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Using the Canon EOS 10/10s - an unofficial manual. DonationsCopyright © 2001 NK Guy

This is an unofficial user’s manual for the Canon EOS 10/10s camera - particularly its less obvious features. I’ve also written up an general review of the Canon 10s, for those interested. The manual applies to the EOS 10s (North American name), the EOS 10 (international name) and to most of the functions of the EOS 10QD (date-printing international version).

Note that this camera has nothing whatsoever to do with the Canon EOS 10D digital camera. The 10/10s is a 35mm film-based camera released in 1990. The 10D is a digital camera released in 2003.

Table of Contents.

Total Beginner Guide to the EOS 10/10s
Loading and unloading film
Shutter release button
Installing/removing a lens
Manual focussing
Main dial
Command (mode) dial
Lock mode (L)
“Image zone” (PIC) modes
Full auto
Portrait mode
Landscape mode
Close-up mode
Sports mode
Barcode mode
Winding, focussing and metering modes
Single-frame wind
Continuous wind
One-shot AF (autofocus)
AI (“artificial intelligence”) servo mode
AI focus mode
Evaluative metering
Partial metering
“Creative zone” modes
Program AE (auto-exposure) mode
Adjusting program AE (program shift, exposure compensation)
Shutter priority AE mode (Tv)
Aperture priority AE mode (Av)
Metered Manual mode (M)
Bulb (long exposure) photography
Depth of field AE mode (DEP)
Camera shake alert mode (wobbly camera icon)
ISO (film speed)
Film speed trivia
Multiple exposure
Auto-exposure bracketing (AEB)
Intervalometer (interval timer)
Custom functions
Problems/limitations with the built-in flash
Fill flash and stuff
Flash sync
AF assist light
Focus mark selection button
Partial metering/AE lock/depth of field preview button
Cover the viewfinder in timer mode
Tripod socket
Mid-roll rewind
RC-1 remote control
Barcode reader
Using the barcode reader
Date printing function - the EOS 10 QD
The EOS 10/10s and high-speed infrared film
Attaching manual-focus lenses or telescopes (stop-down metering)
Accessories and whatnot

Total Beginner Guide to the EOS 10/10s.

To start, here’s a total beginner’s guide to the camera.

  1. Turn the camera off, if it was on, by turning the left-hand dial (looking from the back of the camera) to the red square marked L for “lock.”

  2. Make sure the camera has a working battery installed. The battery cover is on the bottom, and the battery goes into the camera terminal-end (metal contacts) first.

  3. Open the camera back. The release catch to the camera back is on the left side of the camera when viewed from the back. Push in the release catch button and slide the catch down.

  4. Take a fresh roll of 35mm film and slot it into the space on the left. The exposed bit of film should protrude out to the right and the plastic cylindrical end should be at the bottom.

  5. Pull the film tongue out as far as the orange mark on the right side of the camera. Be extremely careful not to poke the fragile shutter with your finger. (the shutter is the black rectangle with the sort of Venetian-blind panels in the middle of the camera)

  6. Close the camera back. The camera will whir and wind for a few seconds or so. If the letters “bC” flash in the top-deck panel then the battery is low and you must replace it.

  7. When the camera has finished winding, the film loaded icon and the number 1 will be displayed on the top screen, meaning it’s ready to go. If the flashing circle icon appears on the panel on the top then the film did not load correctly and you’ll probably have to open the camera back and line up the film with the orange mark.

  8. Turn the left-hand dial to the green rectangle. This is the beginner mode. Always press the centre button on this dial when moving the dial out of lock position.

  9. Make sure the AF/MF switch on the lens is set to AF, for autofocus. Remove the lens cap if necessary.

  10. Look in the viewfinder and push the shutter release button halfway down. Whatever is in the very centre of the viewfinder should snap into focus.

  11. If a green dot in the viewfinder blinks it means your subject is not in focus. Try focusing again. You may need to find an object with reasonably high contrast to focus on.

  12. If the lightning bolt icon blinks in the viewfinder it means there isn’t enough light, so push the small round lightning bolt-marked button on the top of the camera to pop up the flash.

  13. Push the shutter release button all the way to take the picture.

  14. Have fun!

More in-depth information.

The rest of this page contains more detailed information on how to use this camera. Note that this document is not meant to be a general-purpose photography manual. I’m going to assume you know the basics of how cameras work and what standard terms (aperture priority, etc.) mean.

If you want to learn more about this sort of beginner information please consult my Canon EOS Beginner FAQ, which is full of frequently asked questions that photography novices actually ask. And don’t forget that I have a complete online photographic dictionary available as well which can provide you with definitions of most of if not all the common technical terms you’ll find in this document.

Loading and unloading film.

The EOS 10/10s uses standard 35mm film (sometimes referred to as 135 film). Any 35mm film canister will work in this camera. Colour, black and white, slide, print, infrared, 24 shots per roll, 36 shots per roll... whatever you like.

Naturally other film formats, such as APS, 110, Polaroid instant, medium format, etc., cannot be used with this camera, just as you can’t play an LP in a CD player.

Loading film.

Unloading film.

Shutter release button.

The button under your right index finger when you hold the camera is, of course, the shutter release. Pushing it halfway will turn metering on and also start autofocus if your lens isn’t set to M or MF mode. (and if custom function 4 is not set) The round in-focus dot lights up and glows in the viewfinder when automatic focus is achieved or, in manual focus mode, when the camera thinks you’re focussed correctly. (note: the in-focus dot will not illuminate if you’re using a lens that doesn’t contain EOS-compatible electronics. See the section on stop-down metering below.)

If the focus dot blinks rapidly then the camera can’t achieve focus for some reason. Perhaps you’re too close to the subject or the subject is too low-contrast or it’s too dark, etc.

Pushing the button all the way will take the photo. (unless the subject isn’t in focus and the lens is set to AF, in which case the camera will refuse) The best way to do this is to hold the camera firmly, put your forefinger lightly on the button and then squeeze down. Don’t jab your finger down on the button as doing so tends to result in camera shake, which can cause blurry pictures.

Installing/removing a lens.

All EOS cameras support interchangeable lenses of the Canon EF (“electro-focus”) lens mount type. Any Canon EF lens can be used with any EOS camera - there are almost no incompatibility issues, and those that exist are minor ones that don’t affect newer cameras like the Rebel 2000.

Most third party (ie: not built by Canon) lenses that are designed to support the EF lens mount system will also work, though occasional electronic incompatibilities can arise. Such third-party lenses are usually marked “Canon EOS compatible” or “Canon autofocus compatible.” Lenses designed for other camera systems, such as Nikon, Pentax, Minolta, etc., are not compatible with EOS cameras, though older manual-focus lenses can sometimes be adapted to EOS cameras through the use of special metal rings - see the section on manual lenses below. Old Canon manual-focus FD lenses are also incompatible with EOS cameras.

EF lens mounts are of the bayonet style. That is, you insert the lens into the camera mount and rotate it just a partial turn to lock it in place.

Installing EF mount lenses.

Find the red dot on the lens barrel. Align it to the red dot on the top of the camera body lens mount. Insert the lens squarely into the camera’s lens mount and then rotate the lens to the right (clockwise) until it clicks into place. Once the lens is properly mounted you will not be able to turn it again, though a tiny bit of play (wiggle room) is normal.

Removing EF mount lenses.

When you look at the camera from the front you will notice a large pushbutton to the right side of the lens mount. Press this button and rotate the lens to the left (counter-clockwise) while keeping the button held down. When the lens has rotated as far as it can go and the red dot on the lens barrel is aligned with the top of the camera you can pull the lens off the camera body.

Store the lens carefully. You should have both a front lens cap and a rear lens cap - such caps ship with all new lenses. Be careful not to scratch or fingerprint either the glass of the lens or the gold-coloured metal contacts on the bottom of the lens. Placing the lens contacts-down is thus not recommended. The camera should also have shipped with a plastic body cap to protect the camera when the lens is not in place. If you bought the camera and/or lens used you can buy both lens caps and body caps from any camera dealer.

Manual focussing.

There is usually a switch on the lens barrel marked AF/MF - or AF/M on older lenses. Turn this switch to MF or M and the camera will be in manual focus mode. Then you turn the focussing ring on the lens to focus manually. Note that if your lens is a Canon EOS lens with full-time manual focussing (FTM) then you can adjust focus manually at any time that the autofocus motor isn’t actually working.

