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I’ve put together a free, comprehensive Nikon D850 Setup Guide Spreadsheet, with suggested settings for various types of shooting situations, such as Landscape, Action/Sports, Portrait, Concert, etc. The Excel spreadsheet covers all of the Photo Shooting Menu items, all of the Custom Settings, and various other camera and exposure settings. You can download the spreadsheet here, where you will also find instructions for printing it out:

http://www.fullstopbooks.com/setup-guides/

Here is an image of just a small portion of the comprehensive spreadsheet:

Nikon D850 setup guide menu custom setting spreadsheet quick start tips tricks

The setup guide spreadsheet is a companion to my full D850 guide, Nikon D850 Experience, which is a clear and comprehensive guide to the camera. The full guide explains all the Menu and Custom Settings items, as well as all of the other camera features, functions, and controls.

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Introduction to the New and Hidden Features of the Nikon D7500

If you are a user of a previous Nikon dSLR and upgraded to the Nikon D7500, and you are already familiar with the typical features, functions, and controls, you will want to become familiar with the various new and improved features of the camera. Here is a summary of what has been added, changed, or improved with the D7500 compared to the D7200 and other previous Nikon models. Some of these features were included on the D7200, but may be unfamiliar to those coming from an earlier or different Nikon model.

The D7500 also contains a few “hidden” features. It is not that they aren’t explained in the Nikon manual, however then can be difficult to locate when using the camera since they aren’t directly accessed with a button or with a menu item. Several of them are accessed via the i Button and i Button Menus, which vary with the current camera function (viewfinder shooting, Live View shooting, image playback, etc.). Or some of these items must be assigned to a specific button using the Custom Settings.

All of these new and hidden features and items are explained in more detail in my Nikon D7500 Experience user guide to the camera, from which this material is based on.

Nikon D7500 body controls buttons touch screen monitor tilting dial

Figure 1 – The Nikon D7500 dSLR.

-Articulating Touch Screen Monitor – The large 3.2” high-resolution (922K-dot), tilting, touch-screen LCD Monitor can be color customized with the Monitor Color Balance item of the Setup Menu. The touch screen capability allows you to view, zoom, and scroll through playback images, enter text with the on-screen keyboard, as well as select an autofocus area and Spot White Balance area when working in Live View, and to release the shutter in Live View (Touch Shutter). The “Frame Advance Bar” for image review enables you to use the touch screen to quickly scroll through images without having to swipe one-by-one.

Figure 2 – Use the tilting rear monitor to help take photos from low or high vantage points.

-Expanded Native ISO Sensitivity Range – The ISO range is expanded to include ISO 100 to 51,200. This can assist photographers with decreased noise at higher ISO settings. Additional ISO settings down to 50 and up to the excessively noisy 1,640,000 can also be used.

Figure 3 – Left: The ISO Sensitivity Settings and Auto ISO options. Right: Selecting the Minimum Shutter Speed the camera will use with Auto ISO, including the “Auto” option which will be based on the lens focal length.

-Auto ISO – As with other current Nikon models, the D7500 offers a powerful Auto ISO option, which will change the ISO setting if necessary in order to obtain a proper exposure. You can set the parameters of Auto ISO, including the Maximum Sensitivity and Minimum Shutter Speed that the camera will use for Auto ISO, as well as the new Maximum sensitivity with flash option (see Figure 3 – left). One powerful option is that if you set the Minimum Shutter Speed to its Auto setting, the camera will select a minimum shutter speed based on the focal length of the lens (see Figure 3 – right). For example, a longer telephoto lens requires a faster shutter speed to avoid blur from camera movement. But, if you are unhappy with the settings that the camera is choosing, you can continue to press right in the Minimum Shutter Speed > Auto setting, and access the option to fine-tune this setting so that the camera selects a faster or slower Auto shutter speed. And in the new Movie Shooting Menu, you can also set the Auto ISO parameters separately for movie shooting.

-Group-Area AF Area Mode – A group of five AF Points, configured in a cross-shaped pattern, can all be used together to help focus on a subject, in situations where using a single AF Point may not work as well (see Figure 4).

Figure 4 – Group Area AF Area Mode, where five AF Points work together to focus on a subject. The central point of the group is also active, but not seen in the Viewfinder. 

-Highlight-Weighted Metering Mode – This Metering Mode helps to prevent the overexposure of highlights, such as a subject under bright stage lighting, particularly in situations with moving subject where Spot Metering becomes impractical.

Flicker Reduction – With this new anti-flicker option, the camera will detect the flickering of certain types of lighting often found in stadiums and arenas, and will adjust the timing of the shutter release in order to maintain more consistent exposures.

Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter – This feature, found in Custom Setting d4, can help to reduce camera vibrations and thus potential blur in controlled situations such as landscape and macro shots (see Figure 5 – left). It is used with the Mirror Up (Mup) Release Mode during either Viewfinder or Live View shooting. With the high resolution 20.9 megapixel sensor of the D7500, these slight movements can become more apparent in images.

Figure 5 – Left: Custom Setting d4, to enable the Electronic Front Curtain Shutter feature used with Mirror-Up release mode. Right: Picture Controls menu, including the new Clarity setting as well as the ability to adjust the settings in 0.25 increments.

Picture Controls – The D7500 offers the Auto Picture Control where the camera will determine the best settings, though the Auto setting can also be slightly adjusted by the user. The camera also includes the recent Flat Picture Control, which is desired by videographers as it provides the greatest latitude for post-processing, by helping to retain details in both highlights and shadows. It can also be used for still images that are going to be heavily processed. Also, the Picture Control options include a Clarity parameter, and the Brightness adjustment allows a wider range. The parameters allow finer (0.25 step) adjustment increments, as well as an Auto option for each parameter (see Figure 5 – right).

Figure 6 – Left: Simultaneously press the AF Mode Button and Movie Record Button to perform the Autofocus Auto Fine-Tune procedure when in Live View. Right: The Live View Spot White Balance feature, in use.

Auto AF Fine-Tune – The Autofocus Auto Fine-Tune feature will enable you to use Live View focusing to automatically fine tune the autofocusing of individual lenses, to correct for back-focus or front-focus issues. The data acquired by the process is entered into the AF fine-tune item of the Setup Menu, and registered for the attached lens. The procedure involves autofocusing in Live View and then simultaneously pressing the AF Mode Button and Movie Record Button to perform the process (see Figure 6 – left).

White Balance Improvements – The D7500 offers two Auto White Balance options, including Normal and Keep warm lighting colors which will preserve the warm glow created by incandescent bulbs and add a warmer touch to outdoor photos. You can now store up to six Preset (PRE) White Balance settings, as well as make use of the Live View Spot White Balance measurement feature (which was also available on the previous D7200), (see Figure 6 – right). The Live View Spot White Balance feature enables you to take a white balance measurement of a precise area of the scene when working in Live View.

White Balance Color Temperature Selection – When making use of the K – Choose Color Temp White Balance Setting, you can select the desired color temperature in the White Balance menu item, or you can quickly adjust this setting during shooting by pressing the WB Button and turning the front Sub-Command Dial while viewing the setting on the top Control Panel or on the Live View Screen. If you wish to directly enter a value, you can press the WB Button and use the Multi Selector to select and change the digits, again either on the top Control Panel or on the Live View screen.

Auto Exposure Bracketing – Either 2, 3, 5, 7, or up to 9 shots can be automatically taken when bracketing, at increments of 0.3 EV, or up to 3 EV increments.

Batch Processing for NEF (RAW) images – In-camera batch processing is now possible, using the new options in the NEF (RAW) Processing item of the Retouch Menu. These options give you the ability to select and simultaneously process multiple individual images, using the same processing settings. Or you can use the Select date option to process all images taken on a certain date, or Select all images to process all images on the memory card (see Figure 7 – left).

Figure 7 – Left: The NEF (RAW) Processing menu, including the options to batch process multiple images by selection, date, or all images. Right: Selecting images to be transferred to a smart device, as soon as a wireless connection is made between the camera and the device.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi – Used in conjunction with Nikon’s SnapBridge app, these wireless connections between the camera and a smart device can be used to remotely control the camera, share GPS information from the phone to the camera, and to transfer images to the device (see Figure 7 – right).

New Menu and Custom Settings Options – In addition to the above improvements, the D7500 offers several new options in various menu items and Custom Settings. These include new Multiple Exposure overlay options of Add, Average, Lighten and Darken, which will allow you to further process multiple exposure images, and Exposure Smoothing options for Interval Timer and Time-Lapse shooting to help maintain consistency among the individual exposures.

Figure 8 – Left: Selecting one of the Ultra High Definition, 4K video Frame Size / Frame Rate options. Right: Enabling the Electronic Vibration Reduction feature for movie shooting.

Video – The D7500 now offers Ultra High Definition 4K video (3840 x 2160) at 30p, 25p, and 24p frame rates (see Figure 8 – left). Although note that when recording at 4K, the camera will make use of a smaller 1.5x cropped Image Area and not the entire width of the frame. The camera also offers Full HD video (1920 x 1080) at all the typical frame rates (60/50/30/25/24p). Plus the camera offers new Electronic Vibration Reduction to help stabilize the scene when hand-holding (see Figure 8 – right), and the Active D-Lighting option for full HD recording. The D7500 includes the Highlight Display “zebra stripes” feature for viewing highlights and potentially overexposed areas, a built-in stereo microphone, simultaneous recording to an internal memory card and external recorder, selectable audio frequency range (the standard Wide range or the narrower Voice range), and Auto ISO during Manual (M) Exposure Mode for smooth exposure transitions while retaining the desired aperture and shutter speed settings. The new Power Aperture feature will allow you to smoothly adjust the aperture setting while recording. There is also a new Movie Shooting Menu tab, where you can easily access most all of the movie settings, as well as set some of them independently from the similar settings used during still photography, such as the Picture Control and White Balance.

i Button – The D7500 also includes the i Button, (also present on the previous D7200), which is used to quickly access context-appropriate settings that will differ for Viewfinder shooting, Live View, Movie, and image playback. Pressing the i Button when shooting will allow you to access and change several settings via the i Button menu, such as Choose image area, Active D-Lighting, and High ISO Noise Reduction (see Figure 9 – left). The Custom control assignment option will allow you to assign your desired function to various camera buttons including the Fn1 Button, Fn2 Button, and AE-L/AF-L Button. When working in Live View, you can press the i Button to access and adjust settings such as the Image Area, Image Quality, Picture Controls, Exposure Preview, and Live View Monitor Brightness (see Figure 9 – right).

Figure 9 – Press the i Button during Viewfinder shooting (left), or when in Live View (right), to access the applicable i Button Menu screen.

Live View Exposure Preview – When working in Live View, press the i Button to enable the Exposure preview item (see Figure 9 – right), which will display the Exposure Indicator scale on the screen, and the brightness of the screen will reflect the current exposure settings rather than simply showing the scene at an optimal brightness level. This will allow you to better preview the resulting image and make exposure adjustments.

i Button in Movie Live View – Some “hidden” features can be accessed with the i Button when working in Movie Live View. The “zebra stripes” feature is accessed with the Highlight Display item of the i Button menu (see Figure 10). This will display diagonal lines on the screen at potentially over-exposed areas of the scene, thus helping you to adjust to the proper exposure. You will also need to press the i Button if you wish to adjust the Movie Live View Monitor Brightness and the Headphone Volume if monitoring the audio with optional headphones. The i Button will also access the Multi-selector power aperture feature, where you can press up or down on the Multi Selector to smoothly adjust the aperture setting while recording. Power aperture can also be assigned to the Fn1 and Fn2 Buttons using Custom Setting g1. The new Electronic Vibration Reduction can also be accessed via the i Button, or by using the Movie Shooting Menu.

Figure 10 – The Highlight Display (zebra stripes) video feature, to check for overexposure, is accessed via the Movie Shooting i Button Menu.

Flash Information Screen – With the built-in flash, or with an optional Speedlight flash attached and turned on, press the Info Button twice to access the Flash Information Screen showing the current flash settings, and then press the i Button to view and change the various settings and options, including Wireless Flash Options (see Figure 11).

Figure 11 – When using the built-in flash or an optional Speedlight flash, press the Info Button twice to access the Flash Information Screen showing the current flash settings (left), then press the i Button to view and change the various settings and options (right).

Camera Controls Assignments – A few other “hidden” features of the Nikon D7500 can only be accessed by customizing one of the camera buttons to assign it to that function. For example, you can make use of the Viewfinder Virtual Horizon, which is a camera level that you can display in the Viewfinder. It will show an electronic level along the bottom of the screen as well as one on the right side, so that you can see both pitch and roll of the camera body. In order to use this feature, you need to use Custom Setting f1 to assign either the Fn1 Button or Fn2 Button to the Viewfinder Virtual Horizon option. You can also assign the Fn1 or Fn2 Button to the 1 Step Speed / Aperture setting, which will allow you to quickly change the shutter speed or the aperture setting in 1 EV (full stop) increments, rather than the typical 1/3 EV adjustments that are made when you turn Command Dials. Another handy customization will allow you to press and hold the Fn1 Button or Fn2 Button to temporarily switch to a different Metering Mode (see Figure 12 – left).

Figure 12 – Left: Assigning the Fn2 Button to temporarily switch to a different Metering Mode. Right: The OK Button has been customized to display a large histogram, when pressed during image playback.

One Button Playback Zoom / Histogram – Using Custom Setting f2, you can assign the OK Button so that during image playback it will immediately zoom-in, at the magnification level of your choice (including 100% zoom), centered at the area of the active focus point so that you can closely inspect your image. Or you can instead assign the button press to display a large histogram with the image, so that you can evaluate your exposure (see Figure 12 – right).

Figure 13 – Left: Frame Advance Bar – Touch the bottom of the Monitor touch screen during image playback, and use the Frame Advance Bar to quickly scroll through multiple images. Right: Quick Crop – Magnify an image during playback and adjust to the desired framing, then press the i Button and select the Quick Crop option to crop the image and create a new image that is cropped to the framing shown on the Monitor.

Playback Scroll and Playback Zoom Cropping – Other “hidden” playback features include the ability to quickly scroll through multiple images using the touch screen, and a Quick crop feature. When viewing an image during playback, touch the bottom of the Monitor and the Frame Advance Bar will appear. Move your finger left and right to quickly scroll trough multiple images (see Figure 20 – left). To make use of the Quick crop feature, zoom-in on an image during playback, use the Multi Selector or touch screen to adjust the framing of the image as desired, and then press the i Button (see Figure 13 – right). Choose the Quick crop option, which will crop the image and create a new image that will be cropped to the framing currently shown on the Monitor.

All of the other features, menu items, Custom Settings, and controls of the Nikon D7500 are explained in my clear and comprehensive guide to the camera, Nikon D7500 Experience. Also be sure to have a look at my free D7500 Setup Guide Spreadsheet, to help you set up the Photo Shooting Menu items and the Custom Settings of the camera.

Nikon D7500 book manual guide how to use learn tips tricks setup setting quick start

In conjunction with my camera guide for the new Nikon D7500, Nikon D7500 Experience, I have created a free Nikon D7500 Setup Guide – a comprehensive spreadsheet with suggested settings for the Shooting Menus, all of the Custom Settings, plus some shooting and exposure settings. It has separate camera setup recommendations for different types of shooting, including:

General / Travel / Street
Landscape / Architecture
Action / Sports
Moving Wildlife / Birds
Studio / Portraits
Concert / Performance

Here is an example detail of just a small part of the Setup Guide spreadsheet:

Nikon D7500 dslr menu menus custom setting setup guide tips tricks quick start recommend setting

The direct link to download the Excel spreadsheet is:

http://docs.fullstopbooks.com/forms/Nikon-D7500-Experience-Setup-Guide.xls

The setup guide spreadsheets can also be found here:

www.fullstopbooks.com/setup-guides/

To print the spreadsheet guide, you may wish to print it across several pages and then tape them together, so that the data is legible:

-First, be sure to set the print area, to avoid all the blank pages. Do this by manually selecting all the cells with data in them (drag the cursor from cell A1 to G171 and they will all appear blue.) Then access the menu for File > Print Area > Set Print Area.

-Then go to File > Print Preview and select the Setup button.

-Then set the page for “Landscape” and “Fit To” 2 pages wide by 3 pages tall.

This should result in 6 pages to be printed (as long as you have set the print area first).

Be sure to check the Print Preview to see that the data will print at a reasonable size, and that there are only 6 or so pages that will print.

Nikon D7500 book manual guide quick start setup tips tricks how to autofocus af
Example image from Nikon D7500 Experience.

In the past I have resisted requests for these types of quick-start “cheat sheets,” because I prefer that readers of my Full Stop camera guides read through all of the Menu and Custom Settings options, and determine which settings suit their shooting situations and preferences. This is one of the best ways to really learn the ins-and-outs of one’s new camera, so I still encourage you to do so. But I can appreciate the value and the handy reference features of this type of recommendation guide.

Please feel free to take the advice of dedicated Wildlife or Concert photographers, for example, above mine if it differs! And for further information, explanations, justifications, and caveats for the settings I specify, please have a look at my clear and comprehensive guide Nikon D7500 Experience.

Nikon D7500 book manual guide how to use learn tips tricks setup setting quick start

 

Version History of Spreadsheet

2017-06-30 – v1.0 – First version released

In conjunction with my camera guide for the new Nikon D500, Nikon D500 Experience, I have created a free Nikon D500 Setup Guide – a comprehensive spreadsheet with suggested settings for the applicable Menus, all of the Custom Settings, plus some shooting and exposure settings. It has complete and separate camera setup recommendations for different types of shooting, including:

General / Travel / Street
Landscape / Architecture
Action / Sports
Moving Wildlife / Birds
Studio / Portraits
Concert / Performance

Here is an example detail of just a small part of the Setup Guide spreadsheet:

 Nikon D500 Setup Guide Spreadsheet Experience Full Stop tips tricks recommend suggested setting menu Custom Setting

The direct link to download the Excel spreadsheet is:

http://docs.fullstopbooks.com/forms/Nikon_D500_Experience-Setup_Guide.xls

To print the spreadsheet guide, you may wish to print it across several pages and then tape them together, so that the data is legible:

-First, be sure to set the print area, to avoid all the blank pages. Do this by manually selecting all the cells with data in them (drag the cursor from cell A1 to G190 and they will all appear blue.) Then access the menu for File > Print Area > Set Print Area.

-Then go to File > Print Preview and select the Setup button.

-Then set the page for “Landscape” and “Fit To” 2 pages wide by 3 pages tall.

This should result in 6 pages to be printed (as long as you have set the print area first).

Be sure to check the Print Preview to see that the data will print at a reasonable size, and that there are only 6 or so pages that will print.

Nikon D500 viewfinder autofocus AF points crop 1.3x grid

In the past I have resisted requests for these types of quick-start “cheat sheets,” because I prefer that readers of my Full Stop camera guides read through all of the Menu and Custom Settings options, and determine which settings suit their shooting situations and preferences. This is one of the best ways to really learn the ins-and-outs of one’s new camera, so I still encourage you to do so. But I can appreciate the value and the handy reference features of this type of recommendation guide.

Please feel free to take the advice of dedicated Wildlife or Concert photographers, for example, above mine if it differs! And for further information, explanations, justifications, and caveats for the settings I specify, please have a look at my clear and comprehensive guide Nikon D500 Experience.

