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Nikon D80 Setup Menu
© 2007 KenRockwell.com

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Nikon D80

Nikon D80. enlarge

I bought mine here. Also see here (body only, about $999), here or here (with 18 - 55mm lens, about $1,099) or here or here (with new 18-135mm lens, about $1,299).


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SET UP MENU (wrench icon)

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

Many of these menu options are shown only after you select the FULL MENUS option in the Setup Menu and are often deactivated in anything except the P, S, A and M modes.

How to Get Here

Select the Set Up Menu by pressing MENU, moving to the left and then up or down to select the wrench icon. You'll then see SETUP MENU on the top of the color LCD.

What it Sets

This sets the usual housekeeping items like languages, video formats, auto image rotation, the clock and file numbering.

What I Change

This menu contains the secret message mode I use to encode my © and contact information into every file shot with my D80.

I also read the Battery Info often. You can't change it, just read it.

CSM/Setup Menu

This allows me to set what I need once, like languages, and then turn off those items in the menus. This is like a breath of fresh air to clarify the menus down only to what I use daily.

If I ever want to reset the menus to Korean when I loan my D80 to a pal, I simply choose FULL menus again.

The choices are:

Simple (default): only the most basic settings are shown.

Full is what you should set as soon as you get your D80. It allows you full access to every menu option, so long as you are in the P, S, A or M exposure modes.

My Menu is where you can deactivate the display of any or almost all of the menu options. Every option you've altered remains in effect, but you won't see it displayed to alter.

For instance, set language to Korean, then deactivate the Language option. Language remains in Korean, and good luck to your pal trying to reactivate the language menu to return to English. I'm scaring you; I use this mode to turn off all the menu items I set once when I buy a camera, like Beep, and if I ever need to set them again, it's trivial to select Full.

This My Menu is more powerful than you may realize. I turn off all the junk, and it leaves all the items I set often on one page, making it much faster and clearer to set and unset Auto ISO everytime I go into Manual exposure mode, for instance.

Format Memory Card

This duplicates the function of the two red FORMAT buttons.

I format cards every time I put one in my D80, and every time I go shooting.

I use the buttons, not the menu. They are faster.

World Time

This sets the date and time.

There is a nice map for finding time zones. Want to reset your D80 for Fiji or Tonga? Just click. You can swap among time zones without having to reset the seconds, a boon for me who keeps his D80 set to the exact second.

Firmware Defect: You set the time under the DATE option.

LCD Brightness

This changes the midtones on the LCD. It changes backlight intensity only by 10%. It is mostly a gamma (midtone contrast) control.

For the adjustment to take effect you must remember to hit OK after making a selection.

I leave mine at 0.

Unlike my Canon DSLRs, My D80's LCD is always bright, contrasty, color accurate at every angle and sunlight readable.

I never have to twiddle with the brightness adjustment.

Video Mode

This sets the format of the video output.

Use NTSC (525 lines, 59.94Hz) in the Americas and Japan, and PAL (625 lines, 50Hz) in Europe.

This output will always look much worse on a TV or projector than images do on a computer or projected through a computer. Read Why Images Look Awful from the Video Output for more.


This sets English or other languages.

As suggested before, set yours to Swedish and see if you can navigate back to English. Fun!


This selects how the camera behaves when plugged into a computer via USB.

I leave it at mass storage, which means my D80 appears as an external hard drive from which I can drag and drop images and folders in my Mac OSX Finder or Windows Explorer.

PTP is used if you want to control the D80 as an external device, for instance, via Nikon Camera Control Pro for remote camera control. PTP makes the D80 look like a device instead of like a drive.

Use whichever works best with your computer and workflow.

Image Comment

This lets you add a secret text message into every file. Mine is set to (c) KenRockwell.com with my phone number! You see this text looking at the EXIF data in software on a computer. It doesn't appear in the visible image. Sadly Nikon provides no real © symbol.

