Setting Up The Custom Buttons On My Sony A7R IV (Or Any Of My Sony Cameras)

Setting Up The Custom Buttons On The Sony A7R IV

Last week my new toy arrived to my house. In the past I would throw a card into a new camera and quickly find a subject to make a photo. With these new Sony cameras the first thing that I do is put all of my custom settings onto the camera. Here are a few things that I like to do when I get the camera out of the box. Sony has a crazy menu system so I try to make it so that I don’t have to go into the menu system very often.

Custom Buttons

These custom buttons are what make this camera so good. You can put what you want where you want it. Here is how I have my camera set up. If yours is not set up the same that does not mean that someone is wrong. Remember that you have to use your camera so set it up how you want to.

C1 – I have my C1 button set up for Super 35mm mode. This is an easy place to put the function because it is so close to the shutter button. With the 60mp files coming out of this camera when you know that you will be cropping anyway this is a great idea. It is also handy for getting in a little tighter for some video.

C2 – Right next to the C1 button I have programmed my C2 button to toggle my focus modes. When this camera will be my grab camera at football I will have it set up in wide so I can just point and make a picture. If I am using it in the wild photographing little warblers in trees I will want a smaller focus area. This button helps me make that switch very easy. Going from a little bird in a tree to a larger bird in the air means a different focus area would be useful. Having this button close to the shutter lets me make that switch quickly.

C3 – This is the protect button. I think that I chose this position because this is where I locked my images on most of my Canon cameras. When I am reviewing my images I can just press this button to lock it. These locked images are the only images that will make it to my computer. This helps cut down on the time that I am uploading.

C4 – When reviewing images this is the trash can button, but when I am making images this button becomes my toggle for the peaking display. When in video I love having this turned on so that I can see just where my focus is. If a bird is in a tough spot that my AF might not get right I will use this button in tandem with another button that I will talk about shortly.

AF-ON – This button is set up to be my focus button. If you are new to the concept this is called back button focus. This allows me to pick my focus and quickly recompose to make the photo. I set this to be just what it is called, and then go to page 6 of the menu system to turn off AF w/shutter. This means that the shutter button is now just a shutter button, and this back button will control my focus.

AEL – This button comes from the factory as the auto exposure lock button. I don’t use this at all so I re-program it to control my DRO settings. DRO stands for Dynamic Range Optimization. When I am making photos I don’t use the DRO function because I am shooting in RAW. For video though I like how this function can open up my shadows a bit and give me a better video. By having this button right here I can quickly turn that on before starting my video.

Fn – This is the function menu. It comes with many items already preprogrammed into it. Some of those I use, and some of those I do not use. Here is how I set mine up to help me out.

  • Drive Mode – I can quickly come in here to choose my drive mode. Honestly 95% of the time I am in continuous high mode. When I want to bracket an image though I can quickly switch over to that mode here
  • Focus Mode – I am almost always in AF-C here. If I need to change it though I can easily access it
  • Focus Area – This is the second place where I have this set up. For most of my jobs I don’t switch focus modes often. It can be easier to set it here while making other changes
  • Anti-Flicker mode – If I am getting the dreaded banding I can quickly come here to switch my camera into anti-flicker mode
  • Metering Mode – Lets me quickly change my metering mode
  • Interval Shooting mode – This is a mode only available on my A7R IV. This is a welcome feature that I immediately made room for in the function menu
  • Focus Peaking Level – Allows me to quickly change my focus peaking settings
  • Face/Eye priority in AF – I can quickly switch my settings for eye AF here
  • Steady shot on/off
  • AF tracking sensitivity – This is one where I don’t change it often, but when I do I want to do it quick. I normally have my camera set at 4. If I feel that I am missing shots because of people in the way and the focus jumping right away I can dial this back a bit
  • Silent shooting – I normally always have this set for silent shooting. When using the anti-flicker mode though you have to change your camera over to the mechanical shutter. This button allows me to do that quickly. Honestly most of the situations where I need the anti-flicker are situations where the silent shutter would come in handy.
  • Audio Signals – The last item in my function menu is for the audio. I love photographing in silent mode, but sometimes I like to go back to the days where my camera made a little noise.

The Control Wheel

This is a place where you can also get a lot done. The first thing that I do when I get my camera is to set this wheel so that I controls my ISO. In the field I find that I like to just turn this dial instead of going into a menu. With the aperture on the front dial of the camera, and shutter speed on the back this gives me control over the three keys to exposure very easy. With that done here are the ways that I have set up my control wheel.

  • DISP – You cannot change this part of the wheel. It will always change your display
  • ISO – Because I changed the entire wheel to control my ISO this is now a free button. I have changed it to go straight to my menu. This makes getting to some of my most used functions very easy
  • The bottom part of the wheel I have set up to quickly change my camera from auto focus to manual focus. This may sound crazy with auto focus being so good on cameras, but sometimes when a bird is deep in a tree you need to take matters into your own hands. On certain rainy or snowy days making sports photos this can come into play as well. This is a button I don’t like to use, but when I need it I have it. The focus peaking that I programmed into the C4 button helps out a lot as I see a blue shading over everything that is in focus.
  • Drive mode – I have left this button alone letting it allow me to quickly switch drive modes
  • Center button – This is another place where I can change my AF tracking sensitivity. By pressing the center button of the wheel I can see a display where I can quickly adjust my AF tracking.

So there are the ways that I immediately customize my camera when I get it. It takes a little time initially, but it saves so much time down the road that it is completely worth it. In a few days I will have a post detailing how I go through the menu system to change it to better suit my photography.

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