Nikon D500 Experience book manual guide how to use set up quick start setting recommend menu custom setting setup guide

Version History of Spreadsheet

2016-05-22 – v1.0 – First version released

2016-05-24 – v1.1 – Minor formatting corrections

In conjunction with my camera guide for the new Canon EOS 5DS and 5DS R,
Canon 5DS / 5DS R Experience, I have created a Canon 5DS / 5DS R Setup Guide – a comprehensive spreadsheet with recommended settings for the applicable Menus, all of the Custom Functions, plus some shooting and exposure settings. It has complete and separate camera setup recommendations for different types of shooting, including:

General / Travel / Street
Landscape / Architecture
Action / Sports
Moving Wildlife / Birds
Studio / Portraits
Concert / Performance

Here is a detail of just a small part of the Setup Guide spreadsheet:

Canon 5DS 5DSR Setup Guide Spreadsheet Experience Full Stop

The direct link to download the Excel spreadsheet is:

http://docs.fullstopbooks.com/forms/Canon-5DS-5DSR-Experience-Setup-Guide.xls

To print the spreadsheet guide, you may wish to print it across several pages and then tape them together, so that the data is legible:

-First, be sure to set the print area, to avoid all the blank pages. Do this by manually selecting all the cells with data in them (drag the cursor from cell A1 to G188 and they will all appear blue.) Then access the menu for File > Print Area > Set Print Area.

-Then go to File > Print Preview and select the Setup button.

-Then set the page for “Landscape” and “Fit To” 2 pages wide by 3 pages tall. Alternately, you can set for “Adjust to 58% Normal Size.”

Either of those options should result in 6 pages to be printed (as long as you have set the print area first).

Be sure to check the Print Preview to see that the data will print at a reasonable size, and that there are only 6 or so pages that will print.

Canon 5DS 5DSR setup book manual guide how to menu Custom Function quick start recommend

In the past I have resisted requests for these types of quick-start “cheat sheets,” because I prefer that readers of my Full Stop camera guides read through all of the Menu and Custom Function options, and determine which settings suit their shooting situations and preferences. This is one of the best ways to really learn the ins-and-outs of one’s new camera, so I still encourage you to do so. But I can appreciate the value and the handy reference features of this type of recommendation guide.

Canon 5DS 5DSR setup book manual guide how to menu Custom Function quick start recommend

Please know that I am in no way an experienced expert in all of the different photography categories I have included, so take the advice of dedicated Wildlife or Concert photographers, for example, above mine if it differs! And for further information, explanations, justifications, and caveats for the settings I specify, please have a look at my clear and comprehensive guide Canon 5DS / 5DS R Experience.

Canon 5DS 5DSR book manual guide master how to use learn quick start tips tricks setup setting menu custom function recommend

 

Version History of Spreadsheet

2015-06-18 – v1.0 – First version released

In conjunction with my camera guide for the new Nikon D7200, Nikon D7200 Experience, I have created the free and comprehensive Nikon D7200 Setup Guide, with recommended settings for the applicable Menus, all of the Custom Settings, plus some shooting and exposure settings. It has complete and separate camera setup recommendations for different types of shooting, including:

General / Travel / Street
Landscape / Architecture
Action / Sports
Moving Wildlife / Birds
Studio / Portraits
Concert / Performance

Here is a detail of just a small part of the Setup Guide spreadsheet:

Nikon D7200 Setup Guide spreadsheet menu custom settings setup quick start tips tricks

The direct link to download the Excel spreadsheet is:

http://docs.fullstopbooks.com/forms/Nikon_D7200_Experience-Setup_Guide-UL.xls

alternate link:

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/forms/Nikon_D7200_Experience-Setup_Guide-UL.xls

To print the spreadsheet guide, you may wish to print it across several pages and then tape them together, so that the data is legible:

-First, be sure to set the print area, to avoid all the blank pages. Do this by manually selecting all the cells with data in them (drag the cursor from cell A1 to G151 and they will all appear blue.) Then access the menu for File > Print Area > Set Print Area.

-Then go to File > Print Preview and select the Setup button.

-Then set the page for “Landscape” and “Fit To” 2 pages wide by 3 pages tall. Alternately, you can set for “Adjust to 60% Normal Size.”

Either of those options should result in 6 pages to be printed (as long as you have set the print area first).

Be sure to check the preview to see that the data will print at a reasonable size, and that there are only 6 or so pages that will print.

Nikon D7200 Experience book manual guide set up spreadsheet menu custom setting tips tricks shooting exposure

 

In the past I have resisted requests for these types of quick-start “cheat sheets,” because I prefer that readers of my Full Stop camera guides read through all of the Menu and Custom Settings options, and determine which settings suit their shooting situations and preferences. This is one of the best ways to really learn the ins-and-outs of one’s new camera, so I still encourage you to do so. But I can appreciate the value and the handy reference features of this type of recommendation guide.

Please know that I am not an expert in all of the different photography categories I have included, so feel free to follow the advice of dedicated Bird or Concert photographers, for example, if it differs from mine. Or follow your own preferences as they develop with experience. And for further information, explanations, justifications, and caveats for the settings I specify, please have a look at my clear and comprehensive guide Nikon D7200 Experience.

Nikon D7200 Experience book manual guide quick start master tips tricks recommend autofocus metering

 

Version History of Spreadsheet

2015-03-24 – v1.0 – First version released

In conjunction with my camera guide for the new Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 7D Mark II Experience, I have created a Canon 7D Mark II Setup Guide – a comprehensive spreadsheet with recommended settings for the applicable Menus, Custom Function settings, plus some shooting and exposure settings. It has complete and separate camera setup recommendations for different types of shooting, including:

General / Travel / Street
Landscape / Architecture
Action / Sports
Moving Wildlife / Birds
Studio / Portraits
Concert / Performance

Here is a detail of just a small part of the Setup Guide spreadsheet:

Canon-7D-MarkII-setup-guide-02
Canon 7D Mark II Experience, Setup Guide Spreadsheet – a detail of the spreadsheet

 

Excel Version – The direct link to the Excel spreadsheet is:

http://docs.fullstopbooks.com/forms/Canon_7D_Mark_II_Experience-Setup_Guide.xls

alternate link:

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/forms/Canon_7D_Mark_II_Experience-Setup_Guide.xls

To print the guide, you may wish to print it across several pages and then tape them together, so that the data is legible:

First, be sure to set the print area, to avoid all the blank pages. Do this by manually selecting all the cells with data in them (drag the cursor from cell A1 to G185 and they will all appear blue.) Then access the menu for File > Print Area > Set Print Area.

Then go to File > Print Preview and select the Setup button,

Then set the page for “Landscape” and “Fit To” 2 pages wide by 3 pages tall. Alternately, you can set for “Adjust to 60% Normal Size.”

Either of those options should result in 6 pages to be printed (as long as you have set the print area first).

Be sure to check the preview to see that the data will print at a reasonable size, and that there are only 6 or so pages that will print.

PDF Version – You can download a PDF version below, which is divided into 2 pages, and can be perhaps more easily navigated on a tablet or phone with some panning and zooming. However for printing it may prove to be too tiny, and you may wish to print the XLS version instead.

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/forms/Canon_7D_Mark_II_Experience-Setup_Guide.pdf

Canon 7D Mark II book manual guide setup how to tips tricks spreadsheet menu custom function setting

In the past I have resisted requests for these types of quick-start “cheat sheets,” because I prefer that readers of my Full Stop camera guides read through all of the Menu and Custom Settings options, and determine which settings suit their shooting situations and preferences. This is one of the best ways to really learn the ins-and-outs of one’s new camera, so I still encourage you to do so. But I can appreciate the value and the handy reference features of this type of recommendation guide.

Please know that I am in no way an experienced expert in all of the different photography categories I have included, so take the advice of dedicated Bird or Concert photographers, for example, above mine if it differs! And for further information, explanations, justifications, and caveats for the settings I specify, please have a look at my clear and comprehensive guide Canon 7D Mark II Experience.

Canon 7D Mark II book manual guide setup tips tricks spreadsheet menu custom function setting

Version History
v1.0 – First version released – 2015-12-23

Use this Setup Guide in conjunction with Canon 7D Mark II Experience:

Canon 7D Mark II Experience book manual guide master how to tips tricks learn use setup quick start setting recommend menu custom function

If you have purchased my Canon 7D Mark II Experience e-book guide, be sure to sign up on the updates page, so that I can inform you of any updates made to the guide or to this spreadsheet, and well be able to provide you with a free updated guide, should there be any major updates or corrections.

If you have found this blog helpful and plan to purchase a Canon 7D Mark II or some lenses or accessories for it, please consider using my affiliate links for Amazon or for B and H, found at the left side of this page. Your price will be the same, but they will give me a small referral fee – thanks! And please feel free to spread the word if this blog has been helpful.

By now you may have read several of the reviews and “hands-on” articles about the long-awaited Canon 7D Mark II. The camera’s 65-point autofocus system, combined with its customizable controls and blazingly fast 10 frames per second continuous shooting speed, make it an ideal camera for sports, action, and wildlife. At the same time its Its 20.2 megapixel sensor and high image quality enable it to work great for portraits, landscapes, and more static subjects.

 

Canon 7D Mark II Experience Mk II book manual guide how to learn tips tricks hands on
Figure 1. Detail of the body and controls of the Canon 7D Mark II.

However, what many reviews and hands-on articles and videos about the 7D Mark II seem to miss is the incredible level of customization one can apply to the controls and features of the camera, in order to have it perform exactly how a user needs or desires, to better accommodate a specific shooting situation or a personal shooting style. These are the kinds of features that really differentiate a pro-sumer camera from a mid-level camera, yet are often overlooked in reviews and comparisons.

And while the original 7D and the full-frame 5D Mark III both offer a high level of customization, the 7DII takes it to an even higher level, adding options and button-combinations not available on previous models. This can allow the user an even more seamless photography experience, enabling you to concentrate on the scene and the subject while quickly changing to the desired settings or making use of certain features, with just a few button taps or dial turns, and often without your eye leaving the Viewfinder.

Canon 7D Mark II example image learn use manual guide how to master dummies tips tricks set up setting recommend
Figure 2. Fall Foliage at Whipple Hill, Lexington, Mass. with the Canon 7D Mark II.

Complete explanation for all of these tips and tricks, and well as clear, comprehensive instruction for the camera, plus descriptions and recommendations for all of the Menu and Custom Function settings, will be found in my camera guide Canon 7D Mark II Experience, which you can learn about and purchase on my Full Stop website. Learn to take control of your 7DII and the images you create with this helpful guide! I have also put together a free, comprehensive Canon 7DII Setup Guide Spreadsheet, which gives recommended settings for all of the Custom Functions and shooting-related Menu items.

1. Make Use of the New AF Area Selection Lever: One of the notable additions to the 7DII is the new AF Area Selection Lever, which surrounds the Multi-Controller thumb-joystick. This lever can be used to quickly change the AF Area Selection mode, such as Single Point, AF Point Expansion, or Zone AF. Do this by first pressing the AF Point Selection Button (at the upper-right on the rear of the camera), then flipping the lever repeatedly as you view the different AF Area configurations in the Viewfinder. Or since you can easily change the AF Area by pressing the AF Point Selection Button then the M-Fn Button, you may wish to customize the new lever to quickly change the ISO setting or the Exposure Compensation amount. In that case, you would turn and hold the lever with your thumb, then turn the top Main Dial to change the assigned setting. Generally you may wish to set it for the ISO option, but when shooting in Manual (M) Mode, for either stills of video, while also making use of Auto ISO, you may wish to set this for the Exposure Compensation option. This configuration will enable you to easily access this new capability of the 7DII, which I will explain below.

2. Take Advantage of Various Autofocus-Related Custom Controls Options: Many of the customization options of the Canon 7D Mark II revolve around the Custom Controls, which can be accessed with the Custom Controls item of the C.Fn3 Menu.

Canon 7D Mark II menu custom setting setup recommend tips tricks
Figure 3. Custom Controls menu item of the Canon 7D Mark II

While previous Canon dSLR models allowed you to assign various exposure and focusing functions to some of the back buttons, or perhaps to quickly switch between One-Shot and AI Servo with the push of a button, the 7DII will allow you to use various buttons to temporarily change the current AF Mode, Area Mode, and AF Case. For example, if you are taking images of a motionless bird using One Shot AF Mode and Single Point AF Area Selection mode, but then the bird takes flight, you can press and hold a button (that you have pre-assigned) and temporarily make use of AI Servo, with 8-Point AF-Point Expansion, and Case 2 AF Configuration for tracking the subject.

Or making use of another option, you can assign a button to temporarily change many of the subject-tracking settings (as you press and hold the button), such as the Tracking sensitivity, the AF point auto-switching setting, and the AI-Servo 2nd image priority. These changes are made, for example, by accessing the AF-ON Button option in the Custom Controls menu, selecting Metering and AF Start, and then pressing the INFO Button to make these further customizations (see Figure 4 – left). Or you can access the DOF Preview Button, select the Switch to registered AF function option, and press the INFO Button to set the desired AF tracking parameters (see Figure 4 – right).

While many users may not generally have the need for a sudden switch of autofocusing parameters, it can be incredibly useful for dedicated wildlife or sports photographers who can encounter dramatic changes in a scene or in the subject movement.

Canon 7D Mark II AF autofocus case customize button control tips tricks setting set up
Figure 4. Two of the different Custom Controls options for assigning various AF settings and operations to one of the camera buttons. Left: Details for the “Metering and AF Start” option of the AF-ON Button. Right: Details of the “Switch to registered AF function” option of the DOF Preview Button.

There is also the option to use a button to immediately switch to a different set of shooting settings in addition to the AF settings, including the shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, metering mode, exposure compensation. This is shown in Figure 5, where the AF-ON Button is set to the Register/recall shooting function option, and then the INFO Button is pressed to set the specific parameters. As you can see, you can select which shooting settings will be included by adding the check-mark, and then you can set the desired setting or amount for each item, such as 3200 for the ISO Speed. Then when shooting, you can press and hold the AF-ON Button to immediately recall all those settings.

Canon 7D MArk II af autofocus button control custom customize setup setting tips tricks how to recommend
Figure 5. Assigning the AF-ON Button to the Register/recall shooting function option, then pressing the INFO Button to set the desired parameters.

3. Make Use of the Q Button and INFO Button to Quickly Change Shooting Settings: These buttons will also allow you to quickly access and change various camera settings and functions, rather than having to dig into the menus to find what you are looking for. The Q Button will access the Quick Control Screen (Figure 6 – left), which you can navigate using the Multi-Controller, and then either change the settings directly on the screen by turning one of the dials, or press the SET Button to view all the options and to select your desired setting. One handy new addition to this screen is the memory card selection icons. While you can press the SET Button here (or use the menus) to specify how the two cards are used (for example overflow, JPEG/RAW, or backup), you can highlight these icons and then turn one of the dials to directly and immediately choose which card is the the current primary card being used for recording and playback. This is especially handy during playback when you are looking for a specific image on one of the inserted memory cards, but then realize it is on the other inserted card, yet the 7DII will only playback the images from one card at a time.

Canon 7D Mark II menu custom function setting setup recommend guide how to tips tricks
Figure 6. Left: The Quick Control Screen, accessed with the Q Button, for quickly changing settings. Right: If you press the INFO Button and access the Shooting Function screen, and then press any of the top camera buttons, you can quickly view and change those settings using the rear LCD monitor.

If you first press the INFO Button a couple times and and access the Shooting Function Settings screen (which resembles the Q screen of Figure 6 – left), you can press any of the top camera buttons and quickly view and change those settings on the rear LCD Monitor. This will allow you to more easily view the settings than the smaller top screen, while also allowing you to see all the available options. For example, Figure 6 – right shows the INFO screen for the AF/Drive button, which allows you to see all the available options in both word and icon format, and also indicates which dial to turn to change which setting (the top Main Dial indicated by the half-circle, or the rear Quick Control Dial).

4. Take Advantage of the Creative Photo, Rate, and M-Fn Buttons: The Creative Photo Button, located at the upper-left of the rear of the camera, will allow you to quickly access the Picture Style settings, Multiple Exposure, and HDR Shooting, rather than having to go into the menus to find those features. The Rate Button, also on the left side of the rear of the camera, will enable you to quickly rate an image during image playback. You can choose from one to five stars, or if you find that you typically only use 1 star, 3 star, and 5 star ratings, a menu item will allow you to limit the selection to just those options (Setup 3 > Rate Button Function, then press Q to limit the ratings). So, for example, you would only need to press the button 3 times to cycle from 1 star, to 3 star, to 5 star, without wasting those precious seconds and button pushes for the 2 star and 4 star ratings you never use! If you prefer the Rate Button to act as the Protect Button, you can use the Rate Button Function menu item to instead assign it to that function.

Canon 7D Mark II button customize custom setting setup recommend quick start control tips tricks
Figure 7. Customize the M-Fn Button to shoot simultaneous RAW plus JPEG, or to cycle through the top button settings.

The M-Fn (Multi-Function) Button, located on the top of the camera near the Shutter Button, is used in conjunction with first pressing the AF Point Selection Button in order to select the desired AF Area Selection Mode. However, when simply pressed by itself, if is used for Flash Exposure Lock. If you don’t need it for that function, you can perhaps change it to one of the RAW+JPEG settings, so that you can temporarily or permanently switch to capturing images in both file formats. Or a handy option is to set it for the Cycle option, which allows you to cycle through the various top button settings such as White Balance, ISO, and Drive Mode, as you view the settings on the top LCD screen (see Figure 7). This can perhaps be quicker and easier than slowing down to first look and see which tiny button is used to access which setting. Press it one time and the WB/ Metering Mode options will be active on the top screen and available for you to change, as if you pressed the WB/Meter Button. Press it again and the Drive Mode/ AF Modes will be active, etc.

Canon 7D Mark II body controls buttons tips tricks how to learn use manual guide tutorial recommend setting set up quick start
Figure 8. Detail of the top controls of the Canon 7D Mark II.

5. Use Manual (M) Shooting Mode with Auto ISO plus Exposure Compensation: The Canon 7D Mark II allows you to perform a function which, if I recall correctly, cannot be done with the original 7D, 5DIII, or 70D – which is to simultaneously use M shooting mode (for either still photography or movie shooting) along with Auto ISO, while also making use of Exposure Compensation. This is a very powerful option for those shooting in Manual. Using Auto ISO with Manual Mode allows you to set your desired shutter speed and aperture settings, and the camera will then select the appropriate ISO setting in order to obtain the proper exposure. If you suddenly move to a brighter or darker settings, you can retain the same exposure settings, and the camera will automatically adjust the ISO setting to maintain the proper exposure. This allows you to concentrate on your subject and composition without having to worry about or adjust the exposure settings. It can also be incredibly useful during movie shooting in order to maintain a consistent exposure even if the scene or lighting levels change. However, if you are unhappy with the exposure results that the camera has determined, the 7DII now allows you to also apply Exposure Compensation in this situation, in order to make the subsequent images darker or lighter, to better suit your intentions or desires.

Since the dials are being used for the shutter speed and aperture settings when working in M shooting mode, they cannot be used for Exposure Compensation (EC), so you will need to access the Quick Control Screen to change the EC setting. However, as mentioned above, you can assign the AF Area Selection Lever to the Exposure Compensation option, and then you will simply need to hold the lever and turn the top Main Dial to change the EC amount, while viewing the setting in the Viewfinder or top Control Panel.

Canon 7D Mark II Manual Mode exposure compensation Auto ISO tips tricks how to use set up setting
Figure 9. Making use of Manual (M) Mode with Auto ISO and Exposure Compensation.

These tips will be continued in Part 2, coming soon!

Don’t forget about my free, comprehensive Canon 7D Mark II Setup Guide Spreadsheet, which provides recommended settings for all of the Custom Functions and shooting-related Menu items of the 7DII!

To learn more about using and taking control of your Canon 7D Mark II, please have a look at Canon 7D Mark II Experience, which you can learn about and purchase on my Full Stop website here. It not only covers the buttons, controls, menus, features, and functions of the camera, but more importantly explains when, why, and how to make use of them in your photography!