You set this by going to MENU > Set Up Menu > Image Comment > Input Comment > (add your message like you did on 1970s video games) > Enter. You must hit ENTER or it will forget everything you just did!

To edit or remove a character, select it in the Input Comment screen by holding the checkerboard button and clicking the big thumb selector. Select a new character with the same selector and press the center of the selector to add it. Press the Trash button to delete a character.

When you get your text message spelled out, go to Attach Comment and hit SET so a small checkmark shows. Now go to and select DONE. If you forget to check Attach it won't attach, and if you forget to hit DONE it will also forget everything you just did. Sorry, I don't write the firmware.

It's great having everything you shoot have your contact info embedded. It also allows you to prove ownership in a third-world country when catching a thief with your camera. Help the cop go through the menus and read your personal ID information.


You can create, name and rename folders on your memory card. They are named with a 3-digit number from 100 through 999.

Select Folder selects the folder into which new photos are written.

You could use this to record images into a previous folder. I never do this: if I want to get that complicated I wait until I get to my computer where it's much easier to sort.

You might want to use this feature if you shot one event or subject, went on to a second and made a new folder for it, and then returned to the previous subject.

New is used to create a new folder. Unlike the pro cameras like the D200, there is no trick by which you can hold the ? button on power-on to create a new folder automatically.

Rename and Delete are self-explanatory.

File No. Sequence

This ensures your file numbers keep counting up. Set this ON.

If you leave it at default you'll start from DSC_0001 every time you reformat. Over time you'll have hundreds of photos on your computer all called DSC_0001. It will drive you crazy and it will be too late to do anything about it.

Set it to ON, which should be the default but isn't.

Mirror Lock-up

Mirror Lock-up isn't. It's not a lock up for telephoto lenses on tripods.

This setting is used to lock up the mirror to clean the CCD. I never use this, since I find it easier to set the camera to Bulb and hold open the shutter. I'd never stick anything into the camera to touch the CCD; the only people who suggest this are the people who want to sell you the tools to clean your CCD.

Dust Off Ref Photo

This is used to take a picture of the dust on your sensor. If you pay Nikon another $150 for Nikon Capture software you can use this to erase the dust more easily from your images shot in raw. You people know who you are. I don't do this!

I've made 80,000 combined shots on my Nikon D70, D200, D40 and D80 and have had no problems with dust. Thankfully the modern Nikon sensors have filters far enough in front of the imaging surface to throw dust sufficiently out of focus.

All I ever use is an air bulb to blow off the big chunks. The small ones remain invisible. If I ever had a problem, I'd let no one but Nikon clean my sensor, since they'll replace the camera if they screw up.

Battery Info

I use all the time. This lets me read the battery's charge to the nearest percent.

Bat. Meter reads the battery charge to the nearest percent. This is the same battery data shown on the top LCD display, but the top gauge only has 5 bars to read to the nearest 20%.

Pic. Meter shows how many images have been shot on this charge.

Charg. Life shows the battery's health. A new one reads 0 and an almost dead one reads 4.

I've made 28,000 shots by alternating between two batteries, and they both still show "new." The trick is not to run them all the way down before charging. Read Getting Great Battery Life to see how I do it.

Firmware Version

This lets me confirm if my D80 is up-to-date with Nikons' free firmware updates.

Mine, as of 02 January 2007, reads A 1.00 and B 1.00.

Auto Image Rotation

This sets a flag in vertical images which keys most software to display the image vertically.

It does not actually rotate the images; it merely sets a flag. Someday the camera's firmware will work properly and rotate the image itself, but no camera does this yet.

I rotate the images themselves later in iView.

Auto Image Rotation helps me identify which of hundreds of images I shoot each day need rotation.

Auto Image Rotation is easy to fool if you're shooting directly up or down.Turn it off if you're photographing your shoes on your feet.


My D80 User's Guide continues below.

No one pays me anything to write all this. I do it because I love to help. If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you might have had to take, please help me share more.



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