Home  Donate  New  Search  Gallery  Reviews  How-To  Books  Links  Workshops  About  Contact

Nikon D800 and D800E User's Guide:
Shooting Menu
(camera icon)
© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
Please help KenRockwell..com

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

Top of D800 and D800E User's Guide

User's Guide Page Index


Help me help you         top

I support my growing family through this free website. The biggest help is when you use any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live.

If you find this page as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

While free to read online, this page is formally registered and copyrighted, so it is unlawful to make copies, especially in the form of printouts for personal use or saving these pages or files. If you wish to make a printout for personal use, you are granted one-time permission to print from your browser (there is no PDF) only if you PayPal me $5.00 per printout, file save, or part thereof, unless of course you bought your D800 through one of my links. This is how I justify spending weeks away from my family writing and sharing all this for free online.

Thank you and thanks for your support!



Shooting Menu

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 shooting (camera icon) menu. You'll then see "SHOOTING MENU" on the top of the screen.


What it Sets

It sets parameters mostly related to the sensor, image, file and data handling. The Shooting Menu sets ISO, grain, contrast, color and a zillion other critical things that set the look of your images.


What I Change

I change a lot here. This is where I make the D800 and D800E give me the wild colors I love.


Clarification and Complaints

Nikon let the people who wrote the instruction manual design the menus.

"Shooting" isn't a good name for this menu, since everything in the other Custom Settings Menu (CSM) also relates to shooting, just that the CSM sets things more related to autofocus, flash, knobs and buttons and metering. Sorry, I apologized at the first page for this confusion, all due to Nikon's inability to design the camera to make sense.

A more sensible icon might be a piece of film, since the Custom Setting Menu (pencil menu) has more to do with shooting and camera mechanical settings than the Shooting Menu does.

Don't worry about what's in what menu. It doesn't make complete sense because Nikon has items spread all over the place. I often have to scroll through endless menus to find what I just used a moment ago.

The My Menu menu helps organizing all this. The confusion isn't our fault, it's Nikon's fault. Don't sweat it.


Shooting Menu Bank (A, B, C and D)        top

Menu banks seem like memories, but they aren't. You can't save or recall them. All they do is save and return you to the settings you had there when you last changed to another one.

For instance, if you change things in A and then go to B, you'll now be in whatever settings you had when you left B. If you go back to A, you'll be at the setting you had when you left A. If you go back to B, you'll be where you were when you last left B, and so on.

The settings in each bank update themselves as you change things, and stay that way when you leave until you return to them.

There is no way to lock or save these. The best way to deal with them is consciously making an effort to shift into each as you enter an assignment to which they apply, and deliberately change out of them when you're done that assignment. If you select a bank for one thing, and then start changing the camera for something else, you never can get back to the way that bank was set, except to change all the individual items back.

This baloney is my biggest complaint about the D800, D800E and many of Nikon's cameras today. The only cameras which do it right are the Canon DSLRs with their C1 C2 C3 memories, and the D7000 and D600.

I use my A bank for landscape and nature shooting, and my B bank for snaps of my family. I always try to remember to shift the banks, because if I forget, I'll start changing settings in the wrong bank — and the colors will be all wrong for the type of subject!

Worse, the Shooting Banks combined with the CSM Banks still all don't save everything about the camera, like the AF and drive settings. It's a real mess, sorry, but that's how Nikon did it.

You have four memory positions: A, B C, and D. Nikon was stupid enough to use the same names, A, B, C and D, instead of 1, 2, 3, and 4, for the Custom Setting Menu Banks! These confuse me, and I have an engineering degree and patents.

You can add a name to each one. I set my A bank as "KenRockwell.com" for my trademark wild color shots.

I set my second bank, B, to what I use for family snaps. I name it FAMILY.

You get the idea.

Want to know what bank you used to make a shot? Each bank recalls your file naming convention, so you can use different file names for each bank.


How to Recall a Setting       top

Easy: MENU > SHOOTING MENU > Shooting Menu Bank > (select one) > OK.

You'll see SHOOT and A, B, C or D on the INFO screen.


How to Save a Setting       top

You can't save or lock any of these settings. This is a design defect and confused me at first.

The D800 and D800E continuously alters whichever Shooting Menu Bank is selected. Choose a different Menu Bank and you're changing that Menu Bank as you're shooting.

Menu Banks are confusing because all they do is return you to where you were when you last left them.

