Hobart Rivulet Platypus

Platypus Photography Canon EOS R3

Customisation Tips & Tricks for Wildlife Photographers

In the heart of Hobart, marginalized by urban sprawl, a fragile world persists. Polluted waters flow, but ripples whisper an unlikely miracle – the presence of platypus.

@HobartRivuletPlatypus is a community organization dedicated to the conservation and protection of Hobart’s urban platypus population. Documenting these enigmatic creatures is crucial for understanding their urban lives and inspiring the community to protect their fragile habitat.

These small, elusive creatures move swiftly in dim light, blending seamlessly with their semi-aquatic environment. That’s why documenting platypus’s lives requires complete presence in the moment. Meeting this challenge requires a tool that feels like a natural extension of my own body. 

That’s where the EOS R3 comes in. Like other Canon R Series cameras, it offers incredible control through extensive customization options. The beauty of these options isn’t about using every single feature, but creating a setup distilled to suit your workflow perfectly.

The settings, menus, buttons and dials on my EOS R3 are all configured to minimize distractions and maximize readiness. It means my eye never need stray from the viewfinder, my hands can remain fixed in shooting position – one cradling the lens, the other poised on the grip. 

Customization requires patience. Settings meticulously refined at home might seem a world away from the essence of wildlife photography. However, mastering these technical details greatly improves your ability to be present in, and capture those wild moments.

Here are some of my favorite Canon EOS R3 customizations – many of which can also be applied to other R series cameras:

  • Release shutter without card
  • Custom Shooting Modes
  • Silent Shutter Function
  • ISO speed/Shutter speed
  • Electronic full-time MF
  • Screen Info Settings
  • Customize Buttons and Dials
  • RF Control Ring
  • My Menu
  • Limit AF areas et al

Cheers

Pete

Cover photo credit: Fraser Johnston

Canon EOS R3; RF70-200 F2.8 L (@200MM)
1/1250 sec; f/4.0; ISO 2500

Disable Release shutter without card

Unboxing a new camera? Find the Release shutter without card option in your camera’s menu system and disable it. With that one, you will never experience the joy of taking the shot of a lifetime, only to discover there was no memory card in the camera. 

Utilize Custom Shooting Modes

Custom Shooting Modes are incredibly powerful, allowing you to call up deeply customized shooting modes as needed. Current camera settings can be registered as custom shooting modes (C1, C2, C3) for both stills and video.

I rely completely on my custom shooting modes for both stills and video. Turn my R3 on when I arrive at the waterway and 99% of my camera settings for both stills and video are already taken care of! That leaves me free to be in the moment with the platypus. Should I then start shooting, I only need to manage aperture, exposure compensation and focus tracking.

All customizations below can be stored inside a Custom Shooting Mode.

Enable Silent Shutter Function.

The ability to shoot in complete silence is a godsend for wildlife photography. The Silent Shutter Function option on Canon’s R series cameras sets the shutter to electronic, and disables all camera sounds – leaving wildlife and yourself to enjoy a silent shooting experience. 

Most mirrorless cameras also allow shutter type and camera sounds to be managed independently. Either way, silence is golden.

TIP: During silent shooting you may need to utilize visual cues to confirm camera operation e.g. a flashing red light on rear of camera when recording video.

Utilize [ISO speed/Shutter speed]

I love [ISO speed/Shutter speed]! Set your desired ISO range. Set your target shutter speed. Operate camera in Aperture Priority.

ISO speed is automatically adjusted within the set range. If exposure cannot be maintained by adjusting ISO speed, shutter speed is automatically adjusted.

TIP: Set aperture as required for optimum Depth of Field, then as the light level drops, progressively open aperture as viable Max ISO and Min shutter are reached.

Canon EOS R3; RF135mm F1.8 L
1/1250 sec; f/2.8; ISO 12800

Enable Electronic full-time MF

Electronic full-time MF allows manual focus override at any time when using AF Servo. It’s a quick way to reset the camera’s focus and minimize AF hunting. 

TIP: Especially useful in video mode!

Customize Screen Info Settings

By default, mirrorless viewfinder displays contain a massive amount of information. Screen Info Settings lets you cull this information and number of viewfinder screens down so to the information you would like to see.

My default viewfinder displays essential information only, reducing clutter and distraction when shooting stills and video.

Customize Buttons & Customize Dials

All of the dials on the camera can be customised, as can the functions of most buttons. It’s a rabbit hole but one you’ll need to go down more than once if you’d like to get the most out of your camera.

My personal favorite is:
M-Fn2 Button: Playback
DOF Preview: Erase
This allows you to review and erase files without your hands leaving the ready to shoot position, and your eye leaving the viewfinder. 

Closely followed by:
M-Fn: selecting between Spot and One Point AF

Canon EOS R3; RF70-200 F2.8 L (@108MM)
1/2500 sec; f/5.0; ISO 10000

Use the RF Control Ring 

The RF Control Ring is a common feature on Canon RF lenses that perhaps doesn’t receive the love it deserves.  It’s another control within easy reach while shooting.

I currently use the RF Control Ring across all lenses for setting White Balance in video mode.

My Menu

You know the feeling. There’s a camera setting or function you need to access from time to time, but you can’t remember where it is located. Cue working your way through each and every menu!

Fortunately it’s easy to create your own custom menus. Highly recommended. 

Limit AF areas/Restrict Drive Modes/Restrict Metering Modes

Within the context of Custom Shooting Modes, if you never use certain AF areas, Drive Modes or Metering Modes in that situation why not simply disable them. 

Less is more!

Pete Walsh founded @HobartRivuletPlatypus in October, 2020. His story is the basis of the ABC/PBS documentary The Platypus Guardian. In 2023 @HobartRivuletPlatypus was the recipient of Canon Oceania’s Grants Program, winning both the Environment and Overall categories. Pete is currently working on Becoming Platypus, an intimate short form documentary that tells the story of two nesting females and their male offspring. It is scheduled for release in Q3, 2024. Pete lives in Hobart, Tasmania with his partner Von and wonder-dog Loki. His first Canon camera was an EOS 630, circa 1989.

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