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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

My latest Full Stop e-book, Canon 77D Experience user guide to the Canon EOS 77D (and the first Canon 77D 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 customizable Canon 77D. Plus most importantly it explains how, when, and why to use the functions, settings, menu options, and controls in your photography.

Written in the clear, concise, and comprehensive style of all Full Stop guides, Canon 77D Experience will help you learn to use your 77D 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.

Canon 77D EOS book manual guide tutorial how to tips tricks recommended settings set up dummies use quick start

Learn more about this 77D guide, view a preview, and purchase it here:

www.fullstopbooks.com/canon-77d-experience

As one Canon user 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.”

For Intermediate and Enthusiast Photographers: This instant download Canon EOS 77D e-book is designed for enthusiast dSLR photographers who wish to take fuller advantage of the capabilities of their camera:

-Go beyond Auto+ and Program modes and shoot competently in Av, Tv, and M modes.

-Take full control of the powerful 45-point autofocus system to capture sharp images of still and moving subjects.

-Set up your camera with clear explanations and recommended settings for all Menu options and Custom Settings of the 77D.

-Learn how, when, and why to use and customize the various controls, buttons, and features of the 77D.

-Understand the various metering modes, exposure compensation, and exposure lock for correct exposure of every image, even in challenging lighting situations.

For Experienced Photographers coming to the EOS 77D from previous models, 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. Plus it explains the camera controls, the sophisticated 45-point autofocus system, the in-camera Time-Lapse Movie and Interval Timer features, in-camera image processing and Creative Filters, introduces the HD video capabilities, Wireless Flash, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth functions, and guides you through all of the 77D Menu and Custom Function items in order to help you best set up and customize the camera and its controls for your specific shooting needs.

This 375 page digital guide to the Canon 77D is an illustrated e-book that goes beyond the 77D manual to explain how, when, and why to use the features, settings, and controls of the 77D to help you take control of your camera and the images you create.

Learn more about Canon 77D Experience, view a preview, and purchase it on my Full Stop website here:

www.fullstopbooks.com/canon-77d-experience

Nikon D500 Tips and Tricks

Users are often curious about “hidden” features that their camera may have, though typically most dSLR models really don’t have many, as long as one carefully goes through all of the Menu and Custom Settings items, and reads through the manual or a user’s guide. However, with so many options and functions, there are a few items that truly are actually a bit hidden away on the Nikon D500. It’s not that the D500 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. And there are a few button shortcuts to access features and settings that you simply need to learn if you wish to take advantage of, because once you are using your camera, they are not indicated in any menus or with any button icons.

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Several of these “hidden” features are accessed with the i Button when working in the appropriate mode (Shooting, Live View, Movie, or Playback). Others are accessible in the menus but may require an understanding of the options as they are listed, or might require extra steps of sub-menu navigation to locate them. All of these features are discussed in more detail in my 400 page comprehensive e-book guide Nikon D500 Experience, but here is an introduction to these “hidden” features of the Nikon D500.

Illuminated Buttons – Hopefully you are already aware that your D500 has the cool new feature of illuminated buttons, in order to help you change your settings when working in low light conditions. To make use of this, simply rotate the camera’s Power Switch to the light bulb icon.

IMG_5296-01s

Detail of the illuminated buttons of the Nikon D500.

Information Display and Button Settings – If you first press the Info Button to display the Information Display on the rear Monitor, you can then press most of the camera buttons to change the corresponding settings as you view them on the larger rear screen, rather than on the smaller top Control Panel. For example, you can press the AF Mode Button, and turn the appropriate Command Dial to change the AF-Area Mode and the Focus Mode. The screen will even indicate which Command Dial to use for each setting. This can also be used for the buttons on the top of the camera such as White Balance and ISO, as well at the BKT (Bracketing) Button.

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Left: First press the Info Button to display the Information Display, then press most any of the camera buttons to view and change those settings as you view them on the rear Monitor, such as the AF Mode Button for the autofocus settings. Right: Press the i Button during shooting to access the Photo Shooting i Button menu.

i Button Features – The D500 includes the i Button, which is on most other current Nikon dSLR models. Pressing the i Button when shooting will allow you to access and change several settings using the Photo Shooting i Button Menu on the rear LCD Monitor, such as Active D-Lighting, Image Area, Long Exposure Noise Reduction, and High ISO Noise Reduction. It will also allow you to access the Custom Control Assignment menu where you assign the function of various camera buttons including the Pv, Fn1, and BKT Buttons, and the Sub-selector joystick. When working in Live View, Movie Live View, image playback, and movie playback, the i Button will access a contextual menu for each mode, and in some situations it is the only way to access and change certain of these “hidden” features.

i Button in Live View – For example, when working in Live View, you can press the i Button to adjust the Live View 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 current white balance of the camera. 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 with a Speedlight or studio strobes. So using this feature, you can set the white balance of the LCD Monitor to better set up the scene in the current lighting.

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Left: Live View i Button Menu, where Split-Screen Display Zoom can be accessed. Right: Making use of this feature, to see if the left and right sides of the frame are level.

The i Button is also the only way to access the Split Screen Display Zoom during Live View, where you can simultaneously zoom in on two different areas of the frame to help determine if they are level. This can come in handy for landscape and architectural photographers. Although the Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter is accessible with Custom Setting d6, and thus isn’t hidden, I will mention it here because it can also be accessed with the i Button during Live View. What you need to know is that this feature must be used in conjunction with Mirror Up (Mup) Release Mode.

i Button in 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 “zebra stripes” feature is accessed with the Highlight Display item of the i Button menu. 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 Pv and Fn1 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.

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Left: Press the i Button when in Live View or in Movie Live View to access the applicable i Button Menu screen. Right: The Highlight Display “zebra stripes” feature for movie shooting, to indicate overexposed areas of the scene.

Live View Exposure Preview – Pressing the OK Button when in Live View 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.

Camera Controls Assignments – A few other “hidden” features of the Nikon D500 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, Pv Button, or Sub Selector Center press to the Viewfinder Virtual Horizon option. You can also assign the Pv Button or Fn1 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 a button to temporarily switch to a different AF-Area Mode. For example, if you have set up the camera to capture a bird in flight using Dynamic-Area 25 Point AF-Area Mode, you can customize the camera to press the Pv Button, Fn1 Button, AF-ON Button, or Sub-Selector Center to temporarily switch to Single-Point AF to better capture a still subject. You can set up the camera in a similar manner to temporarily switch to a different Metering Mode.

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Left: Using Custom Setting f1 to customize one of the buttons (such as the Pv or Fn1 Button) so that it can be used to temporarily switch to a different AF-Area Mode. Press right on the Multi-Selector here to set the desired AF-Area Mode. Right: The Multi-Selector Center Button can be assigned to display a large histogram during image playback.

One Button Playback Zoom / Histogram – Using Custom Setting f2, you can assign the Multi Selector Center Button so that during image playback it will immediately zoom-in, at the magnification level of your choice (50%, 100%, 200%), 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.

OK Button and Multi Selector Shortcuts – During image playback, you can press the OK Button and simultaneously press the up arrow on the Multi Selector to access the Playback slot and folder options. This allows you to quickly choose which memory card (SD or XQD) and folder is being accessed during image playback. You can also simply scroll through the images from one card to the next, or you can press the Zoom-out Button repeatedly to access this Playback slot and folder screen (rather than the calendar view screen of other Nikon models). You can also press the OK Button plus the right arrow of the Multi Selector to access the Retouch Menu, and press the OK plus down arrow to select an IPTC Preset, which is metadata attached to an image for publication purposes.

Autofocus Auto 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. The procedure for this is fully explained in the Nikon D500 Experience guide, and it involves simultaneously pressing the AF Mode Button and Movie Record Button. There is also an excellent description and tutorial for it on this site:

http://www.reikan.co.uk/focalweb/index.php/2016/04/nikon-d500-automatic-af-fine-tune/

I recommended that you read their instructions for the process, in order to achieve the best results with this feature.

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Left: Simultaneously press the AF Mode Button and Movie Record Button to begin the Autofocus Auto Fine-Tune procedure. Right: You can directly enter a K-Color Temperature value by pressing the WB Button and using the Multi-Controller to select and change the digits, as displayed at the lower-left of the Live View display as highlighted here in yellow.