A handful of very old inexpensive EOS lenses lack this switch since they don’t support manual focussing. If that’s the case (such lenses are usually marked with the letter A, such as the EF 35-70mm f 3.5-4.5 A) you’re out of luck and can only use autofocus, I’m afraid. And a small number of specialized and expensive Canon EOS lenses (the MP-E 65mm macro and the three tilt-shift lenses) support manual-focus only and do not contain autofocus motors.

Main dial.

The small dial on the grip, under your right index finger and next to the shutter release button, is the main input dial. It’s used for adjusting various camera settings.

Command (mode) dial.

The primary control knob on the camera, located on the left side of the top deck, (looking from the back) and marked with a variety of letters and icons.

It has a locking mechanism - you must always push and hold the centre button down before turning it from the L position. If you don’t do this and force the dial then you risk breaking it. There’s a chance it’s going to break anyway, since it’s badly designed and these dials always end up breaking, but no need to hasten its demise.

Lock mode (L).

The red L mode basically means “off” in Canon parlance. In this position the camera is locked and won’t respond to any other controls.

Technically even in L the camera is still powered on in low-power mode as long as there’s a working battery installed. You can tell this is the case because the top-deck LCD will display the film count whenever there’s film in the camera. The battery drain seems minimal, however, so I wouldn’t bother taking the battery out of the camera unless you plan on storing it for months.

“Image zone” (PIC) modes.

Clockwise from the centre lock position are the six PIC (image zone or PIC - programmed image control) modes, each identified by a small icon. These are various beginner modes that have different shooting assumptions built-in.

Note that these modes override most of the camera’s other buttons. By using these modes you’re telling the camera, “I either don’t know or don’t care about the technical aspects of the camera’s operation - do it all for me!”

The PIC modes also engage the camera shake beeper warning - if there isn’t enough light for a photo to be taken safely without risking camera shake blur then the camera will beep at you. Additionally, the PIC modes aren’t designed to work properly with external flash units. The only common PIC mode missing from this camera is “night” mode, which you can approximate by shooting in Av mode with flash turned on.

Full auto. This is the simplest point and grin mode, for people who want to take snapshots without having to learn anything about the operation of the camera. Turn your camera to this mode and snap away! Full auto switches automatically from One-shot AF (these terms are explained below) to AI Servo mode, depending on whether the camera senses subject motion or not. This auto-switching functionality is called AI Focus, and isn’t available in any other PIC or creative mode. Full auto also uses single-frame wind with evaluative metering, and is similar to Program AE mode, except that you can’t adjust any settings.

Portrait mode. For taking head and shoulders photos of people - even men. One-shot AF, continuous wind, evaluative metering. Attempts to set the lens aperture as wide as reasonable in order to blur the background and set the foreground figure off from the ground. If you have a zoom lens try to set it to a long focal length (eg: if you have a 28-90 shoot at 90mm) to maximize the blur. Also, longer focal lengths tend to be used for more flattering portrait shots.

Landscape mode. For taking photos of landscapes. One-shot AF, single frame wind, evaluative metering. Attempts to set the aperture as small as reasonable for wide depth of field. I believe the built-in flash will not fire in this mode.

Close-up/macro mode. For taking close-up photos of things. Requires a lens capable of closeup photography to be particularly useful. (ie: just putting your camera into this mode doesn’t somehow alter the abilities of whatever lens you have attached to the camera) One-shot AF, single frame wind, partial metering. It’s the only PIC mode which does not use evaluative metering.

Sports mode. For fast-moving subjects. AI Servo AF, continuous wind, evaluative metering. Attempts to keep the shutter speed as high as reasonable. I believe the built-in flash will not fire in this mode.

Barcode mode. This mode is used for the barcode option. It’s detailed in the barcode reader section further down this page.

Winding, focussing and metering modes and how to set them.

The camera has a number of winding, focussing and metering modes mentioned above. Here’s what they mean and how to adjust them.

“Creative zone” modes.

The six “creative zone” modes are P, Tv, Av, camera-shake, DEP and M. (presumably you aren’t creative if you use the image zone modes) These highly creative modes afford varying degrees of control over your camera’s settings, unlike the PIC (icon) modes, which are meant for rank beginners.

Program AE (auto-exposure) mode (P).

Turn the command dial to P. The camera will automatically select shutter and aperture settings according to its built-in basic program. It uses evaluative metering unless you push the partial metering button.

Unlike the green mode you can adjust the exposure compensation and apply program shifting by turning the main dial. (see next section) Program AE mode also lets you select the AF, film winding and metering modes in addition to supporting AE lock, exposure bracketing and multiple exposures.

If the camera’s maximum shutter speed (1/4000 sec) and the value of the minimum aperture of the lens flash in the viewfinder then there’s too much light. Either use slower film or put a neutral-density filter in front of the lens. If a shutter speed of 30 seconds and the value of the maximum aperture of the lens flash in the viewfinder then there isn’t enough. Use faster film, turn on the flash or go into bulb mode.

Adjusting program AE (program shift, exposure compensation).

As noted above, the 10/10s lets you adjust certain metering options in program mode and some other AE modes.

Program shifting.

Program shifting means you can alter the shutter speed and aperture value together whilst retaining the same exposure value (EV). You can do this in Program AE and DEP modes by turning the main dial. For example, 1/90 second at f 4.0 is the same exposure value as 1/30 second at f 6.7, since both settings let the same amount of light hit the film. However the settings result in different photos being taken because of the differences in shutter speed and aperture (depth of field).

Unfortunately you can only shift the program in increments of half a stop, not one third of a stop as you can with newer EOS cameras. You also cannot program-shift if flash (internal or shoe-mounted Speedlite) is enabled.

Exposure compensation.

Exposure compensation means you can set the exposure setting to be greater than or less than what the camera thinks you need. For example, if you’re shooting a snow scene you might want to apply a +1 stop exposure compensation setting. To do this you press the tiny black round +/- button that’s located on the back of the camera, on the baseplate. You then rotate the rear dial and the top-deck LCD and viewfinder will indicate the amount of compensation applied. You can apply up to +/- 5 stops in 1/2 stop increments.

If you set the exposure compensation to be something other than 0 then the top deck LCD and viewfinder will display a little +/- icon. There’s no way of seeing what the exposure compensation value is, however, without pressing the small button on the back and looking at the top deck LCD. This information does not appear in the viewfinder.

Basically, exposure compensation is a real pain to use on the 10/10s, and this is definitely one of the drawbacks of this camera.

Shutter priority AE mode (Tv).

In this AE mode you set the shutter speed (time) and the camera automatically sets an appropriate lens aperture for you, based on the selected metering mode - evaluative (default) or partial.

Turn the command dial to Tv, which stands for “Time value”. (Nikon more sensibly refer to shutter priority as S mode.) Turn the main dial to adjust the shutter speed setting and use the +/- button and main dial to adjust exposure compensation. The camera flashes the aperture value if you’re out of range (ie: if you haven’t got enough light it’ll flash the maximum aperture of the lens, and if you’ve got too much it’ll flash the minimum aperture of the lens.).

You can’t go into bulb mode here - the maximum time value is 30 seconds. For bulb you need manual mode. The shutter values are expressed as fractions of a second unless the "symbol appears, in which case the value is expressed as a second. Thus 125 means the shutter speed is 1/125 of a second whereas 1"5 means the shutter speed is 1.5 seconds.

Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of the 10/10s is that it won’t remember your shutter speed settings if you switch out of Tv mode. When you return to Tv it’ll automatically reset to 1/125 second. An additional point is that you can only adjust the shutter speed in increments of half a stop, not one third of a stop as you can with newer EOS cameras.

Aperture priority AE mode (Av).

In this AE mode you set the lens aperture and the camera automatically sets an appropriate shutter speed for you, based on the selected metering mode - evaluative (default) or partial.

Turn the command dial to Av (for Aperture value). Turn the main dial to adjust the aperture setting and the +/- button and main dial to adjust exposure compensation. The camera blinks the shutter speed value if you’re out of range. (ie: if you haven’t got enough light it’ll flash 30" and if you’ve got too much light it’ll flash 4000, the maximum shutter speed.)

You can choose any aperture value that falls within the aperture range of the lens you happen to have installed. The wide-open aperture varies a lot from lens to lens - f/1.4, 1.8 and 2.8 are typical values for fast lens and 3.5, 4.5 and 5.6 are typical for slower zoom or telephoto lenses. The largest aperture value is usually printed on the lens barrel itself, and is an aperture range on zoom lenses which do not have constant apertures - eg: f/3.5-5.6. The smallest aperture value on a 35mm lens is usually f/22.

Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of the 10/10s is that it won’t remember your aperture value settings if you switch out of Av mode. When you return to Av it’ll automatically reset to f 5.6. An additional point is that you can only adjust the aperture in increments of half a stop, not one third of a stop as you can with newer EOS cameras.

Metered Manual mode (M).

In this mode you set both the lens aperture and the shutter speed manually. The camera will assist you by telling you whether it thinks you have the correct metering, based on partial metering, since the camera appears to switch to partial metering in manual metering mode.

I say “appears” because the manual makes no mention of the mode change, but it’s clear it isn’t in evaluative metering mode. Some people have speculated that the camera switches to centre-weighted average mode, but since neither the manual nor the Canon camera museum Web site make any mention of the camera supporting centre-weighted metering, I’m skeptical of this claim. (but please mail me if you have information to the contrary) Sadly you don’t have a choice of metering modes, whatever it actually uses. You can’t press the partial metering button to engage something other than partial metering, because in manual mode the button is used as a shift button with the main dial to adjust the aperture setting.

Anyway. Turning the command dial to M lets you shoot in metered manual. The camera will display little + and - symbols telling you whether your picture is correctly exposed, overexposed or underexposed. Use the main dial to change the shutter speed and the main dial with the partial metering button pressed (right hand black round button on the upper right of the back) to change the aperture. Unless you have custom function 5 set, in which case the mode of operation is reversed. (ie: use the main dial to change the aperture and the main dial with the partial metering button pressed to change the shutter speed.)

The minus symbol appearing in the viewfinder means that the image is underexposed and that the camera needs more light; plus means that the image is overexposed and the camera means less light. Both plus and minus means that the camera thinks the exposure is correct. And, yes, this whole plus/minus business is a total pain and cameras with visual scales for manual metering, like most recent EOS cameras, are considerably more convenient and fun to use.

Also, if you’re using flash and you try to set a shutter speed faster than the camera’s X-sync speed (1/125 sec, or the top shutter speed you can use with flash) then the camera won’t let you and will steadfastly remain at 1/125. Finally, another of the drawbacks of the 10/10s is that it won’t remember your shutter speed and aperture value settings if you switch out of M mode. When you return to M mode it’ll automatically reset to 1/125 second at f 5.6. An additional point is that you can only adjust the aperture and shutter speed in increments of half a stop, not one third of a stop as you can with newer EOS cameras.

Bulb (long exposure) photography.

In manual mode you can also go into bulb (long time exposure) mode - it’s the “buLb” setting that’s one step past 30 seconds. Bulb mode means the shutter stays open for as long as you keep the shutter release button pressed. Apparently the name comes from the olden days of mechanical shutter releases, when you’d have a rubber ball-shaped bulb that you’d squeeze to trigger and hold the shutter. Obviously, since the time value is determined by you the camera’s built-in light meter isn’t of any particular use in this mode.

This time mode works particularly well with the RC-1 remote control, detailed further down this page. You simply press the RC-1 shutter release once to open the shutter and then press it again to close it - no need to keep the button pressed down during the exposure. This is perfect for bulb photography, as it means you don’t have to touch the camera and risk bumping it. (unlike older mechanical cameras the 10/10s lacks a threaded shutter button, so you can’t attach a mechanical cable remote shutter release, and unlike most later EOS cameras it lacks a wired electric shutter release) To minimize camera shake concerns still further you can also set custom function 13 - mirror prefire.

You can’t use the built-in flash or AEB in bulb mode. Note that one unusual feature of the EOS 10/10s is that its shutter requires no power to hold open. (older mechanical cameras work like this, but most EOS cameras require battery power to keep the shutter open) In fact, you can remove the battery after opening the shutter and it’ll just stay open. This is useful for long-exposure astrophotography, for example, as you don’t have to worry about the battery draining flat during a long exposure and wrecking your photo by closing the shutter prematurely. Most other EOS cameras can only hold their shutters open for around 6 hours on a new battery, and that at room temperature. Battery output drops dramatically when it’s cold - precisely the sort of conditions under which a lot of night photography is done.

However, having said that, all EF-compatible lenses with electronic diaphragm control have motorized lens apertures. The ones I’ve tried seem to stay stopped down when you disconnect the power, suggesting there’s no power drain involved in keeping them in any position other than wide open, but I don’t know if that’s the case with all Canon EOS lenses. Fortunately this doesn’t matter either way if you’re using a telescope with T-mount adapter, (see my stop-down metering page) as there are no electronically-controlled aperture diaphragms in that case.

Depth of field AE mode (DEP).

DEP is short for “depth of field AE mode.” Not to be confused with depth of field preview (see the section on the AE Lock button), DEP is a function that help you set the correct depth of focus field for your photos. Basically it tries to keep everything between two user-selected points in focus.

This mode actually works in two separate sub-modes on the 10/10s, depending on which focus marks you have selected. Both modes allow you to select certain items in the viewfinder and automatically select an aperture that will keep both items within your depth of field accordingly. This is somewhat unusual - most EOS cameras have either the single focus mark DEP mode or the multiple focus mark A-DEP mode, but not both.

To begin, select DEP from the mode dial and make sure your lens is set to autofocus (AF) mode.

Single focus mark DEP mode.

If you have only one of the three AF marks selected and active (see the section on the focus mark selection button) then DEP works as follows.

First, autofocus on a foreground item within your desired depth of field by selecting the subject and pressing the shutter halfway. “dEP 1” will appear in the viewfinder. Then recompose the image and autofocus on a background item by selecting the subject and pressing the shutter halfway. “dEP 2” will appear in the viewfinder. Finally, compose the final image in the viewfinder and press the shutter release halfway again. The camera will then calculate the necessary aperture setting and shutter speed to keep both items, and everything in between, in focus. Do not change the selected focus mark at any stage during this process. Press the shutter release all the way to take the photo.

Of course, this all works only if the lighting conditions are OK for your selected depth of field. If there isn’t enough light then the slowest shutter speed (30 seconds) and the maximum aperture value of the lens will blink. If there’s too much light then the fastest shutter speed (1/4000 sec) and the smallest aperture value of the lens will blink. And if the aperture value blinks then you can’t set the desired depth of field and need to move further away from the subject or set a wider setting on a zoom lens. If you don’t move the camera between setting the two dEP points then the camera will try to get the narrowest depth of field possible. Which is just the same thing as going to Av mode and dialling in the widest aperture of the lens, really.

Three focus mark DEP mode (A-DEP).

The second mode requires all three focus marks to be active, not just a manually selected one. (see the section on the focus mark selection button) In this mode you arrange your image in the viewfinder such that a foreground item within your desired depth of field is covered by either the left or the right focus mark, and that a background item is covered by one of the two remaining focus marks. Press the shutter halfway and hopefully two focus marks will light up in the viewfinder telling you which items were chosen.

The camera tries to set the aperture and shutter speed such that everything between your two selected points is in focus. If it’s not possible for that to happen then the camera will blink a warning at you, as above. If it is possible then neither the aperture nor the shutter speed will blink and you can press the shutter all the way to take the photo.

Personally I find this three-point mode considerably less useful than the single-point one, since you have to try and get your whole depth of field covered by the focus marks, but I suppose it’s quicker to use than the single-point mode.

Other notes about DEP.

DEP mode is program shiftable (main dial) and uses single-frame wind. To cancel DEP mode just turn the command dial to something else. Note that you mustn’t adjust zoom settings on zoom lenses at any point in setting DEP, as you’ll throw everything out of whack. Likewise you can’t use flash in DEP mode - if you do the camera will revert to basic program AE mode. Finally, DEP mode obviously won’t work if the lens is in manual focus mode or doesn’t have autofocus circuitry. In these cases DEP reverts to program AE mode again.

For more information about DEP mode have a look at Vadim Makarov’s page on the subject. Or, if you’re interested in learning more about the complex math that underlies this camera mode, check out section 9.27 of the old EOS FAQ - “What is ‘depth of field’ and how does the ‘Depth-of-Field’ mode work?”

Camera shake alert mode.

(wobbly camera icon)A somewhat unusual camera mode. Basically, there’s a rule of thumb in photography that says that the shutter speed you use when handholding a camera should not fall below the reciprocal of (1 divided by) the focal length value. If you use a slower shutter speed without a tripod then you risk blurring your image.