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And if you have enjoyed this post but have not yet purchased your 7DII, please use my affiliate links to make your purchase. Your price will be the same, and they will give me a small referral bonus – thanks! You can use the links below to go to Amazon, or the links at the side of the page for Amazon UK or Amazon Canada, or for B and H Photo.

Canon 7D Mark II body only – Amazon

Canon 7D Mark II with 18-135mm IS STM lens – Amazon

The Nikon D750 has just been released, so I headed to the Falmouth Car Show on Cape Cod for some hands-on time to test it out, as I researched and worked on my guide to the camera, Nikon D750 Experience.

Falmouth Cape Cod lighthouse Nobska Nikon D750 review hands on
Nobska Lighthouse on Cape Cod – Woods Hole, Falmouth, Mass.

The camera performed great, and was used here with the 24-120mm f/4G lens. The handling and feel is similar to previous cameras such as the D610 and D7100, the autofocusing is quick and precise, and the Matrix Metering Mode did a great job in a wide variety of lighting and color conditions, as you can see below. The images below are all JPEG images, straight from the camera, with Auto1 WB, Standard Picture Control, and I don’t believe that Exposure Compensation was even used on any of these images. (The above image was processed.) While they could still use a little post processing tweaking, you can inspect the larger versions of these images in this Flickr Set:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dojoklo/sets/72157647479004672.

I’ll let the other sites discuss the image quality, sharpness, and noise of the D750 sensor, and instead share some user-oriented thoughts about the camera, along with some of my favorite images from the trip.

Nikon D750 JPEG test hands on tips tricks noise image quality book manual guide AF autofocus tips tricks quick start menu custom setting
1966 Ford Mustang GT Fastback – Falmouth, Mass., Cape Cod.

I made use of both the Viewfinder Grid and the Viewfinder Level (assign the Fn Button to the Level option) to help keep the compositions straight and level – though you can’t use both at once. I mostly worked in Aperture Priority Mode, typically with the aperture set at f/4 for dramatic depth of field. I assigned the Movie Record button to ISO so that I could more easily change it on the fly while shooting, even keeping the camera to my eye as my finger located the proper button. Although there is an ISO Button on the rear of the camera, I find it quicker and easier to use a top button near the Shutter Button for this.

Nikon D750 JPEG test hands on tips tricks noise image quality book manual guide AF autofocus tips tricks quick start menu custom setting
1962 Chevrolet Corvette in Honduras Maroon – Falmouth, Mass., Cape Cod.

I pulled out the articulating Monitor for a few overhead shots (not shown here). While some have said its framework seems sturdy and durable, it feels a bit delicate to me. The extended screen certainly wouldn’t survive an accidental drop, and the exposed ribbon cable seems like trouble in the making. Though if you are just using the movable screen while working on a tripod or carefully shooting, it should work and hold up just fine.

Nikon D750 JPEG test hands on tips tricks noise image quality book manual guide AF autofocus tips tricks quick start menu custom setting
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray, Split-Window Fastback. (Notice the split-window shadow in the back of the car) – Falmouth, Mass., Cape Cod.

The Command Dials have a nice rubber texture to them, which is much more comfortable for extended use than other lower-end cameras with dials of a harder material. All the controls are pretty standard Nikon controls for the current models, and are easy to locate and use. The D750 has the handy i Button, and a new Information Display screen which works a bit differently than other current Nikon models. The i Button calls up the i Button menu during Viewfinder shooting (and Live View shooting), rather than directly changing the settings along the bottom of the screen. This is a handy way to change settings such as Image Area, Picture Control, button assignments, and Noise Reduction.

Nikon D750 JPEG test hands on tips tricks noise image quality book manual guide AF autofocus tips tricks quick start menu custom setting
1958 Chevrolet Impala – Falmouth, Mass., Cape Cod.

And when you press the Info Button to show the Information Display, you can directly change many of the camera settings as your view them on the screen. Rather than simply seeing an icon on the Information Display as you do with other Nikon models, the screen now says what the option is, and which dial to turn to change which setting. This is much more helpful than simply having to remember what dial to turn, or having to go with trial-and-error every time. For example, if you press the Info Button to illuminate the display, then press the AF-Mode button (located near the base of the lens), the screen will indicate that you turn the front Sub-Command Dial to change the AF-Area Mode, and the rear Main Dial to change the Focus Mode. A similar helpful screen appears for the other button settings such as WB, ISO, QUAL, Metering Mode, Flash, and BKT.

Nikon D750 JPEG test hands on tips tricks noise image quality book manual guide AF autofocus tips tricks quick start menu custom setting
1965 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 350 Fastback – Falmouth, Mass., Cape Cod.

It is disappointing that Nikon did not include the AF-ON Button on the rear of the camera, which is used for autofocusing and back-button focusing on other models. You can still set up the AE-L/AF-L Button to be used to lock focus with or without also locking exposure, or you can set it up to perform AF-ON back-button focusing, it is not as versatile as other cameras because you don’t have separate rear buttons for exposure lock and focus lock.

As far as setting up all the the Menu and Custom Settings of the Nikon D750, I have created a comprehensive D750 Setup Guide Spreadsheet, with suggested settings for various shooting situations such as Travel, Landscape, Concert, etc. You can learn about and download the free Setup Guide Spreadsheet here:

http://blog.dojoklo.com/2014/09/25/nikon-d750-setup-guide-with-recommended-settings/

Nikon D750 JPEG test hands on tips tricks noise image quality book manual guide AF autofocus tips tricks quick start menu custom setting

1941 Oldsmobile – Falmouth, Mass., Cape Cod.

If you are considering purchasing a Nikon D750, or any lenses or accessories, please consider using my Amazon or B and H Affiliate Links, found on the left side of the page. And if you like this post and this blog, be sure to share it on forums or social media – thanks!

Learn how to take control of your D750 and the images you create, with my guide Nikon D750 Experience.

Nikon D750 JPEG test hands on tips tricks noise image quality book manual guide AF autofocus tips tricks quick start menu custom setting
1957 Dodge Custom Royal – Falmouth, Mass., Cape Cod.

Nikon D810 Experience, my latest Full Stop e book and the first D810 user’s guide, is now available! This e book goes beyond the manual to help you learn the features, settings, and controls of the powerful and highly customizable Nikon D810. Plus most importantly it explains how, when, and why to use the functions, settings, menu options, and controls in your photography – including the sophisticated autofocus system with its new Group-Area AF mode, and the new Highlight-Weighted metering mode.

Nikon D810 Experience book manual guide master field how to learn use tutorial tips tricks setup quick start

Written in the clear, concise, and comprehensive style of all Full Stop dSLR guides, Nikon D810 Experience will help you learn to use your full-frame D810 quickly and competently, to consistently make the types of images you desire. This e-book is available in either PDF or EPUB format for reading on your computer, tablet, iPad, e-reader, etc.

Learn more about it, view a preview, and purchase it here:

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/Nikon_D810_Experience.htm

As one reader has said about Full Stop guides, “I don’t know how I could fully take advantage of all the features the camera has to offer without this publication! It’s well-organized, easy to understand, and succinct enough to keep your attention while still containing a wealth of information to get the most out of your camera.”

Nikon D810 book manual guide learn how to use setup recommend setting tips tricks quick startNikon D810 book manual guide learn how to use setup recommend setting tips tricks quick start

Take control of your Nikon D810, the image taking process, and the photos you create!

For Intermediate and Enthusiast Photographers:
This instant download Nikon D810 e book is designed for intermediate and enthusiast dSLR photographers who wish to take fuller advantage of the capabilities of their camera and shoot competently in A, S, and M shooting modes; take control of the sophisticated 51 point autofocus system and its multiple AF-Area Modes including the new Group-Area AF mode; and learn how, when, and why to use and customize the various controls, buttons, and features of the D810.

To help you set up your camera, it includes explanations and recommended settings for all Menu options and Custom Settings of the D810.  It explains camera functions and exposure concepts for those learning digital SLR photography, and explains more advanced camera controls and operation, such using the various metering modes and exposure compensation for correct exposure of every image, and taking advantage of other features of the D810 such as working in Live View, and the in-camera HDR, Multiple Exposure Mode, and editing features.

For Experienced Photographers to get up and running with the D810:
For experienced photographers coming to the D810 from previous Nikon models, this guide explains the new and advanced features in order to quickly get you up and running and taking advantage of these capabilities, including the advanced Autofocus System and all its AF Modes, AF-Area Modes, and Custom Settings, for capturing both still and moving subjects. It also covers back-button focusing and trap focus techniques with the D810. Plus it explains the camera controls and how to customize them, new features such as Highlight-Weighted Metering, RAW S, the Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter feature, and the HDR, Multiple Exposure, and Time-Lapse Shooting features.

The guide also introduces the HD video features and settings, and guides you through all the Playback, Shooting, and Setup Menus, Custom Settings, and Movie Mode Menu settings of the D810 in order to help you best set up the camera and its controls for your specific shooting needs, including the helpful, comprehensive Nikon D810 Set-Up Guide spreadsheet created by the author.

Nikon D810 book manual guide learn how to use setup recommend setting tips tricks quick startNikon D810 book manual guide learn how to use setup recommend setting tips tricks quick start

Nikon D810 Experience not only covers the various settings, functions and controls of the Nikon D810, but most importantly it also explains when and why to use them for your photography. The guide focuses on still-photography with an introduction to the movie functions, settings, and menus to get you up and running with HD video. Sections include:

  • Setting Up Your D810 – All of the D810 Custom Settings and Playback, Shooting, and Setup Menus, including Movie Mode Menus, with explanations and recommended settings for practical, everyday use. Set up and customize the advanced features of your dSLR to work best for the way you photograph.
  • Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S), and Manual (M) Modes – How and when to use them to create dramatic depth of field, freeze or express motion, or take total control over exposure settings.
  • Auto Focusing Modes and Area Modes and Release (Drive) Modes – The 51 point D810 autofocus system is a powerful tool, and taking control of it will enable you to successfully capture more sharp images, in both still and action situations.  Learn the AF Modes, AF Area Modes, and AF Custom Settings, how they differ, how and when to take advantage of them to capture both still and moving subjects. Plus how and when to use focus lock and back-button focusing.
  • Exposure Metering Modes of the Nikon D810 – How they differ, including the new Highlight-Weighted Metering mode, how and when to use them for correct exposures in every situation, and how to customize them for your needs. Plus how to make use of exposure lock.
  • Histograms, Exposure Compensation, Bracketing, and White Balance – Understanding and using these features for adjusting to the proper exposure in challenging lighting situations, customizing the controls for easy access to these features, and setting custom white balance.
  • The Image Taking Process – Descriptive tutorials for using the settings and controls you just learned to take photos of both still and moving subjects.
  • Introduction to Video Settings – Settings and explanations to get you started shooting HD video.
  • Photography Accessories – The most useful accessories for day-to-day and travel photography including accessories specific to the D810.
  • Lenses – Nikon (Nikkor) lenses compatibility with the D810, and explanations of lens notations.
  • Composition – Tips, techniques, and explanations, including the creative use of depth of field.

Nikon D810 book manual guide learn how to use setup recommend setting tips tricks quick startNikon D810 book manual guide learn how to use setup recommend setting tips tricks quick start

This 375 page digital guide to the Nikon D810 is an illustrated e-book that goes beyond the manual to clearly explain how, when, and why to use the features, settings, and controls of the Nikon D810 to help you get the most from your camera.

Learn more about Nikon D810 Experience, view a preview, and purchase it on my Full Stop website here:

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/Nikon_D810_Experience.htm

Here is the second part of my Nikon D810 Tips and Tricks article. You can find the first part here:

http://blog.dojoklo.com/2014/07/28/nikon-d810-tips-and-tricks-part-1/

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6. Extend Your Telephoto Reach with the DX, 1.2x, and 5:4 Image Area “Crop” Modes: The Image Area menu item of the D810 can be used to capture images of smaller dimensions and different image area ratios, such as having your full-frame FX format sensor act as an APS-C sized DX format sensor. You can choose full-frame FX (36×24), 1.2x (30×20), DX (1.5x, 24×16) or 5:4 (30×24). You can see which portion of the sensor each setting will use in the image below, and the Viewfinder of the D810 will also display the crop lines to show you the active area. By enabling the 1.2x, DX, or 5:4 image areas, it will change the aspect ratio (very slightly for 1.2x and DX) and angle of view (somewhat with 1.2x or 5:4, dramatically with DX) of your resulting images. The camera is basically cropping your photos from full-frame images to smaller sized images, so note that rather than capturing 36.3 MP full-frame FX images, you will be capturing 15.4 MP images with DX crop, and 25.1 MP images with 1.2x crop.

Nikon D810 image area viewfinder virtual crop zoom telephoto FX DX 1.2x 5:4
D810 Image Areas – Simulated view of the D810 Viewfinder, showing the full size FX image area, the location of all AF Points, the Grid, and superimposed sizes of the Image Area options. Note that the DX area approximately aligns with the Grid. The cropped Image Areas will, in effect, allow you to “virtually” extend the reach of your lens and get closer to the action, but you will not be using the full 36.3 MP resolution of your camera, so it is basically like cropping your full-frame images in Photoshop.

The first advantage of DX and 1.2x crop is that they will allow you to “get closer” to the action by virtually extending the reach of your lenses. This can be particularly helpful when using a telephoto lens to capture sports, wildlife, or bird images where the subject is at a significant distance from you. DX image area will allow, for example, your 200mm focal length lens to act as a 300mm focal length. (Since the DX frame provides a 1.5x crop factor in relation to a full-frame FX sized sensor)

The second advantage is that with the DX crop, the area of the autofocus points as seen in the Viewfinder reaches much closer to the sides of the effective frame. This will allow you to track and capture a moving subject throughout almost the entire width of the active frame (when using continuous AF-C Focus Mode), or enable you to focus on and capture a still subject most anywhere in the frame without having to lock focus and reframe (when using single-shot AF-S Focus Mode).

A third advantage of working in the DX and 1.2x crop modes is that the Continuous High shooting speed goes from 5 fps to 6 fps, allowing you to capture slightly more images in a quick burst.

Nikon D810 tips tricks how to use learn book manual guide recommend setting setup autofocus af meter metering focus
Nikon D810 – 1957 Chevrolet Corvette – 2014 Annual Antique Auto Show – Codman Estate, Lincoln, Mass. 

As mentioned above, the disadvantage of the smaller Image Area crops is that you will be using a smaller area of your sensor, and thus capturing images with reduced resolution and not the full 36.3 MP. The end result will be as if you cropped the image in post-processing. However, 15 MP and 25 MP are still very high resolutions, and for some shooting situations and image needs this may be more than sufficient.

You can set the Depth-of-Field Preview Button, Fn Button, or AE-L/AF-L Button to quickly change the Image Area. If any of these buttons are assigned this function, you can press the button and turn the Main Command Dial to change the Image Area while viewing the setting on the top Control Panel, in the Viewfinder, or on the rear Information Display.

7. Take Advantage of New Features for Videographers: While the predecessors to the D810, the D800/800E, are great cameras for HD video, this new model adds even more helpful features. The D810 can record full HD 1080 video at 60p/30p/24p, including simultaneous recording to a memory card and an external recorder, and outputting 60p video to an external recorder under certain conditions. The D810 has also added “zebra stripes” which enable you to preview potentially overexposed areas of the scene, and a Flat Picture Control which is a setting preferred by videographers because it helps to preserve details in the shadow and highlight areas of a scene, and allows one to capture videos (or images) with the widest tonal range. This can help to provide the greatest amount of flexibility for making adjustments in post-processing. Not to mention that, for both video and still photography, there is a new Clarity adjustment for Picture Controls, a broader Brightness range, and increased control over the Picture Control adjustments with more precise 0.25 EV increments.

Nikon D810 video HD movie zebra stripes highlight overexpose overexposure live view film
D810 and Zebra Stripes – The Highlight Display feature will show zebra stripes, to indicate potentially overexposed areas of the scene.

The D810 now also allows you to set the frequency range for audio recording, either Wide to capture all sounds, or Voice to capture a more limited range and thus reduce unwanted sounds. And the Power Aperture setting found on the D800/D800E can now be used not only when recording video to an external recorder, but also when recording to a memory card. Power Aperture is a feature that allows you to more smoothly and continuously change the aperture opening while recording a video, rather than change it step-by-step where you might see the depth of field change as you jump from f/4 to f/ 4.5 to f/5 to f/5.6 for example. This feature, available in A or M shooting mode, actually changes the aperture in 1/8 EV steps, rather than the 1/3 EV steps you can choose with the command dial, so it gives the appearance of a smooth transition. Power Aperture can thus allow dramatic visual changes in the depth of field of a scene, or allow you to smoothly adjust the exposure settings to accommodate changing lighting levels.

8. Set up your Dual SD / CF Memory Card Slots: The two memory card slots of the D810 – the SD slot and the CF slot – can function in a couple different ways, including using one for saving RAW files and the other for JPEG files, saving all your images to both cards simultaneously, using the second card as overflow when the first one fills up, or saving still images to one and movies to the other. You can set this up in the Shooting Menu under Primary Slot Selection to choose which is the primary card, and Secondary Slot Function to determine the role played by the second slot. To set how the cards function for saving videos, use the Shooting Menu > Movie Settings > Destination.

Nikon D810 sd cf memory card body use tips tricks how to learn manual guide book

 

Detail of the Nikon D810, showing the SD and CF card slots.

9. Customize the Exposure Compensation Controls: Exposure Compensation can be used to adjust the camera’s exposure settings in order to achieve the final exposure that you desire. Explore the various options of Custom Setting b4: Easy Exposure Compensation to customize exactly how the exposure compensation (EC) controls works. You can set it so that you press the Exposure Compensation Button first before turning a dial to change EC, or have it set so that you can just turn a dial to quickly and directly change EC. You can even select which dial you use with Custom Setting f9: Customize Control Dials. And you can set it so that the EC amount that you dialed in stays set for the subsequent shots, or that it is automatically reset to zero, depending on which controls you choose to use to set EC. This last option is the most sophisticated and most flexible, and may be the best one to learn and take advantage of. Using this option, On (Auto reset), you can choose to turn a dial to directly adjust EC, but your EC setting will be reset when the camera or exposure meter turns off. This is because you can still continue to use the Exposure Compensation Button with a Command Dial to set EC, but by setting it this way, EC will not be reset when the camera or meter turns off. Exposure Compensation will only be automatically reset if you set it directly using the dial without the button. So if you wish to use EC for just one shot, you can adjust EC with just the dial. But if you wish to take a series of shots with the same adjusted EC, you can use the button/ dial combination to set it more “permanently.” Pretty powerful stuff! This is why you got the D810, right? So that you can take advantage of these sophisticated controls!

Nikon D810 menu custom setting how to quick start tips tricks
Making use of Easy Exposure Compensation to configure how the controls can be used to change exposure compensation

10. Matrix Metering Face Detect, and Fine-Tune the Exposure Metering Modes: Using Custom Setting b5, you can enable a face detection feature of Matrix Metering. This means that the exposure metering system will take faces into account when determining the exposure settings, to ensure that portrait subjects are better exposed. This can be an extremely useful setting to use when taking images of people where they may be moving to different lighting, or moving in and out of the shade – especially in a fast moving session where you don’t have time to inspect all your images and adjust the settings. For example, if you are taking wedding portraits in lighting that varies.

While the Matrix Metering Mode will do an excellent job of determining the proper exposure for your images the majority of the time, there are some situations where you may wish to use the other exposure modes – Center-Weighted Metering, Spot Metering, and Highlight Weighted Metering. This includes dramatically backlit situations, subjects with a dramatically dark background, scenes that contain a wide range of highlights and shadow areas, or other dramatic lighting situations.

