The Canon 80D has a huge number of menu settings and options that are important to set properly. The good news is that most of them are good by default, but there are some important settings that are worth changing. In this article, I will go through all the recommended camera settings for the Canon 80D so that you can set everything optimally and take the best possible pictures.
Shooting Menu 1
- Image Quality: RAW (see RAW vs JPEG for why)
- Image Review: 4 seconds (personal preference)
- Beep: Disable
- Release Shutter Without Card: Off
- Lens Aberration Correction: Off for everything (assuming you are shooting RAW; if shooting JPEG, all On)
- Flash Control options
- Flash Firing: Enable (so the flash actually fires when you pop it up)
- E-TTL II Meter: Evaluative
- Flash Sync Speed in Av Mode: Auto (don’t use Av mode if you need a more specific flash sync speed; use manual instead)
- Built-in Flash Settings
- Flash Mode: E-TTL II
- Shutter Sync: 2nd Curtain (to capture motion prior to the flash properly)
- Exposure Compensation: Varies, but leave at 0 by default
- Wireless func.: Varies depending upon whether or not you are firing an external flash, and how you want it to fire. Aside from “disable,” the first option is a ratio, where your external flash and on-camera flash will fire in tandem at a ratio you choose (like 4:1 or 1:1). The second option means that only your off-camera flash will appear in your photo (though the on-camera flash will trigger it with a pre-flash). The third option means that both flashes will fire, and you can choose their power independently
- Red-eye Reduc.: Disable (enabling doesn’t help redeye much; post-processing correction is more effective)
Shooting Menu 2
- Expo.Comp./AEB: Default (you can change exposure compensation via buttons instead. But this is the only place to change bracketing settings, so keep it in mind if that’s something you see yourself changing)
- ISO speed settings
- ISO speed: Matches whatever ISO you’ve set via the ISO button on the top of the camera
- Range for stills: The maximum and minimum ISO that the 80D lets you set. I keep it at the 100-6400 default, since I rarely if ever need to raise it beyond ISO 6400
- Auto range: This is the range of ISO values the 80D will maintain when you’ve set ISO to Auto. I lean slightly toward changing this to 100-1600, but the default of 100-3200 is fine if you are willing to accept a bit more noise at ISO 3200
- Min. shutter spd.: This is the longest shutter speed that the 80D will use when you have Auto ISO enabled and you are in a mode where the camera controls your shutter speed (aperture priority or program). I set it to Auto(1) – one click toward the “Faster” side of things – so the longest shutter speed the 80D uses in these cases is about 1 / [2x the equivalent focal length of your lens].
- Auto Lighting Optimizer: Off
- White Balance: Auto, White Priority (accessed by pressing the “Info” button)
- WB Shift/Bkt: 0,0/+-0
- Color Space: sRGB if you’re a JPEG shooter; doesn’t affect the photo itself if you’re a RAW shooter, but AdobeRGB for slightly more accurate in-camera histogram
Shooting Menu 3
- Picture Style: Standard, default values, unless you have a specific reason to change it (doesn’t affect the photo itself if you’re a RAW shooter)
- Long exp. noise reduction: Off, unless you are taking especially long exposures (20-30 seconds) and you don’t mind waiting twice as long to capture the photo. This one does affect RAW photos (see a list here of which settings do and do not affect RAW photos)
- High ISO Speed NR: Off (doesn’t affect RAW photos)
- Highlight tone priority: Off
Shooting Menu 4
- Anti-flicker shoot.: Disabled, unless you are taking pictures under fluorescent light and getting uneven exposures
- Mirror Lockup: Disable, although enabled if I’m shooting on a tripod with a 2 second self timer
- Aspect ratio: 3:2
Shooting Menu 5: Live View Function
- Live View Shoot: Enabled
- AF Method: FlexiZoneAF (since the point is the smallest; but face tracking isn’t a bad idea if you’re photographing a moving person with live view autofocus for whatever reason)
- Touch Shutter: Your call. This one lets you take pictures by touching the LCD. I don’t like touchscreen functions on a camera (although I realize that I’m not typical in that regard) so I disable it.
- Grid display: Off (personal preference)
- Exposure simulation: Enable – this option means that your live view image will look as close as possible to your final photo, which is usually ideal, although the second setting (“during depth of field preview”) is what some photographers prefer, since it only enables exposure simulation when you press the depth of field preview button
Shooting Menu 6: Live View Function
- Silent LV shoot.: Mode 1. This simply makes it quieter to take photos in live view by enabling an electronic shutter to start an exposure (with the mechanical shutter curtain still closing to end the exposure, then opening back up again). There’s no downside or reason to disable it, except that it doesn’t work with certain tilt-shift lenses and extension tubes. Mode 2 is only for special cases; it acts like mode 1, but manages to be even quieter by not re-opening the mechanical shutter curtain until you press the shutter button again (which you can do at a moment where noise is not as much of a problem, presumably). But this means it is impossible to shoot continuously in Mode 2, and the noise differences are minimal
- Metering timer: 1 minute (personal preference)
Playback Menu 1
- No settings here to worry about; they’re mainly just ways to edit a photo that you’ve already taken
Playback Menu 2
- Only “Image Jump w/ Main Dial” matters here, and it’s a personal choice for how you want the 80D’s top dial to work in playback mode. How many photos do you want to jump across each time you scroll the wheel once? I leave it at “Jump 10 Images” so I can go through large volumes of images quickly. I then click the left and right arrows on the direction pad, or scroll the wheel on the back of the camera, when I want to go one-by-one.