If you haven't selected a bank, the D800 or D800E defaults to Shooting Menu Bank A. You see that on the top LCD as "SHOOT A."

As you tweak settings, these are updated for the currently selected Shooting Menu Bank.

If you choose Shooting Menu Bank B, the settings for A are saved until you select Bank A again. Bank B is then modified as you work with the camera.

When you switch to a different Menu Bank, the D800 or D800E recalls whatever settings you had when you left that Menu Bank for a different one.

This is idiotic, but it's the way the D800 and D800E work. I only figured this out by having to explain it. This is why my settings were always changing all by themselves. If you are using a bank and change your WB, you just changed that bank. Sorry. If you change a setting and then realized you were in the wrong bank, sorry again. You just screwed up the wrong bank. There is no "back" button.

If you want to reset a bank to its defaults, select it, then use the next menu item to reset it.


How to Name a Setting       top

You can save a name for the setting, even if you can't save the setting itself.

Choose MENU > SHOOTING MENU > Shooting Menu Bank > (Choose the bank you want to rename) > Rename. Select the bank you want to rename. Enter the name, and remember to press OK when done. If you forget to press OK, it forgets the name and you have to start over!

Hint: there's no obvious way to delete a character if you make a mistake. Use the Trash button to delete characters.


How to Reset a Shooting Menu Bank        top

This resets everything in the selected Shooting Menu Bank (just explained above) to the defaults. You reset only the bank in which you're working.

To reset a bank, press MENU > SHOOTING MENU > Shooting menu bank > (select one of them) > (press the trash can button).

Play with everything to your heart's content, since if you do screw anything up this reset will fix it. Choose a bank you don't use and you won't change the bank you do use.


Extended menu banks        top

If set to ON, also saves the exposure mode (P, S, A or M) as part of the bank.

At its default of OFF, the exposure mode isn't changed when recalling a bank.


Storage Folder       top

You can create, name and rename folders on your CF card. They are named with a 3-digit number from 100 through 999. Sorry, we can't set 000 through 099.

These are useful if you want to record different subjects into different folders.


Select Folder by Number

This really should be called "Create New Folder," but that got lost in translation.

It will automatically show you the next available number for a new folder. Hit OK, and you've created that new folder and will be recording into it. Done.

If you prefer, you can select whatever folder number you want, from 100 to 999.


Select Folder from list

This selects into which folder among those already on your card your new photos will be recorded.

You use this if you want to to record images into a different previously created folder.

You might want to use Select Folder 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.

You probably won't use this.


File Naming       top

Fun! You can choose the first three letters or numbers which will be used to name all of your files! I use KEN, or 800 for my D800 and D8E for my D800E. If I had four letters I'd use ROCK.

You can select different letters for each Shooting Menu Bank, making it easy to swap among four sets of letters, and letting you know what bank you used to shoot various images. Maybe you share a camera with the boss and want to know which shots you made as opposed to her.

The D800 and D800E always begins Adobe RGB file names with an underscore. You choose the three letters and the D800 and D800E chooses where they go.

Tip: You can't delete as you enter characters. Since you only have three, change a bad one by moving the cursor over it and entering the correct character.


Primary Slot Selection        top

If you use two cards at once, this tells the D800 and D800E which card you want to be the main card.


Secondary Slot Function        top

If you use a second card, this is where you set what it does.

You have your choice of:


Overflow ( [ ] > [ ] )

The D800 and D800E starts putting pictures on the second card only when the first card is full.


Backup ( [ ] + [ ] )

I use this selection.

In Backup, the second card records exactly whatever the first card does.

Now when I download from the first card, I can format it without worrying about being sure that my computer is backed-up first. If my computer dies, the second card still has it, since when you format, you only format one of the two cards at a time. This leaves the second card with all the junk you've shot!

I use a big, cheap card in your second slot, because when the backup card gets full (remember, you're not erasing it every time you download from the first card), you can't take any more pictures even if the first card is empty until you pull out the full second card.

As of July 2012, I'd suggest getting a 32 GB SanDisk card for $24 for the second slot, and using a CF card as your main card. You'll never need the files on the backup until one day you hit DELETE by accident, or lose an entire main card or download, and then you'll remember that AHA! It's on my backup card! You don't need a fast backup card; hopefully you'll never need to read it. Just format it whenever it gets full.

