Nikon D800 and D800E Setup and Configuration Feb09

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Nikon D800 and D800E Setup and Configuration

 

D800 Big Lens

A while back, Out There Images posted a list of recommended settings for the Nikon D800. I used that as a starting point to create four custom menu banks for my most common shooting situations.  The menu banks are not great because they don’t save all of the settings you need to change, but they are better than nothing.  The U1/U2 settings of the D7000 and D600 are superior to the menu banks both in terms of features and ease of use.  I have no idea why Nikon has decided to leave out such a fantastic function on their high-end cameras.  Neither the D800 nor the D4 have the U1/U2 settings.  Nice work Nikon.

Here are the four menu banks I created:

  • HDR - sets up the camera for high dynamic range shooting.  I usually use a tripod, have time for manual focus, etc.  If the shutter speed is fairly slow, I also turn on “Exposure delay mode” (custom setting d4).
  • Action – I often use this when photographing dogs at the local animal shelter.
  • Portrait – useful not just for portraits but for any stationary or slow moving target.
  • Point & Shoot – Since I use the “AF-ON” focusing technique (*1), it makes it difficult to hand my camera to a stranger if I want to be in the photo.  Rather than try to explain the technique, I just change the settings and let them shoot.  I also use this mode when I give the camera to my wife, sometimes she just wants to take a few simple shots so this mode shoots in jpeg with things configured to make shooting easier.

The settings for all four modes are outlined below.  Note that the settings just make the starting point for configuration easier.  It doesn’t mean these are always the settings I use when shooting.  I may not use ISO100 for all situations nor the same AF settings.  If you want to use them as a starting point for your own custom settings it is easiest to just download my config file here: Nikon D800 custom settings file. You should also grab the custom picture control explained in footnote 3. To use the custom settings file, copy it to your media card, insert the media card into your camera and navigate to SETUP MENU -> Save/load settings -> Load settings. This will copy the settings over to your camera.  You may want to save your own settings before you copy mine to your camera in case you need to revert back.

Note the [change this] in the settings below, these are things you will want to change in your own camera before you start shooting.  At the bottom, you can also see what I put in “MY MENU” to access some controls I often change on the fly.

To switch between the various menu banks, you have several options:

  • The slow way.  Go to menu -> shooting menu -> shooting menu bank -> select your bank.  Then go to custom setting menu -> custom settings bank -> select your bank.
  • I have ‘shooting menu bank’ and ‘custom settings bank’ as the top two items of ‘my menu’.  This allows me to change the settings relatively quickly but also provides a visual reminder of what banks I’m using when I go into this menu.
  • The fastest way is to simply press the “info” button twice, that should select your shooting bank.  Press the center button in the multi-selector, pick your setting.  Do the same for custom settings bank.

If you have questions, or a suggestion feel free to leave them in the comments at the bottom of the page.  If you want more detail on the settings below download Nikon’s D800/D800E manual (free), for something even better I recommend Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the D800/D800E ($30).  Thom not only covers the options but gives you a recommendation on what to use for each setting.