If you find that you are consistently not quite happy with how the camera’s meter is determining the exposure settings when making use of any of these modes, you can make fine-tune adjustments to the metering system using Custom Setting b7: Fine-tune optimal exposure. This is not an exposure compensation adjustment, but rather a “behind the scenes” fine-tuning of how the camera’s meter will determine the exposure settings, independently for each of the different Exposure Metering Modes (Matrix, Center-Weighted Average, Spot, Highlight Weighted). If you find that your images are always typically being slightly underexposed or overexposed when using a specific metering mode, adjust this accordingly so that you don’t have to use exposure compensation every time you use that metering mode. For example, you may find that Center-Weighted Metering delivers great exposures, but you would prefer that the images taken with Spot Metering were 1/3 EV (1/3 step) underexposed all the time. If that is the case, you would adjust Spot metering to -2/6 using this menu. If you make use of this fine-tune adjustment, you can still use exposure compensation in any situation in addition to this fine-tune adjustment.

Nikon D810 menu custom setting meter metering face detect tips tricks
Left: Custom Setting b5: Matrix Metering face detection for exposure. Right – Custom Setting b7: Fine-Tune Optimal Exposure, used to adjust the exposures of each metering mode to your preference, “behind the scenes,” so that exposure compensation is not needed each time you use that metering mode.

~

I have previously written articles with tips and tricks for the Nikon D7100, and most all of those items will also apply to the D810. Some of the tips overlap, but many of them are different that the ones explained here. You can read the D7100 Tips and Tricks part 1 and 2 here:

http://blog.dojoklo.com/2013/05/06/top-ten-tips-and-tricks-for-the-nikon-d7100-part-1/

http://blog.dojoklo.com/2013/06/27/tips-and-tricks-for-the-nikon-d7100-part-2/

~

Remember, I also explain these features and functions in even more detail, as well as explain all the other aspects of the D810 in my e-book guide Nikon D810 Experience, available on my Full Stop website. The guide not only explains the features, functions, and controls of the camera, but more importantly explains when and why you will want to use them in your photography. Take control of your D810 and the images you create! Click the cover below to learn more, preview, and purchase the guide.

Nikon D810 Experience book manual guide how to learn use tutorial tips tricks setup quick start

And, in conjunction with the book, I have created a detailed and comprehensive Nikon D810 Setup Guide spreadsheet, which has recommended Menu settings, Custom Settings, and exposure settings for various shooting situations such as Landscape, Performance, Sports, and Travel, in order to help you set up your camera. You can learn about and download this free “cheat sheet” spreadsheet here:

http://blog.dojoklo.com/2014/06/30/nikon-d800800e-nikon-d810-setup-guide-with-recommended-settings/

Still looking to purchase your Nikon D810 or some lenses or accessories for it? Please consider using my affiliate links for Amazon or for B and H, found at the left side of this page – thanks! And please feel free to spread the word if this blog has been helpful.

As you likely discovered as soon as you starting exploring the controls, features, menus, and Custom Settings of your 36.3 MP, full-frame Nikon D810, it is a powerful, highly customizable, and versatile camera. There are numerous Menu options and Custom Settings that you can make use of in order to fine-tune the camera to perfectly fit your needs, shooting style, and scene or situation. The autofocus system and exposure metering system can be adjusted according to your preferences, the camera controls can be customized and assigned to a variety of functions, the displays, White Balance, and Auto ISO can be tweaked according to your needs. Plus several new features have been added to the D810 compared to its predecessor the D800/D800E, and all of them enhance the shooting experience. Many of them will be explained throughout this article.

I’ve spent some dedicated time with the D810 as I’ve researched and written my e-book user’s guide to the camera called Nikon D810 Experience, and below are the some of the top “tips and tricks” I’ve discovered for setting up and photographing with this powerful dSLR. And be sure to read to the end of the article to learn about my free, detailed, and comprehensive Nikon D810 Setup Guide spreadsheet, which covers recommended Menu settings, Custom Settings, and exposure settings for various types of shooting situations!

Nikon D810 body detail tips tricks how to use manual guide book set up quick start
Detail of the Nikon D810 dSLR camera – photo by author

1. Take Control of the D810 Autofocus System: Before getting into some of the tips regarding features and functions specific to the D810, one first needs to take control of the basic functions of the camera, including the autofocus system and exposure metering settings. The D810 boasts the 51 point autofocus system of its predecessor the D800, with 15 centrally-located cross-type points. The large number of focus points and their positions in the Viewfinder will allow you to focus exactly where you wish – with minimal recomposing (when working in Single-Servo AF-S mode), plus will better enable you to track moving subjects throughout the frame when working in Continuous-Servo (AF-C) autofocus mode. The different autofocus modes (AF-S, AF-C) and the various autofocus area modes (Single Point, Dynamic Area, etc. plus the new Group Area AF) may be intimidating at first, but once they are understood, it is easy to determine which combinations fit your shooting needs. I wrote an entire post introducing the use of the Nikon autofocus system, its AF and AF-Area modes, and its controls. (Despite the larger number of AF points in the D810, the system works nearly the same as explained in the article.) If you have not used one of the more current Nikon dSLR models such as the D800, D7100/D7000, or D610/D600, you may at first be confused by the autofocus controls with the AF switch / button near the base of the lens (used in conjunction with the Command Dials), but you should quickly find that it is a quick and convenient way to change the AF modes and AF area modes.

Nikon D810 autofocus af system viewfinder book manual guide dummies how to tips tricks setting menu quick start
Simulated view of the Nikon D810 Viewfinder, with all 51 AF points shown for reference.

In addition, the D810 offers several Custom Settings to customize various aspect of the autofocus system, namely the ones in the a: Autofocus category. You can use these to tell the camera if achieving exact focus takes priority over maintaining the fastest continuous frame rate, how long the AF system continues to track a specific subject (distance) even if the subject momentarily moves away from the active AF point, and if the active AF point is illuminated in the Viewfinder. Using Custom Setting a5: Focus Point Illumination, you can now choose to display the cluster of all of the AF Points of a Dynamic-Area (such as 9-Point or 21-Point), rather than just the active middle point of the cluster. And you can even limit the number of selectable AF points to 11 if that helps you to more quickly or easily select your desired AF point. Most of these options are explained in my previous Nikon AF system post mentioned above.

The D810 also offers the ability to remember a specific AF Point so that the camera will automatically jump to the last point used when the camera is held in a specific orientation. For example, if you last used an upper-right AF Point when holding the camera in the grip-up position, then returned to shooting with the camera in landscape orientation, when you next hold the camera in the grip-up position, the camera will automatically jump back to that upper-right point. This is done through Custom Setting a9: Store by Orientation. You can register different points for each of the camera orientations. Similarly, you can assign the center Multi Selector Button to be used to jump to a Preset Focus Point of your choice, when the button is pressed during shooting.

2. Make Use of the new Group Area AF Autofocus Mode: The D810 borrows a new focus mode from the flagship Nikon D4s – Group Area AF, which makes use of a group of five AF Points arranged in a cross-shaped pattern. Instead of selecting a primary point with the surrounding points acting as “helper” points as with the Dynamic-Area AF modes, you will actually be selecting the group of five points which will all be used to attempt to focus on the subject. The Viewfinder will display the four outer points of the Group Area AF group of points, but not display the central point – perhaps so that you can better view the subject. Or you can use Using Custom Setting a5: Focus Point Illumination to display four surrounding dots rather than larger squares.

Nikon D810 autofocus af group area mode learn use setup quick start tips tricks viewfinder bif bird heron
Nikon D810 – Group Area AF – Simulated view of the D810 Viewfinder, showing what you will see in the viewfinder when making use of Group Area AF, with the cross-shaped pattern of the four outer AF Points of the Group visible. Background image shown at 65% opacity to better view Focus Points.

Keep in mind that with the other somewhat similar Dynamic-Area AF modes, you choose a primary point and attempt to keep the subject located at that point, and the surrounding points act as “helper” points if the subject happens to move away from the primary point. But with Group Area AF you select the entire group of AF Points, and they all work equally to focus on the subject. This mode can be used similar to Single Point AF but when it might be challenging to locate the subject under an individual point, which might cause you to accidentally focus on the background. When working in AF-S Focus Mode and using Group Area AF, the selected AF Points will give priority to faces if they are present, otherwise they will focus on the closest subject.

3. Take Advantage of the new [i] Button, and the “Hidden” Features it will Access: The D810 adds the [i] Button (on the rear of the camera) which gives you immediate access to the Information Display screen, where many shooting settings and functions can be viewed and changed. You can press this button to turn on the Information Display on the Monitor and immediately access these settings with the use of the Multi Selector and OK Button or the center touch-pad button. Press the [i] Button a second time or the Info button to “de-activate” the settings and simply view the camera settings on the Information Display Screen. Or, after the Info Button is pushed to display the camera settings of the Information Display screen on the rear Monitor, this [i] Button is pressed to “activate” the screen to enable changing the settings. In addition to the readily accessible camera buttons on the body of the D810, this [i] Button and Information Display screen can be a quick and easy way to change many of the camera settings without having to dig into the menus, such as Active D-Lighting, High ISO Noise Reduction, Color Space (sRGB vs Adobe RGB), and Long Exposure Noise Reduction. Plus you can use this screen to quickly access and customize the Preview (Pv) Button, AE-L / AF-L Button, and Fn Button Assignments.

Nikon D810 Information Display LCD monitor screen
The Information Display of the D810, accessed with the Info Button or i Button, and “activated” with the i Button.

The [i] Button can also be used during Live View shooting, Movie shooting, and Image Playback – to quickly access a number of applicable functions, some of them are sort-of hidden unless accessed this way, such as the LCD Monitor White Balance adjustment, and the Highlight Display for showing “zebra stripes” at potentially over-exposed areas of the scene during Movie Live View.

During Live View shooting, the [i] Button can be pressed to access settings including Image Area, Active-D Lighting, the new Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter, Monitor Brightness, Photo Live View Display White Balance (explained just below), or Split-Screen Display Zoom to compare two magnified areas of the scene in order to confirm that the image is level (as will be described in Tip 5 below). The Photo Live View Display White Balance feature allows you to set the white balance of the Live View screen differently than the current white balance of the scene. This may sound odd, until you realize it can come in handy when setting up a shot that will actually be taken with different lighting, such as a Speedlight or studio strobes. So using this feature you can set the LCD Monitor WB to better match how the final image will appear.

During Movie shooting, the [i] Button will access Image Area, Frame Size and Frame Rate, Movie Quality, Microphone Sensitivity and Frequency Response, Wind Noise Reduction, Destination to select the active memory card, Monitor Brightness, Highlight Display to view “zebra-stripes” at overexposed areas of the scene, and Headphone Volume. Plus during video playback, the [i] Button is also used to display movie edit options.

When reviewing images during Image Playback, the [i] Button will access the Retouch Menu, which will allow you to apply various image edits such as Color Balance, Filter Effects, and Distortion Control. Be sure to take advantage of the [i] Button in these various mode, rather than digging into the menus, to easily access some of the most often used features as well as a couple of the “hidden” features. I have written a separate post about the “Hidden” Features of the D810 so that you can explore them further.

Nikon D810 Retouch Menu cross screen starburst
Nikon D810 Retouch Menu – Using the Cross Screen item of the Retouch Menu to create a cheesy starburst pattern!

4. Improve Exposures with the new Highlight Weighted Metering Mode: The D810 adds a brand new metering mode, Highlight Weighted Metering. This mode is designed for certain challenging lighting situations, in order to help retain detail in bright areas and avoid the overexposure of highlights. It does this by measuring the brightness in a scene then determining the best exposure level which will prevent the highlights from being overexposed (“blown-out”). It should prove to be a useful metering mode for those who shoot theater and live music performances where the lighting can suddenly and dramatically change, or even remain consistent but be prone to include bright “hot-spots” of illumination on a subject. It can also be used in other scenes that include a well lit subject against a dark background, particularly one that is moving and thus prevents the use of Spot Metering. And it can be used at a wedding reception where the bride may be under a spot light, and you wish to properly expose the scene and the subjects yet retain all the subtle details in the highlights of the wedding dress. Also take advantage of the quieter Quiet Shutter Release (Q) and Quiet Continuous Shutter Release (Qc) release modes when in theater, performance, or wedding situations, in order to reduce shutter noise as you take your shots.

With Highlight Weighted Metering Mode when the camera’s exposure settings are biased  to avoid the overexposure of highlights, they may result in some of the other areas of the scene, such as the midtones, being slightly underexposed. However, with the excellent sensor performance of the D810, even at higher ISO settings, you should be able to easily adjust the midtone and shadow areas of an image without increasing the appearance of digital noise. Shooting in the RAW file format rather than JPEG format will allow you more post-processing flexibility for these adjustments than will images in the JPEG format. Note that when using a lens other than a Nikon G, E, or D lens (typical current lenses) with the D810 set for Highlight-Weighted Metering, the camera will actually use Center-Weighted Metering.


The Highlight-Weighted Metering Mode of the D810 is designed for theater / performance scenes such as this, where a brightly lit subject is against a dark background, and is prone to overexposed hot-spots due to theater lighting.

5. New Features Ideal for Landscape Photographers: The D810 includes several new features that landscape photographers will want to make use of, as well as those shooting in other types of controlled situations such as macro and studio still-life shooting. While the 36.3 megapixel sensor of the D810 has the potential to create images with incredible resolution, the high megapixel count can also call attention to less-than-sharp images. You will need a high quality lens to take full advantage of the resolution, plus make use of some features that will help reduce camera shake and thus image blur.  In addition to the redesigned mirror/ shutter mechanism that is quieter and smoother, you can also make use of the new Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter to help reduce camera vibrations. When working in Mirror-up (Mup) Release Mode, this uses the sensor itself as the front curtain of the shutter, rather than a mechanical curtain. You can enable this with Custom Setting d5, as well as use it in Live View (press the i Button in Live View to access it). For maximum vibration reduction, you can also make use of:

-the Mirror Up release mode, which performs the jarring mirror-raising action prior to shutter release, requiring a second Shutter Button press to take the image. Use this with or without the Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter feature

-the Exposure Delay Mode (Custom Setting d4) to delay the shutter release for a couple seconds after you press the Shutter Button.

-and of course a tripod and a remote shutter release.

Landscape and architectural photographers can also make use of the new Split Screen Display Zoom during Live View, where you can simultaneously zoom in on two different areas of the frame (on the same horizontal plane) to help determine if they are level. Press the i Button when in Live View to access this feature, then navigate to the desired area of the scene, and zoom in or out. Press the Protect (key icon) Button to select the other half of the screen and navigate to the desired area of that side of the scene. Since this feature is used to determine if the framing is level, both sides of the screen will move up and down simultaneously when you navigate either side. Press the i Button again to exit the Split-Screen.

Nikon D810 Split Screen Display Zoom LCD monitor screen Live View
The Split-Screen Display Zoom of the D810, accessible during Live View shooting, to check if the framing of the scene is level.

You can also make use of the Electronic Level on the rear LCD Monitor, the Live View Electronic Level, or the Virtual Viewfinder Horizon level which is seen in the Viewfinder. Assign the Fn or Pv Button to display the Virtual Viewfinder Horizon level, via Custom Setting f4 or f5. And landscape photographers will also want to take advantage of the new, lower 64 ISO setting. This is a “native” ISO setting, not an artificial one created by processing. Landscape photographers (and videographers) often need to use dark ND filters in order to block some light so that they can take advantage of wide apertures settings, such as f/2.8. Or they are used so that you can obtain slower shutter speeds when desired, such as when you wish to blur the motion of water. By enabling you to lower the ISO below 100, it will reduce the need for an ND filter in some situations.

This article continues with Nikon D810 Tips and Tricks – Part 2, which can be read here:

http://blog.dojoklo.com/2014/08/29/nikon-d810-tips-and-tricks-part-2/

Remember, I also explain these features and functions in even more detail, as well as explain all the other aspects of the D810 in my e-book guide Nikon D810 Experience, available on my Full Stop website. The guide not only explains the features, functions, and controls of the camera, but more importantly explains when and why you will want to use them in your photography. Take control of your D810 and the images you create! Click the link below to learn more, preview, and purchase the guide:

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/Nikon_D810_Experience.htm

And, in conjunction with the book, I have created a detailed and comprehensive Nikon D810 Setup Guide spreadsheet, which has recommended Menu settings, Custom Settings, and exposure settings for various shooting situations such as Landscape, Performance, Sports, and Travel, in order to help you set up your camera. You can learn about and download this free “cheat sheet” spreadsheet here:

http://blog.dojoklo.com/2014/06/30/nikon-d800800e-nikon-d810-setup-guide-with-recommended-settings/

If you have found this helpful and plan to purchase a Nikon D810 or some lenses or accessories for it, please consider using my affiliate links for Amazon or for B and H, found at the left side of this page. Your price will be the same, but they will give me a small referral fee – thanks! And please feel free to spread the word if this blog has been helpful.

DSLR camera users are often curious about “hidden features” that their camera may have, though typically there really aren’t many, as long as one carefully goes through all of the Menu and Custom Settings items, and reads through the manual. However, with so many options and functions, there are a few items that truly are a bit hidden away on the Nikon D810. It’s not that the D810 manual doesn’t mention them, or that they can’t be found with careful investigation of the camera, but you may need to have them called to your attention to learn how to locate them and how to take advantage of them.

Several of these features are accessed with the new i Button when working in the appropriate mode, and others are accessible in the menus but may require an understanding of the options, or several steps of sub-menu navigation to locate them.

Nikon D810 tips tricks autofocus how to recommend tips tricks
Simulated diagram of the Nikon D810 Viewfinder, showing the locations of all of the AF Points, with the active Dynamic Area 21 Point squares shown in red. (Image shown lighter to better see Viewfinder elements.) Please note that all AF Points will not be visible in the Viewfinder when shooting, only the active AF Point or Group.

i Button Features

Pressing the i Button when shooting will allow you to access and change several settings using the Information Display on the rear LCD Monitor, such as Active D-Lighting, Color Space (sRGB vs. Adobe RGB), High ISO Noise Reduction, and Long Exposure Noise Reduction. It will also allow you to assign the function of various camera buttons including the Pv, Fn, BKT, and AE-L/AF-L Buttons. However, when working in Live View, Movie Live View, image playback, and movie playback, the i Button will access a contextual menu for that mode, and in some situations it is the only way to access and change certain of these “hidden” features.

Live View

For example, when working in Live View, you can press the i Button to adjust the Monitor Brightness. This is a different adjustment from the Monitor Brightness adjustment of the Setup Menu which affects the brightness of the screen for menus and image playback. The Live View Monitor Brightness adjustment, obviously, adjusts the screen brightness for Live View, but will not affect the exposure of the actual image. The Live View i Button menu will also allow you to access the Photo Live View Display White Balance feature. This feature allows you to set the white balance of the Live View screen separately than the actual white balance that the image will be captured this. While this may sound odd, it can come in handy when setting up a shot that will actually be taken with different lighting, such as a Speedlight or studio strobes. So using this feature you can set the LCD Monitor WB to better match how the final image will appear.

The i Button is also the only way to access the new Split Screen Display Zoom during Live View, where you can simultaneously zoom in on two different areas of the frame (on the same horizontal plane) to help determine if they are level. This can come in handy for landscape and architectural photographers. Press the i Button when in Live View to access this feature, then navigate to the desired area of the scene, and zoom in or out. Press the Protect (key icon) Button to select the other half of the screen and navigate to the desired area of that side of the scene. Since this feature is used to determine if the framing is level, both sides of the screen will move up and down simultaneously when you navigate on either side of the split-screen. Press the i Button again to exit the Split-Screen.

