Best settings for landscape photography: Canon R5 / R6
The Canon EOS R5 and EOS R6 are well suited for all types of photo and video work. But when it comes to landscape photography, there are a few settings you might want to customize. In this article, I’ll walk you through everything I use, while also offering tips for common landscape practices if you’re new to Canon cameras.
Note: I purchased the EOS R5 and R6 with my own money. If you’re buying either camera for yourself, consider using the links below. Doing so will support this site and my YouTube channel at no additional cost to you. Thanks!
2 and 10 Second Self Timer Drive Modes
Even when mounted on a sturdy tripod, cameras are susceptible to vibration when pressing their shutter buttons. These small vibrations can negatively impact sharpness; especially when shooting using slow shutter speeds.
Whenever I use a tripod, I always set the R5/R6 Drive Mode to 2 second self timer (accessed through the M-Fn button top of the cameras). Two seconds is usually enough to dissipate any vibration caused by pressing the shutter button, but ten seconds is also available if you don’t mind waiting a little longer.
Where to find it: “M-Fn” button on top of the camera body by the shutter button
Wireless communication consumes valuable resources and negatively impacts battery life. And besides, you’re probably not using WiFi or Bluetooth when shooting landscapes! To conserve battery life in the field, turn on Airplane Mode.
Where to find it: Menu > Network (Purple antenna icon) > Screen 1 > Airplane Mode
Another battery saving tip: enable Eco Mode. This reduces the amount of time an image is previewed on the LCD screen to 2 seconds.
Where to find it: Menu > Setup (Yellow wrench icon) > Screen 2 > Eco Mode
This may be a personal thing, but nothing ruins the vibe of a natural landscape more than listening to another photographer’s camera beep (I know, because a photographer once asked me to turn it off). You really don’t need it in a quiet landscape, so consider setting Beep to “Disable”.
Where to find it: Menu > Setup (Yellow wrench icon) > Screen 2 > Beep
Viewing the histogram is important to check black/white point clipping and when pushing exposure using the expose-to-the-right (ETTR) method. This “brightness” histogram combines the red, green and blue color channels to visualize a single, composite view of overall exposure.
Normally the default histogram is fine, but there may be times when an environment has a dominant color. For example, blue when shooting snow or winter landscapes. If you expose-to-the-right, you run the risk of unknowingly clipping the blue channel.
This is the reason why I always use the “RGB” histogram instead of “Brightness”, for then you don’t accidentally clip highlights in the most important color channel for your image.
Tip: If the histogram is too big on your LCD screen and viewfinder, there’s an extra option in there for “Small” instead of the (default) “Large” size.
Where to find it: Menu > Shoot (Red camera icon) > Screen 7 > Shooting info disp > Histogram disp
Voice Memos (R5 Only)
Sometimes when shooting you need to remember something about a particular image. Perhaps you experimented with exposure, focus stacked the image, or used a hyperfocal distance technique.
Whatever your mental note may be, press the Play button to view an image, press the RATE button above the LCD, then speak! Your voice will be saved as a small WAV file using the same file name as the image; making it easy to recall something important later in post. Wish the R6 had this.
Where to find it: RATE button above LCD screen (EOS R5 only)
Both the EOS R5 and R6 have built-in intervalometers. This allows both cameras to shoot continuously using custom intervals (in seconds) without having to plug-in external hardware.
Interval Timer is most commonly used for shooting timelapses, but I also use it with for general landscapes when something in the image is continuously moving (eg, light, clouds, water). Continuous drive modes are too fast for landscapes, and it’s also tiresome pressing the shutter over and over manually. With Interval Timer, you just let the camera run, then sort through the images later in post to find the one you like best.
Where to find it: Menu > Shoot (Red camera icon) > Screen 6 > Interval Timer
Focus stacking (or “bracketing” as Canon calls it) is a technique where multiple images using different focal points — typically the foreground, mid-ground and background — are merged and blended together in post to create a single composite image. When correctly executed, everything in the final image should be in focus with sharp detail.
Both the R5 and the R6 can automate this tedious process through Focus Bracketing. Once enabled, you tell the camera how many images you want, how wide or narrow the focal increment should be, and whether changes in exposure should be adjusted automatically. Then you press the shutter, and the R5/R6 will continuously shoot a series of images while gradually changing the focal distance.
This feature is officially supported by most Canon RF and some EF lenses, but check Canon’s lens compatibility chart before experimenting with it.
Where to find it: Menu / Shoot (Red camera icon) > Screen 5 / Focus bracketing
Exposure Blending (Old School Method)
To create “HDR” images using the R5/R6, you may create the images yourself, or automate the process using HDR Mode (which I’ll explain in a minute). The “old school” method isn’t as fancy, but it works well. It’s the mode I’ve used for years on older Canon DSLRs before the R5/R6. Here’s how.
- Change the camera drive mode (explained above) to 2 second timer.
- Put the camera in Manual using the Mode dial to keep exposure settings consistent.
- Select Exposure Comp/AEB in Menu > Shoot (Red camera icon) > Screen 2.