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 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-Controller to select and change the digits.

Live View Spot White Balance – This feature enables you to take a white balance measurement of a precise area of the scene when working in Live View. This is accessed by setting the white balance to Preset Manual (PRE), then pressing the WB Button until the PRE icon flashes. You can then tap on the Touch Screen to select the area used for the Spot White Balance Measurement.

Synchronized Release of Remote Cameras – If you are making use of an optional wireless remote to trigger multiple cameras, there is also a “hidden” setting for this in the Custom Setting f1 button assignments. You can choose to assign the Pv Button, Fn1 Button, or Sub-Selector Center press to the Sync. Release selection option, which is used in conjunction with the Custom Setting d4 Sync. Release Mode Options. You can set up the camera so that, for example, when using the D500 as a master camera to remotely trigger other cameras, you can press the Fn1 (or Pv) Button while taking the shot, and then just the master camera will shoot, or just the remote cameras and not the master, based on your settings.

Flash Information Screen – 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.

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When using a Speedlight flash, press the Info Button twice to access the Flash Information Screen showing the current flash settings (left), and then press the i Button to view and change the various settings and options (right).

To learn much more about the D500, including all the Menu options, Custom Settings, camera controls, features, and functions – plus how, when, and why to use them in your photography, have a look at my guide, Nikon D500 Experience.

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

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If you haven’t yet purchased your Nikon D500, please consider using one of my affiliate links! You pay the usual price, and they will give me a small referral bonus – thanks!

Nikon D500 body only or with 16-80mm kit lens, on Amazon

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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

Canon 5DS / 5DS R Experience, my latest Full Stop e book and the first EOS 5DS and 5DS R 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 Canon 5DS and 5DS R. Plus most importantly it explains how, when, and why to use the functions, settings, menu options, and controls in your photography – including the sophisticated 61-point viewfinder autofocus system with its AF Modes and AF Case settings, the Live View-Movie AF system, personalizing the Custom Controls, and controlling exposure and shooting settings. The guide also covers the in-camera features such as Multiple Exposure, Time-Lapse, HDR, RAW image processing, and the Mirror Lock-Up and Exposure Time delay settings to help maximize sharpness and get the most from the high-resolution sensor. Plus it includes explanations and recommended settings for the Menu items and Custom Function settings.

Written in the clear, concise, and comprehensive style of all Full Stop guides, Canon 5DS / 5DS R Experience will help you learn to use your 5DS or 5DS R 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.

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

http://www.fullstopbooks.com/canon-5ds-5ds-r-experience/

As readers have said about Full Stop guides:

Best reference book for Canon – Well written and easy to understand. This book really helps one to be able to take advantage of all the features of the camera. A must have book.”

Excellent ebook – This ebook is first-class, and this author knows his stuff about Canon cameras. He cuts to the chase, and gets right to the heart of the important matters. I learned a lot and I learned it very quickly indeed – which I am now putting to good use with my camera. Highly recommended.”

Will Save You A Month On The Learning Curve – This book clearly and practically walks the reader through every step of setting up and using the camera for the first time. A wonderfully well-organized book, it explains every feature and setting on the camera with recommendations on optimal setup choices and the reasoning behind each recommendation. Whether you are a novice or experienced photographer, this book will impart a huge amount of information quickly and you will save yourself weeks on the learning curve in just a few hours.”

Well-organized, easy to understand – 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.”

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Take control of your Canon 5DS / 5DS R, the image taking process, and the photos you create!

For Intermediate and Enthusiast Photographers – This guide is designed for enthusiast dSLR photographers who wish to take fuller advantage of their camera and shoot competently in Av, Tv, and M modes; take full control of the versatile 61-Point autofocus system; and learn how, when, and why to use and customize the various controls, buttons, and features of the 5DS and 5DS R. It covers dSLR camera functions and exposure concepts for those learning digital SLR photography, and explains more advanced camera controls and operations 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. Plus it explains the camera controls and how to customize them, how to take control of the AF Area Modes and configuration Cases for capturing moving subjects, how to make use of the in-camera HDR, Multiple Exposure, and Time-Lapse features, and how to get the most from the 50.6 MP sensor. It introduces back-button focusing, the HD video capabilities, and guides you through all the 5DS / 5DS R Menu and Custom Function items to help you best set up and customize the camera for your specific shooting needs.

The guide contains a link to a detailed 5DS / 5DS R Setup Spreadsheet, to help set up your menus and settings for various shooting situations.

Canon 5DS / 5DS R Experience book manual guide how to tips trick master exposure autofocus Canon 5DS / 5DS R Experience book manual guide how to tips trick master exposure focus autofocus

Canon 5DS / 5DS R Experience includes:

  • Setting Up Your 5DS / 5DS R – All of the Menus and Custom Function settings, with explanations and recommended settings to set up and customize the advanced features to work best for the way you photograph.
  • Aperture Priority (Av), Shutter Priority (Tv), 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 the exposure settings.
  • Auto Focusing Modes and Area Modes, and Drive Modes – Learn the AF Modes, AF Area Modes, and the AF Menus and Cases, plus 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, including exposure lock and exposure compensation.
  • Histograms, Bracketing, and White Balance – Understanding these features for adjusting to the proper exposure in challenging lighting situations.
  • Multiple Exposures, HDR, Interval Timer, and Time-Lapse Shooting
  • Optional Flash and GPS use
  • The Image Taking Process – Using the settings and controls for both still and moving subjects.
  • Introduction to Video
  • Photography Accessories and Books – Useful accessories for the 5DS / 5DS R.

Canon 5DS / 5DS R Experience book manual guide how to tips trick master exposure focus autofocus Canon 5DS / 5DS R Experience book manual guide how to tips trick master focus autofocus exposure

This digital guide to the Canon 5DS and 5DS R is a 400 page illustrated e-book that goes beyond the 5DS / 5DS R manual to explain how, when, and why to use the features, settings, and controls of the 5DS and 5DS R to help you get the most from your camera.

Learn more about Canon 5DS / 5DS R Experience, view a preview, and purchase it on my Full Stop website here:

http://www.fullstopbooks.com/canon-5ds-5ds-r-experience/

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

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.

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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.

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.

I’ve just completed my guide to the new Nikon D3300, Nikon D3300 Experience – The Still Photography Guide to Operation and Image Creation, which is now available for purchase on my Full Stop website here: http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/Nikon_D3300_Experience.htm

Nikon D3300 book manual guide use learn dummies how to tutorial tips tricks recommend setting setup quick start

Nikon D3300 Experience is an e-book user’s guide that goes beyond the D3300 manual to help you learn when and why to use the various features, controls, and menu settings of this versatile camera. This guide is written for those who wish to get more out of their camera, go beyond Auto, Program, and Scene modes in order to shoot competently in Aperture-Priority (A), Shutter-Priority (S), and Manual (M) Shooting Modes.

Learn to use your D3300, quickly and competently, to create the types of images you want to capture. The Nikon D3300 is an excellent image making tool, and this guide explains how to begin to use it to its full capability.  It will help you begin to take control of your camera, the image taking process, and the photos you create.

Nikon D3300 book manual guide how to use tips tricks dummies iso setting setup

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.”

To get you started, Nikon D3300 Experience guides you through all the Playback, Shooting, Setup, Retouch, and Movie Menus of the D3300 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 11-Point Autofocus System and its AF Modes and AF Area Modes 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 D3300 such as the in-camera Special Effects Shooting Modes, and introduces the HD video capabilities.

Nikon D3300 book guide manual how to use tips tricks dummies setup tutorial

Nikon D3300 Experience not only covers the various settings, functions and controls of the Nikon D3300, 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 D3300 – All of the D3300 Playback, Shooting, Setup, Retouch, and Movie Menus, with explanations and recommended settings for practical, everyday use. Set up 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 D3300 autofocus system is a important tool, and taking control of it will enable you to successfully capture more sharp images in still and action situations.  Learn the AF Modes and AF Area Modes, 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 D3300 – 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 and back-button focusing.