Although the Electronic First-Curtain Shutter is accessible with Custom Setting d5, and thus isn’t hidden, I will mention it here because it can also be accessed with the i Button during Live View. This is a feature eliminates the mechanical movement of the front curtain and can help reduce camera shake, which can lead the slight blur and reduced sharpness in images. With the high resolution 36.3 megapixel sensor of the D810, these slight movements can become apparent in images. What you need to know is that this feature must be used in conjunction with Mirror Up (Mup) Release Mode.

Nikon D810 autofocus tips tricks how to recommend setting setup quick start
Simulated diagram of the Nikon D810 Viewfinder, showing the locations of all of the AF Points, with the active Single Point square shown in red. Please note that all AF Points will not be visible in the Viewfinder when shooting, only the active AF Point or Group.

Movie Live View

Just as with Live View, some “hidden” features can be accessed with the i Button when working in Movie Live View. The new “zebra stripes” feature is accessed with the Highlight Display item of the i Button menu. This will display lines on the screen at potentially over-exposed areas of the scene, thus helping you to adjust to the proper exposure. You can also press the i Button to adjust the Monitor Brightness and the Headphone Volume.

Camera Controls Assignments

A few other “hidden” features of the Nikon D810 can only be accessed by customizing one of the camera buttons to assign it to that function. For example, you can make use of the Viewfinder Virtual Horizon, which is a camera level that you can display in the Viewfinder. It will show an electronic level along the bottom of the screen as well as one on the right side, so that you can see both pitch and roll of the camera body. In order to use this feature, you need to assign either the Fn Button or the Pv Button to the Viewfinder Virtual Horizon option. You can also assign either of these buttons to the 1 Step Shutter Speed / Aperture setting, which will allow you to quickly change the shutter speed or the aperture setting in 1 EV full stops rather than the typical 1/3 EV adjustments that are made when you turn the Command Dials.

The Nikon D810 offers the Power Aperture feature, where you can smoothly open or close the aperture during movie shooting. While the previous D800/D800E only allowed use of this when recording to an external device, the D810 allows you to use Power Aperture when recording to a memory card. If you wish to use Power Aperture, you will need to assign Custom Settings g1 and g2 to Power aperture (open) and Power aperture (closed).

Nikon D810 viewfinder, grid, af, autofocus, setup guide menus custom setting quick start cheat sheet how to manual tutorial tips tricks recommend
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray, Split Window Fastback – 2014 Annual Antique Auto Show – Codman Estate, Lincoln, Mass. Use the Viewfinder grid or Viewfinder Virtual Horizon to keep your framing straight and level. Here I lined up the grid with the roof crease to both center the car and to keep the framing level.

Other Hidden Features

Another somewhat “hidden” feature is a method of changing which memory card and folder is being accessed during image playback. The D810 has both a CF and SD memory card slot, though you can only view images on one of them at a time. If you wish to switch over and view the images on the other card during image playback, simply press the Zoom-out Button repeatedly, and you will access the Playback slot and folder screen (rather than the calendar view screen of other Nikon models).

Finally, like all the current Nikon models, the D810 offers a powerful Auto ISO option, which will change the ISO setting if necessary in order to obtain a proper exposure. You can set the parameters of Auto ISO, including the Maximum Sensitivity and Minimum Shutter Speed that the camera will use for Auto ISO. One powerful option is that if you choose the Minimum Shutter Speed to be Auto, the camera will select a shutter speed based on the focal length of the lens. For example, a longer lens requires a faster shutter speed to avoid blur from camera movement. But, if you are unhappy with the choice that the camera is making, you can continue to press right from the Minimum Shutter Speed > Auto setting, and you can fine-tune this setting so that the camera selects a faster or slower Auto shutter speed.

If you wish to learn more about the Nikon D810, I explain these features and functions in even more detail, as well as explain all the other aspects of the D810 in my e-book guide Nikon D810 Experience, available on my Full Stop website. The guide not only explains the features, functions, and controls of the camera, but more importantly explains when and why you will want to use them in your photography. Take control of your D810 and the images you create! Click the link below to learn more, preview, and purchase the guide:

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/Nikon_D810_Experience.htm

And, in conjunction with the book, I have created a detailed and comprehensive Nikon D810 Setup Guide spreadsheet, which has recommended Menu settings, Custom Settings, and exposure settings for various shooting situations such as Landscape, Performance, Sports, and Travel, in order to help you set up your camera. You can learn about and download this free “cheat sheet” spreadsheet here:

http://blog.dojoklo.com/2014/06/30/nikon-d800800e-nikon-d810-setup-guide-with-recommended-settings/

If you have found this helpful and plan to purchase a Nikon D810 or some lenses or accessories for it, please consider using my affiliate links for Amazon or for B and H, found at the left side of this page. Your price will be the same, but they will give me a small referral fee – thanks! And please feel free to spread the word if this blog has been helpful.

In conjunction with my camera guide for the new Nikon D810, Nikon D810 Experience, I have created a Nikon D810 Setup Guide – a comprehensive spreadsheet (cheat sheet!) with recommended settings for the applicable Menus, all of the Custom Settings, plus some shooting and exposure settings. It has complete and separate camera setup recommendations for different types of shooting, including:

General / Travel / Street
Landscape / Architecture
Action / Sports
Moving Wildlife / Birds
Studio / Portraits
Concert / Performance

Here is a detail of just a small part of the Setup Guide spreadsheet:

Nikon D810 Setup guide menu custom setting cheat sheet quick start tips tricks recommend setting, book manual guide how to

The direct link to the Excel spreadsheet is:

http://docs.fullstopbooks.com/forms/Nikon_D810_Experience-Setup_Guide.xls

alternate link:

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/forms/Nikon_D810_Experience-Setup_Guide.xls

Please note that the guide will also apply to the D800 and D800E, but new D810 menu items and features will obviously not be on the D800, and the names/ terms of some of the items has changed slightly.

To print the guide, you may wish to print it across several pages and then tape them together, so that the data is legible:

First, be sure to set the print area, to avoid all the blank pages. Do this by manually selecting all the cells with data in them (drag the cursor from cell A1 to G168 and they will all appear blue.) Then access the menu for File > Print Area > Set Print Area.

Then go to File > Print Preview and select the Setup button,

Then set the page for “Landscape” and “Fit To” 2 pages wide by 3 pages tall. Alternately, you can set for “Adjust to 60% Normal Size.”

Either of those options should result in 6 pages to be printed (as long as you have set the print area first).

Be sure to check the preview to see that the data will print at a reasonable size, and that there are only 6 or so pages that will print.

In the past I have resisted requests for these types of quick-start “cheat sheets,” because I prefer that readers of my Full Stop camera guides read through all of the Menu and Custom Settings options, and determine which settings suit their shooting situations and preferences. This is one of the best ways to really learn the ins-and-outs of one’s new camera, so I still encourage you to do so. But I can appreciate the value and the handy reference features of this type of recommendation guide.

Please know that I am in no way an experienced expert in all of the different photography categories I have included, so take the advice of dedicated Bird or Concert photographers, for example, above mine if it differs! And for further information, explanations, justifications, and caveats for the settings I specify, please have a look at my clear and comprehensive guide Nikon D810 Experience.

Version History
v1.2 – First version released
v1.3 – Formatting/ appearance changes
v1.4 – Formatting/ appearance changes
v1.5 – Formatting/ appearance changes
v1.6 – Footnote number corrections, some minor settings changes based on further findings and the final text of the guide

 Nikon D810 setup guide menus custom setting quick start cheat sheet how to manual tutorial tips tricks recommend
Nikon D810 – 1965 Ford Mustang GT – 2014 Annual Antique Auto Show – Codman Estate, Lincoln, Mass.

If you have purchased my Nikon D810 Experience e-book guide, be sure to sign up on the updates page, so that I can inform you of any updates made to the guide or to this spreadsheet, and well be able to provide you with a free updated guide, should there be any major updates or corrections.

Nikon D810 manual guide setup tips tricks how to use quick start recommend setting
Nikon D810, shown with 50mm f/1.4 AI-S lens. Camera courtesy of LensProToGo. Lens courtesy of Newtonville Camera.

If you have found this blog helpful and plan to purchase a Nikon D810 or some lenses or accessories for it, please consider using my affiliate links for Amazon or for B and H, found at the left side of this page. Your price will be the same, but they will give me a small referral fee – thanks! And please feel free to spread the word if this blog has been helpful.

Nikon has recently introduced the Nikon Df, a unique, retro-inspired full frame dSLR. Its fusion of manual control dials and digital technology offers photographers a new (but perhaps familiar) way of shooting.

Nikon Df Experience, my latest Full Stop e book and the first Df user’s guide, is now available! This e book goes beyond the manual to help you learn the features, settings, and controls of the unique, powerful, and highly customizable Nikon Df. Plus most importantly it explains how, when, and why to use the functions, settings, menu options, and controls in your photography – including the new “manual” exposure controls, the sophisticated autofocus system, and the in-camera features such as Multiple Exposure, HDR, and Interval Timer Shooting.

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Written in the clear, concise, and comprehensive style of all Full Stop dSLR guides, Nikon Df Experience will help you learn to use your full-frame Df quickly and competently, to consistently create the types of images you want to capture. This e-book is available in either PDF or EPUB format for reading on your computer, tablet, iPad, e-reader, etc.

Learn more about it, view a preview, and purchase it here:

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/Nikon_Df_Experience.htm

As one reader has said about Full Stop guides, “I don’t know how I could fully take advantage of all the features the camera has to offer without this publication! It’s well-organized, easy to understand, and succinct enough to keep your attention while still containing a wealth of information to get the most out of your camera.”

Take control of your Nikon Df, the image taking process, and the photos you create!

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For Intermediate and Enthusiast Photographers – This guide is designed for enthusiast dSLR photographers who wish to take fuller advantage of the capabilities of their Nikon Df and shoot competently in A, S, and M modes; take full control of the versatile 39-Point autofocus system; and learn how, when, and why to use and customize the unique controls, buttons, and features of the Df. It covers basic dSLR camera functions and exposure concepts for those learning digital SLR photography, and explains more advanced camera controls and operation such as Metering Modes, Exposure Compensation, and Histograms.

For Experienced Photographers – This guide explains the new and advanced features and settings in order to quickly get you up and running and taking advantage of these capabilities including the 39 point autofocus system and its Focus Modes and AF-Area Modes. Plus it explains the retro-styled camera controls and how to customize them, the in-camera HDR and Multiple Exposure features, in-camera image processing and editing, introduces back-button focusing, and guides you through all the Df Menu and Custom Setting items in order to help you best set up and customize the camera for your specific shooting needs. It also explains how to set up the Df to make full use of your legacy Nikkor lenses.

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Sections include:

-Setting Up Your Df – All of the Df Custom Settings, Playback, Shooting, Setup, and Retouch Menus, with explanations and recommended settings to set up and customize the advanced features to work best for the way you photograph.

-Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S), and Manual (M) Modes – How and when to use them to create dramatic depth of field, freeze or express motion, or take total control over exposure settings.

-Auto Focusing Modes and Area Modes, and Release (Drive) Modes – Learn the AF Modes, AF Area Modes, and AF Custom Settings, how they differ, how and when to take advantage of them to capture both still and moving subjects.

-Exposure Metering Modes – How they differ, how and when to use them for correct exposures in every situation.

-Histograms, Exposure Compensation, Bracketing, and White Balance – Understanding and using these features for adjusting to the proper exposure in challenging lighting situations.

-The Image Taking Process – Descriptive tutorials for using the settings and controls to take photos of both still and moving subjects.

-Lenses – Setting up the camera to take advantage of older Nikkor lenses, including AF, AI, and Non-AI lenses.

-Composition – Brief tips, techniques, and explanations, including the creative use of depth of field.

-Photography Accessories and Books – The most useful accessories for digital photography including accessories specific to the Df.

This digital guide to the Nikon Df is an illustrated e-book that goes beyond the manual to explain how, when, and why to use the features, settings, and controls of the Df to help you get the most from your camera.

Nikon Df book manual guide use learn controls dummies how to quick start tips tricks tutorial   Nikon Df book manual guide use learn controls dummies how to quick start tips tricks tutorial

Learn more about Nikon Df Experience, view a preview, and purchase it on my Full Stop website here:

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/Nikon_Df_Experience.htm

Nikon Df – A Powerful, Fun, Nostalgia-Inducing Camera

The announcement of the retro-styled, full-frame Nikon Df caused plenty of interest and anticipation, though it is yet to be seen whether or not that is followed up with strong sales.  While they have quickly run out of stock in Japan, it sounds as if other potential users, such as in the US, are still taking a wait-and-see approach to learn how Df users feel about the controls, ergonomics, performance, etc. – or perhaps others are hoping that the price may go down a bit!

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Nikon Df with Nikkor 135mm f/3.5 non-AI (pre-AI) lens. Read below how to make use of non-CPU legacy Nikkor lenses (AI and pre-AI) with the Df. (All photos by the author, except where noted.)

From my hands-on experience so far, as I have been researching and writing my Nikon Df Experience guide to the camera, I can assure you that it is a highly capable, well featured dSLR, with extremely high image-quality. Its low-light performance has proven to be the best of any current dSLR. But in addition to all this, it is a beautifully styled camera (though with a couple functionality sacrifices made in the name of retro-styling), and it is a truly fun camera to admire, hold in your hands, and – most importantly – to use.

Before I get into this, I would like to extend a thanks and shout-out to LensProToGo for getting the Df into my hands so quickly, and to Newtonville Camera of Newton, Mass. for the non-CPU Nikkor lenses.

For those with past experience using a film SLR, it will at once feel familiar and likely bring back a few fond memories and emotions that you haven’t encountered in a long while, after becoming accustomed to the body and controls of a dSLR for the past many years. At the same time, it may cause you to be a bit off-balance for awhile, as you need to remind yourself to reach for a dial to change the ISO setting or exposure compensation amount, or to re-accustom yourself with the concept that shutter speed can be changed with a dial if you desire.


The retro-inspired Nikon Df  in silver (right), shown with one of its design inspirations, the Nikon F2S Photomic (left) (photo by Andrew Martin).

The retro, film-style controls help to encourage a slowing down, a more careful and exacting photo-taking process. You just may feel like a street photographer with the proper tool for the job – stalking your image, looking down to manually turn some dials to adjust your settings, carefully reviewing the information in the Viewfinder, lining up the shot and autofocusing. But the controls and various menu settings also allow you to take advantage of the “fusion” aspect of the Df (as Nikon says the “f” stands for). Fusion is indeed an accurate word, and the Df nicely combines the retro-dials with the digital LCD screens, the autofocus system, and the Command Dials which can be used as you are accustomed to for controlling shutter speed and aperture – if you wish.

Nikon Df Basic Specs

As you have likely already learned, the Df has a 16 MP full-frame sensor and Expeed 3 processor (borrowed from the high end D4) and has amazing low-light capabilities. While it can go up to 204,800 ISO, it is actually usable up to perhaps 6400 ISO or higher (for JPG, depending on your needs, expectations, and output). And of course you can apply noise reduction to NEF (RAW) files and determine where you achieve the right balance of clarity and detail retention. Have a look at the DPReview lab tests for some high ISO / low light samples and comparisons.

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Nikon Df unboxing, shown with Special Edition 50mm f/1.8 kit lens.

The Df can shoot at a maximum continuous shooting speed of 5.5 frames per second, boasts the 39-point autofocus system of the D600/ D610, has a nice large 3.2″ rear LCD monitor and smaller top info panel, and a single SD card slot which shares the bottom compartment with the EN-EL14A battery. While you can work in Live View, it does not have video capability. The Df can also use – and meter – with nearly all legacy Nikkor lenses including AI and pre-AI lenses dating back to 1959, which I will discuss below.

The Df is available in either Silver and Black, or all Black.  While the Silver and Black model is the standard US model and has a more retro-look to it, the Black version is sleeker and “sexier” but more subtle, IMHO. The Silver version will probably stand out more as you carry it around, initiating more looks and comments, if that appeals to you!

Nikon Df Controls and Ergonomics

The first thing most people will notice about the Df is its retro-styling and controls, inspired by some of the older Nikon F and FM models. This includes the form, colors, and finish, as well as the top dials for adjusting ISO, Exposure Compensation, Shutter Speed, and Shooting Modes (M, A, S, P). There is also a top switch for Release Modes and a rear switch for Metering Modes. Yet it also provides the large 3.2″ rear LCD Monitor for viewing images, menus, settings, and adjusting a limited number of settings – plus the Multi Controller thumb pad for navigating the screen and for selecting an autofocus point or group of points. The Df has the now-common Autofocus switch and AF button on the front of the camera (near the lens mount) for selecting the autofocus AF Area Mode and AF Mode (in conjunction with the appropriate Command Dial). Those who have used the D7000/D7100 or D600/D610 will feel right at home with these convenient AF controls.

Nikon Df retro use learn dummies tips tricks how to hands on review manual guide recommended setting book tips tricks quick start set up use learn
Detail of Nikon Df and some of its controls.

While you can use the dials and controls to emulate a manual film camera, the controls, menu settings, and Custom Settings of the Df also allow you to set up the camera so that you can use many of the controls just as you do now with your current Nikon dSLR. By placing the Shutter Speed dial on the 1/3 STEP setting when working in M or S shooting mode, you can then simply use the rear Main Command Dial to adjust the shutter speed as you view the setting in the Viewfinder, on the rear Information Screen, or on the top LCD panel – just as you may be doing now. This may be the easiest way to use the camera, though it will eliminate the need for the old-school dial adjusting that you may prefer on this retro camera. Or if you choose, you can select a specific shutter speed setting on the dial, and then by enabling Custom Setting f11: Easy Shutter-Speed Shift you can turn the rear Main Command Dial and adjust that shutter speed setting up or down 2/3-stop in 1/3-stop increments (as you view the settings in the Viewfinder, rear Monitor, or top Control Panel) so that you have a little adjustment lee-way as you work, without having to reach up and turn the Shutter Speed dial for minor adjustments.


Detail of the Nikon F2S Photomic, one of the design inspirations for the retro-styled Nikon Df (photo by Andrew Martin).

When working in M or A shooting mode, you will use the front Sub-Command Dial to adjust the aperture setting, unless of course you are using a non-CPU lens.  In that case you will need to register the Non-CPU lens with the camera (focal length, maximum aperture, AI or non-AI), then set the camera on that lens number when it is in use. Then turn the lens aperture ring to change the settings.  With an AI lens, the AI coupling tab on the lens mount with transfer the aperture setting to the camera and you will be able to view the aperture setting in the Viewfinder or on the camera screens.  With a pre-AI lens you will need to disengage the AI tab on the camera’s lens mount (so as not to damage the camera or lens), dial in the lens number that you registered, and then manually set the aperture ring on the lens.  You will also then have to match that aperture setting of the lens onto the camera yourself, by turning the from Sub-Command Dial. But in both cases (AI and non-AI) the camera will properly meter for the attached lens as long as it is registered in the camera menus.

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Nikon Df – Example Image in low light, 3200 ISO – click for EXIF data and larger version on Flickr. The AF system was quickly and accurately able to lock in on the darks eyes on the dark, furry face.

If you wish to have this same manual aperture ring experience with an newer CPU lens that also has an aperture ring, you can access Custom Setting f7: Customize Command Dials and enable the nearly-hidden Aperture Ring setting which will allow you to use the lens aperture ring rather than the Sub-Command Dial to change the aperture setting.

Speaking of the front Sub-Command Dial, that is one of my few but notable complaints about the Df. Unlike other Nikon dSLR models with this front dial, the one on the Df is aligned vertically. It is small, and has a hard surface rather than the nice rubberized surface of the rear dial, and can be a bit difficult to turn. You need to press your finger into it so that it turns without your finger slipping across it, which is uncomfortable due to its hard surface. It would have been much better if it was perhaps larger, tapered differently, and certainly needs the rubberized surface for comfort and ease of use. Not to mention that the camera strap attachment is sort of in the way of where your finger needs to be when using this dial.  These are some of the few physical faults with the camera, and while they are not make-or-break, they do affect regular use.