For a few extra dollars, this 32 GB SanDisk card is faster, and so is this 100x 32 GB Lexar card.


Raw and JPG ( [RAW] + [JPG] )

Raw files go on one card, and JPGs go on the other.

Of course you'll need a much bigger card for the card storing NEF files.


Image Quality        top

Image Quality duplicates half of the QUAL button. It chooses JPG, raw or both, and chooses the JPG compression level.

Whether you use the QUAL button or this menu you're also changing this setting in whichever Shooting Menu Bank you have selected.

See my discussion of the QUAL button for other details.


Image Size        top

Image Size duplicates the other half of the QUAL button. It chooses the JPG or TIF image size in pixels. It does not directly choose the size of the file in bytes.

See my discussion of the QUAL button for more details.


Image Area        top

Here we select among the many crops available from the large FX sensor.

I find this so helpful that I prefer to program my Function Button for instant access to this setting.

What this does is select to use only a fraction of the large sensor, and thus "crop" your image to include only that smaller area. The viewfinder will show you the smaller area either with lines or by masking the unused regions as dark and fuzzy. Your completed images will look as if they were zoomed-in closer.

I often use the 5:4 crop when shooting vertically, and I use the DX mode as a "digital zoom" to get closer.

When I crop, the D800 and D800E only show the crop in the finder with faint lines. I prefer the unused areas to go dim and fuzzy, which only happens when I force the AF Area Illumination OFF in the Custom Settings Menu.


JPEG Compression        top

This obscure menu choice selects the algorithm used to encode JPG files.

It works in addition to the BASIC, NORMAL and FINE choices, giving you a total six different JPG settings for every image size.

I use the default of Size Priority in my D800 and D800E. It turns out that even at the smallest 9 MP resolution that the artifacts are invisible in prints even in the smallest BASIC JPG setting.

This used to matter a bit at lower resolutions, but since all JPG processing only happens inside 8x8 pixel blocks, at 9 MP, even huge JPG problems are invisible, and the D800 never has huge JPG problems at any setting.


Size Priority

Size Priority is the default. It was the only option in older cameras like the D1X, D50 and D70s. Since it was the only option in those cameras, they had no menu option for it.

JPGs need more data (file size) to maintain quality as the subject's contrast and complexity climbs. A blank sky is easy for a JPG, and a busy tree with a zillion branches requires a much bigger file to retain the same quality as a JPG.

Size Priority keeps the file size constant regardless of image detail or subject complexity. This is bad at low resolutions because quality will get worse (add artifacts) as detail goes up, but even at the lowest 9 MP resolution of the D800 and D800E, never results in any visible artifacts in actual prints even at the BASIC setting.


Optimal Quality

Optimal Quality lets the file size grow if needed to maintain quality, and otherwise keeps it smaller.

The Optimal Quality option lets the camera allocate bits intelligently based on the subject, instead of making big files when they aren't needed for flat subjects like blank skies.

Using the Optimal Quality option in BASIC JPG lets the file size grow to the same size as JPG NORMAL if the subject needs it, and lets the file size shrink back to JPG BASIC when it's not.


Firmware Defect: Nikon accidentally reversed the two icons! The icon which shows an arrow from above directing all the little identical images to fit next to each other in the same space, which means "same size," is used for Optimal Quality. The icon showing little images of different sizes working together is used for Size Priority. Ignore these icons because they are reversed.


NEF (RAW) recording       top

This lets you chose many options about how NEFs are recorded.



Lossless Compressed

I don't use this, which is the default.



I use "Compressed."

You get full raw quality, range and options, however the file sizes are kept much smaller with no visible loss.



Forget this.

You get the exact same data as Lossless Compressed, but much more file size.

Nikon took this option out as soon as earlier camera's CPUs got fast enough to compress in real time, but conspiracists thought Nikon was cheating them! Therefore, Nikon put this option back in, but please don't use it.

Ask your math professor; you get exactly the same data in Lossless Compressed and exactly the same images and adjustments in Compressed, but with none of the bloat.


NEF (RAW) Bit Depth

The camera digitizes image signals as 14-bit linear data.

The 12 bit option I prefer applies some mild logarithmic curve-shaping to the highlight data before saving it. There's no visible difference since we can't even see to 8-bit precision on the highlights, so 12-bit precision is more than enough.

I can't see any difference with 14-bit, but 14-bit wastes my valuable time and file space which I can see.