  • Histograms, Exposure Compensation, 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 D3300.

  • Composition – 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.

Nikon D3300 autofocus use learn book guide manual how to dummies tips tricks

This digital guide to the Nikon D3300 is a 234 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 D3300 to help you get out there shooting. Learn more about the guide, preview it, and purchase it at my Full Stop website here: http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/Nikon_D3300_Experience.htm

 

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.

Nikon Df Experience book guide manual how to dummies setup quick start tips tricks how to lens menu

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!

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

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.

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

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!

Nikon Df retro non ai pre ai lens how to use manual guide review hands on recommended setting dummies tutorial quick start tips tricks
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.

Nikon Df unboxing use learn tips tricks hands on review dummies how to manual guide book quick start use learn setup
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.

Nikon Df low light digital noise high ISO learn use manual guide book how to dummies tips tricks hands on review
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.

Nikon Df multiple exposure in camera example image sample quick start how to use guide manual set up tips tricks recommend setting
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:

Nikon Df FX vs DX image area full frame sensor use learn manual guide book settings setup
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!

Canon 70D Experience, my latest Full Stop e book and the first EOS 70D 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 Canon 70D. Plus most importantly it explains how, when, and why to use the functions, settings, menu options, and controls in your photography – including the 19-point viewfinder autofocus system, new Live View-Movie AF system, exposure and shooting settings, flash and Wireless Flash, the in-camera features such as Multiple Exposure, HDR, RAW image processing, and the new Wi-Fi functions.

Written in the clear, concise, and comprehensive style of all Full Stop guides, Canon 70D Experience will help you learn to use your 70D 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. It is my most comprehensive, fully illustrated guide yet!

Canon 70D EOS book manual guide tutorial how to tips tricks recommended settings set up dummies use quick start

 

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

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/Canon_70D_Experience.htm

As readers have said about Full Stop guides:

“An excellent guide, clear and concise. A great tool for budding photographer as well as the seasoned pro. A sure way to get the most out of your camera.”

and

“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 Canon 70D, the image taking process, and the photos you create!

For Intermediate and Enthusiast Photographers:

This instant download Canon EOS 70D e book is designed for enthusiast dSLR photographers who wish to take fuller advantage of the capabilities of their camera:

  • Go beyond Auto+ and Program modes and shoot competently in Av, Tv, and M modes.
  • Take full control of the versatile 19-point and new Live View autofocus systems.
  • Learn how, when, and why to use and customize the various controls, buttons, and features of the 70D.

To get you started, it includes explanations and recommended settings for all Menu settings and Custom Function options of the 70D. 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 taking control of the autofocus system for sharp focus of still or moving subjects, using the various metering modes and exposure compensation for correct exposure of every image, and taking advantage of the newer features found in the 70D such as Wi-Fi Functions and in-camera HDR and Multiple Exposure Modes.

For Experienced Photographers to get up and running with the 70D:

For experienced photographers coming to the EOS 70D from other models, 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. Plus it explains the camera controls, the in-camera HDR and Multiple Exposures features, in-camera image processing and editing, introduces the HD video capabilities, Wi-Fi functions, Flash and Wireless Flash, and guides you through all the 70D Menu and Custom Function items in order to help you best set up and customize the camera and its controls for your specific shooting needs.

Canon 70D Experience not only covers the various settings, functions and controls of the Canon 70D, but also explains when and why to use them for your photography. The guide focuses on still-photography with an introduction to the movie menus, settings, and options to get you up and running with HD video. Sections include:

  • Setting Up Your EOS 70D – Explanations of all of the Canon 70D Custom Function settings and Menu options, with recommended settings for practical, everyday use. These settings are a significant part of what makes the 70D such a powerful and versatile camera. Set up and customize the advanced features to work best for the way you photograph.
  • Camera Controls – Description of all of the camera’s controls, how to customize them for your needs, and when and why to use them.
  • Aperture Priority (Av), Shutter Priority (Tv), 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 Drive Modes – Explanations of the 19-Point Viewfinder AF system and new Live View-Movie AF system, how and when to use them to capture sharp images of both still and moving subjects. Also how and when to use focus lock and back-button focusing.
  • Exposure Metering Modes of the Canon 70D – How they differ, how and when to use them for correct exposures in every situation. 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 or for capturing a range of exposures to combine into HDR images.
  • Flash and Wireless Flash – Introduction to setting up and using the built-in flash or an external Speedlite, as well as taking advantage of the Wireless Flash capabilities of the 70D.
  • Wi-Fi Functions – Introduction to the set-up and use of the camera’s built-in Wi-Fi. Wirelessly control the 70D, save, or share images with your smart device or computer.
  • Introduction to Video Settings – Explanations of all the movie menus, settings, and options to get you started.
  • Composition – Tips, techniques, and explanations, including the creative use of depth of field.
  • The Image Taking Process – Descriptive tutorials for using the settings and controls you just learned to take still and action photos.
  • Lenses – Explanation of Canon lenses and choosing your next lens.
  • Photography Accessories – The most useful accessories for day-to-day and travel photography including those specific to the 70D, plus recommended photography books.

This digital guide to the Canon 70D is a 360 page illustrated e-book that goes beyond the 70D manual to explain how, when, and why to use the features, settings, and controls of the 70D to help you get the most from your camera.

Learn more about Canon 70D Experience, view a preview, and purchase it on my Full Stop website here:

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/Canon_70D_Experience.htm

I’ve been waiting until I got my hands on the latest new dSLR, so that I could coordinate a camera “field test” with a visit to an exhibit I’ve been wanting to see. The Heritage Museum and Gardens is currently showing an exhibit of concept cars, called Driving Our Dreams, which will be there until October 27, 2013. They have gathered together one of the coolest collections of American concept cars from the 1950’s to the present, ranging from the “space-age” 1956 GM Firebird II turbine powered highway rocket to the solar powered 2009 Infinium – and what better place to try out a new camera?! So thanks to LensProToGo for putting a new Canon EOS 70D into my hands, just as it was hitting the stores at the end of August!

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up 1956 Buick Centurion concept
All images in this post taken with the Canon 70D at the Heritage Museum, Sandwich, Massachusetts. 1956 Buick Centurion concept car. (Learn about the over-saturated red channel below.)

I headed out to Sandwich, Mass., the oldest town on Cape Cod, to visit the museum. I’ve been researching and writing about the 70D since it was announced a few months ago, as I work on my latest camera guide Canon 70D Experience, so I was already extremely familiar with its features and controls.

You can read all about the camera’s new features, and some tips for customizing the settings and controls of your 70D, in some of my previous Canon 70D articles. And if you wish to learn not only the features, functions, and controls of the 70D, but more importantly when and why to use them, be sure to look at my guide Canon 70D Experience. It will help you to take control of your camera, and the images you create!

Canon 70D EOS book manual guide tutorial how to tips tricks recommended settings set up dummies use quick start

Controls and Touch Screen: If you have worked with a Canon 60D, 7D, or even a 50D (or earlier), you should find that the 70D feels very familiar. It has about the same weight and feel, and while some of the controls move around from model to model, most of them are similar. I found that I quickly learned which button to instinctively press for my needs, whether the Image Playback Button, Info Button, or Q Button, etc. Even more convenient is the new Touch Screen, first seen on the Canon Rebel T4i/ EOS 650D. For those who may be skeptical about using a touch screen because of either responsiveness concerns or due to the “purity” of using a camera’s controls, the Canon 70D Touch Screen may very well change your mind. As with the screen on the T4i/650D and T5i/700D, it is as responsive as you have come to expect with an iPhone, and even uses many of the same Multi-Touch gestures – particularly when reviewing images during Image Playback (swipe for the next image, spread and pinch for zooming in and out, etc.). Even though many of the menu tabs, menu items, and function icons of the 70D are tiny, I rarely ever have any problem immediately selecting the right one. And regarding the desire to use the actual camera buttons and controls to change settings, I have quickly gotten into the habit of just pressing the Q Button to access the Quick Control Screen, then using the Touch Screen to change my settings with a few taps. After I have reviewed an image and wish to change settings, I find that it is quicker and easier to do it this way and simply leave the camera in the same position in your hands as you look at the rear screen, than it is to tilt the camera up, locate your desired settings button, press it and look at the small top LCD screen. You can change all the shooting settings on the Quick Control Screen, jump around the menus for various other settings, review all your settings on the Shooting Function Settings screen, and go back into image review all with your right thumb and left index finger, while holding the camera in the same position. Though I still use the dials and controls to change the aperture / shutter speed settings and control the autofocus points as I work through the viewfinder.

