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Nikon D3000 User's Guide:
Shooting Menu
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Nikon D3000

Nikon D3000 and 18-55mm VR. enlarge. I'd get it at Adorama Ritz, Amazon or Calumet. Using these links to get yours is what helps me keep working on this site for free. Thanks! Ken.


September 2009     Top of D3000 User's Guide     Nikon D3000 Review

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Many of these menu options are often deactivated in anything except the P, S, A and M modes.

Want free live phone support? In the USA, call (800) NIKON-UX, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


How to Get Here

Press MENU, click left and then up and down to select the camera (shooting) menu. You'll see "SHOOTING MENU" on the top of the LCD monitor.

You also can change most of these settings on the INFO screen with the <i> button.


What it Sets

It sets everything having to do with taking pictures.

The D3000 is much better thought out than earlier Nikons, which spread these settings around in three other menus.


What I Change

I change a lot here. This is where I get the wild colors I love.


Set Picture Control

This is where you set the look of your image.

Setting this correctly is critical to getting the look you demand.

It is so important that I have a complete page all about how to set and use Picture Controls.


Image Quality

I use BASIC.

To set this, use:

MENU > CAMERA > Image quality > JPEG basic.

This selects the kind of file (raw, JPG or both), and the size of the JPG file (FINE, NORMAL or BASIC).

I always use JPG, never raw. (see JPG vs. Raw.)

I usually use BASIC JPG.

BASIC JPG looks the same as NORMAL It also makes a file half the size of Normal, which speeds up everything and saves space on my hard drives and backup CDs.

I never use FINE; it looks the same as NORMAL and wastes space. Feel free to use any settings you like; that's why they're here.

You can see examples from my D200 at D200 Quality Setting Examples.


Image Size

I use Large or Medium.

Large is the default, but unless you want to print everything at five feet (1.5m) wide, the medium setting also lets you make prints of any size (20x30" or 50x75cm is easy) and saves even more room on your computer and memory cards.

To set this, use:

MENU > CAMERA > Image size > Large (default) or Medium.


White Balance

I leave my WB at AUTO. See also How to Set White Balance and White Balance Examples.


Trick: to fine-tune (make warmer or cooler) each setting individually, after selecting it in the menu, press OK (or click right) to get to the trim setting.

You may adjust it to your choice of any mild tint along the amber/blue and green/magenta axes. I usually shoot anyplace between A2 and A4, making things warmer (more amber).

The WB settings are:


Auto (A)

I use this all the time.

It makes its best guess for WB. It's usually very good.

Indoor tungsten can be too orange unless you have some bright tungsten light also in the image. If you do, it removes the orange and compensates completely. If not, the D3000 only partly compensates and you get a nice warm image instead.


Tungsten (hanging light bulb icon that's easy to confuse with the sun icon)

This makes the picture very blue.

Use this only for deliberate Arctic freezing effects, or under conventional tungsten light bulbs.


Fluorescent (glowing tube icon)

Used to make crappy fluorescent light look less crappy.

These settings rarely work; use the preset setting for better results.


Direct Sunlight (sun icon)

Use this in direct frontal sunlight.

Use other settings for shadows or indirect sunlight.


Flash (lightning bolt)

I never use this. It's almost the same as direct sun.

I'm told it's really for studio strobes, since the Auto mode compensates magically for flash if you use it on-camera.

The reason to use this is if you use a different trim value for your strobes than you do for sunlight.


Cloudy (cloud)

Warmer (more orange) than the sunlight position. I use this in shade, too.


Shade (house casting a shadow)

Very warm (orange). Use this for sunset shots and deep shade.


Preset manual (PRE)

You use this setting with a white or gray card to get perfect color matching.

I use this in bizarre artificial light that I wish no make look natural, or to get exact color with my studio strobes. An Expodisc makes this easier, but even without an Expodisc or white card I shoot off anything neutral, like a piece of paper, a napkin or a T shirt.

Any light weird enough to need this setting won't care about small inaccuracies in the neutral reference.


To set this using the menus:

1.) Ensure your card or other neutral object is in the light representative of the light on the subject.

2.) Select PRE via the menu button

3.) Press OK (or click to the right).

4.) Select Measure and click OK (or to the right). (The Use Photo option is a backwards bow to Canon's convoluted setting method. Canon Jihadists used to brag about this. It does the same thing, but requires twice as many steps. Ignore this option.)

5.) Select YES.

6.) Point your camera at the card or neutral colored thing and press the shutter.

7.) If the LCD says "data acquired" or the viewfinder flashes "Gd," you're set. Shoot away!

