-Play time

Sets up Slide Show feature. Users can choose to play all folders, one folder, or just photos taken on a particular date. The Menu button stops playback.

Image Jump w/ dial
-1 image
-10 images
-100 images
Selects how image jump works using the Main Dial.


Setup Menu 1:

Setup Menu Options: Screen 1
Auto Power Off
- 1 min.
- 2 min.
- 4 min.
- 8 min.
-15 min.
-30 min.
- Off

Auto Rotate
-On (Record, Display)
- On (Display)
Record,Display - vertical images are rotated on both the camera's LCD and on the computer. (In applications that understand "Rotate" tags in the files' EXIF headers.)

Display - vertical images are only rotated on the computer.
Erases all files on card, even protected ones
File Numbering
-Auto Reset
-Manual Reset

Continuous numbers image files sequentially.

Auto Reset resets the numbering every time a card is formatted or a new card inserted.

Manual Reset resets numbering at any time to 0001.

Select Folder
-Select existing
Creates new folders.
WFT Settings
Displayed only when WFT-E3/E3A external memory attached.
Recording func.+media select
Displayed only when WFT-E3/E3A external memory in use.


Setup Menu 2:

Setup Menu Options: Screen 2
LCD Brightness
-Set brightness level from dark to bright in seven steps
-Set Date
-Set Time
-Set Display Format
-Simplified Chinese
-Traditional Chinese

Video System
Sensor Cleaning:
-Auto Cleaning
-Clean Now
-Clean Manually
Auto Cleaning setting automatically enables cleaning when camera is turned off or on (adds about 1 sec. to time)

Clean Now activates cleaning

Clean Manually locks up the mirror for manual cleaning.

Live View function settings
-Live View shoot
-Expo. simulation
-Grid Display
-Silent Shoot
-Metering Timer
-AF mode
Live View shoot

Grid Display
-Grid 1
-Grid 2

Silent Shoot
-Mode 1
-Mode 2

Metering Timer
-4 sec.
-16 sec.
-30 sec.
-1 min.
-10 min.
-30 min.

AF mode
-Quick mode
-Live mode
-Live face detect mode

Silent Shoot Mode 1 lowers sound when shooting in Live View mode.

Silent Shoot Mode 2 delays the shooting sound.

Silent Shoot Disable mode is for shooting with a TS-E lens or extension tube.

Sets how long the meter is on while Live View is active.

- Quick mode uses phase detection

- Live mode uses contrast detection

- Live face detect mode uses face detection


Setup Menu 3:

Setup Menu Options: Screen 3
INFO Button
-Normal Display
-Camera Setting
-Shoot Func.
Normal Display shows the standard image information display.

Camera Setting shows all of the camera settings used to create the image (such as Picture Style, Color Space, etc.).

Shooting Functions shows the more basic shooting modes, such as exposure variables, ISO, White Balance, etc.

Flash Control
-Flash Firing
-Built-in Flash Func. Setting
-External Flash Func. Setting
-External Flash C.Fn. Setting
-Clear Ext. Flash C.Fn. Set
Flash Firing

Built-in Flash Func. Setting
-1st Curtain
-2nd Curtain

External Flash Func. Setting
-Flash Mode
-Shutter Sync
-Flash Exp. Comp.

External Flash C.Fn. Setting

Controls a vast array of flash settings for both the internal flash and any attached external flash unit.
Camera User Setting
-Clear Settings
-Mode dial C1
-Mode dial C2
Registers the current camera settings to one of two available modes.
Clear Settings
Resets all camera settings to default.
Firmware Version
-Update firmware version

Updates firmware version if a properly-prepared CF card is in place


Custom Functions Menu:

Custom Function Menu Options
C.Fn I: Exposure
-C.Fn. I-1 Exposure Level Increments
-C.Fn.I-2 ISO Speed Setting Increments
-C.Fn.I-3 ISO Expansion
-C.Fn. I-4 Bracketing Auto Cancel
-C.Fn. I-5 Bracketing Sequence
-C.Fn. I-6 Safety Shift
-C.Fn. I-7 Flash Sync. Speed in AV Mode
C.Fn. I-1 Exposure Level Increments
-0: 1/3-Stop
-1: 1/2-Stop

C.Fn.I-2 ISO Speed Setting Increments
-0: 1/3-Stop
-1: 1-Stop

C.Fn.I-3 ISO Expansion
-0: Off
-1: On

C.Fn. I-4 Bracketing Auto Cancel
-0: On
-1: Off

C.Fn. I-5 Bracketing Sequence
-0: 0, -, +
-1: -, 0, +

C.Fn. I-6 Safety Shift

C.Fn. I-7 Flash Sync. Speed in AV Mode
-1: 1/250-1/60 sec. auto
-2: 1/250 sec. (fixed)

C.Fn.I-3 ISO Expansion option On adds "H1" 6,400 and "H2" 12,800 ISO settings

C.Fn. I-6 Safety Shift Enable option automatically shifts exposure if brightness changes suddenly.