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up 1954 Buick Wildcat II concept
1954 Buick Wildcat II concept car

The top Main Dial of the 70D, while solid, has that great “soft” rubber feel to it rather than the harder plastic feel of entry-level models.  And this softer material is much easier on your fingertip after a long day of shooting. I always gripe about the inclusion of the thumb-pad Multi-Controller on the 60D and 70D, rather than the joystick version of the 7D, 50D, and 5D Mark III. I prefer the joystick because of its location, which is much closer to the other buttons on the top rear of the camera that your thumb will also be using. However, I found that after some time with the 70D I eventually got used to the thumb-pad.  While I still dislike the location, it does make it a bit easier to select an autofocus point the diagonal directions. One of the Custom Controls that I found I like is to customize the SET Button for ISO selection. While there is a dedicated ISO Button on the top of the camera, or you can easily select it on the Quick Control Screen, I find that it is also quick and easy to press the SET Button as you turn the top Main Dial to make this adjustment. As described above, it helps you to make this adjustment while keeping the camera in the same “image review” position. Plus you can quickly use this method to change the setting while your eye stays in the Viewfinder. And while you can always use the top ISO button in the same manner, it is much more difficult to determine which top button is the ISO Button without looking at it. (While it has a little bump on it to help locate it by feel, it is not a big enough difference from the other buttons for me to locate it with confidence.)

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up Corvette 1962
1962 Corvette – production model

I decided with this photo shoot to use the 70D just as I would during any normal shoot, and thus concentrate on the controls, exposure issues, and autofocus system (rather than, say, playing with the Multiple Exposure or HDR features). I had earlier experimented with some of the other functions of the camera such as Auto Lighting Optimizer, in-camera HDR, Multi-Shot Noise Reduction, Multiple Exposures, Creative Filters, etc., and those can all be learned about in Canon 70D Experience. There will also be example images of all these features in my Canon 70D Flickr set.

Lighting, Exposure, White Balance, and Noise: One of the first things I discovered is that lighting at an indoor automobile exhibit is very challenging! While they allowed the use of flash, it would not have worked out well due to all the reflections and bright spots it would cause in the car body, glass, and chrome (which of course is well represented in the 50’s cars). Perhaps indirect flash would work well, but as I was going to be taking hundreds of shots, I didn’t wish to disrupt the other visitors with constant flashes. In addition, getting the right exposure was challenging because I was often taking close-up shots of a large area of a light tone or dark tone, which would fool the exposure meter and cause it to want to under- or over-expose the image. Plus some of the cars were bare metal, which is prone to very bright reflective areas and dark non-reflective areas depending on how the lights are hitting it and the angle of view. So the exposure level reading could change dramatically from the initial framing where I locked focus to the final framing when I took the shot. I had to carefully keep an eye on how the light changed based on what area of the car I was photographing, as well as how it changed based on my angle of view as I moved slightly side to side, or crouched down low. I needed to sometimes lock the exposure settings for my final framing or for an important area (using the AE Lock * Button on the rear of the camera), and I had to check the results and the histogram, and adjust the Exposure Compensation to lighten or darken the subsequent shots (while then remembering to set EC back to 0 when I moved on to the next shot!). (If you don’t yet fully understand what this all means, I discuss locking exposure settings, the Histogram, and Exposure Compensation in detail in my Canon 70D Experience guide.)

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up Corvette 1962
1962 Corvette – production model

There was relatively low lighting in the exhibition space, but I was able to make use of ISO 1600. I primarily worked in Aperture-Priority AE Shooting Mode (Av) so that I had control of the depth of field. Sometimes the shutter speed that the camera chose dropped below a desirable 1/100 or 1/125, so I often took a quick burst of images knowing that at least one would come out sharp. In truth, I just looked over my previous ISO tests of the 70D, and there is very little loss of quality between 1600 ISO and 3200 ISO, in the JPEG images straight from the camera.  Some excessive graininess definitely appear by 6400 ISO. So I could have safely increased the ISO well above 1600, perhaps even up to 3200. But it was simply an old habit of never going above 1600, drilled into me with older cameras such as the 50D – and I should have left that prejudice aside when working with the 70D. You can view JPEG test results at the various ISO settings, in my Canon 70D ISO Flickr set.

The images shown here and on Flickr were originally shot in RAW image quality, and converted to DNG using the Adobe DNG converter. They were then processed, sharpened, and saved as JPEG. Unfortunately, I did not apply any noise reduction during processing, and the results are excessively noisy. I am going to have to go back and apply noise reduction to these images, either using Photoshop or Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP). Below are some details of the above image, showing the difference between:

  • the original JPEG
  • the original RAW converted with Adobe DNG and processed in Photoshop and output as a JEPG, no noise reduction
  • the original RAW processed in Canon DPP with noise reduction applied and output as a JPEG.

For any pixel peepers, please note that all of the processing was done relatively quickly, so as to illustrate the overall differences. This is not intended to show definitive lab-quality results that one could achieve with much more careful, patient processing and noise reduction application. Please view the results at DPReview to see their lab-quality tests of JPEG, RAW, image quality, and noise.

Click on these image details to see larger versions:

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test noise high ISO JPEG vs RAW book manual guide how to settings set up
Detail of original JPEG straight from camera, 1600 ISO with “High ISO Speed NR” set for Standard – very little noise seen.

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test noise high ISO JPEG vs RAW book manual guide how to settings set up
Detail of processed RAW>DNG (processed with Photoshop)>JPEG, with no noise reduction applied, and thus excessively noisy.

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test noise high ISO JPEG vs RAW book manual guide how to settings set up
Detail of processed RAW (processed with Canon DPP)>JPEG with noise reduction applied, very little noise seen.

So the lesson of the above examples is that you can confidently shoot in JPEG, up to 1600 and even higher, and achieve clean, low-noise results. You can make use of the 70D in-camera High ISO Speed NR option to assist with this, setting it for Standard or High. View the tests on DPReview to see how high you are willing to raise the ISO before the noise is too much for your tastes or image-output needs. And, if you shoot in RAW, you are going to need to apply noise reduction (and contrast, sharpening, etc. as always) as you process the images, especially when you are shooting in high ISO settings (800, 1600, and higher). Apply noise reduction in Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, Canon DPP, etc.

Regarding White Balance, I learned that I should not have forgotten to bring my digital grey card for creating some benchmark images or even for setting a Custom White Balance. Though my post-processing experiments, I discovered that the White Balance color temperature of the exhibit space was very close to the Incandescent setting, but it would have been helpful, and would have saved time, if I had simply taken a couple images with the grey card in the scene. The lighting also varied throughout the space, as some areas had a bit of daylight from large windows. With images like these, I feel it is very important to closely match the actual colors of the cars, as they are documentary images of sorts. While the artificial lighting of an exhibition space vs. natural lighting outside would make these cars, (and images of these cars) appear differently, I wanted to match as closely as possible what I saw. If you wish to create a Custom White Balance with the 70D, you can take an image of a white object or grey card, filling a large central area of the Viewfinder with the card (about the size of the AF Points diamond), then go into the Shooting 3 menu and select the Custom White Balance menu item. It will ask you to select the image of the grey card you just took. When that is set, simply set your White Balance setting to the Custom WB icon, by pressing the Q Button and using the Quick Control Screen.

