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A Guide to In-Camera Multiple-Exposure Photography with the Canon 5D Mark IV

Jourdan Aldredge

Learn to unlock the potential of your Canon 5D Mark IV with this powerful, in-camera multiple-exposure photography functionality.

The Canon 5D Mark IV is a powerful tool for both video production and photography. For videographers who could use a multi-purpose camera like the 5D, it’s important to understand some of the functionalities that you have at your fingertips with a camera like this. One of the most intriguing new features to the Canon 5D Mark IV is the built-in multiple exposure photo settings.

Let’s look at how this feature works, so you can get your Canon 5D Mark IV shooting at its full potential.


Turn On Multiple Exposure

A Guide to In-Camera Multiple-Exposure Photography with the Canon 5D Mark IV — Multiple Exposure

The first step will be the hardest for seasoned videographers. You’ll first have to turn your Canon 5D over from video mode to photo mode. You can find this toggle on the ring outside your record start/stop button on the back right of your camera. You’ll also need to change the dial on the top left to the “P” mode.

Once you’re in photo mode, you can either look through your viewfinder or on the back display screen (click on the start/stop button to switch between the two). To enter the creative picture controls controls, click the “Creative Photo” button on the top left. You’ll recognize it by an icon that looks like a pen in a box. From this menu, you can change picture styles or enter multiple exposure or HDR mode. Scroll to the multiple exposure controls and press the set button.


Choose Your Settings

A Guide to In-Camera Multiple-Exposure Photography with the Canon 5D Mark IV — Settings

From here you can enable multiple exposure. Click on the top line (which should default to “disable”). You can activate multiple exposure in one of two ways — On: Func/Ctrl, which is the more convenient mode where you can check your images after you shoot, or the On: ContShtng, which is for continuous shooting of multiple-exposure photos.

Let’s focus on the On: Func/Ctrl, which is better for trying out the effect for the first time. If you scroll down one line, you can change the multiple exposure control methods marked “Multi-expos ctrl.” You’ll see four options, detailed below (via Canon’s Knowledge base):

  • Additive: Each exposure is added to the image cumulatively. Based on the [No. of exposures], set a negative exposure compensation. Refer to the basic guide below to set a negative exposure compensation.
  • Average: Based on the [number of exposures], negative exposure compensation is set automatically as you shoot multiple exposures. If you shoot multiple exposures of the same scene, the exposure of the subject’s background will be automatically controlled to obtain a standard exposure.
  • Bright/Dark: The brightness (darkness) of the base image and the images to be added are compared at the same position, and then the bright part (dark part) will be left in the picture. Depending on the overlapping colors, the colors may be mixed depending on the brightness ratio (darkness ratio) of the compared images.

Try Out Different Combinations

A Guide to In-Camera Multiple-Exposure Photography with the Canon 5D Mark IV — Different Combinations

You can also change the number of exposures taken (which defaults to 2 and goes up to 9), as well as whether or not to save your source images. Once you’ve made your selections, you can begin to experiment with different combinations. The additive multiple exposure effect is a good place to start. Try just combining two photos at first to see how they overlay and what that looks like. You can always delete images that don’t work, as they can take up a lot of space rather quickly.


Multiple Exposure in Video

A Guide to In-Camera Multiple-Exposure Photography with the Canon 5D Mark IV

Image via Vitalii Vitleo.

While photos are great in their own right, they’re also a great way to learn some principles of multiple-exposure imaging. Pay attention to what makes your compositions pop, and what crosslayers might make things look muddled or awkward. Once you’ve mastered multiple-exposure photography, you can try it with video. (Here’s a great article on working with multiple exposures and blend modes in Premiere Pro here on PremiumBeat.)


Cover image by kimberrywood.

For more videography, photography, and exposure tips and resources, check out some of these articles:

And for more tips and tricks on working with the Canon 5D Mark IV, check out some of these articles:

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