For example, let’s say you have a 50mm lens on your camera. In this case you shouldn’t use a shutter speed lower than 1/50 sec, unless you’re using a tripod. Of course, cameras usually don’t have a 1/50 sec shutter speed, so you round up to the nearest value, which is 1/60 of a second.

So. That’s the formula this camera mode uses. It sets aperture and shutter speed much like P mode, only it tries to give you the fastest shutter speed possible for the circumstances, sort of like sports mode.

If the camera calculates that the shutter speed is high enough for the current focal length it’ll display a little steady camera icon in the viewfinder display. However, if the shutter speed ends up as two stops slower than the ideal minimum shutter speed the camera will display a steady camera icon with blinking wobbly lines around it. If the shutter speed is slower than 2 stops below the ideal minimum then both the camera symbol and the wobbly lines will blink and you should use flash or a tripod.

If you don’t have custom function 14 disabled then the camera will also prevent you from taking a photo if it calculates that there isn’t enough light for the picture to be taken without blur. If both shutter speed and aperture settings blink at you then there’s too much light and you need slower film or a neutral density filter on the lens.

One corollary of this function is that it requires the three AF sensors to calculate motion, so you can’t manually set which one(s) are active - you use only the central one. Another is that you can’t use manual focus and you can’t use AI servo mode.

I don’t find this a particularly useful mode. Just having a camera shake warning appear in every mode, the way the Elan/100 does it, makes more sense, I’d say.

ISO (film speed).

Film speed refers to the light sensitivity of a given roll of film. “Slow” film reacts slowly to light and so photographs taken with slow film require either lots of light or slow shutter speeds. “Fast” film, on the other hand, tends to be grainier and of slightly lower quality, but is capable of working in lower light conditions or with faster shutter speeds.

Film speeds are assigned numeric ratings determined by the International Organization for Standardization. ISO 100 film, for example, is slow film that’s suitable for outdoor photography in sunshine. IS 400 or 800 film, on the other hand, is faster film which is more suitable for indoor photography.

Most film cartridges these days have their film speed printed on them in a form that cameras can decode automatically. There should be a pattern of squares (exposed metal or black paint) printed on the side of the film canister. This is the DX code, read electrically by a row of metal contacts within the camera. If you use such film then there is no need to specify the ISO film speed yourself.

However, there are times when manual film speed setting is important. Perhaps you’re using an unusual type of film (handloaded film, for instance) which lacks DX coding. Or perhaps you want to shoot a roll of film at a slightly different film speed from what the manufacturer suggests in order to achieve some effect or other. Or perhaps you want to simulate flash exposure compensation. In these cases manual film speed override is a very useful feature.

The 10/10s lets you override the automatic DX ISO film speed settings and set your own. Press the blue FUNC button twice or until ISO appears in the top-deck LCD. Use the main dial to adjust the film speed manually, from 6 to 6400 ISO.

The camera can also read DX codes from 25 to 5000 ISO - the full range available using DX coding. It only has the necessary contacts to read film speed and frame count - it doesn’t have the contacts required to read the film latitude. When you initially load a roll of film the camera will flash the ISO value which it read off the canister in the top deck LCD. This is useful since if it misread the value for whatever reason you can go in and adjust the ISO setting manually to correct it. One mildly annoying feature is that the camera will continuously flash the ISO symbol at you if you have a film canister loaded which does not have DX coding. Even if you’ve set the film speed manually.

Film speed trivia.

Old-timers may recall that ISO (International Organization for Standardization) film speeds used to be called ASA (American Standards Association) film speeds - you might still see old references to “ASA 100” or whatever still. In the UK there was a BS or BSI (British Standard) system which used the same numbers as ISO. Since the numerical values for these three systems are the same you won’t have any problems.

The EOS 10/10s cannot use the old DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung) film speeds, but that shouldn’t be a problem as nobody really uses that system anymore. However, you still see DIN numbers printed on film packages next to the ISO number (a number followed by the degree sign - eg: ISO 100 is DIN 21°, so a film package might read “EI 100/21°”). Contrary to popular belief, this designation does not indicate temperature or something. And technically, at least at one point the full official ISO film speed designation was actually the combination of the old ASA number plus the DIN number. (I don’t know if it still is) However, this seems a pointless and redundant compromise since, as noted above, the DIN film speed system is basically obsolete.

Finally, in Russia or former East Bloc states you might find film labelled under the GOST system, which until 1987 had numbers that were basically 90% of ISO’s values. For example, ISO 100 was GOST 90. In 1987, however, the GOST system switched to the same numeric values as ISO. Either way it shouldn’t make much difference with print film, which has pretty wide exposure latitude. Old Russian cameras use the previous GOST system for film speed settings, but they obviously use Cyrillic lettering for the dial, which will look something like “rOCT” in Roman letters.

Multiple exposure.

The multiple exposure setting is indicated by the letters ME. To use multiple exposures press the blue FUNC button three times, or until ME appears in the top deck LCD. Then use the main dial to alter the number of exposures. 1 is of course the default, and you can dial up to 9 exposures. Note that you can’t shoot multiple exposures in any of the PIC modes - you have to be in a “creative” mode.

ME allows you to take multiple photos without advancing the film to the next frame, thereby creating very ugly pictures. Or for taking a photo of someone superimposed over another background, like a Victorian ghost picture. And if you want to take particularly ugly pictures you can shoot more than 9 exposures if you insist - just reset the counter when it reaches 2 each time.

The ME symbol is displayed in the top-deck LCD during multiple-exposure photos, and flashes during a multiple exposure sequence. To cancel multiple exposure just go to the ME mode and dial the setting back until there is no number in the panel. (setting ME to 1 does not seem to cancel ME) Once you’ve taken a sequence of multiple-exposed photos then the ME mode setting reverts automatically to 1 so you don’t mess up the next photo on the roll.

It’s usually necessary to decrease the exposure value of each exposure when shooting multiple exposures. The manual suggests -1 stop compensation when shooting 2 exposures, -1.5 for 3 and -2 for 4, as a general rule of thumb. Here’s a useful chart indicating some exposure combinations.

Another, and much simpler, way to do it is to increase your ISO setting manually - mutiply the current ISO setting by the number of exposures you want. So if you’ve got ISO 100 film and you want to shoot two multiple exposures, change the ISO to 200. Four exposures would be ISO 400. Just remember to switch it back when you’re done! Note of course that this method assumes you want to expose each exposure equally.

See the intervalometer section for an interesting application of multiple exposures.

Auto-exposure bracketing (AEB).

The 10/10s lets you shoot a sequence of three photos with different exposure settings rather than just one. If you’re unsure about the correct exposure setting for a given photo this option lets you bracket automatically without having to adjust the exposure settings manually. This is useful for films with a very narrow latitude, such as slide film or infrared film. And, unlike certain other Canon EOS cameras, the 10/10s shoots the three-exposure sequence at full speed (5 frames per second), so it takes well under a second.

To use this function press the blue FUNC button four times or until AEB appears in the top-deck LCD. Set the bracketing amount with the main dial - it’s measured in stops and you can bracket in 1/2 stop increments up to 5 stops from the default exposure. The camera will then shoot three photos - one underexposed, one at the presumably correct setting and one overexposed. (note that this exposure sequence is different on most other EOS models) AEB can’t work with bulb or flash, but you can use exposure compensation. (though the latter throws off the LCD and viewfinder settings.)

In program AE mode both shutter speed and aperture are shifted. In Av, DEP and M modes only the shutter speed is shifted and in Tv mode only the aperture is shifted. AEB mode remains in effect until you go back and reset AEB to 0. AEB does not work in any of the PIC modes.

Intervalometer (interval timer).

A feature unique to the 10/10s among all EOS cameras is a built-in intervalometer, or interval timer, which allows you to specify a time value and the number of photos to be shot in the sequence. The camera will then automatically take a series of photos; one taken every time interval. I believe that the only other EOS cameras which support such a feature are those models which can accept interchangeable programmable backs - some of those backs do interval timing. The interval timer does not work in the PIC modes.

To use this function press the blue FUNC button five times or until INT appears in the top-deck LCD. You can now set the interval time. Press the partial metering (small round) button once and the hour value will start to flash. You can now use the main dial to set any value from 0 hours to 23 hours. Press partial metering again to set the minute value and once again for seconds. This way you can program in any interval time from 1 second to 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. Press partial metering once more to select the number of photos to be taken at this interval.

The INT symbol will flash in the top-deck LCD when the camera is in intervalometer mode. To turn off the mode or interrupt an interval sequence go back to the INT setting mode and set the number of photos to 1. The interval timer works with flash, but remember to provide enough time between shots for the flash to recharge fully.