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up 1956 Buick Centurion concept
1956 Buick Centurion concept car

As is common with many dSLR sensors, the red channel can have a tendency to be sensitive to over-saturation. I experienced this as well with the 70D, though as you can see in the above image there was a large expanse of brightly lit red. In this and other images of the red and white Buick Centurion, some of the brightest areas of red become over-saturated and lose all detail, variation, or shadow, and are simply “pure” red. This is most easily seen in the first image at the top of this post, where there is a large area of lighter red on the top of the rear fender, where all subtle detail of varying color tones and shadow gradation is lost. If you are only watching the Brightness Histogram you may not pick this up, as the overall image – according to the camera – is not over-exposed. In order to keep your eye on this as you work, you can make use of the RGB Histogram. As shown below, the red channel is cut off at the right edge of the graph, and thus all detail will be lost in those areas of the image where this occurs. The sensor has simply reached its limits of what it can capture. If you experience this, you can adjust the lighting and perhaps make use of reflectors or diffusers, or move the subject, or alter your angle of view. In a situation where you can’t control these elements, you will need to adjust the exposure (under expose) before retaking the image, then check the RGB Histogram to make sure the color channels are not cut off at the right side of the graph.  Then carefully work with the image in post-processing to “bring back” or raise the overall exposure while trying to keep the problematic color channel from becoming over-saturated.

Canon 70D RGB Histogram learn use how to book guide manual dummies
Canon 70D RGB and Brightness Histogram, showing that areas of red have been over-saturated.

Aperture-Priority, Lenses, Autofocusing: As I mentioned above, I primarily worked in Aperture-Priority AE Shooting Mode, where I controlled the aperture setting while the camera chose the appropriate shutter speed. This allowed me to control the depth of field of the images, since I was primarily aiming to achieve very shallow, dramatic depth of field in the detail images, as shown in the tail-fin image below:

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up aperture depth of field 1954 Buick Wildcat II concept car
1954 Buick Wildcat II concept car

By working with a Canon 70-200mm F/4L IS lens, I set the lens at or near the 200mm focal length, backed up several yards, and then focused on my area of interest while setting the aperture at f/4. This results in very shallow depth of field and calls attention to the area of detail.  For the images showing a larger area of the cars, I used either the 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle lens or the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L, with the aperture set around f/2.8 or f/4.

I primarily autofocused using One-Shot AF Focus Mode and Single-Point AF Autofocus Area Selection Mode. One-Shot AF is used for still (or relatively still) subjects. As with the Canon 7D, the 70D has an Autofocus Area Selection Button on the top of the camera near the Shutter Button, which allows you to choose between these modes as you look through the Viewfinder (Single-Point AF, Zone AF, or 19-Point Automatic Selection AF), and these modes determine how many AF Points are being used to try to find the subject to focus on. With Single Point AF, I am able to manually select my desired AF Point using the Multi-Controller as I look through the Viewfinder, place it over the exact area where I wish to focus, and then lock focus with a half-press of the Shutter Button or by pressing the rear AF-ON Button. I can then recompose the shot to get the framing I desire, and press the Shutter Button to take the shot. While the 70D has 19 AF Points to choose from, it is relatively quick and easy to select the one you wish. You can even customize the camera so that if you are selecting one of the edge points, you can choose to stop at the edge or “wrap-around” to the AF Point on the other side if you continue to click the Multi-Controller.  I always choose to have it stop at the edge.  That way if I am choosing an “edge” point, I can simply quickly “click, click, click” on the left Multi-Controller, and I know it will stop at the far left AF Point and not “wrap-around” to an AF Point on the other side of the frame.

As you may be aware, the Canon 70D has a brand new, potentially revolutionary Live View / Movie autofocus system. It is a phase-detection AF system called Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which can quickly and smoothly grab focus, and can also be used to very effectively track a moving subject.  Based on my tests and on many test videos found on the Internet, the system is living up to the hype and performs as well as promised. Previously, Live View focus was slow, and the camera often hunted for the subject.  With this new system, it achieves focus on the subject extremely quickly an accurately. I made use of both the rotating rear LCD screen of the 70D and the Live View AF system to take some shots looking down from the first level onto the lower level, as seen in this image:

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up 1956 GM Firebird II concept
1956 GM Firebird II concept car

I held the camera out at arms length, rotated the rear screen so that I could see it, and pressed the AF-ON Button to lock focus. Even in the low lighting, the camera immediately focused. With the Live View autofocusing system you can also select from different autofocusing methods that determine how large an area the camera looks at to find a subject. Again I used the smallest, most precise area, called FlexiZone-Single AF, which provides a small focus square that you can move around the screen and locate where you wish, either using the Multi-Controller or the Touch Screen.

Creative Filters:  In spite of what I said earlier, I did play around with the in-camera Creative Filters and applied them to some of these images. I used the the Art Bold Effect, which affects contrast and saturation, on an image of the Buick Centurion.  By setting it on the High setting, I totally blew out the red (over-exposed), but is also made the interior glow nicely and has a cool effect on the chrome. And I used the Fish-eye Effect on the Buick Wildcat II, which works well if you get in close while having receding lines, as I found at the corner of this bumper.

Canon 70D in camera creative filter art bold
Canon 70D In-camera Creative Filter – Art Bold Effect – High.

Canon 70D eos Creative Filter Fish-eye fisheye effect
Canon 70D In-camera Creative Filter – Fish-eye Effect – Low.

Conclusion: After spending a dedicated week with the Canon 70D, exploring every menu item and experimenting with every function and feature, I have grown tremendously fond of this camera. Part of this is the familiarity I feel from working so long with the 50D and the 7D. But it is also due to some of its new features, which would make going back to either of those cameras extremely difficult. The first is the Touch Screen, which is an extremely quick, easy, and convenient way to change settings on the fly, access menus, and review images. Second is the new Live View autofocus system, which works as well as promised. It mot only makes Live View shooting much less frustrating and much more viable for all kinds of shooting situations, but it also makes autofocusing during movie shooting a reality. In addition, you can now use the Touch Screen to immediately change the area of focus, while movie shooting, simply by touching the screen. And finally, there are some of the smaller features, but these little additions can make a big difference. For example, during image playback you can access the Playback Quick Control screen and quickly set an image Rating. When this first appeared on the 5DIII and Rebels, I thought it might be a bit frivolous. But I have come to make very effective use of it, and will miss it on other dSLRs that don’t have this feature.  It allows you to go through your images and the camera and quickly mark (rate) the best ones, as well as mark the bad ones (with one star) that you will likely be able to quickly delete after viewing them on your computer. It is a simple feature that can provide significant time savings in a busy workflow.

Another simple feature that I discovered I made use of more than expected is the electronic level in the viewfinder. Unlike previous cameras where you can use the AF Points, as seen in the Viewfinder, as a level, the 70D includes a small “level” icon at the bottom of the Viewfinder screen.  (You can also make use of the AF Points as a level, which is sort of a hidden feature I will explain in a moment.) This level icon is simply a camera icon surrounded by either straight or diagonal lines, which indicate if you are on or off level. Or if both the straight and diagonal lines are displayed, you are almost level. I have long had a tendency to hold the camera slightly off-level, so I always appreciate the Viewfinder grid, which can be enabled in the 70D. But this level icon helped even more to keep my images straight. I found that I could compose the image, take care of locking focus and exposure if necessary, and then take a peek at the level icon before pressing the Shutter Button to take the shot.  More often than not, it indicated I was slightly off, so I carefully leveled the camera and took the shot. Again, such a simple feature helped a great deal – by keeping my images straight and level, which eliminated the need to straighten (and thus slightly crop) numerous photos later in Photoshop.

Regarding the “hidden” Viewfinder level that uses the AF Points, you can use the Custom Controls to set the Depth of Field Preview Button to the Electronic Level option. You can then press this DOF Preview Button during shooting and activate a level that uses the AF Points in the Viewfinder to indicate if the camera is level or not. Press the Shutter Button to turn it off and return to shooting.  You can learn about several other Custom Controls and Custom Function settings in my post on the 70D Custom Controls.

Canon 70D EOS hands on review field test book manual guide how to settings set up 1956 Buick Centurion concept
1956 Buick Centurion concept car

Regarding image quality, while I failed to properly apply noise reduction to the RAW images used here as I processed them, my subsequent tests and inspections have confirmed that you can work in high ISO settings (approaching 3200) and achieve a low, acceptable amount of noise with JPEG images straight out of the camera, and with RAW images with noise reduction applied in post processing. This has been confirmed with test images on DPReview and other sites.

