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NEW: Nikon D700 User's Guide for iPhone and iPod. 12 December 2009
Printable PDF version of this Nikon D700 User's Guide 19 February 2009
This will teach you every possible nuance of using the Nikon D700. This will make you to an expert on the Nikon D700. It includes lots of tips, tricks, secrets and the settings I prefer to use, but this alone won't get great pictures.
To get great photos you still need to get yourself to the right place at the right time and point the camera in the right direction, which is a lot harder than mastering the D700. Right out of the box at default settings the D700 does a great job.
Making a great photo involves knowing what makes a great photo, knowing how to get great exposure, knowing when to use the D700's adjustments, knowing how to get great color, locations, timing, patience and a whole lot more. I cover general photography issues here.
Getting great photos out of the D700 really only takes your eye and about two settings:
1.) Take a picture. Look at the rear LCD. OK? You're done.
2.) Too light or dark? Change the Exposure Compensation and shoot again. OK? You're done.
3.) Colors not right? Adjust White Balance and try again. OK? You're done.
4.) Contrast, saturation or other fine points not right? Adjust the Picture Controls.
For more examples of why you'd want to change these settings and why, also see my the "teaching" galleries on my Gallery page.
Looking for a specific control? Use my Search page. Be sure to mention the D700 in your search.
Want free live phone support? In the USA, call (800) NIKON-UX, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Below are the basics. Explicit details follow in later pages linked at the bottom.
Some of my favorite secrets, which I cover in detail throughout these pages, are:
Camera Settings top
I leave most settings at their defaults. Here's what I change every time I shoot.
Always format your card after you put it in any camera, or if you've connected your camera to a computer.
Formatting your card(s) ensures any folder or file corruption acquired anywhere goes away.
You can shoot without doing this, however constant formatting is good practice and should eliminate ever having any card errors.
Be sure you've downloaded and backed up all the files in at least two different physical locations before formatting.
I reset everything every time I use my camera, much as a pilot uses a checklist before flight to prevent any switches from being in the wrong position. When I don't check first, I often have left my D700 in some screwy mode, like 2,500K WB and ISO 3,200, from shooting in the dark the night before.
Nikon has an easy reset feature. I use it every time! My standard operating setting is only a couple of clicks different than the defaults.
Find the two green dots on the • QUAL and +/-• buttons on the left and right of the top of the camera. Hold them both down for a few seconds. The top LCD blinks and everything is back to normal.
I do this every time I use my D700. If I forget, I may have the resolution or White Balance or ISO or God knows what set to something screwy and spoil all my shots. I'll see WB problems on the LCD, but I won't notice if I left my D700 at ISO 6,400 or SMALL image size from the night before unless I look very carefully. That's why I always use reset and set from there.
Reset leaves the detailed menu tweaks alone and is smart enough to reset only the big dumb things I might have moved overnight.
I use Large, JPG, BASIC, Optimal Quality Mode.
Reset brings you to NORMAL JPG. Once I've reset, I immediately change to my preferred QUAL setting: BASIC. Do this by pressing the QUAL button on the top left and spinning the rear dial one click to the right. This shows as L and BASIC on the top LCD. L stands for Large image size (4,256 x 2,832 pixels) and BASIC JPG compression.
For most people and family pictures, 12MP is too much. 6MP is enough even for great 12 x 18" prints, so I usually shoot at M image size (3,182 x 2,120 pixels). To change the pixel dimensions (image size), hold the QUAL button and move the front dial one click to the right. You'll see the L change to an M on the top LCD.
I prefer warmer (oranger) images, so I hold the WB button and click the front dial (just in front of the shutter) a couple of clicks to the left to A2 or A3.
These are the only things I change from the reset mode. Everything else I tweak below is unchanged by reset.
I use a hidden menu option to set the JPG compression mode to Optimal Quality instead of the default of Size Priority. Do this at MENU > SHOOTING (green camera icon) > JPEG Compression > Optimal Quality. Once set, it stays this way even when the camera is green-dot reset. This mode gives smaller files than NORMAL and better quality than BASIC. See details here.
ISO (pronounced Eye-Ess-Oh, not "eyeso.")
I set the default of 200. I set Auto ISO to chose ISOs for me automatically. Auto ISO selects ISOs exactly the same way I would, except that now I don't have to.
Auto ISO increases the ISO automatically as it gets dark so I don't have to. It shoots at ISO 200 in good light, and in lower light starts ramping it up to a maximum of 6,400. Only if it gets still darker will it let the shutter speed go below a preset speed. We'll set this slowest speed and maximum ISO to fit our tastes later in the Shooting Menu.
White Balance (WB)
I use AUTO and a clear UV filter to protect my lens. I prefer warmer images, so I set it towards Amber by pressing the WB button and spinning the front dial to taste. A6 is a lot of amber, 0 is neutral, and if you want cooler, B6 is much bluer. I usually run A3, but I'll use A6 in shade. It's not magic; just look at your picture on the LCD and adjust to taste.
This is how you get your choice of wild colors or creamy skin tones. I have a whole page about this at Nikon Picture Controls. They work the same way for the D300, D700 and D3.
Picture Controls are how you set your D700 to give you the pictures you want right out of your camera. Learn these, and you'll never have to waste your day screwing around with raw files.
I have an entire page on How to Set the Nikon D700's Autofocus Controls.
I have used Matrix for everything since I got my first Nikon FA back in 1992.
You set this on the rotary switch just to the right of the viewfinder window. Matrix is the middle position that looks like a rectangle with a dot in the middle. I discuss the other modes on the Rear Controls page.
Lens Settings top
Many lenses have no switches or settings. If so, don't worry.
If the switch says "M/A - M " then use M/A. This gives autofocus, and if I grab the focus ring it instantly lets me make manual corrections. As soon as I tap the shutter button again I get autofocus. This M/A setting, if the lens has it, provides both kinds of focus without ever having to move any switches. It's the best.
Older lenses may have an "A - M" switch. Leave those at "A." To get manual focus you must move the switch on the lens, and/or the switch on the camera. It's not automatic. Different lenses require different settings on the camera and lens to get manual. Some, like the old 300mm f/4 AF, required moving both the camera and lens switches! That was a pain.
Non-G lenses will have an aperture ring on the base of the lens where it's attached to the camera. Set this this ring to the smallest aperture (largest number), usually in orange and 16, 22 or 32. There usually is a lock to keep this ring set there, since if it comes off that setting you'll get an error message (fEE) from most cameras.
My D700 User's Guide continues below.
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Thanks for reading!
Page Index top
These were the basics. Keep reading for explicit details.
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