Others have complained about the height of the Shutter-Button, though that isn’t a major complaint for me. I really didn’t notice its placement being uncomfortable much at all, but perhaps it could be with extended use or in action-shooting situations. Some of the other buttons on the the rear of the camera are very flat (which looks cool), and some are more flush with the body and are thus a bit more difficult to press than they should be. And while I’m at it, the retro-styled latch to open the bottom battery / memory compartment is cool, but not as quick and practical to actually use as a typical latch. Plus the location of the SD card in this bottom compartment is not as convenient and with most dSLRs that have the memory card door on the side. But you will quickly get used to it.

Nikon Df example image sample how to use learn manual guide review hands on tips tricks quick start set up dummies recommended setting autofocus AF
Nikon Df Example Image – click image to see larger on Flickr. (To mangle the words of Brian Wilson, “I guess the Df just WAS made for these times!”)

As far as the ergonomics other than those issues, the Df has a smaller grip than the typical dSLR, yet I found it perfectly comfortable to use, and again it often brings back the feeling of a film SLR in one’s hands. And while one may at first need to look at the top dials and change the ISO and Exposure Compensation, with a little practice this can be done without taking your eye from the Viewfinder. While one finger presses the dial release button, another can turn the dial, and you can see the current setting change in the Viewfinder.  For the ISO setting, you will need to go into the Custom Settings menu and enable d3: ISO Display in order to display the ISO in the Viewfinder rather than the remaining frames.  If you have a large enough SD card, you won’t need to be worrying about the remaining frames, so this shouldn’t be an issue.

That being said, the Df may be a difficult camera to use for action situations or a wedding or event, where one will need to quickly change the settings on the fly. While I explained how to set up the camera in order to change the shutter speed and aperture in the typical dSLR manner, it is obviously slower and more awkward to have to change the ISO and E.C. settings using the dials, even if you can begin to do it without looking.

Regarding ISO, though, you can make use of the Auto ISO feature.  As with the other current Nikon models, you will set an ISO setting, but if the situation requires, the camera will automatically adjust it in order to obtain the proper exposure.  You can even use the Auto ISO menu settings to dictate the Maximum Sensitivity (ISO) and Minimum Shutter Speed that the camera will choose. Or if you set the Minimum Shutter Speed for Auto, the camera will make this selection based on the current lens focal length (for example, a long telephoto lens will require a faster shutter speed than a wide angle lens, to help prevent camera-shake blur). And this Auto Min. Shutter Speed can even be tweaked to always be faster or slower if you don’t agree with the camera’s Auto selections.

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Nikon Df Example Image – in-camera Multiple Exposure

You can also use some of the rear camera buttons in conjunction with the appropriate Command Dial to change various settings, such as White Balance and Image Quality. The Df offers not only NEF (RAW) and JPEG, in various levels of size and compression, but it also offers TIFF image quality. However, TIFF files will be very large, 50MB files, about twice the size of the highest quality NEF (RAW) files.

And you can customize various buttons for a variety of functions, including the Fn (Function) and Pv (Preview) Buttons on the front, and the AE-L/AF-L and AF-ON Buttons on the rear. The front buttons can be set up to quickly access an often-used feature or setting, such as temporarily changing the metering mode, turning on the Viewfinder grid or level, or also capturing a RAW image if the image quality is set for JPEG. There is the “Press” vs. “Press+Dial” customization options for these buttons (set one option for pressing the button, and another option for pressing the button and turning a Command Dial). Though you will find that many of the options conflict, and you will often only be able to set either a “Press” or a “Press+Dial” option, not both. If you will be using non-CPU lenses, you will need to set one of these buttons to the Non-CPU Lens Number item so that you can select the number of the registered non-CPU lens when in use. The top-rear buttons (AE-L/AF-L and AF-ON) along with the Shutter Button can be set up for a variety of focus-lock and exposure-lock combinations, such as for back button focusing, or to better assist you when working in AF-C continuous mode where the camera will track a moving subject as long as you keep it located at the active AF point.


The retro-inspired Nikon Df in black (right), shown with one of its design inspirations, the Nikon F3 (photo by Andrew Martin).

While the Df does not offer customizable user shooting modes such as U1 and U2 – found on the mode dial of other Nikon dSLRs – it does offer Shooting Menu Banks and Custom Settings Banks where you can set and save groups of settings.  This prevents you from having to dig into the menus and change various settings when you switch from portrait shooting to action shooting, for example.  You can set up and assign Bank A to your portrait set up, and Bank B to your action set up (or landscape, etc.), and then quickly change the camera to those Banks.  Not quite as convenient as the U1, U2 settings, but still helpful. The Banks can be quickly accessed through the Information Display screen via the i Button. The i Button and rear screen will also allow you to quickly access settings such as High ISO NR, Active D-Lighting, HDR, Picture Controls, and Long Exposure NR.

Autofocus System

I won’t go into detail here about the Df autofocus system, as you can read about it in my post about using and customizing the Nikon Autofocus System. But as with the other current Nikon dSLR cameras, it offers AF-S and AF-C autofocus modes for either single shooting (locking focus on a still subject), or for continuously tracking a moving subject (but does not have AF-A auto mode). And it offers the various AF Area Modes such as Single Point, Dynamic Area Modes (for 9, 21, or 39 points to help you retain focus on a moving subject), 3D-Tracking for following moving subjects about the frame, and Auto (all) Af points where the camera selects where to focus. But I will say that even in low light, the Df was able to quickly find and lock focus, such as with the dark, furry face of the cat in the image earlier in this post.

Unfortunately, as with the Nikon D600 / D610, the autofocus points are clustered at the central areal of the Viewfinder, and do not reach towards the edges of the frame, which may make it challenging to track moving subjects or to compose your images as desired without dramatic re-composing and re-framing after locking focus. However, you can make use of the DX Image Area setting, which will basically “crop” your images, using a smaller portion of the sensor to emulate a non-full-frame DX camera, as shown by the inner rectangle in the Viewfinder when using DX mode:

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Nikon Df simulated viewfinder, showing full FX sensor area vs. DX Image Area (inner rectangle).

When using a DX lens on the Nikon Df, you will want to set the camera to Auto DX Image Area, so as not to suffer dramatic vignetting.

If you wish to emulate a manual film camera, you can make use of the Rangefinder feature of the Df. Simply place the camera and lens on manual focus, choose the desired AF Point as you look through the Viewfinder, then locate the AF point over your subject and adjust focus until the Focus Indicator light at the bottom-left of the Viewfinder lights up. While this is not quite the same as making use of a Viewfinder focus screen while you keep your eye on your subject, it is perhaps the best way to achieve accurate manual focus.

Nikon Df sample example image how to use learn manual guide book custom setting menus setting recommend set up quick start review hands on
Nikon Df Sample Image – Instruction in Photography by Abney. Fun fact: Did you know Abney possibly has the first recorded criticism of “spray and pray” shooting, back in…1886! http://bit.ly/1cJxppp

Manual Control

As I began to explain above, there are various settings for the menus and controls of the Df which will allow you to use it similar to a manual film camera, such as setting on M shooting mode and using the Shutter Speed Dial and the lens aperture ring to adjust your exposure settings, and manually focusing. You may also then wish to turn off the Beep, use the Monochrome Picture Control or perhaps a custom Tri-X or Kodachrome Picture Control, and perhaps set a high ISO to get a bit of “grain.” You can also use Center-Weighted Metering and set Custom Setting b1: Center-Weighted Area to Avg-Average, so that the camera averages the entire scene to determine exposure, similar to an older film camera (18% grey, although it is often really 12% grey). You should put the Release Mode on Single Shooting, and perhaps cover your LCD Monitor to prevent chimping!


A custom Nikon Picture Control, to recreate the look of Kodak Tri-X film (this image taken with the Nikon D610).

There are numerous other settings, menu items, features, and functions to take advantage of, and I explain all of them in my guide Nikon Df Experience, which not only covers the features, functions, and controls of the Nikon Df, but more importantly when and why to make use of them in order to take control of your camera and your images!

If you have found this helpful and plan to purchase a Nikon Df or photo accessories (or anything else) from Amazon or from B and H, please use my affiliate links (near the upper-left side of this page) to go to those sites and then make your purchase. Your price will be the same, but they will give me a small referral fee – thanks!

Here is the second part of the Nikon D7100 “tips and tricks” article I posted a few weeks ago. You can read the first part here.

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Detail of the Nikon D7100 dSLR camera – photo by author

6. Set up your Dual SD Memory Card Slots: The two memory card slots of the D7100 can function in a couple different ways, including using one for saving RAW files and the other for JPEG files, saving all your images to both cards simultaneously, using the second card as overflow when the first one fills up, or saving still images to one and movies to the other. You can set this up in the Shooting Menu under Role played by card in slot 2. To set how the cards function for saving videos, use the Shooting Menu > Movie Settings > Destination.

Nikon D7100 sd memory card battery en-el15

Nikon EN-EL15 battery and SD memory cards for the Nikon D7100

7. Use Picture Styles for your JPEG Images: If you are capturing your images as (NEF)RAW or JPEG files and will be post-processing your images in software such as Photoshop or Lightroom, then you don’t necessarily need to worry about Picture Styles. If that is the case, set the Picture Style for Standard or Neutral so that the images that you view on the camera’s rear LCD screen will be close to how they will appear in the actual RAW image file that you open on your computer. However if you are not post-processing, you will want the images to come out of the camera looking as you want them to, so you will need to set, customize, or create a Picture Style that best creates your desired look. Adjust the contrast, saturation, sharpening, etc. to achieve the look you are after. Save the Picture Styles you have created to access them later. You can even create your own styles using the included software, or find them online and download them. There are even styles to be found online that recreate the look of various traditional types of film including Kodachrome and Velvia.

Nikon D7100 picture control

8. Customize the Exposure Compensation Controls: Exposure Compensation can be used to adjust the camera’s exposure settings in order to achieve the final exposure that you desire. Explore the various options of Custom Setting b3: Easy Exposure Compensation to customize exactly how the exposure compensation (EC) controls works. You can set it so that you press the Exposure Compensation Button first before turning a dial to change EC, or have it set so that you can just turn a dial to quickly and directly change EC. You can even select which dial you use with Custom Setting f5. And you can set it so that the EC amount that you dialed in stays set for the subsequent shots, or that it is automatically reset to zero, depending on which controls you choose to use to set EC. This last option is the most sophisticated and most flexible, and may be the best one to learn and take advantage of. Using this option, On (Auto reset), you can choose to turn a dial to directly adjust EC, but your EC setting will be reset when the camera or exposure meter turns off. This is because you can still continue to use the Exposure Compensation Button with a Command Dial to set EC, but by setting it this way, EC will not be reset when the camera or meter turns off. Exposure Compensation will only be automatically reset if you set it directly using the dial without the button. So if you wish to use EC for just one shot, you can adjust EC with just the dial. But if you wish to take a series of shots with the same adjusted EC, you can use the button/ dial combination to set it more “permanently.” Pretty powerful stuff! This is why you got the D7100, right? So that you can take advantage of these sophisticated controls!

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Making use of Easy Exposure Compensation to configure how the controls can be used to change exposure compensation

9. Fine-Tune the Exposure Metering Modes: While the Matrix Metering Mode will do an excellent job of determining the proper exposure for your images the majority of the time, there are some situations where you may wish to use the other exposure modes – Center-Weighted Metering and Spot Metering. This includes dramatically backlit situations, subjects with a dramatically dark background, scenes that contain a wide range of highlights and shadow areas, or other dramatic lighting situations.

If you find that you are consistently not quite happy with how the camera’s meter is determining the exposure settings when making use of any of these modes, you can make fine-tune adjustments to the metering system using Custom Setting b5: Fine-tune optimal exposure. This is not an exposure compensation adjustment, but rather a “behind the scenes” fine-tuning of how the camera’s meter will determine the exposure settings, independently for each of the different Exposure Metering Modes (Matrix, Center-Weighted Average, Spot). If you find that your images are always typically being slightly underexposed or overexposed when using a specific metering mode, adjust this accordingly so that you don’t have to use exposure compensation every time you use that metering mode. For example, you may find that Center-Weighted Metering delivers great exposures, but you would prefer that the images taken with Spot Metering were 1/3 EV (1/3 step) underexposed all the time. If that is the case, you would adjust Spot metering to -2/6 using this menu. If you make use of this fine-tune adjustment, you can still use exposure compensation in any situation in addition to this fine-tune adjustment.

Nikon D7100 fine tume metering mode
Custom Setting b5: Fine-Tune Optimal Exposure, used to adjust the exposures of each metering mode to your preference, “behind the scenes,” so that exposure compensation is not needed each time you use that metering mode (left). Fine-tuning Spot Metering to underexpose by -1/3 EV (right) – not recommended, just an example!

10. Put Your Most Used Settings in My Menu: Instead of navigating into the Menus and Custom Settings all the time to find your most used settings, you can create your own custom menu called My Menu, which is then quickly and easily accessed with the Menu Button. You can even decide what order to list the items in. Set up My Menu by selecting Choose Tab in the Recent Settings menu, and select My Menu. Then Add Items and Rank Items in the order you desire. You can add items from most all of the Menus and Custom Settings Menus, such as maybe Movie Settings, some of the Flash control settings, or White Balance for easier access to additional white balance options and fine-tuning. If you frequently make use of a feature such as changing the Image Area from DX to 1.3x, use Interval Timer Shooting, or Multiple Exposures add these to your My Menu.

Nikon D7100 My Menu
Adding and item from the Shooting Menu to My Menu

I explain most of these features and functions in even more detail, as well as explain all the other aspects of the D7100 in my e-book guide Nikon D7100 Experience, available on my Full Stop website. The guide not only explains the features, functions, and controls of the camera, but more importantly explains when and why you will want to use them in your photography. Take control of your D7100 and the images you create! Click the cover below to learn more, preview, and purchase the guide:

Nikon D7100 book manual ebook field guide dummies how to use learn instruction tutorial

Still looking to purchase your D7100 or some lenses or accessories for it? Please consider using my affiliate links for Amazon or for B and H, found at the left side of this page – thanks! And please feel free to spread the word if this blog has been helpful.

I’ve had some hands-on time with the new Nikon D7100 as I research and write my latest camera guide Nikon D7100 Experience, and just as with the recently introduced Nikon D600 this new model does not disappoint. In fact, much of what I’ve said about the D600 will apply to the D7100, as in many ways the D7100 is basically a D600 but with a DX sensor (rather than the full frame FX sensor of the D600). Of course there are some important differences (in addition to the image sensor size) such as the 51 point autofocus system and slightly faster 6 frames per second shooting speed of the D7100, but the feel, performance, features, menu system, and Custom Settings of the two cameras are quite similar.

Nikon D7100 unbox unboxing hands on review preview book ebook learn manual use dummies field guide tutorial instruction setup tip recommend
The Nikon D7100 Unboxing – shown here with a Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens attached, not the 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens.

The D7100 is a worthwhile and timely upgrade to the popular and well-respected D7000. The new model boasts an improved 24.1 megapixel DX format image sensor (vs. 16MP of the D7000), a sophisticated 51 point autofocus system with 15 centrally positioned cross-type points (vs. the older 39 point system with 9 cross-type points), the rapid 6 (or even 7) frames per second continuous shooting speed, and a larger and higher resolution 3.2″ rear LCD screen. All of these features make it particularly well-equipped for action and movement situations including sports, wildlife, and bird photography.

With this new image sensor, Nikon has done away with the optical low pass filter – a choice which promises to deliver higher image resolution (though at the risk of increased moiré when capturing fine pattern details). And its high ISO capability will result in decreased digital noise in low-light situations. The new, optional 1.3x crop mode of the D7100 will allow you to use a 15 megapixel portion of the sensor to “extend” the reach of your telephoto lenses in order to get closer to the action as well as fill the active frame with the 51 Focus Points – in order to more accurately track moving subjects across nearly the full width of the frame. And the continuous shooting speed even increases from 6 frames per second (fps) to 7 fps when working in this 1.3x crop mode. Plus when capturing video using the 1.3x crop Image Area, you can choose from the additional 1080 frame size at 60i or 50i frame rates.

Nikon D7100 autofocus viewfinder 1.3x crop af autofocus points
Simulated view of the Nikon D7100 viewfinder, showing the location of the 51 autofocus points, the optional grid, and the area of the 1.3x crop mode.

As with its predecessor, the Nikon D7100 is aimed at intermediate and dedicated enthusiast photographers (and dSLR beginners willing to learn!), not only with its price and build, but also with its features and accessible controls and menus. It is obviously not quite as fully-featured as the professional-level D800 or D4, yet it contains nearly every feature that the majority of “non-pro” or even semi-pro photographers will need. And its low light performance and image quality can certainly deliver professional results in most every shooting situation.

As the author of dSLR user guides, my primary interest when reviewing a camera is more with the controls, features, functions, and “real world” use – as opposed to the image quality/ sensor issues (resolution, dynamic range, noise, etc.), which I leave up to DP Review, DXOMark, and other sites to examine in depth. Although I will discuss and give examples of some of these factors in this post, I direct you these other sites to view samples/ comparison images and read detailed discussions of sensor and image quality results.

Body: Weight and Size: The D7100 is nearly identical in size and weight (765 g / 1.7 lb w/ battery) to the D7000. It is of course bigger and heavier than the mid-level D5200, but is an excellent size for the serious shooter – and pairs excellently with a wide range of lenses from a 50mm f/1.4 prime to the hefty 70-200mm f/2.8.

Body: Controls and Feel: The controls of the D7100 are very similar to the D7000, and even more similar to the D600. If you have not yet used either of those previous cameras you may be initially confused by the autofocus controls at the base of the lens, including the AF-Mode Button and the Focus-Mode Selector Switch. However, once learned you will quickly discover that they are a convenient, well thought-out set of controls for rapidly accessing and changing the various autofocus settings – even without taking your eye from the Viewfinder.

Nikon D7100 autofocus mode area af control button switch body button learn use setup tip recomment focusing focus
Detail of the front controls of the Nikon D7100, including the autofocus mode and area mode controls at the base of the lens.

Compared to the D7000, the D7100 adds an i Button to the rear of the camera, which is used to quickly access a variety of settings and options – which will vary based on if you are shooting stills, reviewing images, working in Live View, or in movie shooting. During shooting it allows you to access the Information Display screen where you can change a number of settings that you otherwise would have had to dig into the menus to find. This is similar during Live View and movie shooting, but accesses settings appropriate to those modes.  During image playback, the i Button quickly brings up the Retouch Menu for editing and processing image files.

The placement of the zoom-in and zoom-out buttons on the rear of the D7100 has been swapped compared to the D7000, which may drive you crazy until your muscle memory is retrained.  But the new rear Live View / Movie switch, the relocation of the video record button to the top of the camera near the Shutter Button, and the locking Mode Dial are welcome conveniences (which I prefer as there have been many times my Mode Dial was accidentally turned when pulling the camera out of its bag). Other than that, D7000 users should feel right at home with the controls such as the Release Mode Dial for selecting the frame rate and the Playback and Delete Buttons. And the consistency of layout between the D7100 and the D600 is a welcome move from Nikon – which hopefully continues into future models. The Multi Controller thumb-pad is responsive and precise, which is necessary when using it to select among the 51 autofocus points or to quickly navigate and change a menu settings. And the rubberized feel of the Command Dials is much nicer to the touch than the plastic feel of lower-end models.