Playback Menu 3
- Highlight alert: Enable (lets you press the “INFO” button a few times when you review a photo and see any overexposed highlights blinking black and white)
- AF Point Disp: Disable (personal preference, since it’s not information I particularly care about; see which focus point you’ve used)
- Playback grid: Off
- Histogram disp: RGB (more data)
- Ctrl over HDMI: Enable when you plan to review photos directly from the 80D on a TV screen or other HDMI medium; disable otherwise
Set Up Menu 1
- Auto Rotate: On, Computer only (avoiding the “On, Camera and Computer” option, since it will make the photos too narrow on your camera and complicate taking vertical pictures on a tripod)
- Wireless communication settings: All disabled unless you’re actively using them, due to potential battery life concerns
Set Up Menu 2
- Auto Power Off: 1 minute (another personal preference; how long do you want the monitor to wait without action before turning off?)
- LCD Brightness: Centered on 4
- LCD Off/On Btn: Remains on (you can always turn the LCD display off by pressing the “INFO” button. Also, the “Shutter btn” menu option can get a bit annoying, since it only turns off the LCD info when you’re actively half-pressing the shutter button)
- Viewfinder Display: Hide all (personal preference)
Set Up Menu 3
- Video System: For NTSC
- Feature Guide: Disable (though it can help if you’re just learning the 80D)
- Touch Control: Personally, I prefer “Disable” because I don’t like using camera touchscreens, but most photographers will prefer “Standard”
- INFO button display options: Enabled for electronic level and shooting functions (personal preference)
- INFO button LV display options
- Live view info switch setting: Enabled on 1, 3, and 4 (personal preference, but I like the ability to see a live histogram and an electronic level, as well as less cluttered options as well
- Histogram disp
- Brightness/RGB: RGB
- Display Size: Large
Set Up Menu 4
- Multi function lock: I never use the locking switch on the 80D or any other camera, but if you do, this one is completely personal preference. I enable all four options so that I am more likely to realize it if I accidentally turn on the locking switch!
- C.Fn I: Exposure
- Exposure Level Increments: 1/3 stop (personal preference)
- ISO speed setting increments: 1/3 stop (personal preference)
- Exposure bracketing auto cancel: Enable (this resets your bracketing when you turn off the camera, which is generally useful when you put away the camera; but this also is a personal preference if you frequently turn on and off the camera and prefer your use of bracketing to be saved)
- Exposure bracketing sequence: 0, -, + (personal preference for the order you want your metered exposure, underexposed, and overexposed image while bracketing)
- Number of bracketed shots: 3 shots (varies by photo and personal preference)
- Exposure safety shift: Disable (I don’t want the camera overriding my manual settings)
- C.Fn II: Autofocus
- Tracking sensitivity: This is the 80D’s autofocus response to sudden changes in your subject. Lean closer to “locked on” when you are photographing something with a potential for momentary focusing distractions (like wildlife going behind a tree). Lean closer to “responsive” when your subject is relatively obvious, without a strong chance for distractions or accidentally focusing on the background. Keeping this option in the middle is a good compromise.
- Accel./decel. tracking: How steady is the speed of your subject? For steadier subjects, keep it at 0. For subjects that may be accelerating and decelerating, keep it at 1. Option 2 is for subjects with extreme fluctuations from acceleration to decelerating.
- AF pt auto switching: How willing do you want the 80D’s autofocus system to be to switch from your chosen focus point to another (when you’ve enabled multi-point tracking)? I lean toward keeping this at 0, since I find that the 80D sometimes gets confused and thinks my subject has moved to a different point when it has not.
- AI Servo 1st image priority: How much do you want the 80D to ensure that the first photo in a burst sequence is in sharp focus? In other words, would you rather the 80D take a photo immediately when you press the shutter button, or wait until it is more certain that your subject is in focus? This isn’t an easy question, and I lean toward keeping “Equal priority” set in order to let the camera take a photo as quickly as possible, but with solid focus accuracy.
- AI Servo 2nd image priority: Same thing, but with the second photo (and all further photos) in your sequence. I set this one to Focus Priority, but it’s a personal thing; some photographers find it very annoying to press the shutter button but not have the camera take a picture, and would prefer a setting with more speed priority.
- AF-assist beam firing: Disable (I find it annoying, but this is also personal preference).