Additional concept cars and more images from this visit to the Heritage Museum can be seen on Flickr here.

Remember to check out my other Canon 70D blog posts to find out more about the camera. And if you wish to take control of your Canon 70D, and learn how, when, and why to use its controls, features, and settings, be sure to check out my e-book guide, Canon 70D Experience.

If you are planning to purchase your Canon 70D online, please consider using my affiliate links and help support this blog – thanks!

Order your Canon EOS 70D from Amazon or B and H Photo:

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Canon 70D – Body or with choice of kit lenses – $1,199 to $1,549

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One of the most powerful features of the Canon EOS 70D is the ability to customize the functions of various buttons and controls on the camera body. Taking advantage of this will allow you to set up the camera specifically for you and your shooting style and needs, and thus enable you to work more smoothly, quickly, and efficiently. Having the ability to easily and intuitively change the camera settings on the fly will also allow you to focus on the more important aspects of capturing the framing, moment, or composition you are after.

These settings are found in the  III-4: Custom Controls menu (see Figure 1). At first you may wish to leave many of these on the default settings or set them to match your previous camera settings. Then after working with the camera awhile, you will begin to know how you work and how you wish to work faster or more conveniently through customizing some controls. Pages 384-385 of the Canon 70D manual show all the possible options, and you might consider printing these manual pages to carefully study and consider your potential configurations.

These explanations are excerpted from my e-book guide to the EOS 70D called Canon 70D Experience. As with all my dSLR guides, Canon 70D Experience will help you to learn not only how but more importantly when and why to use the features, functions, and controls of the 70D. Learn more about the guide on my Full Stop website here.

Canon 70D set up quick start tips tricks recommended setting guide cool tricks menu custom function
Figure 1 – Custom Controls menu to customize the buttons and controls of the camera to function exactly how you need, to fit your working methods and shooting style.

Some custom controls that you may consider experimenting with are the assigned settings of the Shutter Button (when it is pressed halfway), the AF Start Button (AF-ON), and the AE Lock Button (the one with the [*] symbol). You can customize them so that they initiate and/ or lock focus and exposure separately or in a variety of different button combinations. When working in Evaluative Metering Mode and One-Shot AF, the default setting is that exposure metering is locked and focus is locked at your active AF Point when you press the Shutter Button halfway. You then recompose if necessary and fully press the Shutter Button to take your photo. But the exposure settings were locked on a different framing than your final framing! So you may wish to lock focus with a different button than you lock exposure, or else re-determine the exposure metering settings for the final framing before taking the shot (which is typically done with the AE Lock  [*] Button).

Canon, 70D, Canon 70D, book, manual, guide, how to, dummies, tips, tricks, quick start
Figure 2 – Custom Controls options – Selecting the Shutter Button (left), and choosing which function(s) it will perform when pressed half-way (right).

When working in One-Shot AF with one of the Metering Modes other than Evaluative Metering (Spot, Partial, or Center-Weighted), the default setting is that exposure metering is begun (not locked) and focus is locked when you press the Shutter Button halfway. You then recompose if necessary and fully press the Shutter Button to take your photo, and exposure is determined at that moment. But with these other Metering Modes it is likely that you will want to lock exposure on a certain area before framing for the final shot and taking the photo.

Either of these above default settings may cause you to meter for a scene or area that is different from what you intend, and thus result in a slight or profound under- or over-exposed shot. With the default button settings and the above scenarios, you can always use the AE Lock Button (exposure lock button with the [*] symbol) to lock in the exposure of your desired framing. But you may find that after working awhile, you would like to start or stop exposure metering and/ or focusing in a different manner than the default settings, and then you can reconfigure the functions of these buttons (See Figure 2).

To test how your camera functions before or after changing these settings, set it on One-Shot AF Mode, Tv or Av Shooting Mode, and Evaluative Metering Mode, hold the camera to your eye, aim it at a bright area, and half-press the Shutter Button. While keeping the Shutter Button half-pressed, move the camera and aim it at a dark area. Keep your eye on the aperture and shutter speed settings in the viewfinder and watch if they change or if they remain locked. Change the metering mode (Spot, Partial, or Center-Weighted) and do this again. Then repeat the process by first pressing the Shutter Button half-way and then pressing (and releasing) the AE Lock [*] Button. You can repeat a similar process to see focus lock in action or to test your custom focus lock button settings.

Note that there are multiple Auto Exposure Lock (AE Lock) options, such as when setting the function of the AE Lock [*] Button (see Figure 3). The AE Lock option will lock the exposure for the current scene when you press and release it. If you reframe the shot and want the camera to re-evaluate and re-lock the exposure, just press the [*] Button again. The AE Lock (while button pressed) option only applies to the Shutter Button, and will lock the exposure as long as the Shutter Button remains half-pressed, similar to how the camera works with the One-Shot / Evaluative Metering default settings, as described above. This differs from assigning the Shutter Button to Metering start because with Metering start, the camera will start evaluating for exposure, but the exposure values will not be locked but will continue to change until you take the photo or press the AE Lock [*] button (when you are working in Partial, Spot, or Center-Weighted Metering Modes). Again, you can see this in action by half-pressing the Shutter Button to start metering, look in the viewfinder (or on the LCD Panel) at the exposure settings, move the camera around, and see the settings change. The AE Lock (hold) option (indicated with “*H”) will lock the exposure and maintain that lock with those exposure settings for all subsequent shots, until you press the AE Lock [*] Button again. The AE Lock option without the (hold) option (indicated in the menu options with “*”) will only lock the exposure settings until the metering timer ends (the exposure numbers disappear in the viewfinder and on the top LCD Panel).

The AE Lock/FE Lock option will lock both the exposure settings as well as the flash output setting when using a flash. If a button is set for this option, pressing the button will fire a pre-flash from the built-in flash or a Speedlite to determine and then lock the proper flash output.

Canon 70D how to manual guide book how to
Figure 3 – Custom Controls options for customizing the functions of the AE Lock Button.

Some options will allow you to perform what is called “back button focusing,” which is further explained in the Back Button Focusing section of Canon 70D Experience. This technique allows you to start and/ or stop (lock) the autofocusing using the AF-ON button, in conjunction with or instead of the Shutter Button. Taking advantage of these options can help you to fully utilize the autofocus system of the 70D as well as modify it for your personal shooting style.

While you may wish to work with your camera before considering changing most of these settings, I strongly encourage you to immediately change the function of the thumb-pad Multi-Controller to AF Point direct selection so that you don’t have to press the AF Point Selection Button first every time before you select your autofocus point (see Figure 4). Instead you can just press the thumb-pad Multi-Controller to choose your desired AF Point (once you have tapped the Shutter Button to wake up the camera and begin metering).

Canon 70D set up quick start tips tricks recommended setting guide cool tricks
Figure 4 – Left: Custom Controls options for the Multi-Controller (thumb pad) to set for AF Point Direct Selection so that your desired AF Point can be quickly selected with the Multi-Controller alone. Right: Custom Controls options for customizing the functions of the Depth-of-Field Preview Button, including the Electronic Level.

You may also want to consider assigning the Depth of Field Preview Button to one of the other available functions if you don’t typically use it for its depth of field preview function (see Figure 5). For example, you can use it for FE Lock (flash exposure lock) or to quickly switch between One-Shot focus mode and AI Servo focus mode. The switch only occurs as you hold the button, so for example if you are shooting a still subject using One-Shot focus mode but suddenly wish to start tracking a moving subject, press and hold this button to temporarily work in AI Servo mode. Or if the camera is set for AI Servo mode, holding this button will temporarily switch the camera to One-Shot mode.

70D “Hidden” Feature: You can also set the Depth of Field Button as the Viewfinder’s VF Electronic Level, which is sort of a “hidden” feature of the 70D. This is different than the Viewfinder Level icon of the Shooting 1 menu, and instead uses the AF Points displayed in the Viewfinder as a one-axis level. This level will function in either camera orientation (see Figure 4). If this option is selected, when you are shooting simply press the Depth of Field Preview button for this Viewfinder Level to appear, then tap the Shutter Button to resume shooting.