Nikon D7100 body buttons controls dials use learn review hands on preview book ebook guide manual dummies
Some of the top and rear controls of the Nikon D7100, including the Release Mode and locking Shooting Mode Dials, and new i Button.

A few of the buttons along the left side of the camera perform additional functions when pressed and used in conjunction with the Command Dials.  These are handy to learn and use so that you can quickly change these settings on the fly, though you will likely need to glance at the buttons to recall which function it performs. (And I would prefer that the WB, QUAL, and ISO text be a bit closer and adjacent to the appropriate button, as you can see one needs to often take a second look to see of ISO applies to the button below or above.) So, for example, the QUAL Button is pressed as the rear Main Command Dial is turned to select the Image Quality (JPEG / RAW), and it is press as the front Sub-Command Dial is turned to select the JPEG Image Size (S, M, L).

In addition to the previous customization options for the controls as found on the D7000 and D600, the D7100 offers even more custom controls. For example during image playback, the OK Button can be set up to instantly zoom in on the image at the area of focus, and you can even set the magnification level for high, medium, or low. You can set the OK Button to perform other functions during shooting and Live View, though I recommend that it be used to quickly select the center AF Point. The Fn Button and Depth of Field Preview Button can be customized to perform different functions when just pressed and when pressed and used with a Command Dial.  For example, you can set one of these buttons for quick, temporary access to Spot Metering Mode or to display the Virtual Horizon in the Viewfinder. Or you can press the button as you turn the Command Dials to quickly change to 1.3x crop Image Area Mode or to activate HDR shooting and set the HDR Mode with one dial and HDR Strength with the other.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of conflicts between the just Press and the Press+Dial settings which allow you to actually use only one of the options, so you will likely only be able to set each button for one function. I suggest setting the AE-L/AF-L Button to lock focus, the Fn Button to lock exposure, and the DOF Preview button to the function of your choice.

Nikon D7100 menu Function Fn Button customize assign
Example of one of the button customization options – assigning the Fn Button for use with a Command Dial.

The new Live View Selector switch is used to quickly choose between Live View and movie shooting, then the central LV Button is pressed to enter that mode. Again, the Movie-Record Button is now on the top near the Shutter Button.

I found the Shutter Button to be less sensitive than that of the D7100, which is a welcome change, as I often accidentally took a picture when simply trying to lock focus with the D7000 – though this change could simply indicate that I have gotten used to controlling the more sensitive button.

Overall, the body size, weight, and materials feel great and solid, and all the necessary and desired buttons and controls are in the right places. As with the D600, this results in a camera that I find a joy to use with the easy ability to access a wide variety of settings and functions.

Brief Commercial Interruption: I have written an e-book guide to the Nikon D7100, called Nikon D7100 Experience. The guide covers all the controls, functions, features, Menus options and Custom Settings (with recommended settings), autofocus system, exposure, metering, and more. Plus most importantly, it explains how, when, and why to use the various controls, features, and functions of the D7100. Click the link above or the cover to learn more, preview, and purchase the guide (available early April 2013).

Nikon D7100 book manual ebook field guide dummies how to use learn instruction tutorial

Use and Response: There really isn’t too much else I can say about the D7100 in action, as it performs excellently, as expected. The autofocus response is quick and accurate in normal use, and able to lock on quickly and accurately even in dim lighting. Note that the 15 central AF Points are cross-type points, which you will want to make use of in low light and challenging focusing situations. (This means that these points look for contrast in both the horizontal and vertical orientation, and thus can more easily and quickly find contrast to focus on.) In low light, night-time scenes – such as the in-camera Multiple Exposure image and the in-camera HDR image below – the camera locked right on and focused well.

Nikon D7100 preview review multiple exposure hands on
Multiple Exposure Mode of the Nikon D7100, where three images are automatically combined in-camera.

Nikon D7100 hands on review preview in camer HDR high dynamic resolution strength
HDR Mode of the Nikon D7100, where and over-exposed and under-exposed image are automatically combined and processed in-camera, at a user defined HDR Strength setting.

Autofocus System: As with the D7000, the autofocus system of the D7100 is one of its most important features, and you will need to learn to take control of it in order to get the most out of the camera. This means choosing the appropriate Autofocus Mode and Autofocus Area Mode, depending on if the subject is still or moving. I go into detail on this in an article about Taking Control of the  D7000 Autofocus System. While the D7100 of course offers 51 autofocus points rather than 39, the exact same principles apply – you simply have more AF points to help you compose the image exactly how you wish or to help you more accurately track a moving subject throughout the frame. And if 51 autofocus points are too many to deal with at first or in a specific situation, you can limit the number of selectable Focus Points to 11 in the Custom Settings menu.

I briefly did some testing of the AF system using AF-C Focus Mode for tracking moving subjects using 9-Point Dynamic Area AF Autofocus Area Mode, while shooting bursts of images in Continuous Shooting release mode. With the Dynamic Area AF modes, you select your desired AF Point to begin tracking the subject, and the surrounding points are used to help retain focus on the subject if it briefly leaves the active AF point.  You can choose from either 9 additional “helper” points, 21 points, or all of them.  Since I was tracking a relatively easy-to-keep-track-of running dog, I selected 9-Point. I placed the selected point on the dog, pressed the shutter button half-way to begin tracking the subject distance, then held it down as the camera took a continuous burst of shots. The camera had no trouble keeping focus on the dog as it ran about, even when it momentarily left the active point and was therefore picked up by a surrounding point.

Nikon D7100 autofocus af system af-c continuous track moving subject 9 point dynamic area af  setup tip recomment focusing focus
Image of running dog, making use of AF-C continuous focus mode and 9 point Dynamic Area AF to retain focus on a moving subject. (Some sharpening and exposure adjustment applied to JPEG.)

Nikon D7100 autofocus af system af-c continuous track moving subject 9 point dynamic area af
Crop of above image of running dog, making use of AF-C continuous focus and 9 point Dynamic Area AF to retain focus on a moving subject. (Some sharpening and exposure adjustment applied to JPEG.)

Functions and Features: The D7100 has all the features of the D7000, adds the newer features introduced on the D600, and offers a couple more. There is the in-camera HDR Mode, Multiple Exposure Mode, Interval Timer and Time-Lapse Photography shooting, AF Fine-Tune to microadjust the focusing of individual lenses, in-camera Noise Reduction features, and the in-camera image editing and processing features. The camera can auto bracket for exposure (or flash exposure, white balance, or Active D-Lighting) either 2, 3, or 5 shots, in EV steps from 0.3 to 2 EV – which can greatly assist those capturing shots to combine into a true HDR image. The bracketing variables are easily set with the BKT Button on the front of the camera and the Command Dials, and offers a wide range of options such as shooting all the exposures in a positive or in a negative exposure direction, rather than simply an underexposure and overexposure surrounding 0. For example, with the +3F setting, the first exposure is taken at 0 (the correct exposure), the second at +1 and the third at +2, rather than the typical bracketing sequence of 0, -1, +1.

The new addition to the D7100 is the 1.3x crop mode Image Area, which will allow you to virtually extend the reach of your telephoto lenses by using a smaller 15MP portion of the sensor. While it is basically the same as cropping your photo after the fact, it offers some advantages such as nearly filling the width of the frame with the autofocus points. This will allow you to more accurately track a moving subject throughout most of the active frame, as there will likely be an AF Point to focus on the subject no matter where in the frame the subject is located. Plus in this mode, you can increase the High Speed Continuous shooting speed to 7 frames per second. Since the APS-C sensor of the D7100 is a 1.5x crop of a full frame sensor, the additional 1.3x crop will basically double the focal length of your lens, meaning a 200mm lens will act as a 200 X 1.5 X 1.3 = 390mm lens.

Nikon D7100 autofocus viewfinder 1.3x crop image area af points system learn use how to manual guide  setup tip recomment focusing focus
Simulated view on the Nikon D7100 viewfinder, showing the area of the 1.3x crop mode, as well as the locations of the autofocus points.  Notice how the 1.3x crop extends the reach of your lens, and how the AF points then nearly fill the width of the frame when working in 1.3x crop Image Area.

As with previous models of this level, the D7100 allows you to use the built-in flash as a Commander flash, to wirelessly remotely control and trigger up to 2 groups of optional external Speedlights. The D7100 also works with a wide variety of optional accessories such as:

Nikon WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter which can be used to wirelessly transmit your images to a tablet or smart-phone as you shoot, share your images, or even use your smart phone or tablet to remotely release the camera’s shutter – all with Nikon’s Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility app.

Nikon GP-1 GPS Unit: Use this GPS receiver for automatic geotagging of your images including location, altitude data, and UTC time.

Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Controller or WR-R10/ WR-T10 Wireless Remote Controller and Transceiver: These wireless remotes will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake. The WR set communicates via radio frequencies, and thus does not require direct line-of-sight between the camera and the remote. You can even use multiple WR-R10 receivers on multiple cameras and trigger them simultaneously with one WR-T10 remote transmitter. The new WR-1 Wireless Remote Controller will allow even greater wireless control over one or multiple cameras with their own WR-1 or WR-R10 unit.

Additional Nikon D7100 Accessories can be seen here.

Menus and Custom Settings: The Menus and Custom Settings of the D7100 allow you to personalize the camera controls and functions to work best for you and your needs and shooting style. They are a powerful set of options, and you should carefully set them up and then review them occasionally to see if they can be tweaked to better suit your current needs. For example, you can customize the size of the area metered by the camera when using Center-Weighted Metering. This can be the default 8mm circle, or else a 6mm, 10mm, or 13mm circle. You can modify the roles of the two memory card slots so that the second one acts as either overflow when the first card fills, simultaneous back-up of the first card, or JPEG on one and RAW on the other. And you can manually copy images from one card to the other. You can set the Continuous Low frame rate anywhere from 1 to 6 fps, though you may find that since Continuous High is 6 fps, 3 or 4 fps should work well. This is a wonderful option that Canon has yet to adopt on its cameras of this level. As mentioned earlier, you can customize the functions of various buttons, and there are numerous other adjustments to the controls and camera functions that you can make. I go though all of these Menu and Custom Setting options in my guide Nikon D7100 Experience, along with recommended settings for various uses.

Nikon D7100 autofocus viewfinder 1.3x crop metering spot center weighted af autofocus points
Simulated view of the Nikon D7100 viewfinder, showing the location of the 51 autofocus points, the optional grid, the area of the 1.3x crop mode, and the size of the Spot and Center-Weighted Metering circles (default 8mm with additional custom options shown in yellow).

A relatively new feature in Nikon dSLRs in the additional control over Auto ISO. If you do not wish to worry about the ISO setting and would prefer that the camera takes care of that, you can enable Auto ISO and then the camera will automatically change your selected ISO, without your expressed permission, in certain situations in order to obtain a proper exposure. For example, if you are working in Aperture-Priority Auto Mode (A) and set the ISO at 800, but based on your selected aperture and the lighting the camera does not believe there is enough light for the exposure and a realistic minimum shutter speed (that you can also set in this menu item), it will automatically raise the ISO so that the shutter speed does not become impossibly slow for hand-holding. You can tell the camera the Maximum Sensitivity or maximum ISO that the camera will use in these situations as well as the Minimum Shutter Speed that you would like the camera to automatically use. Alternately, you can choose to leave the Minimum Shutter Speed set for Auto. The great advantage of this setting is that the camera will now select an Auto ISO setting based on the focal length of the lens being used. This is helpful because longer telephoto lenses typically require faster shutter speeds to prevent hand-held camera shake (which will result in blur). In addition, if you find when using this Auto setting for the Minimum Shutter Speed that the camera is still selecting shutter speeds that are slower than you wish (and thus possibly causing blur due to camera shake), you can use this menu to fine-tune this setting and instruct the camera to select a faster Auto shutter speed. So as you can see, it becomes much more viable to make use of the Auto ISO setting of the D7100 and you can still rely on the camera to not alter the settings beyond your desired parameters.

There are a couple functions that will be greyed-out in your menus if you have a certain conflicting setting option set. For example, some features will not be available (like HDR Mode) if you have the image quality set for RAW or JPEG+RAW. You will have to switch to JPEG only in order to access these features. This is bound to aggravate you at first as you try to determine why the function is greyed-out and not accessible in the menus.

Image Quality: I am not a pixel peeper but rather more of the “just get out there and shoot” variety, and I believe that most all the current consumer cameras – including the D7100 – offer more than enough in terms of image quality and low noise for most every photography from enthusiast to semi-pro. So I will leave it up to DP Review, DXOMark, and other sites to evaluate the image quality and sensor performance. I have shot some informal ISO tests, which can be viewed on Flickr, such as the image below:

Nikon D7100 high ISO digital noise test review preview sample image photo NR noise reduction

Video: As noted above, the D7100 offers all the usual frame sizes and rates, including now 1080 frame size at 60i or 50i frame rates when working in the 1.3x crop mode. It has a built-in stereo microphone plus the ability to use an optional external mic, and offers manual audio control. As with all Nikons, there is manual control over the exposure settings, but you have to set the aperture before going into Live Mode movie shooting. The D7100 now offers a headphone jack for monitoring audio and you can control its volume. As noted above, you can use the new i Button to quickly access and change various video related settings before starting to record.

Conclusion: Overall I found the D7100 to be an excellent camera in all areas: handling and feel, build, features, use, controls, and image quality. It is an excellent value for the price, and offers all the controls and features (and then some) that most any enthusiast or semi-pro photographer would need in most any shooting situation.  There really aren’t any shortcomings to this camera (unless the lack of an anti-aliasing filter will affect the types of photos you take). My only minor gripes are the labeling of the left-rear buttons that I mentioned, and the long, scrolling menus that Nikon uses. I definitely prefer the additional menu tabs of the Canon menus that eliminate scrolling menus.

The D7100 should meet or exceed the needs of dedicated enthusiasts shooting any type of images – landscape, portraits, travel, low-light, etc., and is particularly well suited for action, wildlife, and sports photography due to its wide array of 51 autofocus points, fast shooting speed, and 1.3x crop ability to extend the reach of your telephoto lenses. Its sensor, image quality, and capabilities will certainly provide anyone with the potential to not only take professional quality images, but in most situations to capture exactly the image you intend. And that, in the end, is one of the top goals of photography!

Nikon D7100 sample example image low light sunset evening noise ISO
Weeks Bridge in Cambridge, Mass., taken with the Nikon D7100.

Sample Images: More of my sample images from the D7100 can be seen on Flickr here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dojoklo/sets/72157632977605494/

Manual: To quickly learn all the essential and important features of the camera, how to set up the menus and Custom Settings, how to take control of the autofocus system and metering modes, and learn how, when, and why to use the various controls, features, and functions of the Nikon D7100, have a look at my e-book guide Nikon D7100 Experience. Click the link or the cover to learn more, preview, and purchase the guide (available early April 2013).

Nikon D7100 book manual ebook field guide dummies how to use learn instruction tutorial

Purchasing the D7100: If you are going to be ordering your Nikon D7100 online, please consider using my affiliate links below or on the left side of the page (Amazon, B and H). Your camera (or other gear) will be the same price, but they will give me a small referral bonus – thanks!

Nikon D7100 on Amazon (body only or with 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens)

Nikon D7100 on B and H (body only)

Nikon D7100 on B and H (with 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens)

 

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Nikon D5200 Experience, my most recent e book and the first D5200 user’s guide, is now available! As with all my Full Stop guides, this e book goes beyond the manual to help you learn the features, settings, and controls of the versatile Nikon D5200, including its sophisticated 39 point autofocus system. Plus most importantly it explains how, when, and why to use the functions, settings, menu options, and controls in your photography. It includes recommended settings for the Menu and Custom Settings options, and explanations of the in-camera features such as Multiple Exposure, HDR, and Time-Lapse Shooting.

Written in the clear, concise, and comprehensive style of all Full Stop guides, Nikon D5200 Experience will help you learn to use your camera quickly and competently, to consistently make the types of images you want to capture. This e-book is available in either PDF or EPUB format for reading on your computer, tablet, iPad, e-reader, etc.

Nikon D5200 Experience book ebook manual guide instruction tutorial how to dummies field guide use autofocus af system

Learn more about it, view a preview, and purchase it here:

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/Nikon_D5200_Experience.htm

As one reader has said about Full Stop guides, “It’s the first guide I’ve read which has taken me through all the settings in an understandable way. I now feel that I have control over the camera.”

Take control of your Nikon D5200, the image taking process, and the photos you create!

This instant download Nikon D5200 e book is for those who wish to get more out of their camera, go beyond Auto and Program modes, and shoot in Aperture-Priority (A), Shutter-Priority (S) and Manual (M) modes. To get you started, it guides you through all the Playback, Shooting, and Setup Menus, Custom Settings, and Movie Mode Menu settings of the D5200 to help you best set up the camera and its controls for your specific shooting needs. The guide covers basic dSLR camera functions and exposure concepts for those new to digital SLR photography, and explains more advanced camera controls and operation, such as taking full advantage of the upgraded, advanced 39-Point Autofocus System and its AF Modes, AF Area Modes, and Custom Settings for sharp focus of still and moving subjects. It explains how and when to use the various metering modes and exposure compensation for correct exposure of every image, how to take advantage of other features of the D5200 such as the in-camera HDR and Time-Lapse Shooting features, and introduces the HD video capabilities.

Nikon D5200 Experience book manual field guide dummies learn tutorial how to instruction autofocus night HDR    Nikon D5200 Experience book manual field guide dummies learn tutorial how to instruction autofocus body controls

Nikon D5200 Experience book manual field guide dummies learn tutorial how to instruction autofocus controls viewfinder    Nikon D5200 Experience book manual field guide dummies learn tutorial how to instruction autofocus
Sample images from Nikon D5200 Experience.

Nikon D5200 Experience not only covers the various settings, functions and controls of the Nikon D5200, but it also explains when and why to use them for your photography. The guide focuses on still-photography with an introduction to the movie settings and menus to get you up and running with HD video. Sections include:

  • Setting Up Your D5200 – All of the D5200 Custom Settings and Playback, Shooting, and Setup Menus, including Movie Mode Menus, with explanations and recommended settings for practical, everyday use. Set up and customize the advanced features of your dSLR to work best for the way you photograph.

  • Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S), and Manual (M) Modes – How and when to use them to create dramatic depth of field, freeze or express motion, or take total control over exposure settings.

  • Auto Focusing Modes and Area Modes and Release (Drive) Modes – The 39 point D5200 autofocus system is a is a powerful tool, and taking control of it will enable you to successfully capture more sharp images, especially in action situations.  Learn the AF Modes, AF Area Modes, and AF Custom Settings, how they differ, how and when to take advantage of them to capture both still and moving subjects. Plus how and when to use focus lock.

  • Exposure Metering Modes of the Nikon D5200 – How they differ, how and when to use them for correct exposures in every situation, and how to customize them for your needs. Also how to make use of exposure lock.

  • Histograms, Exposure Compensation, Bracketing, and White Balance – Understanding and using these features for adjusting to the proper exposure in challenging lighting situations, and setting custom white balance.

  • The Image Taking Process – Descriptive tutorials for using the settings and controls you just learned to take photos of both still and moving subjects.

  • Photography Accessories – The most useful accessories for day-to-day and travel photography including accessories specific to the D5200.

  • Composition – Brief tips, techniques, and explanations, including the creative use of depth of field.

  • Introduction to Video Settings – Settings and explanations to get you started shooting HD video.

This digital guide to the Nikon D5200 is a 195 page, illustrated e-book that goes beyond the official manual to explain how, when, and why to use the features, settings, and controls of the D5200 to help you get out there shooting in the real world.

