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Nikon D800 and D800E User's Guide:
Setup Menu
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Nikon D800 and D800E

Nikon D800 and 50mm f/1.4 G. enlarge.


July 2012    D800 and D800E Review  Nikon Reviews  Nikon Lenses  All Reviews

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Custom Settings Menu:
Setup Menu (wrench)


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


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 SET UP MENU on the color LCD.


What it Sets

This sets the usual housekeeping like 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 D800 and D800E.

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


Format memory card       top

This duplicates the function of the two red FORMAT buttons.

I format my card every time I put it in my D800 or D800E, and every time I go out shooting.

It's always best to be using a freshly formatted card.

To be safe, also always format the card anytime the camera's been connected to any computer.

Of course formatting completely wipes any photos off your card. Be sure to have these photos transferred and backed up to at least two locations before formatting. See my Field Workflow page for more.

I use one card as backup, so there's never a problem formatting one card when the other card still has all the data.

Only one card can be formatted at a time. Format your main card, and don't format your backup card until it's full.


Monitor Brightness        top

This changes the rear LCD.

I leave mine at +1.

I would use AUTO, except that it doesn't yet work properly: it's too dim inside. The Canon 5D Mark III does this much better.


Clean image sensor       top

This setting runs the self-cleaning function.

it also allows you to set it to run every time the D800 and D800E is turned off or on, just like Canon. I wouldn't do this, since it wastes a lot of time.


Lock mirror up for cleaning       top

This setting is for mechanical cleaning. Don't ever touch the sensor with sensor swabs or any of that crap!

I clean my cameras with a vacuum, and send them in to Nikon after a few years if the dirt gets really bad, which it never has with a self-cleaning camera like this.


Image Dust Off Ref Photo        top

This is used to take a picture of the dust on your sensor. If you pay Nikon 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!

This used to be a problem 10 years ago, but rarely today with these self-cleaning cameras.


HDMI        top

This sets the format of the HDMI digital TV output. I leave it on Auto, and unlike the crappy analog video output, it looks fantastic on a big HDTV.


Flicker reduction        top

This does its best to reduce video flicker when shot under crappy (florescent, mercury or sodium) lights.

I leave it at AUTO, in which position it knows based on your video format preferences the likely frequency of your electric power.

If you need to, you can force it to 50 Hz or 60 Hz.


Time Zone and Date        top

This is where you set the date and time.

There is a nice map for finding time zones. You can swap among time zones without having to reset the seconds, a boon for me who keeps his D800 and D800E set to the exact second.


Language        top

This sets English or other languages.

Set yours to Swedish and see if you can navigate back to English. Fun!

Unfortunately Nikon figured this out, and if you do, the Language option, which before was only listed as Språk in Swedish, also is listed as (Language) in every language mode, even Korean.

Still, this is also a potentially good source for a practical joke.


Auto Image Rotation        top

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

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

I perform lossless rotation to my images later in iView.


Battery Info        top

I use this all the time. This is my top My Menu menu item.



Battery charge reads to the nearest one 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%.


No. of shots

How many images have been shot on this charge.

It has no recollection of movie run time.


Battery Age

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

I've made many tens of thousands of shots on my D80, D200 and D300 which share the same batteries, and my batteries all read "new." The trick is not to run them it the way down before charging. Read Getting Great Battery Life to see how I do it.


Wireless transmitter        top

This is where we set up the Nikon WT-4A data transmitter.

I don't use one of these.


Image Comment        top

This lets you add a secret text message into every file. Mine is set to (c) KenRockwell.com with my email, street address and phone number! You see this text looking at the EXIF data in software on a computer. 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) > OK. You must hit OK 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, you must check Attach Comment and then select DONE and OK. If you forget to check Attach it won't attach, and if you forget to select DONE and hit OK 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 program the D800 and D800E to add even more information to your files' EXIF at Copyright Information.


Copyright Information        top

This lets you enter more characters for the Artist and Copyright fields, in addition to those you enter at IMAGE COMMENT. The procedure is the same.