HDR Action Portrait Point & Shoot
EXTERNAL CONTROLS
Exposure Mode A (Aperture Priority) A (Aperture Priority) A (Aperture Priority) P (Program)
Metering Mode 3D Matrix Metering 3D Matrix Metering 3D Matrix Metering 3D Matrix Metering
Bracketing 5F, +/-1 EV (use 7 or 9F if needed) Off Off Off
Shooting Mode Timer CH (continuous high) CH (continuous high) CH (continuous high)
WB Auto Auto Auto Auto
ISO 100 Auto 100 Auto
QUAL RAW RAW RAW JPEG FINE
Autofocus Mode *1 Manual or AF-C, single point AF-C, 3D AF-C, single point AF-S, Auto
SETUP MENU
Format memory card As needed As needed As needed As needed
Monitor brightness Manual (0) Manual (0) Manual (0) Manual (0)
Clean image sensor Clean at shutdown Clean at shutdown Clean at shutdown Clean at shutdown
Lock mirror up cleaning As needed As needed As needed As needed
Image Dust Off ref photo As needed As needed As needed As needed
HDMI Default Default Default Default
Flicker reduction Auto Auto Auto Auto
Time zone and date Set to local time Set to local time Set to local time Set to local time
Language English English English English
Auto image rotation On On On On
Battery info N/A N/A N/A N/A
Wireless Transmitter N/A N/A N/A N/A
Image comment *2 None None None None
Copyright Information On [change this] On [change this] On [change this] On [change this]
Save/load settings As needed As needed As needed As needed
GPS N/A N/A N/A N/A
Virtual horizon N/A N/A N/A N/A
Non-CPU lens data N/A N/A N/A N/A
AF fine tune Set for your lenses if needed Set for your lenses if needed Set for your lenses if needed Set for your lenses if needed
Firmware version N/A N/A N/A N/A
SHOOTING MENU
Shooting menu bank A B C D
Extended menu banks ON ON ON ON
Storage folder Default Default Default Default
File Naming MKH [change this] MKH [change this] MKH [change this] MKH [change this]
Primary slot selection CF card slot CF card slot CF card slot CF card slot
Secondary slot function Backup Backup Backup Backup
Image quality RAW RAW RAW JPEG FINE
Image Size N/A N/A N/A Large
Image area
- Auto DX crop On On On On
- Choose Image area FX FX FX FX
JPEG Compression Opitmal Quality Opitmal Quality Opitmal Quality Opitmal Quality
NEF (RAW) recording
- Type Lossless compressed Lossless compressed Lossless compressed Lossless compressed
- NEF bit depth 14-bit 14-bit 14-bit 14-bit
White Balance Auto1 Auto1 Auto1 Auto1
Set Picture Control *3 Custom (Live View Max Sharp) SD (Standard) PT (Portrait) VI (Vivid)
Manage Picture Control Default Default Default Default
Color Space AdobeRGB AdobeRGB AdobeRGB sRGB
Active D-Lighting Off Off Off Off
HDR (high dyn. range) N/A (disalbed when shooting RAW) N/A (disalbed when shooting RAW) N/A (disalbed when shooting RAW) Off
Vignette control Normal Normal Normal High
Auto distortion control On On On On
Long Exp. NR Off Off Off Off
High ISO NR Low Low Low Normal
ISO Sensitivity Settings
ISO sensitivity 100 100 100 100
Auto ISO sensitivity control Off On (Max ISO: 6400, Min shutter: auto,faster) Off On (Max ISO: 6400, Min
shutter: auto,faster)
Multiple exposure Off Off Off Off
Interval timer shooting Off Off Off Off
Time-lapse photography Off Off Off Off
Movie settings
Frame size/rate 1920×1080; 30fps 1920×1080; 30fps 1920×1080; 30fps 1920×1080; 30fps
Movie quality High High High High
Microphone Auto sensitivity Auto sensitivity Auto sensitivity Auto sensitivity
Destination SD SD SD SD
CUSTOM SETTING MENU
Sustom settings bank A B C D
a1 AF-C priority select Release Release Release Release
a2 AF-S priority select Focus Focus Focus Focus
a3 Focus track lock-on Off Long Short Normal
a4 AF Activation Off (AF-ON focus technique) Off (AF-ON focus technique) Off (AF-ON focus technique) On
a5 AF point illumination On On On On
a6 Focus point wrap Off Off Off Off
a7 Number of focus points 51 51 51 51
a8 Built-in AF assist illum Off Off Off Off
b1 ISO sensitivity step val. 1/3 1/3 1/3 1/3
b2 EV steps for exposure 1/3 1/3 1/3 1/3
b3 Exp./flash comp step 1/3 1/3 1/3 1/3
b4 Easy exposure comp. Off Off Off Off
b5 Center-weighted area 12mm 12mm 12mm 12mm
b6 Fine tune optimal exp. 0 (for all) 0 (for all) 0 (for all) 0 (for all)
c1 Shutter-release AE-L Off Off Off Off
c2 Auto meter-off delay 10s 10s 10s 10s
c3 Self-timer
- Self-timer delay 2s 10s 10s 10s
- Number of shots 5 (should match # bracket exposures) 1 1 1
- Interval between shots 0.5s 0.5s 0.5s 0.5s
c4 Monitor off delay
- Playback 10s 10s 10s 10s
- Menus 1m 1m 1m 1m
- Information display 10s 10s 10s 10s
- Image review 10s 10s 10s 10s
- Live view 10m 10m 10m 10m
d1 Beep Off Off Off Off
d2 CL mode shoot speed 2fps 2fps 2fps 2fps
d3 Max continuous release 100 100 100 100
d4 Exposure delay mode Off (on if exposures slow) Off (on if exposures slow) Off (on if exposures slow) Off (on if exposures slow)
d5 File number sequence On On On On
d6 Viewfinder grid display On On On On
d7 ISO display adjustment Off Off Off Off
d8 Screen tips On On On On
d9 Information display Auto Auto Auto Auto
d10 LCD illumination On On On On
d11 MB-D12 battery type LR6 LR6 LR6 LR6
d12 Battery order MB-D12 MB-D12 MB-D12 MB-D12
e1 Flash Sync Speed 1/250 1/250 1/250 1/250
e2 Flash shutter speed 1/60 1/60 1/60 1/60
e3 Flash cntrl built-in TTL TTL TTL TTL
e4 Modeling flash On On On On
e5 Auto bracketing set AE AE AE AE
e6 Auto bracket (Mode M) Flash/speed Flash/speed Flash/speed Flash/speed
e7 Bracketing order Under > MTR > over Under > MTR > over Under > MTR > over Under > MTR > over
f1 switch LCD Backlight and info display LCD Backlight and info display LCD Backlight and info display LCD Backlight and info display
f2 Multiselect center button
- Shooting mode Reset Reset Reset Reset
- Playback mode Zoom, medium magnification Zoom, medium magnification Zoom, medium magnification Zoom, medium magnification
- Live view Zoom, medium magnification Zoom, medium magnification Zoom, medium magnification Zoom, medium magnification
f3 Multi selector Off Off Off Off
f4 Assign Fn button
- Fn button press Viewfinder virtual horizon Viewfinder virtual horizon Viewfinder virtual horizon Viewfinder virtual horizon
- Fn button + command dials Off Off Off Off
f5 Assign preview button
- Preview button press Preview Preview Preview Preview
- Preview button + command dials Off Off Off Off
f6 Assign AE-L/AF-L button
- AE-L/AF-L button press AE/AF lock AE/AF lock AE/AF lock AE/AF lock
- AE-L/AF-L + command dials Off Off Off Off
f7 Shutter spd & ap lock N/A N/A N/A N/A
f8 Assign BKT Button BKT BKT BKT BKT
f9 Cust. command dials Default (Off, on, off) Default (Off, on, off) Default (Off, on, off) Default (Off, on, off)
f10 Release button to use  dial Off Off Off Off
f11 Slot emply release lock Lock Lock Lock Lock
f12 Reverse indicators - 0 + - 0 + - 0 + - 0 +
f13 Assign MB-D12 AF-ON AF-ON AF-ON AF-ON AF-ON
g1 Assign Fn button Power aperture (open) Power aperture (open) Power aperture (open) Power aperture (open)
g2 Assign preview button Power aperture (close) Power aperture (close) Power aperture (close) Power aperture (close)
g3 Assign AE-L/AF-L AE Lock AE Lock AE Lock AE Lock
g4 Assign shutter button Take photos Take photos Take photos Take photos
PLAYBACK MENU
Delete Selected Selected Selected Selected
Playback folder ND800 (default) ND800 (default) ND800 (default) ND800 (default)
Hide image Default Default Default Default
Playback display options Highlights, RGB histogram, Overview Highlights, RGB histogram, Overview Highlights, RGB histogram, Overview Highlights, RGB histogram, Overview
Copy image(s) N/A N/A N/A N/A
Image review Off Off Off Off
After delete Show next Show next Show next Show next
Rotate tall Off Off Off Off
Slide show N/A N/A N/A N/A
DPOF print order N/A N/A N/A N/A
MY MENU
Shooting menu Bank
Custom settings bank
c3 Self-timer
d4 Exposure delay mode
ISO sensitivity settings
Long exposure NR
Active D-Lighting