Learn more about Nikon D5200 Experience, view a preview, and purchase it on my Full Stop website here:

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/Nikon_D5200_Experience.htm

 

I spent a considerable amount of time with both the Nikon D610 and the Nikon D600 as I researched and wrote my guides to the camera, Nikon D610 Experience and Nikon D600 Experience, and it has proven to be one of my favorite dSLR bodies.  It is well designed, fully featured, and the image quality and low light performance has proved to be excellent. It is indeed a very powerful and versatile dSLR camera, and much of that is due to its autofocus system, its controls, and its custom settings.  In fact, if you go through the Menus and Custom Settings of the D610 / D600, you will find that a “Top 25 Tips and Tricks” post could easily be put together from just these options alone.

Below is an explanation or introduction to several of these features and options for the D610 / D600.  I go into much more detail about using all of these particular functions and settings, as well as everything else about the camera, in my e-book user guides Nikon D610 Experience and Nikon D600 ExperienceAnd in fact, some of the content from these books is excerpted or summarized throughout this post.

Nikon D600 body buttons controls manual use learn how to book guide dummies customize
Detail of the controls of the Nikon D600 dSLR camera.

Despite the title of this post, I’m sure you realize there generally really aren’t “tricks” to improving your photography and camera use, but rather there are functions, features, settings, techniques, and controls that you should learn and be familiar with if you wish to take full advantage of your powerful camera. That being said, “tips and tricks” makes for a shorter, more intriguing article title and format, and so I have put together this list of ten helpful … tips for taking control and full advantage of your D610 / D600:

1. Take Control of your Autofocus System:

When capturing an image, it is essential that the image is sharp and that the camera focuses exactly where you want it to. So in order to focus on your desired subject, or precisely on – for example – your subject’s eye, you need to take full control of the AF system. The 39 AF points of the D610 / D600 will allow you to tell the camera exactly where you wish to focus, but the various configurations of Autofocus Modes and Autofocus AF-Area Modes may make it more of a challenge to learn initially. So I have written an entire post about making use of this AF system, which you can read here. It involves first learning the AF related controls and then setting up the applicable Custom Settings so that the AF system works as you want it to. (Some of these settings are especially important when using AF-C mode to track moving subjects.) You will then choose an Autofocus Mode (such as AF-S or AF-C) typically based on if the subject is still or moving, and an Autofocus AF-Area Mode (such as Single-Point or Dynamic-Area) typically based on how you wish for the camera to make use of surrounding AF Points such as to help focus on a subject or track a moving subject.

Nikon D600 autofocus system af viewfinder learn use control book manual guide dummies how to
Simulated view of the Nikon D610 / D600 Viewfinder, showing the locations of the 39 AF Points (all of the AF Points will not be visible in the viewfinder at the same time as seen here).

The Menus and Custom Settings will also allow you to do things such as limit the number of available AF Points to just 11 if you find the 39 points excessive for your needs or overwhelming at first when learning to use them (a6: Number of focus points).  And you can make use of another setting to dictate whether or not the focus point selection “wraps around” to the other side of the screen when you reach, say, the far right AF Point (a5: Focus point wrap-around).

2. Make Full Use of and Customize the Buttons and Controls:

In order to work quickly or more efficiently, you should not only learn all the buttons and controls on the camera, but the D610 / D600 will allow you to customize them to fit your shooting needs and personal shooting style. Buttons like the Exposure Compensation and Metering Mode buttons on the top of the camera will obviously enable you to quickly change these settings. The AF Mode Button button, located inside the Focus Mode Selector switch near the base of the lens, may be confusing at first to those who have not previously seen or used it on the Nikon D7000, though you should quickly find that it is a convenient design. It is used to select the Autofocus Mode as well as the Autofocus AF-Area Mode. Press this button and turn the rear Main Command Dial to select the Focus Mode, such as AF-A or AF-C, while viewing the setting on the top Control Panel or in the Viewfinder. Press this button and turn the front Sub-Command Dial to set the AF-Area Mode, such as Single-Point AF or 39-Point Dynamic-Area AF, which you can also view on the top Control Panel or in the Viewfinder.

Nikon D600 buttons controls book manual guide how to use learn autofocus tutorial
View of the rear controls of the Nikon D600.

The AE-L/AF-L Button can be customized to lock the exposure setting and/ or focus distance independently of the Shutter Button, or configured to perform back-button focusing duties. And buttons like the Fn Button and Preview Button can be set up to access one of numerous other settings that there is not a specific dedicated button for, such as quickly changing to Spot Metering or temporarily capturing RAW files while shooting in JPEG format. The Flash Button on the front of the camera will not only raise the flash, but it is also used in conjunction with the rear Main-Command Dial to set the Flash Mode (as viewed on the top LCD Control Panel), and with the front Sub-Command Dial to change the Flash Compensation amount.

Nikon D600 function button customize use learn book manual how to dummies field guide
Some of the options for Custom Setting f2, to assign your desired function to the Fn Button.

3. Learn the Difference Between Interval Timer Shooting and Time-Lapse Photography:

Unlike some other Nikon dSLR cameras, the D610 / D600 has separate settings for Interval Timer Shooting and Time-Lapse Photography Shooting. Although they are closely related – and are both methods of setting up the camera to automatically take photographs at regular, preset intervals – there are important differences.

Interval Timer Shooting can be used to take a series of images at each interval (for example, four images in a row every 1 hour for 3 hours). It can be used to take these multiple series of shots over several minutes or hours. Time-Lapse Photography is used to take a series of individual photos at each interval over an extended period, which are then automatically combined into a time-lapse movie (for example, one photo every 30 seconds for 6 hours, which are then turned into a movie). The resulting movie will use the video frame rate you have set in the camera, and the menu will calculate and display how long the final movie will be based on your settings.

4. Make Use of and Customize Picture Controls for those Shooting in JPEG Format:

If you are capturing images as JPEG files, you will want to set and/ or customize the Picture Controls so that your images have your desired level of sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation, and hue. In other words, so that they look exactly how you want them to when they come out of the camera. These Picture Control settings are permanently applied to JPEG image files as they are processed and saved in the camera (but do not permanently affect RAW-NEF files). You can choose one of the presets such as Standard, Vivid, Landscape, and even black and white Monochrome. Or modify one of the presets to your desired settings or create your own custom Picture Control. You can even find custom Picture Controls online, such as ones that mimic certain types of film.

Nikon D600 Picture Control menu option manual guide book how to instruction tutorial dummies
Nikon D600 Picture Control menus to choose and modify a Picture Control, which determines the final look of JPEG images.

Picture Control settings are not necessarily needed if you shoot in RAW. The Picture Control settings will be associated with the RAW file as metadata and may be “applied” as you view the image in processing software such as Nikon Capture or View NX 2, but the settings will not permanently affect the RAW file and they can be changed during processing without affecting the quality of the image. Although please note that the Picture Control you set applies to the images and their Histograms that you see on the rear LCD Monitor even if you are shooting in only RAW. So, for example, if you were to set a Picture Control with high contrast, the images shown on the LCD Monitor will incorporate this setting (and the Histogram will reflect this setting) and thus will not look the same as the “unprocessed” exposure captured in the RAW files that you will later view on your computer. Therefore you may want to have this set at Standard or Neutral if you shoot RAW so that the images and their histograms you view on the camera’s LCD Monitor closely resemble the actual unprocessed RAW images. Or you can take a different approach and customize the Picture Controls to closely resemble how you typically process your RAW files. That way you can preview on the rear LCD how your final, processed image will appear. This approach should be taken only after you have gained experience with post processing and have developed your own typical processing settings.

5. Configure Your Camera for Easy Exposure Compensation:

Pressing the Exposure Compensation Button, indicated by (+/-), and turning the rear Main Command Dial will adjust Exposure Compensation, so that the exposure of a subsequent image is lighter or darker. If you wish to “cancel” exposure compensation, you will need to remember to change this setting back to zero after you take the shot.

If you often make use of Exposure Compensation (EC), you may wish to sometimes apply EC to just the next shot but sometimes use it for all of your following shots.  Custom Setting b3: Easy exposure compensation can give you very precise control over how you use the camera controls to set exposure compensation. You can set it up so that you must press the Exposure Compensation button as you turn the Main Command Dial in order to adjust exposure compensation. Or you can select to just directly turn the Command Dial of your choice, without pressing the Exposure Compensation Button first (by choosing setting On). This is a quicker way to adjust exposure compensation but introduces the possibility of changing it accidentally. With either of these above settings, exposure compensation will not be reset to 0 when you turn the camera off or when the metering standby timer period ends, so you must be sure to check your settings often to ensure you are not using exposure compensation when you don’t wish to.

Nikon D600 easy exposure compensation menu custom setting screenshot
Custom Setting b3 to set up Easy Exposure Compensation.

Alternately, you can set up the camera so that you turn one of the Command Dials (of your choice in Custom Setting f5) to directly adjust exposure compensation (EC), but your EC setting will be reset when the camera or exposure meter (Standby Timer) turns off. This option is the most sophisticated and most flexible, and may be the best one to learn and use. This is because you can still continue to use the Exposure Compensation Button with a Command Dial to set EC, but by setting it for On (Auto reset) EC will not be reset when the camera or Standby Timer turns off. Exposure compensation will only be automatically reset if you set it directly using the Command Dial without the button. So if you wish to use exposure compensation for just one shot, you can adjust EC with just the dial and then let it cancel after than single shot. But if you wish to take a series of shots with the same adjusted EC, you can use the button / dial combination to set it more “permanently.” Once you learn more about exposure compensation and how and when to use it, this will all start to make more sense, and you will begin to understand why this is such a powerful and useful Custom Setting.

6. Take Advantage of the Two SD Card Slots:

If you insert SD memory cards in both of the available slots, you can configure the second card to function in a variety of ways, by using the Role Played by Card in Slot 2 menu setting.  Overflow will save your images onto the second card after the first card is full. Backup will simultaneously record copies of all images onto both card 1 and card 2. Raw Slot 1 – JPEG Slot 2 will store NEF (RAW) images on card 1 and JPEG images on card 2, for example when you are shooting NEF (RAW)+JPEG in order to capture both file formats at the same time. When the second or third option is selected, the camera will use the card with the least amount of remaining memory to determine the displayed amount of exposures remaining. In the Movie Settings Menu you can also select to save movies on a specific card.

Nikon D600 dual two card slot memory SD body detail learn use book manual guide

You can also use the Copy Image(s) menu item to copy images from one memory card to another when two cards are inserted in the camera. This can be used to back up specific images or the entire card at once. This could be useful to create back-up copies of your images when you don’t have access to your computer, external hard drive, or CD/DVD burner – but it is best to back them up on one of these more permanent devices as soon as possible.

7. Experiment with HDR Shooting and Multiple Exposure Shooting:

Previously, HDR processing was performed only with software, but with the in-camera HDR (high dynamic range) feature of the D600 you can now capture two images of various exposures (an under-exposed image and an over-exposed image), automatically combine them into a single HDR image, and process them using a variety of options, all in-camera. While this will not result in the distinctive, dramatic types of HDR images you may have seen, it can create an image with a broader range of tones. (To create dramatic HDR images, you will still need to manually bracket three, five, or seven exposures of the same scene and combine and process them using HDR software.)

The in-camera HDR Shooting menu will allow you to select the exposure value (EV) increments of the two images (from 1 EV to 3 EV, or choose Auto), and you can also set the amount of Smoothing used when combining the images. You can set the camera to take just one HDR series, or continue to shoot in HDR Mode until you disable the function.

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Lowell House, Cambridge, Mass – Making use of in-camera HDR to obtain a better exposure at night, with broader range of light, dark, and shadow details than would be possible with a normal exposure.

The in-camera Multiple Exposure Shooting Mode of the D610 / D600 allows you to create multiple exposure shots, with either two or three exposures superimposed in one image. You can use the Multiple Exposure menu to initiate Multiple Exposure Mode, and as with HDR Shooting you can decide if you wish to take a series of multiple exposure shots, or a single one after which the camera automatically reverts back to regular shooting. You can then select the number of shots to be combined, and set the Auto gain (use On unless you are working with a dark background. When Auto gain is set for On, the exposure of each shot is adjusted so that the final shot has the correct density. For example, if three shots are taken and combined for the final multiple exposure, the gain for each shot will be set at 1/3. If Auto Gain is turned Off, the result will likely be a dark, muddy shot.)

Nikon D600 multiple exposure shooting mode book manual guide dummies how to use learn tutorial
Multiple Exposure image taken with the D600 using Multiple Exposure Shooting mode.

8. Set the Center Weighted Metering Circle Size, and Fine-Tune the Metering:

With the D610 / D600, Custom Setting b4: Center-weighted area gives you the ability to customize the size of the central area that is used in determination proper exposure when working in Center-Weighted Area metering mode. When using Center-Weighted Metering the camera looks at the entire frame to determine exposure, but adds extra “weight” to the exposure values of the central area of the frame.  You can choose the desired diameter of the central circle area: 8mm, 12mm, 15mm, or 20mm. Or you can choose for the camera to determine the Average exposure of the entire frame, with setting Avg.

This option should be set based on how precise you wish your metered area to be or based on the size of the subject that you are metering. Since you can use Spot Metering mode for very precise metering of a 4mm diameter spot when you need that, perhaps it is useful to leave this at the default 12mm (though note that the 4mm Spot Metering circle moves and is centered around the active AF Point, while the Center-Weighted circle does not move). You can also set this to Avg to average the entire scene. This is a far less sophisticated mode of evaluating the entire scene than Matrix Metering (which takes the selected Focus Point and other data into consideration), and is similar to using an old film camera that averages the entire scene to 18% grey to determine proper exposure.

Nikon D600 viewfinder metering mode center weighted spot autofocus system af learn use book manual guide grid
Simulated view of the Nikon D610 / D600 Viewfinder, showing the location of the AF Points, the approximate sizes of the Center-Weighted Metering area size options, and the optional grid. The 4mm circle is the size of the Spot Metering area, which will actually move based on the active AF Point.

You can also take advantage of Custom Setting b5: Fine-tune optimal exposure to fine-tune the exposure value that is selected by the camera in each of its various metering modes. If you find that your images are always typically being slightly underexposed or overexposed when using a specific metering mode, you can adjust this accordingly so that you don’t have to use exposure compensation every time you use that metering mode. For example, you may find that Center-Weighted Metering delivers great exposures, but you would prefer that the images taken with Matrix Metering were 1/3 EV (1/3 step) overexposed all the time. If that is the case, you would adjust Matrix metering to +2/6 using the Custom Setting b5 menu. If you make use of this adjustment, you can still use exposure compensation in any situation in addition to this fine-tune adjustment. The fine-tune adjustment of Custom Setting b5 will happen “behind the scenes” to adjust the baseline exposure prior to any exposure compensation adjustment.

9. Configure the ISO Settings and Take Advantage of the Auto ISO Options:

You can use the menu item for ISO Sensitivity Settings to do much more than simply changing the ISO setting (which is more easily done simply using the ISO Button on the camera). If you plan to use Auto ISO rather than selecting your own ISO setting, this menu is also used to set the optional Auto ISO Sensitivity Control, which will function in P, S, A, and M shooting modes. Making use of Auto ISO can allow you to concentrate more closely on your aperture or shutter speed settings, and of course on your composition and framing. And the D600 has some great options that make the use of Auto ISO more viable and appealing than previous cameras.

Nikon D600 ISO sensitivity settings menu auto iso screenshot how to use set up learn manual guide book dummies
Nikon D610 / D600 ISO Sensitivity Settings Menu, including Auto ISO.

If you enable Auto ISO then the camera will automatically change your selected ISO, without your expressed permission, in certain situations in order to obtain a proper exposure. For example, if you are working in Aperture-Priority Auto Mode (A) and set the ISO at 1600, but based on your selected aperture and the lighting the camera does not believe there is enough light for the exposure and a realistic shutter speed (that you also set in this menu item – see below), it will automatically raise the ISO so that the shutter speed does not become impossibly slow for hand-holding. This may be good if you are still getting used to the cameras controls and settings and wish for the camera to help you out a bit in certain situations where you may not be paying close enough attention to your settings. Or perhaps in situations such as at a concert where the lighting may change dramatically without you realizing it or responding fast enough. But if you want complete control of your settings and exposures, you will need to turn this Off.

If you do set Auto ISO Sensitivity Control to be On, then you also set the Maximum Sensitivity or maximum ISO that the camera will use in these situations. For example, you may wish to set it no higher than 3200 or perhaps 6400 if you are willing to accept the digital noise of photos at that high an ISO. You also set the Minimum Shutter Speed that you would like the camera to automatically use in these situations. I suggest you set it at the slowest shutter speed you can possibly hand-hold and still potentially get an image without blur, perhaps 1/30 at the slowest if you are careful.

One of the powerful features of Auto ISO with the D600 is that when using it, the camera selects an ISO setting based on the local length of the lens being used. If you find that, when using Auto ISO, the camera is selecting shutter speeds that are slower than you wish (and thus may cause blur due to camera-shake), you can use this menu to adjust these settings and instruct the camera to use a faster shutter speed.

10. Make use of the Playback Display Options and Histogram

You will likely want to enable most or all of the Playback Display Options so that you can better evaluate your images, their settings, and the resulting exposures. That way you will know how to adjust the camera settings for the subsequent images. When these various display options are enabled, you can view the different screens during full-screen image playback (not multiple thumbnail view) by pressing up or down on the Multi Selector.

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Playback Display Options menu screen of the D610 / D600.

On the menu screen shown above, None will display a full screen image with no information, which helps you to inspect the image. Highlights will display blinking areas to alert you of where the image has been overexposed, which can help you determine the proper exposure for the subsequent shots. RGB histogram will display histogram graphs of the various color channels to also assist you in determining proper exposure. This one may actually be optional if you do not yet make use of individual color channel histograms. Shooting data displays additional information including the lens and focal length used, flash information, and Picture Controls settings. This screen is not necessarily very informative immediately after taking the shot since you already know most of these settings, but can be handy when later reviewing an image in-camera. Overview displays a thumbnail of the image along with the RGB histogram and shooting information. This is perhaps the most important and useful information screen to use while shooting to help determine that you obtained the proper or desired exposure of an image.

The option for Focus point will show you which Focus Point was used when capturing an image, and will thus verify if you properly focused where you intended (unless you recomposed after locking focus). It is that tiny red square or squares superimposed on your image when you view it on the rear LCD Monitor, but will not be on the actual image. It is most helpful for when you let the camera select the autofocus point, such as in action situations, and/ or when using an AF-Area Mode other than Single Point AF – and then you can see if the camera focused where you wished. But if you manually select your own AF point, as you typically should in many situations, you will already know where the camera focused.

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Overview Playback Display option, which shows a thumbnail of the image along with the RGB histogram and shooting information.

The Histogram is used to help you determine if your image was under- or over-exposed, and you generally want to make sure the graph falls down to zero before it reaches the edges of the histogram chart. If the data runs off the right side or spikes against the right edge, it means that you have over-exposed areas of your image, and you will need to adjust your exposure settings or make use of Exposure Compensation for taking the subsequent image.

There are, of course, numerous other settings and features of the D600 that can help you take full advantage of your camera. My guides Nikon D600 Experience and Nikon D610 Experience go beyond the manual to help you learn the features, settings, and controls of these sophisticated and highly customizable cameras.  Most importantly, they explain not only how but also when and why to use the D600/D610 basic and advanced features, settings, and controls in your photography. You can learn more about the guides, preview them, and purchase them by visiting my Full Stop webpage or by clicking on the book covers below:

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Purchasing the Nikon D610: If you are still contemplating the D610 and plan to buy, please consider using my affiliate links to make your purchase, and the retailer will give me a little something for referring you – thanks! You can click on the Amazon, B&H, or Adorama logos on the left of this page, or click here for the Nikon D610 on Amazon.

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