I use all these to cram as much personal data as I can into each of my files.


Save/load settings        top

This lets you save almost all your D800 and D800E settings to your card.

One there, you can save to your Mac, and put them back on a card later, and restore yourself into another D800 or D800E, or return them to your own D800 or D800E after being lent to a friend.

I have not seen that the files interchange between a D800 and a D800E, but they do appear to transfer just fine between different samples of the same model. Therefore, if you set one camera the way you like it, you can code your second body to match in just a few moments.

Here's the NCSETUP8.BIN file I get from my D800E. (that link will let you download my file; it won't do anything in your browser.)


GPS        top

This is only if you've got an external GPS attached; the D800 and D800E have no internal GPS.

This lets you make the meter stay on all the time if you wish.

If the meter turns off, the D800 and D800E needs to resync communication with the GPS each time.

It also offers you the option to code location into each photo, and to let the GPS set the camera's clock,


Virtual Horizon        top

This activates an internal 2-axis level to keep your horizons straight.


Non-CPU (Manual Focus) Lens Data        top

This is how you get color Matrix metering, automatic exposure and EXIF data compatibility with traditional manual focus lenses.

You enter the focal length and f/stop via this menu. You also get aperture data in the finder and can use manual and Aperture priority exposure.

Trick: You can set the FUNCTION button to select among different lenses without needing a menu as explained here.


AF fine tune       top

If you can't figure this out on your own and have to read directions for this over the Internet, do not try this at home. You will probably make things worse.

Older AF systems often had offsets with some samples of lenses. Offsets meant a constant focus error, often called "front focus" or "back focus" by laymen

The D800 and D800E rarely has any problems with this, unlike earlier cameras which may have needed this adjustment, but didn't have it.

If your pictures aren't sharp, 99 times out of 100 its because you, not the camera, are doing something wrong. For instance, most sports shots are out of focus because people don't know how to set the AF system properly.

Before you start screwing with this, which should not have been made a user adjustment, read How to Fix Unsharp Images in its entirety.

If you still see a consistent offset (10 shots out of 10, not just one shot here and there), then feel free to adjust this. It's obvious to those with the skill required to use it properly.

Because of this, I'm not going to explain it. Keep your cotton-picking fingers off of this unless you really know what you're doing, and if you are this smart, it's obvious.

If you do know what you're doing, you need to look at the results on a big computer screen at 100%. The D800 and D800E is excellent, but can't show enough of the image big enough to let any of us see enough with enough precision to see the results of this adjustment.

If you do know what you're doing, it's sad to report that this adjustment isn't smart enough to be able to adjust lenses at different distances (like adjust at infinity, 30 feet, 10 feet and three feet) or at different zoom settings. Lenses need different adjustments as these two variable change. Canon cameras now can adjust differently at each end of the zoom range, but not Nikon.

If you attempt this tweak, you must make and compare at least ten shots at a time. The D800 and D800E AF system isn't repeatable in the precision at which you'll be looking, so you need to make multiple shots at each setting and average what you see. Simply taking a few shots and seeing what happens will undoubtedly lead you to making the wrong adjustments, or more fun, lead you to early insanity because you'll be attempting to quantify variations which are random shot-to-shot variation.

Don't use slanted targets. They exaggerate the fact that the actual AF area is usually not exactly where the mark in the finder suggests it is


Firmware Version        top

This lets you confirm if your camera is up-to-date with Nikons' free firmware updates.

As of July 2012, my D800E sitting in front of me reads A 1.00, B 1.01 and L 1.006.

There is always newer firmware; I'm too busy shooting to load it.

The "L" firmware is actually lens correction data. As new lenses come out, you'll need to update this for automatic distortion correction.


Top of D800 and D800E User's Guide

Nikon D800 and D800E Review



Setting the D800 and D800E's Autofocus System











          a Autofocus

          b Metering/Exposure

          c Timers/AE&AF Lock

          d Shooting/Display

          e Bracketing/Flash

          f Controls

          g Movie





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