A Surprisingly Simple Menu That Will Transform Your Photography

A Surprisingly Simple Menu That Will Transform Your Photography
Image by Jan Vašek

Every modern camera has one, a Q menu. Depending on the manufacturer it might have a different name, perhaps an icon but they all serve the same purpose, to access the most often used elements of the camera quickly and efficiently. This menu can make transform your photography, making it more…simple!

As well as a set of predefined controls, many Q menus allow you to add some of your own settings as well. Today, we hope to give you an understanding of the Quick Menu and how you can use it to improve your photography.

Where Is The Q Menu?

The idea of the Quick Menu is to be easily and quickly accessed. For the vast majority of cameras, there is a button to open it found on the back right side of the camera, pretty close to where your thumb naturally lies when shooting.

This enables you to easily slide your thumb to the button to access it. In some cameras, it might be part of the D Pad.

Using The Q Menu

When you open the Q menu you will see a grid-like table on the LCD screen of your camera. Each part of the grid will contain one basic control set such as ISO, White Balance or Image Resolution.

Very often the first item in the grid, top left of the screen will be access to your camera's custom settings. Custom Settings allows you to create a number of different preset camera setups.

For example, if you shoot sports you might set a custom setting that incorporates shutter priority, continuous shooting and focus modes. Once programmed these modes can be rapidly changed using the Q menu. To move around the grid in the Q menu, you use the camera’s D-Pad or Joypad. Simply press the left, right, up and down buttons to navigate to an individual quick setting.


Nikon's version of a quick menu is Recent Settings. By Alex Axerius

To change the quick setting, most cameras use either the rear scroll wheel or have a dedicated scroll wheel. Once you have navigated to the relevant setting, you scroll the wheel left or right in order to change that setting.

Most cameras do not require you to press the enter or middle D-Pad button to lock the setting in. Instead, you simply press the Q button again or half press the shutter button.

The Quick Menu is also viewable through the camera’s viewfinder on mirrorless cameras. This allows the photographer to change important settings without lowering the camera from his or her eye.

Getting stuck into why you should learn quick menus to improve/speed up your efficiency as a photographer I must recommend an excellent Event Photography Online Video Course. Here you can learn the tools to become a professional event photographer or just understand how to take those pro-looking photographs at any event you attend!

What Settings Can I Change?

Amongst the more important settings in the quick menu are the ability to change:

  • ISO, including setting to Auto ISO,
  • White Balance and access to the manual White Balance setting,
  • Noise Reduction,
  • Tone,
  • Color
  • and Sharpness (if shooting JPEG).

You can change items such as the dynamic lighting controls as well as the image size, ratio and type.


Quickly change ISO in tricky light using the Quick Menu. By Joe Jungmann

Some cameras will also allow you to add sections to the Q Menu. These might include autofocus modes, flash, self timer settings and LCD screen brightness.

Why Use The Q Menu?

Put simply it makes you more efficient as a photographer. Whilst most cameras have a range of dials and buttons on the body to change settings, there are only so many that you can fit, ergonomically speaking.

Because digital cameras are so complex, the accompanying LCD menus by their very nature are also complex. This can slow down a photographer looking to change a simple setting.

The Q menu gives us access to many of the most used settings, many of which are not easily controlled via buttons or dials. Add to this, the fact that on mirrorless cameras you can see this menu displayed in the electronic viewfinder, it means the photographer does not need to lower the camera when shooting.


White balance is another item accessed through the Q menu. By Robert Pittman

Virtually all modern digital cameras have a form of quick menu built into them. They might be called something slightly different, they might use slightly different ways to navigate but all have the same end objective, to speed up a photographer’s workflow. Take the time to learn and understand yours and you will find that in no time at all, your shooting will become more fluent and efficient.

So to end this post (I hope you found it of great value) I must recommend an excellent Event Photography Online Video Course. Learn the tools to become a professional event photographer or just understand how to take those pro-looking photographs at any event you attend!

Further Resources

About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here.

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