And you may want to assign the SET Button to the function of your choice for quick access, such as perhaps Flash Exposure Compensation since there is not a dedicated button for this. Or you might set it for Image Quality. This can be a helpful setting because certain camera functions such as HDR Mode are only accessible when capturing JPEG images, so you may need to quickly change from RAW or RAW+JPEG image quality to JPEG only. Another interesting setting for the SET Button is Set ISO speed (hold button, turn Main Dial). What this customization does is allow you to change the ISO setting by pressing and holding the SET Button and turning the top Main Dial (see Figure 5). While this may seem unnecessary as there is a dedicated ISO Button on the top of the camera that allows you to quickly change the ISO, it can come in handy during shooting. For example if your camera is on a tripod and you are positioned behind it using the Live View screen, it may easier to use this SET Button and Main Dial arrangement to change the ISO than it is for you to look or feel around the top of the camera to determine which button is the ISO Button. Or you may find that this method is just a really quick way to change the ISO during Viewfinder shooting. Of course you can always use the [Q] Button or icon and Touch Screen to change the ISO setting as well. So, as with many other settings, determine which camera set-up and method works best for you and your shooting situation.

Unfortunately, if you set the Multi-Controller to AF Point direct selection, the SET Button will not directly select the center AF Point, as you may be used to. You will still have to press the AF Point Selection Button first and then press the SET Button to directly choose the center AF Point. This issue may cause you a bit of trouble if you have assigned the SET Button to another function, as that function screen will suddenly appear on the rear LCD Monitor if you press the SET Button while you are shooting, and you may accidentally change that setting. If this becomes an issue, assign the SET Button to OFF.

Canon 70D set up quick start tips tricks recommended setting guide
Figure 5 – Custom Controls options for customizing the functions of the SET Button.

Finally, if you often work in Aperture Priority (Av) mode but then sometimes work in Manual (M) shooting mode I suggest you swap the functions of the Main Dial and the Quick Control Dial in Manual Mode (see Figure 6). Access the Main Dial option (the half-circle icon) and assign it to the Av option (Aperture setting in M mode). Then access the Quick Control Dial (the full-circle icon) and assign it to the Tv option (Shutter speed setting in M mode). By doing this the Main Dial controls the aperture setting in M mode just as it does in Aperture Priority Mode, and the Quick Control Dial controls the shutter speed setting when working in Manual (M) mode. If you typically work in Av Mode and then switch over to M mode, the muscle memory of your index finger will thank you as it will instinctively turn the Main Dial to adjust the aperture setting, and this was not the default setting of the camera. If you typically work in Tv Mode and sometimes switch to M Mode, leave these buttons on the default settings.

Canon 70D set up quick start tips tricks recommended setting guide cool tricks
Figure 6 – Custom Controls options for customizing the functions of the Main Dial (left) and Quick Control Dial (right) when working in Manual (M) Shooting Mode.

To learn more about using your Canon 70D and how to take full advantage of all its features, functions and controls – including back-button focusing, plus taking control of the autofocus system, making use of the various metering modes, and understanding the elements of exposure – have a look at my e-book guide called Canon 70D Experience. As with all my dSLR guides, Canon 70D Experience will help you to learn not only how but more importantly when and why to use the features, functions, and controls of the 70D. Learn more about the guide on my Full Stop website here.

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Read my hands-on preview of the 70D with some sample images at my Canon 70D Unboxing and Hands-On Preview post.

Live View – White Balance: I ran across a question online about setting a Kelvin white balance in Live View, so I will add this info here with some screen shots below. To change the WB in Live View, press the Q Button to access the Quick Control Screen, then select the White Balance icon, either by navigating to it by pressing up or down on the Multi-Controller, or simply using the Touch Screen. If you have navigated to it, you can then press left and right on the Multi-Controller to make your selection at the bottom of the screen. If you select the K option, press the INFO Button to select your desired temperature.

Canon 70D white balance live view kelvin k setting custom touch screen EOS

 

And if you are planning to purchase your Canon 70D online, please consider using my affiliate links and help support this blog – thanks!

Order your Canon EOS 70D from Amazon or B and H Photo:

Amazon:

Canon 70D – Body or with choice of kit lenses – $1,199 to $1,549

B and H Photo:

Canon 70D – Body only – $1,199

Canon 70D – with 18-135mm STM lens – $1,549

Canon 70D – with 18-55mm STM lens – $1,349

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.

Nikon D7100 body book manual guide dummies how to tips tricks setting menu quick start
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!

Nikon D7100 easy exposure compensation
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.

As you are likely discovering with your Nikon D7100, it is a highly customizable and versatile camera, and there are a lot of 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 needs and desires, the camera controls can be customized and assigned to a variety of functions, the displays, White Balance, and ISO can be tweaked according to your preferences. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with the D7100 as I researched and wrote my e-book user’s guide to the D7100 called Nikon D7100 Experience, and below are the some of the top “tips and tricks” I’ve discovered for setting up and photographing with this powerful dSLR.  I previously put together a similar “D7000 Tips and Tricks” post for the Nikon D7000, and all of those tips apply to the D7100 as well.  I have repeated a couple of the important ones, and added several new ones here (in no particular order). Since this has turned into such a long post, I am dividing into two parts (Part 2 coming soon…)

Nikon D7100 body book manual guide dummies how to tips tricks setting menu quick start
Detail of the Nikon D7100 dSLR camera – photo by author

1. Take Control of the D7100 Autofocus System: Before getting into some of the tips regarding features and functions specific to the D7100, one needs to first take control of the basic functions of the camera, including the autofocus system and exposure metering settings. The D7100 boasts a 51 point autofocus system, upgraded from the 39 point system of the D7000. 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 various autofocus modes (AF-S, AF-C, etc.) and the autofocus area modes (Single Point, Dynamic Area, etc.) may be intimidating at first, but once they are understood, it is easy to determine which combinations fit your shooting needs. Despite the increase in AF points, the system works nearly the same as that of the D7000, and I wrote an entire post introducing the use of the Nikon autofocus system, its AF and AF-Area modes, and its controls. If you have not previously used the D7000 or 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 D7100 autofocus, af, system, viewfinder, book manual guide dummies how to tips tricks setting menu quick start
Simulated view of the Nikon D7100 Viewfinder, with all 51 AF points shown for reference.

In addition, the D7100 offers several Custom Settings to customize various aspect of the autofocus system, namely Custom Settings a1-a6. 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 points are illuminated in the Viewfinder. 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. Each of these options are explained in my previous Nikon AF system post mentioned above.

2. Take Advantage of the new [i] Button: The D7100 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. 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 D7100, 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 Image Area, Active D-Lighting, High ISO Noise Reduction, and Long Exposure Noise Reduction. Plus you can use this screen to quickly access and customize the DOF Preview Button, AE-L / AF-L Button, and Fn Button Assignments.

Nikon D7100 book manual guide dummies how to tips tricks setting menu quick start
Detail of the Nikon D7100 with [i] Button shown – photo by author

The [i] Button can also be used during Live View shooting, Movie shooting, and Image Playback – to quickly access a number of applicable functions.  During Live View shooting it can be pressed to access settings including Image Area, Image Quality, Image Size, Picture Control, Active D-Lighting, Remote Control Mode, and Monitor Brightness. During Movie shooting, the [i] Button will access Image Area, Picture Control, Monitor Brightness, Frame Size and Frame Rate, Movie Quality, Microphone sensitivity, Destination for which SD card slot movies will be saved to, 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.

Nikon D7100 menu display book manual guide dummies how to tips tricks setting menu quick start
Information Display shown on the rear LCD Monitor. Press the [i] Button to “activate” the screen and access/ change various settings. Select and change the settings along the bottom of the screen, such as the Picture Controls shown active and highlighted here.

3. Beware of Menu Conflicts: As with most current dSLR cameras, the D7100 has a couple menu settings and function “quirks” or conflicts that may drive you crazy if you are not aware why they are occurring. Most notably, some settings will be greyed-out or inaccessible in the menus and you will not be able to select them when working in one of the auto shooting modes, if not using an optional accessory, or if a “conflicting” setting is enabled. An example includes HDR shooting, which is not accessible when the camera is set to capture files in the (NEF) RAW or (NEF) RAW+JPEG image formats. Or, since White Balance Bracketing and RAW format are incompatible, if the camera is set for White Balance Bracketing and (NEF) RAW or (NEF) RAW+JPEG image formats, the BKT Button will not allow you to access bracketing. These are actually not arbitrary quirks, but are typically logical conflicts.