The camera will work with both ME and INT modes enabled. This is really cool, because it means you can shoot multiple exposures at intervals. Let’s say you want one of those classic photos of the moon rising over a landscape. You could program the intervalometer to take a photo every few minutes, and the moon would appear as a bunch of dots rising out of the landscape. I tried it once, and it actually works. The only problem was that the location was somewhat windy, and the vibrations caused by the wind blowing on the tripod caused motion blur. Sigh.


(beeper icon)You can enable or disable the camera’s beeper if you’re not in a PIC mode setting. To set this function press the blue FUNC button six times or until the little speaker icon appears in the top-deck LCD. Turn the main dial to switch between Y (yes - beeper on) and N (no - beeper off) settings.

There are three different circumstances under which the camera beeps. It’ll beep twice very rapidly in succession when focus is achieved in AF (unless you’re in AI servo mode), it’ll beep rapidly if it feels there’s a risk of camera shake blurring your photo and it’ll beep steadily during the self-timer countdown.

Unfortunately, while you can use custom function 6 to disable the camera shake warning beep, you can’t disable the focus beep independently. So if you want the beeper enabled for self-timer countdown but disabled for focus beep you’re out of luck - you can only turn it on or off for both.

Custom functions.

The 10/10s has 14 (the 10QD has 15) user-configurable settings which Canon calls “custom functions.” Press the blue and yellow bottom plate buttons together simultaneously to enter custom feature mode. Use the main dial to go between the numbered functions. Press the round partial metering button on the back to switch between N (no, for off) and Y (yes, for on) for each custom function. If you have one or more custom functions set to something other than the default then the CF icon appears on the top deck LCD. Somewhat uselessly, as it doesn’t tell you which CFs have been set.

Remember that many of these custom functions are ignored if you use the camera in one of the PIC modes for fear of confusing beginners.

  1. Film rewind mode.
    N - Enables automatic rewind at the end of the roll.
    Y - Rewinds only after you push the film rewind button.

  2. Film leader position:
    N - Rewinds the film all the way into the cartridge.
    Y - Leaves the film leader protruding outside the cartridge.

  3. Film speed setting:
    N - Automatic DX code setting. (ie: reads the film canister DX code when film is loaded and sets the ISO speed accordingly)
    Y - Manual film-speed setting of DX-coded film. (ie: ignores the DX coding and uses whatever ISO setting the camera is currently set to when you load a film canister. The camera will briefly display the current ISO setting on the topdeck LCD when you load the film)

  4. AF start:
    N - Normal operation. ie: pressing the shutter release halfway down engages AF.
    Y - Initiates autofocus by pressing the partial metering button - the round button on the right-hand side of the camera back.

  5. Manual exposure in M mode:
    N - Shutter speed set by main dial and aperture set by partial metering button plus main dial.
    Y - Reverse. (aperture set by main dial and shutter speed set by partial metering button plus main dial.)

  6. Shake warning beeper. The manual incorrectly says that this beeper will only sound in Green/PIC modes, but it also works in P, Av, DEP and camera shake modes. The warning sounds if the shutter speed is at or less than 1/focal length of the lens.
    N - On.
    Y - Off.

  7. Manual-focus operation:
    N - Manual-focus adjustment possible by setting focus-mode switch with USM lenses.
    Y - Allows manual focus adjustment after autofocus with USM lenses without prior setting. (only in one-shot AF mode)

  8. AF assist beam:
    N - Enables the body’s AF assist light when there isn’t enough light for the camera to focus. (note one drawback of the 10/10s - it will never use the AF assist light on an external flash unit.)
    Y - Camera never uses the camera body’s AF assist light.

  9. 1/125 shutter speed lock - flash/Av:
    N - Shutter speed set according to ambient lighting. (“subject’s peripheral brightness.”)
    Y - Locks AE flash shutter speed at 1/125 sec. (maximum x-sync of the camera)

  10. Viewfinder focus mark illumination:
    N - On - highlights selected focus marks in red.
    Y - Off. (superimposed when the command dial is set at Green or PIC modes and when selecting one focus mark)

  11. Depth-of-field preview:
    N - Not enabled.
    Y - Set to the partial metering button. (note that a: the aperture is stopped down after AF and AE lock and b: when combined with custom function 4, depth of field check does not work in AI Servo AF mode)

  12. AE lock (partial metering button):
    N - AE lock with partial metering.
    Y - AE lock for evaluative metering.

  13. Mirror-lock and self-timer:
    N - No mirror prefire lock-up.
    Y - Mirror locks up prior to the shutter opening, when the shutter release or RC-1 remote controller buttons are pressed. Useful for preventing mirror-induced vibrations from blurring the image on slow shutter exposures.

  14. Shutter limitation with anti-shake program:
    N - In camera-shake-alert mode, the speed-limit function prevents setting a shutter speed lower than 1/focal length of the lens in use.
    Y - No shutter speed limitation.

  15. Date back function:
    If you have the EOS 10QD with the date back then this custom function does something. Apparently setting this function to Y lets you print both the date and time or something like that.


Internal flash operation is one area in which there are minor differences between the North American 10s and the international EOS 10. If the 10s thinks you need flash in a PIC mode it’ll blink the lightning bolt icon in the viewfinder to instruct you to power up the internal flash. The international EOS 10, on the other hand, will pop up the flash automatically in PIC modes. This difference is apparently related to patent issues.

To raise the flash for EOS 10s PIC mode or for creative zone operation on either camera just push the round lightning bolt button on the camera top deck and the flash will instantly pop up. The flash is fully charged and ready to go as soon as the lightning bolt icon glows steadily in the viewfinder. To lower the internal flash just push the button again and the flash will retract instantly.

The camera will fire the flash in TTL mode (through-the-lens metering - the only mode available for the built-in flash) when you take a picture. If you want to use A-TTL flash metering you need to put an A-TTL-capable flash into the external hotshoe. If you want to use E-TTL flash metering you need to buy a new camera. Note that you can’t use the built-in flash when an external flash (or anything else for that matter - even something non-electrical like a hotshoe-mounting spirit level cube) is mounted in the flash hot shoe.

Shutter speed in program AE mode is either 1/125 or 1/60 sec, but fill flash is possible in Av, Tv and M modes. X-sync is 1/125 sec. The 10/10s does not have a zooming flash, so the maximum guide number remains constant for each lens focal length. One useful feature is that flash metering is biased to the selected focus mark. (ie: the 10/10s has a three-segment flash metering system) So for better flash metering select the nearest focus mark to the subject - don’t focus with the central point and recompose. More recent Canon literature calls this the “AIM” feature, though Canon didn’t use the term when the 10/10s was released.

Problems/limitations with the built-in flash.

Since the flash is mounted on top of the camera in-line with the lens axis it suffers from two problems. First, it’s not high enough to clear a lot of lens hoods and large lenses (resulting in a dark semi-circular flash shadow at the bottom of the picture) and second, you can get serious redeye in people pictures, caused by the light from the flash striking the retina of the subjects’ eyes and reflecting straight back to the lens.

The 10/10s built-in flash is rather limited in other ways as well. In addition to having no redeye reduction system it lacks a zooming motor, second-curtain shutter sync and, most importantly, flash exposure compensation (also known as varying the fill-flash ratio). If you want second-curtain sync or exposure compensation you’ll need an external shoe-mounted flash that supports those features. And if you use an external flash you’re probably not going to have worry as much about redeye unless you’re shooting from a distance using a long lens, since the flash head will be a greater distance from the lens.

The maximum coverage area of the built-in flash is only equal to a lens with a focal length of 35mm, so if you use the flash with a wider lens than that you’ll probably notice some vignetting (darkening of corners) because of inadequate flash coverage. Since zoom lenses starting at 28mm are very common today this may be an issue.

Note that more recent Canon Speedlite external hotshoe flash units of the EX series usually lack exposure compensation buttons, as the assumption is you’re going to be using the flash with a camera capable of controlling flash compensation on external flash units. Since the 10/10s cannot do this you have to buy a flash like the old Speedlite 430EZ or the current 540EZ or 550EX, all of which have pushbuttons to let you adjust flash exposure compensation.

It’s a real shame that the built-in flash lacks flash exposure compensation. Canon’s fill flash algorithm tends to overexpose, and it’s useful to be able to dial it back. On-camera flash on other EOS cameras is actually useful from time to time for this sort of occasional daylight fill flash use. The only way around this problem is to fake flash exposure compensation using the ISO setting.

