May 272011
 

Directly or indirectly, I’ve mentioned my friend Herman a couple of times.  First in discussing the D90 vs. D7000 (and recommending the D90 for most people + extra accessories), and then again in the whole discussion on lenses in which I said most people should really not buy full frame lenses on crop cameras. Well, the advice clearly didn’t work since Herman ultimately decided to go with a D7000 + 24-70 + the 80-200 that I upgraded from. Well, I tried!

Since Herman has bugging me incrementally for my settings, as if there’s some magical way that I set the camera to prevent my pictures from being blurry, I thought I’d just document them once and for all to avoid future questions.

In the M/A/S/P post from a while ago, plus the first in the series of pages I wrote on Shooting for non-photographers, I actually covered the rationale behind the “main” decisions I made, namely:

  • Shooting RAW (NEF), so that I can fix mistakes later;
  • Using Aperture Priority mode most of the time, since in most cases aperture has the most direct impact on what your pictures look like;
  • Enabling Auto ISO (except when using flash), with a maximum ISO of 3200 for the D7000, and a minimum shutter speed that is the higher of:
    • What’s needed to avoid blurriness due to camera shake, typically around 1/focal-length (less with VR lenses)
    • What’s needed to avoid unwanted motion blur, typically around 1/80 or 1/100 for still subjects and 1/200 – 1/500 for moving subjects

I guess there are a bunch of other settings, here’s what I change from the default values:

  • Main settings (not in menus)
    • Single point AF (AF-S), with manually selected focus point; I just find it easier to focus and recompose, but this is situational
    • Exposure compensation -0.3 or -0.7 for outdoors/high contrast; 0.0 for indoors.  The D7000 doesn’t have as much headroom to recover from over-exposure as the D700, but it has really low noise at ISO 100 – so I prefer to bump up exposure as necessary when processing vs. finding that I blew highlights irreparably.
    • CL (continuous, low speed) shooting mode by default
  • Shooting Menu
    • File naming -> Custom name (MS7 for my D7000), to easily tell my pictures vs. stuff E-mailed to me named DSC_0001.jpg
    • Role played by card in Slot 2 -> Backup
    • ISO sensitivity set to Auto-ISO, max 3200, shutter speed as needed
    • Movie settings -> manual movie settings -> On (I don’t like ISO changes mid-video)
  • Custom Setting Menu
    • a7 Built-in AF assist illuminator -> Off
    • d1 Beep -> Voume Off
    • d2 Viewfinder grid display -> On
    • d3 ISO display and adjustment -> ISO
    • e1 Flash sync speed -> 1/320 s (Auto FP). This allows you to go above the default 1/250 sync with a flash like the SB-600/800; you get reduced output but for fill flash on a bright day, often quite sufficient.
    • e3 Flash control for built-in flash -> TTL in some cases, but usually Commander mode even if I’m holding the SB-600/800 in my left hand.  Getting the flash off camera helps a lot!
    • f1 Light switch -> Info
    • f3 Assign Fn button -> Access top item in my menu
    • f5 Assign AE-L/AF-L button -> AE lock (hold);  I find this better than holding the button down, especially across multiple shots, but watch out in case you have AE-L hold on and don’t realize it!
    • f8 Slot empty release lock -> Lock, just to prevent my own errors!
  • My Menu
    • #1 = ISO sensitivity settings.  In conjunction with f3, I can press the Fn button and change minimum auto-ISO shutter speed quickly.  Not as quickly as I’d like, if you recall my M/A/S/P post.
    • #2 = Flash control, for switching between TTL and CMD.  I press Fn, back, down, OK, and I can adjust this easily.  Though I’d rather assign the preview button to My Menu # 2 instead.

I have been trying a more radical setting using the ‘U2’ mode, in which the AE-L button maps to AF-ON and the shutter releases immediate, and in which 9-point AF-C mode is used, but I’m still getting used to it.

I don’t think my settings are anything special, just personal preferences, but Herman has this odd belief that the camera comes configured to make fuzzy pictures till you find the magic settings. Sadly, even if he uses exactly what I do, he’ll discover there are no magic settings :).

 Posted by at 5:40 am

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