As we mention elsewhere in these articles on the new 61-point AF system here on Canon’s Digital Learning Center, the AF systems in professional SLRs have reached dizzying heights in terms of not only speed and performance, but in terms of the potential adjustments available to today’s pro shooters. In the past, as new functions and capabilities were added, these sometimes found their way into the camera’s Custom Function menus, and in other cases into the Shooting Menu screens. The result was a variety of settings, but choices that were split up and often required multiple trips to different parts of the menu to tie together.
User-friendliness is one of the foundations of the new 61-point High Density Reticular AF system in the new EOS-1D X and EOS 5D Mark III. And perhaps the most obvious example of this is the camera’s new AF menu. All AF-related menu settings are now housed under one heading, and there’s no longer a need to go into the camera’s Custom Functions (which of course, still remain) for any AF settings or adjustments. In this article, we’ll highlight how the new menu system in the two cameras works, and show how this unifies the entire AF approach.
The new Menu system: Tabs at top of the screen
With the EOS-1D X and EOS 5D Mark III, there are six different tabs at the top of the Menu screen – each, when highlighted, enters the user into a different area. The six basic tabs will seem relatively familiar to users of recent EOS cameras:
- Shooting menus (red-colored camera icon)
- AF (purple-colored tab with "AF" icon – this is new)
- Playback (blue-colored tab, with right-facing arrow icon)
- Set-up menus (yellow-colored tab with small wrench icon)
- Custom Functions (orange-colored tab, with camera icon and dots underneath it)
- My Menu (green tab with star-shaped icon)
Once the MENU button is pressed on the rear of the camera, users can navigate from one tab to another by turning the top Main Dial – exactly as it's done with existing and previous EOS cameras, such as the EOS-1D Mark IV, EOS 5D Mark II, or EOS 7D.
New: multiple screens for each tab
Once a colored tab is selected, users will see just beneath the tabs icons a little row of white dots, with one of them filled-in with the same color as the tab being used.
Each tab has multiple possible menu screens, so that users never have to scroll to find items not visible on the LCD monitor. Therefore, for instance, the red Shooting Menu has four possible screens – and four visible dots, just below the tabs. If the first dot is filled with red, it means you're on the first of four available Shooting Menu screens; if the fourth dot is red, you're on the fourth of four available screens.
Just as you move from one primary Menu tab to another by turning the top Main Dial on the camera, once you enter a particular main colored tab, each additional click of the Main Dial moves you from the first Menu screen to the second, and so on.
New: The AF menu
Our primary topic in this article is the new AF menu in both the EOS 5D Mark III and EOS-1D X. As mentioned, the AF menu has its own tab heading, and within that, five available screens (represented by five dots, one of which will be colored purple to indicate it’s currently active). Again, the key take-away: all AF functions are now in one location, and there's no need to dip into the Custom Function part of the menu to find certain advanced AF functions.
Screen 1 – AF Configuration Tool
This new system is explained in detail in a separate article here on Canon's Digital Learning Center. On this menu screen, users can select any of six pre-set "cases", to tune AI Servo AF focus-tracking and tailor it for specific situations. And, the three separate adjustments (Tracking Sensitivity, Accel/Decel Tracking, and AF point Auto Switching) can each be independently adjusted here.
Screen 2 – AI Servo AF first and second image priority
An additional set of controls for focus-tracking adjustment, but not part of the AF Configuration Tool.
Screen 3 – Shooting priority when in One-Shot AF, and more
Screen 4 – AF Area selections, and more
Screen 5 – Viewfinder displays for AF; AF Microadjustment
Sometimes, part of the problem with calling up a certain camera or computer function is finding it in the first place. Canon's engineers have put a lot of thought into how to take the most sophisticated AF system they've ever created, and come up with some extremely user-friendly ways to make it accessible and practical for many different types of users. Every main menu item can be seen without having to scroll up or down. Navigating from one AF menu screen to the next is a simple task – just rotate the Main Dial, up near the shutter button. Entering and selecting menu items will be familiar to any current Canon EOS shooter. And to repeat, there's no longer any need to go into the Custom Function menu for any of the more complex AF settings – everything is in one place.
The EOS-1D X and EOS 5D Mark III may have Canon’s most advanced AF system ever, but it doesn’t mean it’s the most complicated or difficult to understand. Their new AF menu is part of the reason why.