Fill flash and stuff.

Understanding how EOS cameras use flash photography is pretty confusing. It’d take a whole other document to explain. And so that is, in fact, what I’ve done. Please consult my Canon EOS Flash Photography article for more information. In particular, note that EOS cameras meter ambient light differently when flash is used in full auto (green rectangle) and P modes compared to Av, Tv and M modes.

Flash sync.

The 10/10s uses a vertical travel focal plane shutter, like most 35mm cameras. These shutters employ two shutter “curtains” which move across the frame vertically since it’s the shorter of the two distances.

X-sync speed is the highest speed at which the flash can synchronize with the shutter curtain movement. (This happens to be 1/125 sec on the 10/10s, and is the top speed the camera will let you set when flash is on) If you could take a photo at a shutter speed higher than X-sync then you’d have problems, because the two shutter curtains move in such a way that a narrow slit is formed between them. The result would be only part of the image area fully exposed to the light from the flash. Unlike newer EOS cameras, the 10/10s does not have focal-plane (FP) flash, which is a system that lets you override the X-sync limitation.

The 10/10s defaults to first curtain flash sync, which means that the the flash fires when the first curtain opens. Normally this is what you want since it means on slow shutter speeds the flash will fire immediately when you press the shutter release and you know you’ve got what you wanted.

However, first curtain sync has an unfortunate side-effect when you take photos of moving objects. Since the flash fires at the start of the exposure and the shutter then remains open, the final image will look like the object is moving backwards - the motion trail will not appear to be trailing the object. To prevent this from happening you would want the flash to fire in sync with the second (closing) curtain instead. Second curtain gives you a more natural effect of motion when shooting slow-shutter stuff, but has the drawback of being harder to shoot sometimes since you can’t predict as easily the moment when the flash will fire.

Unfortunately the 10/10s does not support second-curtain sync with the internal flash. You must use an external flash that happens to have a control to enable second-curtain sync. (eg: the 430EZ, 540EZ, 550EX Speedlite flashes all have second-curtain pushbuttons) You cannot use the 10/10s to enable second-curtain sync on Speedlite flashes which support second-curtain internally but which lack external controls for it.

Note one obscure point about the 10/10s: the Canon Off Camera Shoe Cord 2, when used with the 10/10s body only, generates more radio-frequency interference than is legally permitted by US, Canadian and German regulatory agencies. So by law you can’t use the OCSC 2 with your 10/10s in those countries, which is pretty goofy.

AF assist light.

The camera has a wide patterned red autofocus assist light built into the body, behind the transparent red panel on the front. (a feature sadly missing from the newer Elan 7/EOS 30/EOS 7 cameras which clumsily flash the main flash instead) This high-brightness LED illuminates to help AF work in low light. It also helps the camera focus on featureless surfaces, since the projected red beam is patterned with horizontal lines.

It’s a fairly bright light and can annoy human subjects, so the light can be disabled by using custom function 8. Also, if you’re feeling altruistic and shooting with a lot of other photographers you can disable the AF assist light so that other photographers don’t get illuminated red areas appearing on their photos.

Problems with the AF assist light.

Unfortunately, if you’re using a large lens or a lens with a large hood this light can be partially blocked. More annoyingly, if you’re using an external flash unit the camera will not use the external flash’s AF assist light. This is because the external flash units that Canon made at the time had AF assist lights that did not cover all three AF sensors. Also, the 10/10s has an usual AF system in which the outer two sensors detect horizontal lines and not the usual vertical lines, and most flash units produce near-vertical patterned lines.

But Canon’s decision not to enable external flash AF lights on the 10/10s is a shame because, a) the latest Canon flashes do cover the three AF sensors and, b) the camera’s internal AF assist light can be blocked as noted above. Oh, well.

The 10/10s shares this limitation with the 5/A2. Note that the only advantage I can think of is when the flash is mounted on an external bracket. Since the AF assist continues to come from the body you don’t have the problem of parallax error throwing off the AF assist light, like you would if you were using the flash-mounted light.

The simple and obvious solution for all EOS cameras is to have a custom function which determines whether the camera uses the built-in red AF assist light or the one on the flash unit. Unfortunately no EOS camera gives users that choice as far as I’m aware.

Note that the AF assist light will not illuminate if you’re in a creative zone mode and in AI Servo mode. It illuminates only in low-light conditions when you’re in One Shot mode - this is normal behaviour.

The 10/10s autofocus works at a range from EV 0 to 18 at ISO 100 and covers all three focus marks.

Focus mark selection button.

The camera has three focus marks (referred to as focussing points in later multi-point EOS camera manuals) in the viewfinder, and you can select which of the three are active so long as you aren’t in a PIC mode.

To do so press the focus mark selection button on the camera back. It’s the unmarked black oval-shaped button in the right-hand corner of the camera, looking from the back. (note that it’s the left-hand button of the two buttons in this location, and that the button position is reversed on newer cameras such as the Elan 7/EOS 30/EOS 7, which has the focus mark select button on the right side, not the left)

The viewfinder display will illuminate the selected AF marks and a visual representation of those marks will also appear in the top deck LCD panel. (eg: - o - means the centre mark is active but the outer marks are not whereas o o o means that all three marks are active)

Just rotate the main dial to select which marks are active. You can select the left mark, the centre mark, the right mark or all three marks. In all three marks mode the camera will automatically guess and select the mark or marks that it thinks you probably want.

Partial metering/AE lock/depth of field preview button.

This is the small round black button in the upper right-hand corner of the camera when looking from the back. A busy little button, at that - it’s used to control no fewer than five different functions.

Partial metering.

If you’re in a creative zone mode other than M and want to switch to partial metering (see above), press the button. An asterisk will appear in the viewfinder indicating that you’re in partial metering mode, and you’ll stay in that mode for as long as you keep the button pressed.

Yes. This is annoying, and there isn’t a way to lock the camera permanently in partial metering mode. Unlike later EOS cameras you can’t choose your metering mode of choice and just have the camera use it all the time.

Manual metering aperture.

In M mode pressing the partial-metering button in conjunction with turning the main dial allows you to set the lens aperture setting. Turning the main dial alone allows you to set the shutter speed.

AE lock.

The partial metering button also activates AE lock in creative zone modes other than M. This feature is useful if you’re shooting something with difficult metering conditions. A typical example is a scene that contains a bright light shining back at you - you don’t want the camera’s meter to be thrown by the intensity of the light and set the rest of the scene to be too dark. To avoid this problem you could simply turn the camera to meter the scene without the bright light visible in the viewfinder, apply AE lock and then recompose the image to include the light.

To make AE lock work you have to press the shutter button halfway down and then simultaneously press the partial metering button. Awkward. Then the camera retains the AE settings for as long as you keep the shutter button halfway down, which is incredibly inconvenient. Later EOS cameras have a more sensible user interface design - setting AE lock involves simply the touch of a button. The camera then retains that lock for a few seconds.

Depth of field preview.

You can also use custom function 11 to apply depth of field preview to this button as well. The button will then stop down the lens to the current aperture setting when it’s depressed (or even when it’s cheerful and you push it down anyhow), giving you a preview of what the depth of field will look like. Of course, if the aperture setting is really small then the viewfinder will simply get dark and you might not be able to see anything much at all.

Custom function setting.

When adjusting custom functions you press the partial metering button to alternate between Y and N settings.


To set the camera’s self-timer press the right-hand top-deck button (marked with an icon of a clock and an IR transmitter) and a matching icon will appear in the camera’s top deck LCD panel. Pressing the shutter release will now trigger a 10 second countdown. (there’s no way to change the time value.) The camera will flash the AF assist light during the countdown and, if the beeper is enabled, will also beep. The flashing light and beeping increase in speed during the 2 seconds before the picture is taken. If you want to cancel the self-timer in the middle of a countdown just lunge desperately for the top-deck timer/remote button again.

If custom function 13 is turned on then the mirror will flip up the moment you push the shutter button. This reduces mirror-slap vibrations that can blur slower-shutter exposures, but has the drawback of preventing you from looking through the viewfinder during the 10 second timer run.

Finally, the Elan/100 manual claims that proximity to fluorescent lamps can accidentally trigger the camera when it’s in self-timer mode. I’ve not noticed this happening on either the Elan or the 10s, and I don’t know if the 10/10s is vulnerable to the same supposed problem.

Cover the viewfinder in timer mode.