8.) If the display flashes "unable to acquire" or the viewfinder flashes "no Gd" then repeat from step 2.).


To set this much faster using the Fn button if set to control WB:

1.) Press and hold Fn Button.

2.) Spin dial to select PRE.

3.) Release Fn Button.

4.) Press and hold Fn button until PRE flashes.

5.) Point your camera at the card or neutral colored thing and press the shutter.

6.) If the LCD says "data acquired" or the viewfinder flashes "Gd," you're set. Shoot away!

7.) If the display flashes "unable to acquire" or the viewfinder flashes "no Gd" then repeat from step 4.).


Like most of these settings, you also can set this with the <i> button.



ISO sensitivity settings

I always set Auto ISO, which lets the D3000 selects my ISO for me.

ISO Auto Increases sensitivity (ISO) in dim light automatically to prevent blur from slow shutter speeds.

I use this all of the time, unless I'm using manual exposure mode.

Today I adjust the Auto ISO's minimum shutter speed as I change lenses and conditions. I no longer adjust ISO directly, as we did in the old days before 2004. This is a time-saving step towards the future, just as program exposure was a step ahead of aperture priority in the 1970s.

You can choose the highest ISO to which the Auto ISO will go (Max sensitivity). I let my D3000 go to ISO 800, since it looks fine at ISO 800 and any small amount of grain is better than a blurry photo. Try ISO 1,600: the D3000 is better at high ISOs than film ever was, and far better than any compact digital camera at these speeds.

You also may set the minimum shutter speed (Min Shutter Speed) below which the D3000 starts raising the ISO. Select the slowest shutter speed at which you'll get sharp images under your present shooting conditions.

I set 1/125 for people pictures, and 1/8 or 1/15 for shots of items that hold very still.

I wish this function was smart enough to recognize which lens I'm using and adjust accordingly, but it's not. For that, you want the LEICA M9.

Firmware Defect: Nikon's firmware leaves Auto ISO active even in manual exposure mode. This makes the D3000 change the ISO automatically and defeat the purpose of manual exposure. Remember to deactivate Auto ISO when using Manual exposure mode.


Active D-Lighting (ADR)

ADR (adaptive dynamic range) makes pictures look better by adding details in both shadows and highlights, but sadly it works so slowly in the D3000 that it takes three seconds per picture to process.

If you're shooting landscapes and interiors, turn this on, but for photos of people and action, it will slow you down so much that you may jam the D3000 temporarily and miss pictures.

It is off by default. You can set it by:

MENU > CAMERA > Active D-Lighting.


Color Space

Don't touch this.

More at Adobe RGB.


Noise Reduction

This is short for Long Exposure Dark-Frame Subtraction Noise Reduction.

It doesn't reduce noise or grain. It will eliminate the occasional hot pixel, and correct purple fog around the edges of insanely long astronomical exposures.

OFF: Default. Leave it here.

ON: Don't use this. If you do, the D3000 will double the amount of time you have to wait around for time exposures of a second or longer. You people who need this know who you are, and even for you I suggest trying the D3000 with out NR first. it may save you a lot of time waiting around out in the cold.

I have details with examples from my D200 at D200 Dark Exposures.


Release Mode

This is where you set single, continuous, arm the remote control, or set the self timer.


Focus Mode

This is where you set auto, manual, continuous, single, or magic AF modes.

AF-A is magic. I use this. The D3000 figures out what you're shooting, and the AF just works. AF-A magically uses either of the next two modes depending on its own clairvoyance.

AF-S means Single. The D3000 focuses once, then locks. Use this for subjects that hold still.

AF-C means Continuous. The D3000 continues to track focus as long as you hold sown the shutter.

MF is manual focus.


AF Area Mode

This controls how the D3000 uses its 11 AF areas

[ o ] Single point uses the selected area, period.

[ x ] Dynamic area lets the D3000 start with the area you selected, and move it around if needed to track a moving subject. This is an old mode; 3D below does the same thing but even better.

[ xxx ] Auto area selects AF areas completely by magic. Set this mode when handing your D3000 to a stranger.

[ 3D ] 3D Tracking magically tracks the subject as it flies around the frame, due either to its own motion, or your recomposition. I usually use this mode for everything.


AF Assist

This lets you turn off the annoying AF assist light if you don't want to bother your friends when you try to take their pictures in the dark.



This lets you select the long obsolete center-weighted or spot metering modes.

Center weighted dates from the 1960s, and spot from the 1980s.

Matrix, the default, works wonders. Use it.


Built-in flash

This selects what the built-in flash does.

Use TTL.


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