- Lens drive when AF impossible: Continue focus search (Canon recommends using “Stop focus search” mainly with supertelephoto lenses, when you are worried that the lens will rack focus to an excessive degree).
- Select AF area selec. mode: All enabled, unless you absolutely never use a particular one of these, or want the option to do so.
- AF area selection method: I find the first option (AF area selection button) to be a more ergonomic way to select your autofocus point, but try out both settings and see which you prefer. This is also down to personal preference
- Orientation linked AF point: Same for both vertic./horiz. – To me, this simplifies things, since the AF point you’ve picked doesn’t change when you shoot the camera vertically. If you need to change this from the default for your particular needs, you’d already know.
- Initial AFpt, AI Servo AF: Manual AF pt (since I don’t want the camera to “guess” what it thinks my subject is. I’d rather choose initially and have the 80D attempt to track my choice).
- Auto AF pt sel. Color Tracking: Enable
- AF point selection movement: Stops at AF area edges (Personal preference; when you move the focus point all the way to one side, do you want it to do a Pac-Man jump back to the opposite side? Personally, I don’t.)
- AF point display during focus: Selected (I like seeing my selected focus point at all times)
- VF Display illumination: Enable (I like the AF point to be illuminated, regardless of light levels in the scene)
- AF Microadjustment: Disable, unless you need to calibrate your lenses
- C.Fn III: Operation/Others
- Warnings in viewfinder: All unchecked (I find them annoying, but some photographers find them helpful, so set them up as you choose)
- Dial direction during Tv/Av: Reverse direction (that’s just how I learned to adjust aperture on my prior cameras; everyone is different here)
- Retract lens on power off: Disable (though this likely doesn’t apply to your lens anyway)
- Custom controls (all of which are personal preferences; this is where you customize the buttons on the 80D)
- Shutter button half-press: Metering start (This one is important. It decouples autofocus from your shutter button, also known as back button focusing, which is extremely useful – once you try it, I suspect you will not want to go back)
- AF-On: Metering and AF start (This button is what you’ll use to focus from now on)
- * Button (aka AE Lock button): I don’t use this all that often, but I keep it to AE lock/FE lock in order to lock my exposure or flash exposure upon pressing it. This is useful if you’re using a semi-automatic mode like aperture priority and you want the exposure to remain constant across a series of photos, such as a panorama.
- Depth of field preview button: Depth of field preview
- SET button: I leave it to ISO because I like having a second option to do that, but you may want to leave it to flash exposure compensation to access that option more quickly (as primarily a landscape and nature photographer, I just don’t use flash very often).
- Main dial: This one is completely up to your own preferences. Personally, I find it a bit more natural to adjust shutter speed via the top dial, so I select Tv.
- Quick control dial: Continuing off the bullet point above, I prefer to adjust aperture via the rear dial, so I select Av.
- Multi-controller: Direct AF point selection (I’m used to this method and find it the quickest way to adjust autofocus points)
- A good place to group together all the menu settings you plan to change frequently, such as Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB), ISO Auto, Long Exposure Noise Reduction, and Custom Functions
Movie Mode Settings (Same Menu Categories, but New Options)
The Canon 80D is arranged so that you see a different menu depending upon whether you are shooting photos or videos, which you change by flipping between photo and movie mode on the back of the 80D. Below, I will cover the menu settings that are most important while shooting video.
Shooting Menu 4, Movie Settings
- Movie Servo AF: Disable (This is video autofocus, and it usually is preferable to disable unless you are filming a subject with difficult movement to track manually. It’s worth pointing out that the 80D’s video autofocus is among the best you’ll find in any DSLR, so feel free to leave this enabled if you need it.)
- AF method: FlexiZoneAF, or Face + Tracking if you’re filming a person’s face
- Movie rec quality
- MOV/Mp4: Either is fine and produces equally good image quality. The differences are too technical to be worth covering here (feel free to look this up online), although I prefer MOV because I’m a Mac user
- Movie rec. size: FHD 29.97P Standard, unless your output requirements specify 23.98 FPS. Use FHD 59.94P if you need slow motion.
- Digital Zoom: Disable
- Sound Recording: Auto (this only controls the in-camera microphone regardless)
- Wind Filter: Auto
- Attenuator: Disable
Shooting Menu 5, Movie Settings
- Metering Timer: 1 minute, but this is a personal preference
- Grid display: Off, also a personal preference
- Shutter Button Function: Up to you, but I like the last option: Half-Press for Metering Only, Fully-Press for Start/Stop Mov Rec (which starts filming when you press the shutter button in movie mode)
I hope that the recommended camera settings in this article will help you select the best possible menu options for your Canon 80D! Again, the specific suggestions above are simply what work for me, and your own needs may be different (which is why so many settings exist in the first place) – but these options should be a good starting point.
If you have any questions about the reasons why I recommended one camera setting rather than another, or if you want clarification on something else about the Canon 80D, feel free to comment below.