Nikon D7100 book manual guide dummies how to tips tricks setting menu quick start
Custom Setting f2: Assign Function (Fn) Button, with the “Press” and “Press+Command Dials” options. Some of the “Press” options shown at right.

Another set of conflicts involves the customization of some buttons (Fn Button, Preview Button, and AE-L/AF-L Button) where you have the option to set a separate Press function (where you simply press the button) and a Press+Dial function (where you press the button and turn a dial in order to change a setting). While it at first seems handy that the D7100 menus separated the Press from the Press+Dial functions thus allowing you more options, you will soon find that most of them conflict, and in reality you will likely only be able to set either a Press function or a Press+Dial function.

4. Extend Your Reach with the 1.3x Crop Mode: Just as the D600 allows you to shoot in either full-frame FX mode or in a cropped DX mode, the D7100 allows you to shoot in full-sensor DX mode or in a cropped 1.3x mode. Using the Image Area menu setting, you can set the D7100 APS-C sized DX format sensor to act as an even smaller sized sensor, with an additional 1.3x crop. While the default DX setting takes advantage of the entire sensor, by enabling the 1.3x crop setting you can change the aspect ratio (very slightly) and angle of view (dramatically) of your resulting images – basically cropping your photos from what you see in the full Viewfinder to what you see inside the 1.3x outline shown in the Viewfinder when this feature is enabled.

Nikon D7100 DX 1.3x crop sensor autofocus af viewfinder book manual guide dummies how to tips tricks setting menu quick start
Simulated D7100 Viewfinder view, showing the full size DX Image Area and the approximate size of the cropped 1.3x image indicated by the black rectangle surrounding the AF brackets. Location of all the Focus Points shown for reference. The 1.3x crop will, in effect, allow you to extend the reach of your lens and get closer to the action, as well as nearly fill the width of the active frame with the Focus Points.

The first advantage of the 1.3x crop is that it 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. It will allow, for example, your 200mm focal length lens to act as nearly a 400mm focal length. (Since the DX frame is already a 1.5x crop sensor in relation to a full-frame 35mm sized sensor, the additional 1.3x crop effectively doubles the focal length of the lens: 200mm X 1.5 X 1.3 = 390mm.)

The second advantage is that with the 1.3x crop, the area of the autofocus points as seen in the Viewfinder reaches nearly 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 1.3x crop mode is that the Continuous High shooting speed goes from 6 fps to 7 fps (when shooting in JPEG or in 12-bit NEF-RAW), allowing you to capture slightly more images in a quick burst.

The disadvantage of the 1.3x crop is that you will only be using 15 megapixels of your 24.1 megapixel sensor, so you will have slightly reduced image resolution. The end result will be as if you cropped the image in post-processing. However, 15 MP is still a very high resolution, and for many shooting situations and image needs this may be more than sufficient.

5. Interval Timer and Time-Lapse Shooting: The Interval Timer Shooting function can be used to take a continuous series of photographs at each specified time interval, for a set number of intervals, with the intervals to begin either immediately or at a set time. It can be used to take these multiple series of shots over several minutes or hours – for example, 3 photos in a row every 10 minutes, for 12 intervals. This will result in a total of 36 photos, as the camera will calculate and show you. This Interval Timer Shooting menu can also be used for time-lapse photography by taking a series of individual photos over an extended period of minutes or hours, with just one photo per interval, which can then be combined into a time-lapse movie (using software designed for this such as Photoshop).

Nikon D7100 book manual guide how to tips tricks interval timer time lapse setting menu quick
Interval Timer Shooting menus. Left: Setting the Interval time period between shots, here set for 10 minutes. Right: Setting the number of intervals and the number of shots to be taken at the start of each interval. Here, 12 intervals are set, with 3 shots to be taken each interval, for a total of 36 shots. The intervals are to start immediately, with the time between intervals as 10 minutes. The current time is 16:17 (which is shown in case you wish to set the Start Time).

Use the Interval Timer Shooting menu to choose all of your desired settings. Ideally, set up your camera on a tripod for the duration of Interval Timer Shooting, and use the included Eyepiece Cap to cover the Viewfinder and prevent stray light from altering the exposure. The camera will need to focus before taking the shots, so it may be best to pre-focus the camera and then set the camera and lens to manual focus.

For time-lapse photography you will need to take images at short intervals, with just one image per interval, for numerous intervals, in order to create a long and effective movie. For example, a photo every 30 seconds, for 8 hours. Be sure to have a large memory card or cards in the camera, and set the Role Played by Card in Slot 2 for Overflow if necessary. In the software you will set the movie frame rate, and that setting (24fps, 30fps, etc.) will determine to total length of the movie. There are time-lapse formulas, as well as apps, which you can use to plug-in your variables and determine either the settings you will need to use, or the resulting length of the final movie.

Here is a link to a tutorial for creating a time lapse movie using Photoshop. There are also plug-ins/ templates for Lightroom which will allow you to assemble and export a time-lapse video using that software (direct link to presets zip file).

The second part of these top ten Nikon D7100 tips and tricks continues here. Also, I explain 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.

Nikon D7100 Experience, my my recent Full Stop e book and the very first D7100 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 D7100. Plus most importantly it explains how, when, and why to use the functions, settings, menu options, and controls in your photography – including the sophisticated 51 Point autofocus system and the in-camera features such as Multiple Exposure, HDR, 1.3x crop mode, and Interval Timer Shooting.

Written in the clear, concise, and comprehensive style of all Full Stop guides, Nikon D7100 Experience will help you learn to use your D7100 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.

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

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

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/Nikon_D7100_Experience.htm

Take control of your Nikon D7100, the image taking process, and the photos you create!

This guide is designed for Intermediate and Enthusiast dSLR Photographers who wish to:

  • Take fuller advantage of the capabilities of their camera to go beyond Auto and P modes and shoot competently in A, S, and M shooting modes.
  • Make full use of the complex 51 point autofocus system to capture sharp photos.
  • Learn how, when, and why to use and customize the controls, buttons, and features of the D7100.

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 using the various metering modes and exposure compensation for correct exposure of every image.

For experienced photographers upgrading to the D7100, this guide explains the new and advanced features to quickly get you taking advantage of them, including the 51 point AF system and its Autofocus Modes, AF-Area Modes, and Custom Settings. Plus it explains all the camera controls, the in-camera HDR, Multiple Exposure, and Interval Timer features, introduces the video capabilities, and guides you through all the Menus and Custom Settings, with recommended settings to help you set up the camera for your specific needs.

Nikon D7100 Experience focuses on still-photography with an introduction to the HD video settings. Sections include:

  • Setting Up Your D7100 – All the Custom Settings and Playback, Shooting, and Setup Menus, with explanations and recommended settings to customize the advanced features to work best for you.
  • Camera Controls – An explanation of the camera controls, buttons, and displays, plus customizing the controls to best fit your specific shooting needs.
  • 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 full control of exposure settings.
  • Autofocus Modes, AF-Area Modes, and Release Modes – Learn the AF Modes, AF-Area Modes, and AF Custom Settings of the new 51 point AF system, how they differ, how and when to take advantage of the different modes to capture still and moving subjects.
  • Exposure Metering Modes – How and when to use and customize 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 capturing both still and moving subjects.
  • Introduction to Video Settings – Explanations of the settings and options to get you started.
  • Photography Accessories – Useful accessories for the D7100 and for dSLR photography.
  • Composition – Tips and techniques, including the creative use of depth of field.

This illustrated e-book guide to the Nikon D7100 goes beyond the manual to explain how, when, and why to use the features, settings, and controls of the D7100 to help you get the most from your camera.

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…while still containing a wealth of information to get the most out of your camera.”

Learn more about Nikon D7100 Experience, view a preview, and purchase it on my Full Stop website here:

http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/Nikon_D7100_Experience.htm

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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