Normally when you take a photo you’re looking through the viewfinder and your face is therefore covering it. However, in self-timer mode the viewfinder is left uncovered and stray light can enter the camera, possibly throwing off the internal light meter. So when using the timer it’s wise to cover the viewfinder with something. The one time this isn’t necessary is when using M mode since you’re setting both aperture and shutter speed manually.

Some camera straps, such as those included with the 10/10s camera kits, include a removable plastic cover that can be used to cover the viewfinder. Or you could put a grey or black plastic film canister cap over it if you have one around - they fit nicely. Some cameras, like the old T90, have viewfinder shutters for exactly this purpose, but the 10/10s doesn’t. Naturally you’ll have to remove any eyecups around the eyepiece in order to cover the viewfinder with a canister cap or a strap cover.

Tripod socket.

Using tripods is quite simple. The camera has a standard tripod socket on its base which accepts pretty well any standard tripod with a 1/4-20 thread. They nearly all do - the only ones that don’t tend to be large heavy tripods meant for professional photographers who use big cameras. You can buy tripods in all kinds of sizes and price ranges, from tiny tabletop pocket-sized tripods for convenient snapshot travel photography to sturdy midweight portable tripods to heavy studio tripods. Tripods can have simple pan and tilt heads, three-way tilting heads and ball head mounts. The socket is also used for attaching other accessories, such as the optional handgrip or a third-party flash bracket.

Tripods, while cumbersome, make a big difference in terms of reducing blur caused by camera shake. They’re pretty well a requirement for nature and landscape photography. So don’t think of them solely as devices for holding the camera off the ground for self-timer group photos - they can definitely improve the quality of your photographs as well. A tripod-mounted camera will always take sharper pictures than a handheld camera, particularly at lower shutter speeds.

It’s a general rule of thumb in photography that if the shutter speed you’re using is slower than the reciprocal of the focal length then you must use a tripod to avoid camera shake. For example, if you’re using a 50mm lens then you shouldn’t use any shutter speed slower than 1/50 sec, which gets rounded to 1/60 sec. If you’re using a 300mm lens then you shouldn’t handheld a camera at shutter speeds slower than 1/300 sec. The camera uses this rule, in fact, for its camera shake warning. This rule also makes it pretty clear that the longer the lens the more a tripod is useful. To minimize the risk of camera shake still further put the camera into self-timer mode or use a wireless remote shutter release so you don’t bump the camera accidentally when you take the photo.

If you’re in a situation where tripods are too awkward you could also consider a monopod. These are simply metal poles with tripod mounts on the end. They’re obviously not freestanding, but they can help steady a camera better than nothing at all. In fact, when you use a monopod it’s like using a tripod with your two legs filling in.

Mid-roll rewind.

If you want to rewind the film before it’s fully used up just push the mid-roll rewind button. It’s the tiny recessed button on the left side of the camera’s bottom plate, next to the blue, yelllow and black buttons. If the “don’t rewind” custom function is set (CF1) then pushing this button is also the only way to get the film to rewind at the end of the roll.

Note that custom function 2 enables the leader-out custom function for rewind, but since this custom function is only used in a creative zone mode, the film will spool all the way back into the canister if you rewind in a PIC (icon) mode. Leader-out rewind is a very useful thing if you want to be able to change films midroll and resume shooting with that roll later on. Be damned sure that you carry a small permanent marker pen with you at all times, however, so you can write down the exposed negatives on the canister itself. If you don’t do this you risk wrecking a roll of film by double-exposing it. Worse, you’re wrecking two rolls’ worth of images. Yes. I speak with the bitter voice of experience.


This camera uses one 2CR5 lithium battery, and the camera displays the battery level on the top-deck LCD whenever the camera is turned on. The battery indicator has three settings - full, approaching death (a half-used battery symbol) and empty (a blinking half-used battery symbol).

If the camera flashes the letters “bC” for “battery check” when you turn it on or try to take a picture then either the battery is exhausted or there’s a malfunction. (the latter is a bad sign and usually means the camera needs repairing) Always carry spare batteries with you - the 10/10s eats a lot of batteries, and has a habit of dropping dead unexpectedly. Later EOS cameras are also capable of displaying a low battery warning when you put a dead battery in, but the 10/10s simply won’t respond at all. So if the camera itself appears to be dead try a fresh battery.

The camera contains a small amount of non-volatile memory which it uses to store the current frame count and user settings. So don’t worry about losing this information when you change batteries - all that data is retained even if the batteries are dead or not installed.

Most Canon EOS cameras use 2CR5s, though some of the newer models annoyingly use two CR123As instead, which can be a hassle if you have two bodies and you’re out in the field and thus need to carry two types of batteries. On top of this, a pair of CR123As usually costs more than a single 2CR5.

However, there is one way in which CR123As are definitely superior - they’re safer. 2CR5 batteries have both contacts at the same end, whereas with CR123As the contacts are at opposite ends. I once had a 2CR5 in my coat pocket, and the end happened to touch the foil wrapper of a roll of mints. The battery shorted out and got hot. Very, very hot. Luckily I noticed it before my coat caught on fire, but it was still an unpleasant experience. So. Note to the wise - keep all 2CR5 batteries wrapped up so they can’t short out. Lithium batteries have a very high energy density, and the risk of fire is quite real.

Finally, and this probably goes without saying, don’t forget that the 10/10s cannot function without batteries. All EOS cameras are automated and motorized and power-dependent. It’s a good idea to sling some spare batteries into your camera bag and have them around at all times.

RC-1 remote control.

The 10/10s was the first EOS camera to work with the optional RC-1 remote control. This is a tiny device the size of a small pack of gum which lets you trigger the camera without physically touching it. It’s extremely useful and I recommend all 10/10s owners rush out and buy one. Heck, Elan/100, 50/Elan II and 30/Elan 7 users too - it works with those cameras also.

Using the RC-1 remote.

First, the camera has to be in IR-ready mode, which is the same as self-timer mode and is reached by pressing the self-timer/IR remote button on the camera’s top deck. You probably also want the lens to be in manual focus so the camera doesn’t screw up the focus. You then point the RC-1 at the front sensor, (behind the red transparent plate on the camera front) press the RC-1’s button, and the device uses an infrared beam of light to trigger the camera’s shutter release.

There are three settings on the RC-1 - L, dot and 2. L (lock) is off, dot means the camera triggers immediately and 2 means the camera triggers in 2 seconds. In 2 second mode the camera respects the mirror prefire custom function. You can attach to your camera strap using the included plastic clip.

Pros and cons of the RC-1.

The RC-1 is handy for many things. First, it simplifies group photos - you can set up the camera, walk casually over to the group with the RC-1 in hand and trigger the camera when you’re ready. No rushing frantically to get into the group in time to make the camera’s self-timer. Second, since you aren’t physically touching the camera when you trigger it you don’t have to worry about bumping it and blurring the exposure - useful with long exposure settings and mirror prefire mode. Third, the RC-1 works well with bulb mode - press the button once to open the shutter and press it a second time to close it.

There are two drawbacks. First, the sensor is on the front of the camera. It’s therefore easily blocked by large lenses or lens hoods, and also not very useful if you want to trigger the camera when you’re standing behind it. You could tape a bit of white paper or foil in front of the sensor to reflect the IR signal if you want to operate it from behind. In my case I’ve hacked an RC-1 to serve as a semi-wired remote by putting the LED on the end of a wire which can be velcroed underneath the sensor.

Second, and more annoyingly, the camera IR-ready mode times out after around 4-5 minutes. So if you don’t take your remote photo within that time you’re out of luck. Unlike the T90 there’s no auto sensing mode, which triggers the camera if the beam is broken - useful for wildlife photography. Rats.

The range of the remote is around 5 metres or 15 feet, and the internal batteries are supposed to last for about 2000 presses. It uses two CR1220 lithium cells.

Barcode reader.

The 10/10s also introduced the optional Barcode Reader E accessory, which works with the Elan/100 as well. This was an experiment in simplifying the camera’s user interface for novices. Or, to be less charitable, an expensive gadget-driven idiot mode.

Basically it works like this. You get a booklet of barcode settings, each illustrated by a photo. (the scanner shipped with a small booklet of barcodes, EOS Photo Files, but Canon also sold a companion volume - EOS Barcodes 101 - stuffed with even more useful and exciting barcode settings!) The photo will be of a typical setting - a backlit item or a flower or a landscape or whatever. You look at the item you want to photograph, flip through the book until you find a similar photo, scan the barcode from the book and then input the barcode into the camera. The barcode is then used to program the camera.

Hacking the barcodes.