Footnotes

*1 – Autofocus : I have started using the “AF-ON” technique (for lack of a better term) to focus my camera. You can read more about the technique here. You will see that in my settings, I primarily use AF-C as the default focus mode when I use the camera. With the AF-ON technique, you decouple the focusing of the camera from the shutter press. The nice thing is that you can have both continuous and static autofocus at the same time. Focus and recompose is also easier as you don’t have to keep the shutter half-pressed, just release the AF-ON button and the camera stops focusing. It works very well, but takes a bit of getting used to. This technique works on both Nikon and Canon cameras (likely other brands as well but I haven’t checked into it).

*2 – Image comment : There are two spots to put your personal info into the file EXIF data: “Image comment” and “Copyright information”. Some people use both, but there isn’t really a reason to do so. I have found one reason not to use the ‘image comment’ field, and that is because the comment shows up in the description field when you post images online (facebook for example). At times, I post images to facebook and I don’t want the description for each one to say “copyright 2013…”, blah, blah, blah. My friends want to see something about the image, not a copyright notice. For me, it just makes the upload process more time consuming and it doesn’t add any value. You may like it, so feel free to use the field if that fits into your workflow.

*3 – Set Picture Control : The live view of the Nikon D800 isn’t great, but I still use it at times to get sharp focus. I zoom in the live view display and manually focus the lens to the best setting. If you change the picture control to the highest sharpening level you actually get a better display. Since I almost always shoot in raw, this has no effect on the final image. You can edit your existing picture control but it’s best to create a new, custom, one. To make this easier, you can download a custom picture control I created called Live View Max Sharp. Unzip the file, you should see a “Nikon” folder, copy that to the top level (root) of your flash card and put the card into your camera. In the menu, go to SHOOTING MENU (camera icon)-> Manage picture control -> Load/save -> Copy to camera => Live View Max Sharp, click “OK”. Select one of the custom picture control spaces to use (C1..C9) and you are done. Now you still have all of your default picture controls plus the new one to pick from.