The new Canon 5D Mark III allow you to activate a 6x4 grid in the viewfinder. Does anyone know the use of such a grid (instead of a more classic 3x3) for composition, besides obvious horizontal/vertical alignment?

Another thing to note: the Mark III allow you to use either 3x3 (with or without diagonals) or 6x4 grid when reviewing pictures, or when shooting through the LV screen, but only the 6x4 grid when using the VF...??? Maybe in a future firmware?

This was the real starting point for my question. Anyway, thanks to all fellows who took time to post answers!

  • 2
    I've always thought any grid was simply to help you with alignment and to help you judge subject position; the number of divisions being nothing more than personal preference. May 18 '12 at 17:12
  • There is also vertex alignment...positioning subjects at the intersections of grid lines, regardless of how well they may line up vertically or horizontally.
    – jrista
    May 18 '12 at 17:30

I'm pretty sure the main purpose of the 6x4 grid is for general purpose horizontal and vertical alignment, especially for images symmetric about the horizontal or vertical centre.

While we're often told to get away from putting a major feature precisely in the centre of the frame (and the 3x3 or a golden ratio helps to guide this), there are many times where it's aesthetically or technically useful to put a point/line exactly in the middle of the frame.

Note the comparison here:


Black lines are 3x3 — Dashed grey lines are 6x4 — Blue lines are rule-of-thirds (not an option).
Diagonals shown also, but I believe they're only available in Live View.

The 6x4 set of lines marks both the centre-point and the vertical & horizontal mid-points of the frame, which the other line options do not. I suspect this is the reason for adding these lines in. You could kind of line things up with the old 5D AF sensor markings (9-point and 11-point AF systems have at least 3 points along the horizontal or vertical centre-lines for alignment), but there's no such obvious markings with the 61-point AF in the 5D Mark III.

Perhaps they could have just used the centre-lines, instead of 6x4, or added some less obvious markers on the edge/centre of the viewfinder, but it seems an obvious extension to make a reasonably regular grid for general purpose alignment. That and the fact that the 6x4 grid is square, which to me suggests alignment more than anything else.

I guess it could also be useful for making square crops (from the central 4x4 grid).


I was recently trying to take photos to use for screen/browser backgrounds - where the result needs to be very short and very wide. It turns out that there's not a very good way to scale pictures to that aspect (at least ones with real world objects in them that become unpleasant when overly stretched), so they need to be taken using a small part of the vertical canvas and then cropped. Having two different sets of guidelines on the viewer to choose from might make composition like this a bit easier. I don't have a camera with that feature to test it out.


Grid in cameras is for two reasons. first, as others said, for align lines. Second, for many of more important, for easy finding of STRONG POINTS in composition. Check about golden ratio on the web, also for rule of third. Here grid is very usefull. Some cameras have grid exactly for rule of third and golden ratio composition.

  • Thanks Dude. I knew about golden ratio (in fact Fibonacci suite) and 3x3 grids, which is sometimes confused with the previous one. There are excellent discussions on the net about these two and how they relate. But I found nothing on 6x4 grids. A strange thing is new Mark III allow you to use either 3x3 or 6x4 grid for review pictures, but only the 6x4 grid for the VF... May 24 '12 at 15:23

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