The barcode reader wasn’t a very popular feature. In fact, it really was a fundamentally flawed concept from a marketing standpoint - the only people who’d really want such a feature would be rank beginners. However, because of the cost of building the system, only fairly costly midrange cameras supported it. So Canon quickly dropped the barcodes - the 10/10s and the Elan/100 were the only ones bearing this dubious capability. However, there is one handy thing about it. And that is tied to the key word “programmable,” the hacker’s favourite word.

Basically, inquisitive people have figured out how the barcode system works and have written small programs so that you can write your own custom barcode programs. These programs let you design your own custom PIC modes - sometimes even accessing camera functions not available through the camera’s external buttons and dials. You then print out your custom barcodes on your PC or Mac (the camera uses Interleaved 2 of 5 formatting). This can be lots of fun to play with if you happen to be a geek.

For more information, check out Mogens Beltoft’s page on EOS barcode functions. PC users can check out this page for a list of barcode printing programs, UNIX users can check out this page and Mac users can check out this page. (the Scorpion Research program looks good for Mac users, by the way) Fun side note: the free Cuecat barcode scanner, once distributed through Radio Shack as part of a harebrained marketing scheme by a now-defunct firm called Digital Convergence, could recognize the 10/10s barcode symbology.

The barcode reader requires two CR2035 3-volt lithium cells.

Using the barcode reader.

To use the barcode reader turn the command dial to the barcode PIC setting. You can input a barcode into the custom barcode setting but unlike the Elan/100 you can’t overwrite any of the other default PIC modes. (this sadly limits the usefulness of barcodes on the 10/10s)

Find a barcode and scan it in. Hold the scanner so that it’s oriented vertically, press the button, then swipe the tip across the paper, starting from the white square and moving to the right. Make sure it touches the paper itself. If the scanner’s tip light doesn’t illuminate when you press the button then the batteries are missing or dead. The scanner will beep if the code is entered correctly.

Press the round output end of the scanner against the barcode receiver on the camera body. (it’s the translucent red button on the front right side of the camera, near the lens-release button) Press the barcode into the body and push the barcode’s button at the same time. If you do it right (it’s easier with both hands) the camera will beep twice. The barcode that you’ve entered will appear in the display. (eg: P72 or whatever)

Turning the command dial to this setting will now engage whatever program you’ve installed. If you want to reset the program to the default setting for that command dial setting just enter the “reset” barcode that’s printed in the manual. If you don’t have the manual just print out the barcode 1320000000805000 using Interleaved 2 of 5 and use that. The barcode setting is set to default when the LCD displays “P00”, and the default barcode setting is identical to full auto mode.

Date printing function - the EOS 10 QD.

There was a version of the EOS 10 that shipped with quartz date printing facilities. I’ve never seen or used one and so can’t provide any information on how to operate it. I think it was only available in Asia and Europe. Judging by other EOS date backs it probably has a MODE button to cycle between date and time formats, a SELECT button to select a number value within a format to change and a SET button to set a changed value. If the date display shows only a row of hyphens then date printing is disabled.

I’m told by Nick Roberts, a British 10 QD owner, that this date printing feature was very unusual indeed, as the date printing LEDs are built into the body and not the back. The QD version therefore does not require a cutout hole in the pressure plate and the date printing is slightly sharper since the light source is not shining through the back of the film. This date printing design also has some happy consequences if you want to shoot Kodak HIE infrared film. (see below)

The EOS 10/10s and high-speed infrared film.

The EOS 10/10s/10QD does not fog the edge of Kodak HIE infrared film as do many other Canon EOS cameras. Nor does it have a cutout notch for its pressure plate, so it doesn’t cause shadowing either. This camera is, therefore, perfect for HIE film. The only drawback is that exposure compensation is a nuisance, as noted above.

The 10/10s is actually quite an unusual camera in yet another respect when it comes to IR film. All other EOS cameras use either a purely optical counter system with an LED diode or else a purely mechanical sprocket-hole counter system. EOS Magazine has said that the 10/10s is the only EOS camera to use a sort of hybrid system in which the IR diode is buried away inside the camera and does not shine on the film edge at all.

I can’t confirm this for certain as I’ve never dismantled my camera. However, I have noticed that my 10s has a small black plastic roller located near the shutter, in the same position as the sprocket-hole counter cogwheel on older EOS cameras. It seems plausible that this roller might have a plastic disc with cutout vanes attached to its axis, with an IR sensor/detector pair tucked away inside the camera body - the type of technology used by opto-mechanical computer mice. There’s a small raised section near where such a disc might be located that lends some support to this theory. This would make sense - it would mean that the sprocket-hole counter does indeed have IR components, but they’re hidden inside the body and thus won’t fog IR film. The drawback is that as an opto-mechanical system it would be more vulnerable to wear and slippage than a purely optical system.

For more information on EOS cameras and HIE/EIR infrared, check out my article on the topic.

Attaching manual-focus lenses or telescopes (stop-down metering).

I’ve written an entire other article on this subject, so you should check that if you’re interested. Note that the EOS 10/10s uses the old style of stop-down metering.

Accessories and whatnot.

One drawback of the 10/10s is that it never really had a lot of particularly good accessories, even though it was technically Canon’s second-best camera at the time. Naturally it can use all the various add-on components of the EOS system in general - flash units and lenses - but it’s a bit lacking in terms of other options. The most glaring missing options being a wired shutter release and a battery grip. Here are some of the things you could buy for it, though:

Eyecup Eb. This one shipped with the camera originally but is still available as an accessory. I find it doesn’t work very well with glasses.

Remote controller RC-1. See the RC-1 section above. The remote controller ships with a plastic clip that fastens to the camera’s carrying strap.

Barcode reader E. See the barcode section above. The barcode reader shipped with a vinyl carrying case and a small book of barcodes, EOS Photo Files. Another book of codes, EOS Barcodes 101, was available separately.

Grip extension GR-60. This is a knobby wedge-shaped piece of rubber with a wrist strap. It fastens to the bottom of the camera via the tripod mount, and a small pin fits in the hole in the bottom of the baseplate to prevent rotation. It makes the camera grip bigger for people with meatier hands, but is otherwise useless. It covers the tripod mount (though has a replacement socket), it does not contain batteries, it lacks secondary shutter releases or other controls, it does not contain a built-in mini tripod and it prevents you from attaching the semi-hard case or a flash bracket.

Semi-hard case EH-3L and EH-3LL. An optional vinyl leather-look shaped case that fits around the camera. Case EH-3L is designed to accommodate such Canon zooms as the 35-80, and case EH-3LL is longer and designed to accommodate slightly longer zooms such as the 35-135. The case fastens to the camera by means of the tripod mount, so you can’t use a tripod in conjunction with it.

I’ve found these cases mildly useful for protecting the camera from scratches, small bangs and light wind and moisture. The main drawback is that they’re very bulky and bulbous, and the longer version is a nuisance to use with shorter lenses - the side zip tends to come undone. In theory they let you have the camera up and ready for shooting without messing around with a full camera bag, but they’re also a bit fiddlier and less convenient than you might want.

Dioptric adjustment lens E. The 10/10s lacks a built-in dioptric adjustment feature like the Elan 7/EOS 30 to accommodate people who require glasses but don’t like wearing glasses when they look through viewfinders. The solution is either to grit your teeth and wear glasses when you use the camera or attach a diopter to the camera - basically a rectangular magnifying glass that fits around the viewfinder bracket. Canon sell 10 different types of diopters and each requires the Rubber Frame Eb to fit.

Angle finder C. Expensive, but allows you to look through the viewfinder from above. Handy for macro shots or shooting close to the ground.

Canon Professional Strap 1. This is actually made by Domke and co-branded with Canon. I list it here because I’ve found it’s a pretty darn good deal for the price - it’s got the Domke Gripper anti-slip material on the strap, it doesn’t have CANON EOS printed on it in gigantic letters like the amateur straps usually do, it has metal swivels on the end and so doesn’t get tangled up. It’s available in green and black, though oddly B&H sell the green one at a far lower price. The one thing it lacks is a viewfinder cover for timer exposures.

Third party books. This isn’t a Canon accessory, but may be of some interest. There was a Hove/Magic Lantern book published on the 10/10s (ISBN 1-906447-65-8) which you might be able to find in camera shops. It’s carried by Silver Pixel Press in the US. This book, written by Harald Francke and translated from the German, is aimed at beginners and doesn’t substitute for the manual - it’s meant to complement it.



- NK Guy,

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