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Changing Drive Mode in Canon 5D Mark ii

So I didn’t intend to start my “straight photography” blog with the post as simple as this one, but after looking online for an answer to a pretty basic question about a very basic camera function, I was more then a little annoyed to find no help. Instead, I immediately found my FAVORITE answer to a question on a forum where someone else had asked the same question of “did you try the manual?”. If this snarky commenter had ever been to art school, they would know that even the greatest photographers who deal with cameras every single day ask the same questions over and over and over again! In this day and age of looking up everything in google, you’d figure that looking for a quick response like this would be a no-brainer and wouldn’t warrant such annoying responses to innocent questions. Also, I lost the damn manual, ok??

But anyway enough of my rant, I wanted to clarify this issue even if it is super specific to my camera. Every single time I try to change the shooting mode, called the “drive mode” within the camera and guide, (I’m old-school… still not used to referring to mode as to whether your camera is on manual or not) I forget how to do it. I rarely ever use this mode, but it definitely has its uses in what are called continuous shooting and self-timed shooting. Continuous shooting allows the photographer to press and hold the shutter button to take a stream of images which keeps the shots coming until the shutter is released again. This can be very useful when taking photos of an event that’s happening very quickly, like a race or a fast paced sports game or when bracketing your images. I won’t get into bracketing in this blog post, suffice to say that it’s a way to take a single shot of several of the same image, all with different exposures. The self-timer is a way to set your camera’s shutter to delay going off for an interval of time, usually a few seconds. While this can be handy for taking self-portraits or family portraits, it’s also a great tool for low lighting situations which, when coupled with a slow shutter speed and tripod, you can use the self timer to absorb all possible light without also creating camera shake and the grainy image that would result with using a higher shutter speed and ISO.

So lets talk about this rather complex method for finding this mode in the 5D, shall we?? Ok it’s really quite simple, but lives under “Creative Auto” which I never use. All you have to do is set the mode dial to “CA” and then press “AF-drive”. Under drive mode select your desired “shooting mode”. And that’s it! I guess it wouldn’t have inspired a blog post without my friend the snarky commenter, so my hat goes off to you, sir!


Single shooting
Single shooting
Continuous shooting
Continuous shooting


16 thoughts on “Changing Drive Mode in Canon 5D Mark ii”

  1. I know, right?? There are so many weird little quirky things about the 5D :p Anyway, glad this helped you out :)

  2. Im trying to get this to work and I can, BUT I’m trying to shoot action (sports) and need to set my shutter speed and aperture and in the CA mode it doesn’t let you and just decides for you. Do you know how to get it to do Drive mode in Manual Mode? Or does it only work in CA mode? I need my shutter speed around 1/400th and the CA mode was deciding my shutter speed around 1/60 which was way to slow.

    Bummer. Have you figured this out? I played for a while and had no luck!

  3. Hey Ashley, I had only really used the self timer which does let you change modes to use, but you’re right that it doesn’t seem to work for continuous shooting! I’m going to look into that — it seems to be yet another “quirky” aspect of the 5D :p I’ll see what I can figure out and get back to you.

  4. Thank you, dear. I’m an old guy who just bought a second-hand 5D MkII out of Greece, and for a while I thought it was a dud. You save my bacon. :)

  5. Thanks! I’m the proud owner of an awesome camera I’m still learning how to use, and have been trying to figure this all out on my own and could not find that setting. Though, now that I’ve found it, it seems to disable exposure simulation? I’ve been reading stuff and dinking around but cannot find a way to get both to coexist. Any tips?

  6. That’s fantastic, thank you. I want to do continuous shooting for star trails (instead of a long exposure) any ideas of how I can do continuous shooting but for 30
    second exposures?

  7. ok, if anyone is up and about, I am trying to do this right now.
    Background on me: shot the heck out of a k1000 back in the day, and was good at it. I have been dying to get back into it, and just bought a 5d mark 2in perfect shape, also purchased a 24-105 L lens.
    Now I am trying to shot the stars and northern lights in alaska, but the camera is so alien to me… how can I set the camera up so I can control the ISO,(I heard 800 is a good choice for this?), and time the exposure as well as have a delay when the picture starts taking?

  8. I bloody love you. I’ve been trying to work this out for ages and I was all set to book my camera in for a repair! You’ve saved me some money and now I can take my camera to a gig tonight!

  9. Thank you for the tip had my camera in for a service and repair as I bought it secondhand and thought it was at fault
    What a relief ( nearly traded it in )
    Thanks again baz

  10. If you press the joystick button near the upper right of the screen, the menu comes up and you can make the change to continuous while in manual mode. I don’t use CA either. Thanks for the tip, it helped.

  11. drive mode ,set for multe ex spo, plug in shutter cable , set on lock cble relesae set for 30 sec ,thats it ,it will fire evry 30 sec .night night god bless ….

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