C.Fn. II: Image
-C.Fn. II-1 Long Exposure Noise Reduction
-C.Fn. II-2 High ISO Speed Noise Reduction
-C.Fn. II-3 Highlight Tone Priority
-C.Fn. II-4 Auto Lighting Optimizer
C.Fn. II-1 Long Exposure Noise Reduction
-0: Off
-1: Auto
-2: On

C.Fn. II-2 High ISO Speed Noise Reduction
-0: Standard
-1: Low
-2: Strong
-3: Disable

C.Fn. II-3 Highlight Tone Priority
-0: Disable
-1: Enable

C.Fn. II-4 Auto Lighting Optimizer
-0: Standard
-1: Low
-2: Strong
-3: Disable

C.Fn. II-3 Highlight Tone Priority Enable option automatically improves highlight detail

C.Fn.III: Auto focus/Drive
-C.Fn. III-1 Lens Drive when AF Impossible
-C.Fn. III-2 Lens AF Stop Button Function
-C.Fn. III-3 AF Point Selection Method
-C.Fn. III-4 Superimposed Display
-C.Fn. III-5 AF-Assist Beam Firing
-C.Fn. III-6 Mirror Lockup
-C.Fn. III-7 AF Microadjustment
C.Fn. III-1 Lens Drive when AF Impossible
-0: Focus Search On
-1: Focus Search Off

C.Fn. III-2 Lens AF Stop Button Function
-0: AF Stop
-1: AF Start
-2: AE Lock
-3: AF Point: M-Auto-Auto-Center
-4: One Shot - AI Servo
-5: IS Start

C.Fn. III-3 AF Point Selection Method
-0: Normal
-1: Multi-Controller Direct
-2: Quick Control Dial Direct

C.Fn. III-4 Superimposed Display
-0: On
-1: Off

C.Fn. III-5 AF-Assist Beam Firing
-0: Enable
-1: Disable
-2: Only External Flash Emits

C.Fn. III-6 Mirror Lockup
-0: Enable
-1: Disable

C.Fn. III-7 AF Microadjustment
-0: Disable
-1: Adjust all by same amount
-2: Adjust by lens

C.Fn. III-1 Lens Drive when AF Impossible option tells camera to continue to try and achieve focus or stop, useful with super telephoto lenses

C.Fn.IV: Operation/Others
-C.Fn. IV-1 Shutter Button/AF-On Button
-C.Fn. IV-2 AF-On/AE Lock Button Switch
-C.Fn. IV-3 SET Button when Shooting
-C.Fn. IV-4 Dial Direction during TV/AV
-C.Fn.IV-5 Focusing Screen
-C.Fn. IV-6 Add Original Decision Data
-C.Fn. IV-7 Live View Exposure Simulation
C.Fn. IV-1 Shutter Button/AF-On Button
-0: Metering+AF Start
-1: Metering+AF Start/AF Stop
-2: Metering Start/Metering+AF Start
-3: AE Lock/Metering + AF Start
-4: Metering + AF Start/Disable

C.Fn. IV-2 AF-On/AE Lock Button Switch
-0: Enable
-1: Disable

C.Fn. IV-3 Assign Set Button
-0: Normal (disabled)
-1: Change Quality
-2: Change Picture Style
-3: Menu Display
-4: Image Replay

C.Fn. IV-4 Dial Direction during Tv/Av
-0: Normal
-1: Reverse

C.Fn.IV-5 Focusing Screen
-0: Ef-A
-1: Ef-D
-2: Ef-S

C.Fn. IV-6 Add Original Decision Data
-0: Off
-1: On

C.Fn. IV-7 Assign FUNC. Button
-0: LCD Brightness
-1: Image Quality
-2: Exposure comp/AEB Setting
-3: Image jump w/ dial
-3: Live View function settings

C.Fn.IV-5 Focusing Screen Ef-A option is Standard Precision Matte, Ef-D option is Precision Matte with Grid, and Ef-S option is Super Precision Matte

C.Fn. IV-6 Add Original Decision Data On option appends data to verify an original image.

Clear All Custom Functions (C.Fn.)


My Menu:

My Menu Options
-(Full list of options that can exist in My Menu)


Changes the order of registered items in My Menu
Delete All Items
Display from My Menu
When Enabled, the My Menu tab is displayed first when pressing the Menu button


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