Canon EOS 50 Auto-Bracketing and Remote Control

The Canon EOS Elan II (EOS 50) camera has one-shot and continuous film advance modes, a self-timer, mirror pre-fire, auto bracketing, and a two-function wireless remote control. Combining these features in a meaningful way, or guessing what a specific combination does, may easily become confusing. To make your life easier, I tried all combinations I could imagine. The table below presents the results.
Note added in 2013: Canon is usually very consistent in programming their camera firmware. While I have not verified it, I guess that similar features behave in similar ways in many other Canon cameras too.
The abbreviations I have used:
AEB - Auto Exposure Bracketing
ST - Self-timer (SELF-TIMER) mode (also activates the reception of remote control signals)
CF05 - Custom Function 5 (sets the 2-second mirror pre-fire mode)
MLU - Mirror Lock-up (pre-fire)

A detailed glossary is provided below.

AEB off AEB on
ST=off ST=on ST=off ST=on
CF05=0 CF05=1 CF05=0 CF05=1
Shutter button, continuous continuous shooting 10s delay, 1picture MLU (2s), 1 picture, repeatedly 3 bracketed pictures taken if button held down 10s delay, then 3 bracketed pictures taken in a row 3 bracketed pictures taken with MLU (2s) delays in front of each
Shutter button, one-shot 1 picture MLU (2s), 1 picture 3 pushes take 3 bracketed pictures
Remote control, "2" mode. no effect 2-second delay, 1 picture no effect 2-second delay, 3 bracketed pictures in a row
Remote control, "·" mode. 1 picture taken 3 bracketed pictures taken without delays

Some of the same information explained in words:

  • Most people take most of their pictures with ST=off and using the shutter button
  • With ST=off, the remote control is ignored
  • With ST=off, the CF05 has no effect
  • The one shot/continuous switch is ignored when the remote control is used
  • It is impossible to get continuous film advance (over 3 frames at a time) with the remote control
  • It is impossible to get exactly 10-second delay with the remote control
  • 10-second delay cannot be combined with MLU

More tips:

  • When the shutter speed is set to "bulb", one push at the remote control button opens the shutter, and the next push closes it. Far more convenient than keeping your finger on the shutter button!
  • One thing I would like to do would be a 10s delay followed by 3 pictures taken with 2s delays. This apparently cannot be achieved.
  • The EOS 50 also has a socket for wired remote control ("cable release"). Its button exactly duplicates the shutter release (I suspect they are wired in parallel).
  • AEB is disabled when flash (internal or external) is in use. Presumably the flash would need time to re-charge, so bracketing at reasonable speed becomes impossible.
  • The 10s self-timer can be canceled by pressing the shutter button again.
  • Light measurements and focusing take place at the beginning of the count-down. This is important when you want to get yourself in the picture and have the camera pointing at the background when starting the self-timer.
  • The ST mode turns itself off after about 5 minutes if not used.
  • While auto-bracketing, the camera "forgets" that it was in the middle of a bracketing sequence if you do not take the 2nd or 3rd picture within about 10 seconds.
  • Do not forget to cover the eyepiece when using the self-timer or remote control. The cover is provided as part of the carrying strap which comes with the camera.

For those who do not own this camera, or who have forgotten what the terms mean, here is a glossary:

Shutter button
The black button you normally use to take the picture;
The film advance mode denoted by the CONTINUOUS icon.
The film advance mode denoted by the SINGLE icon.
Remote Control
This item (RC-1) is sold separately and costs about $20 in the USA. It has a switch with three positions:
L - locked (turned off);
· (a dot) - for immediate shutter release;
2 - for shutter release with 2-second delay.
For self-timer and/or remote-control operation, the SELF-TIMER button has to be pushed. A SELF-TIMER icon appears on the top panel. This state is referred to as ST=on in the table. During regular shooting, you are in the ST=off mode.
Mirror Lock-up
For reducing camera shake when using a tripod, the mirror of many cameras can be locked up before the picture is taken. The EOS 50 does not have a true mirror lock-up, but instead it has mirror pre-fire, where the mirror raises two seconds before the shutter opens. In everyday speech, this is still often called mirror lock-up, MLU for short.
Custom Function
One of the 10-11 ways you can "customize" the camera. Custom Function 05 is used to turn on the mirror lock-up.
Auto Exposure Bracketing
In difficult light conditions (especially when using slide film), one can take three pictures in a row with the first one exposed as measured, the second one under-exposed, and the third one over-exposed. The amount of such bracketing can be set in 0.5-stop increments up to 2.0 stops. This function is accessed via the button on the back of the camera, and then setting the amount of bracketing from the main dial.
With print film, the 0.5-stop bracketing has very little effect and can be instead used to take three pictures of the same subject in a row (with 2-s delays in certain combinations of modes).

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