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Ambience and Lighting Auto Settings on the Canon EOS 60D

Through the Shoot by Ambience and Shoot by Lighting or Scene Type options on your Canon 60D, you can customize Basic Zone modes to better match your artistic desires and the lighting at hand. Both “Shoot By” tools extend beyond the pure basics of automatic shooting and rely on you to make decisions that add value to your photos. If you’re a novice photographer, using them will help you make the adjustment to a more manual approach to shooting.

These two options have the following characteristics:

  • Shoot by Ambience: When you select a setting in Shoot by Ambience, you’re telling the camera how to process the photo. It has nothing to do with the ambience of the scene but everything to do with what you want the final photo to look like.

  • Shoot by Lighting or Scene Type: When you select a setting in Shoot by Lighting or Scene Type, you’re telling the camera what the actual lighting conditions are. This, in turn, helps it take an accurate photo of the scene, where whites look white and don’t take on a color cast from the lighting.


You enable Shoot by Ambience or Shoot by Lighting or Scene Type from the Quick Control screen. Although the 60D manual covers using them only in Live View, you can also select them (assuming that you’re in a compatible exposure mode) when using the viewfinder. Here’s how:

  1. Check whether the shooting mode you’re in is compatible with Shoot by Ambience or Shoot by Lighting or Scene Type.

    • Ambience: Creative Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, or Night Portrait

    • Lighting or Scene Type: Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, or Sports

  2. The manual tells you to press Live View now, but you don’t have to. You can also make these adjustments from the standard Quick Control screen.

    Unless your monitor has gone dark to save power, you see the Shooting Settings screen. If the monitor is dark, just nudge the shutter button to wake the camera and display the screen.

  3. Either way, press Q to activate the Quick Control screen.

  4. Use the multicontroller to select Shoot by Ambience or Shoot by Lighting or Scene Type.

    Note: The two options aren’t labeled until you press Q, and even then, you have to pay attention to the label that appears at the bottom of the screen. Before that, you see the setting that’s active, not the option name.

    You can jump to Step 6 by using the Quick Control dial here. You can scroll through all the available options for the setting you're modifying. The advantage of using the Quick Control dial now is speed. You don’t need to press a button, scroll to an option, and press the button again. On the other hand, you don’t see all the options at once, and those could help you keep track of what you’re doing.

  5. Press Set.

    Making a Shoot by Ambience setting change.
    Making a Shoot by Ambience setting change.
    Select the lighting that matches the scene.
    Select the lighting that matches the scene.
  6. Scroll down by using the Quick Control dial or the multicontroller and then highlight a setting.

    You have a lot of choices. Remember that Ambience is how you want the photo to look, and Lighting reflects the conditions.

    For Ambience settings, you can use the multicontroller to highlight the Ambience strength, and then use the Quick Control dial to dial in a new value. This allows for further customization.

  7. Press Set to lock in the setting.

    That’s it. You return to the Shooting Settings screen, and you see your new setting displayed. You’re ready to shoot.

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