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Canon 5D Mark II Locking Mode Dial Modification

posted in: Gear, Photography 2

Last week I mentioned on my blog news feed that Canon released a product advisory notice announcing the availability of locking mode dial modification for 5D Mark II and 7D camera bodies. As of December 6 (2010), 5D Mark II and 7D owners can send in their cameras to Canon if they want this modification. The cost is $100 USD for US customers.

The reasoning behind this factory modification is due to the fact that some 5D Mark II and 7D owners have had issues with the mode dial getting moved inadvertently from one mode to another mode. Typically this happens when the operator has the camera on a strap and slung over the shoulder or around the neck and the camera’s mode dial gets bumped against the body or another object (e.g camera bag).

Quite often, I’ll be using my camera with a Black Rapid RS-4 camera strap. I’ll be taking some portraits and then put the camera at slung at rest (against my side). Then the body rubs against the side of my body and the mode dial gets moved from my expected setting (typically Manual or C3) to another setting (e.g. Bulb or Shutter Priority). Then when I bring the camera up to my eye to take another shot, I’ll end up taking a photograph in a mode with settings I didn’t expect (and aren’t correct for the situation).

Thus, when Canon announced this, I was very eager to get the modification on at least one of my cameras (I currently own both the 5D Mark II and 7D), even at the $100 cost.

So last Tuesday, I drove out to the Canon Service Center in Irvine (California) just before they closed for the evening and dropped off the 5D Mark II. The next day (Wednesday) I received an email notice that the service was complete and it shipped out. Then on Thursday I received it via FedEx. Basically a 2-day turn around time. Very quick. I was expecting a full week. Though, I am a member of Canon Professional Services. So that may have had some impact on the turnaround time since CPS members get priority service.

Anyway, the dial looks like a normal dial except the center of it has a spring loaded button that must be depressed (down) in order to rotate mode dial.

The mode dial is simple to manipulate. Instinctively, I’m pressing down the center button with my index finger and rotating with the thumb (and middle finger if more torque/grip needed). It appears possible to manipulate it by just pressing the center release button with the index finger and then sort of ‘gripping’ the mode dial face with the pad of the same index finger.

But the key point is that the mode dial doesn’t move unless the center release button is depressed while rotating.

A photographer friend of mine asked me if the mode dial modification is worth it.

Well, $100 USD is a bit pricey for a simple modification. But Canon not only did the modification (parts and labor), they also cleaned the camera (sensor, viewfinder) and shipped it back to me for no extra cost. I believe cleanings are around $60 if done by the Canon Service Center. If that is true, then the $100 cost doesn’t seem so high.

The answer to the “Is it worth it?” question is more a personal preference. If you have ever lost capturing that special moment because your mode dial got inadvertently bumped to another setting, then perhaps $100 is a small price to pay to never again lose the moment because of a bumped mode dial.

Here’s a short video showing off the new mode dial:

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2 Responses

  1. John C.

    The Canon EOS 5 (a.k.a. A2/A2E) had a locking mode dial similar to the ones depicted above. Many photographers actually paid to have the lock disabled since the lock mechanism had a tendency to break. The mode dial had strong detents compared to the digital camera so the lock wasn’t missed.

  2. Jon

    I’m not sure why people WOULDN’T want to have this done. I seem to be cursed when it comes to accidentally sliding this dial out of position. I’ll be regularly shooting wedding portraits, hear that my shutter is suddenly very long, look down to see that I’m in bulb mode and think HOW THE HELL??? The worst is when I’m shooting in AV mode, working fast paced through some time cruched portraits and then find afterwards that I’m in manual mode and the portraits are trashed and underexposed. I mean, I have a strong habit of checking my mode dial constantly because I’m so bad at this. But still, I can’t seriously have to check in between every individual shot. I’d have mod done in a heart beat, but I’m booked for weddings and engagements until november and there’s no way I’m doing to do 2 weeks of gigs with my 7D. (crap IQ)

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