- Scroll the “Main dial” wheel on top of the camera left/right to create a bracketed exposure. You should see three red vertical tick marks instead of one. Set this to -1/+1, -2/+2, other higher.
- Scroll the “Quick control dial 1” wheel (large wheel to the right of the LCD) to make the sequence darker or brighter. When in doubt, set the middle tick mark at 0. When done press the SET button.
- Release the shutter. The R5/R6 will capture three images: one at normal exposure, one under and one over.
- To adjust the number of exposures (eg, 5 images instead of 3) edit Number of Bracketed Shots found in Menu > Custom Function (Orange camera icon) > Screen 1.
Tip: I also recommend setting Bracketing Sequence (Menu > Custom Function > Screen 1) to “-,0,+”. Images are then captured and saved in order of exposure, which is a little easier to sort through later in post.
Exposure Blending (HDR Mode Method)
Like focus stacking (explained above), both the R5 and R6 provide an automated tool that takes the guess work out of manually bracketing your exposure: HDR Mode.
This mode is similar to the “old school” method in that it shoots multiple RAW images at different exposures, but it also creates a final, blended HDR JPG you may preview on the LCD screen. This can be helpful in the field to ensure your under/over exposed images are sufficient to capture the full dynamic range of your subject.
This JPG is also auto-aligned when blended, which makes handheld HDR shooting easier. (By the way, Canon recommends disabling Auto Image Align in the HDR Mode setting when shooting on a tripod).
However, it’s worth noting that HDR Mode may consume more battery/resources than shooting using the “old school” method, so keep that in mind.
Tip: To quickly change from single exposure shooting to HDR, consider adding HDR Mode to the My Menu settings area. That way you don’t have to dig through settings to find it.
Where to find it: Menu > Shoot (Red camera icon) > Screen 5 > HDR Mode
I love the nostalgic feeling of manual focusing and shooting handheld. Auto focus on the R5/R6 is fantastic, but sometimes it’s faster and less fidgety to just focus a shot yourself.
To make manual focusing faster and easier, enable MF Peaking Settings. This will highlight which areas of your shot are in focus using Red (the default), Yellow or Blue on both the LCD screen and viewfinder.
Tip: I love using Focus Peaking for video as well, so I assigned focus peaking enable/disable to the Depth of Field button on the front of my R5/R6 (I have never used this button for its intended purpose). If you’d like to do the same, head over to Menu > Custom Function (Orange camera icon) > Screen 3 > Customize buttons, then assign “PEAK” to both photo and video.
Where to find it: Menu > Auto Focus (Magenta AF icon) > Screen 2 > MF Peaking Settings
To save wear and tear on the EOS R5/R6, consider using the electronic shutter. This will electronically mimic the behavior of the traditional mechanical shutter, but without physically moving anything inside the camera. Electronic shutters are also much quieter in the field, and may save you money in the long run (anyone who has shipped their DSLR to Canon to get a jammed shutter fixed knows my pain).
The main limitation and downside of using electronic shutter is when shooting indoors with artificial lights. These lights can create introduce unwanted banding. Rolling shutter can also happen when shooting video and quickly panning the camera.
But if you’re shooting landscapes outdoors in natural light, I can’t think of a reason why you couldn’t use electronic for all your landscape images.
Where to find it: Menu > Shoot (Red camera icon) > Screen 6 > Shutter mode
Custom Shooting Modes
Now that you have your EOS R5/R6 configured the way you want it, save those settings as Custom Modes! For example, I have C1 optimized for tripod, C2 for handheld, and C3 for HDR. That way I don’t have to waste time in the field remembering all the settings I need to change to optimize the camera for a particular use case.
Note: The R5 has more custom shooting modes than the R6. On the R6 you’re limited to three on the top mode dial. The R5 changes modes electronically and offers separate C1, C2 and C3 modes for still photography and video. This effectively gives the R5 six custom modes (evenly split between photo and video) instead of the three custom modes on the R6.
Where to find it: Menu > Set-Up (Yellow wrench icon) > Screen 5 > Custom shooting mode (C1-C3)
Quick Video Recording (R5 Only)
On top of the R5 and R6 is a red Movie Record button. Press it, and the cameras automatically switch to video mode and begin recording video, then switch back to still photos when pressed again.
Unfortunately for the R6, video settings for this button can’t be customized. The R6 records video in “Auto” mode, which means automatic exposure settings and no c-log.
On the R5 however, this button is far more useful because it uses video C3 mode. This means you may configure video C3 however you want and instantly capture video using whatever video settings you most frequently use. This makes capturing b-roll footage simple and easy when composing for still photographs, or in run-and-gun situations where need to quickly change modes.
Tip: For short burst video, consider setting video C3 to 8K resolution. Not only will you get super high resolution video, but you can also capture any frame in the 8K video and get a 45 megapixel still, which is insanely cool.
Tip #2: If you never shoot video, put the red movie record button to good use by different, custom function to it.
Any “best” list is highly subjective, but hopefully this article will give you some ideas on how to configure your EOS R5 or R6 for landscape shooting. For more articles on the EOS R5 and R6, see below.