Bit depth refers only to the precision, not range or accuracy, with which brightness levels are defined. The number of bits is completely unrelated to the brightness range described by these digital values.

JPG is log, not linear, so its 8 bits perfectly render the entire visual range from bright to dark.

NEF is a linear, not log, format. Because the levels (quantization steps) between digital values are the same at bright and dark, we have to use a lot of linear bits to get enough precession at the dark end. The log nature of JPG means that the quantization steps become far finer at the dark end, so 8 bits is plenty.

Since NEF can't tailor the q-steps with brightness, we need to use 12 bits so that we have enough precision in the darks. This leaves us wasting bits at the bright end, where 12 bits gives far more precision than needed.

With 14-bit systems, it helps in the dark end, but is a complete waste at the bright end of the range.

When you select 12-bit, you're still getting 14-bit performance in the dark where you need it. All that changes is that the 12-bit position merely uses a look-up-table to skip between values at the bright end, where we have far more precision than needed anyway.

Few photographers have Ph.Ds in mathematics, so they understand none of this, and waste valuable time and disc space by shooting in the more bloated modes like 14-bit, lossless or uncompressed, or shooting raw in the first place.

Photo books are written by laymen who have forgotten anything past 9th grade math, so they misinterpret this to imply that 14-bit covers a wider range. Nope, it's just more precision where we don't need it.


White Balance        top

This duplicates the WB button, and adds even more features.

I use AUTO1. See my explanations of the WB settings, my Examples of D800 and D800E WB Settings and my page on Setting White Balance.



I use AUTO1. It tries t make everything look natural.

AUTO2 is an option that renders indoor tungsten lights more orange than natural, which some people find more pleasant.


Multiple Fluorescent options

Unlike tungsten lights, fluorescent lights have awful color balance, and each bulb type and brand is completely different than the next.

Once you've selected Florescent, Nikon provides seven different settings for different types of bulbs!

To select among these, just click right once you've selected Fluorescent.

Hint: These types of bulbs always look awful. I never use these options since they never match the bulb anyway. If I have to shoot under them, I use the PRESET option as described at the WB button.


Green/Magenta bias

I always use this set to M1 (one unit of magenta).

To add or remove a little green or magenta to your photos, simply click right once you've selected any of the WB settings in this menu. You'll get a color chart on which you can adjust both green/magenta and amber/blue bias.

The D800 and D800E are awesome in that you can set different biases for each WB setting!

A disadvantage is an overall slight green color cast, which is corrected by adding one unit of magenta.

You also can set amber/blue bias in this menu, although its easier to set holding the WB button and spinning the front dial.


Managing the Preset White Card Settings

Well hidden, you also can set the green/magenta and amber/blue bias for white-card preset WB.

To do this, press MENU > SHOOTING > White balance > PRESET and click right. Select one of them, then the center of Big Thumb Button, and click right.

This is also the place you can save, move and name your various preset white card white balances. This is another big advantage with Nikon: I save these and call them up using only the dials for various difficult conditions, like indoor home lighting. To save and rename, select one and hit the center thumb button.


Set Picture Control        top

This is where you set the important things, like contrast and saturation.

Picture Controls are so critical to getting the pictures you that I have a complete page on Picture Controls.

These work the same, and give the same look, among the D800 and D800E, D300s D300, D5000, D3000, D700, D3X and D3 and most of Nikons DSLRs since 2007.


Manage Picture Control        top

This is where you save and recall Picture Control settings. I have an entire page about this at Picture Controls.


Color Space       top

Don't touch this unless you really know what you're doing and print your own work.



sRGB is the default. It's the world standard for digital images, printing and the Internet. Use it and you'll get great, accurate colors everywhere, all the time. Like what you see in my Gallery? That's all coming to you in sRGB. Use sRGB and you'll automatically get great, saturated and accurate color everywhere. See Color Management is for Wimps for examples.

sRGB is specified in IEC 61966-2.1, which you may also see when examining color profiles. That gobbledygook means the same thing as sRGB.


Adobe RGB

Never use AdobeRGB unless you really know what you're doing and do all your printing yourself. If you use Adobe RGB you'll have to remember to convert back to sRGB for sending your prints out or sharing them on the Internet. Otherwise they look duller than sRGB!

Adobe RGB squeezes colors into a smaller range (makes them duller) before recording them to your file. Special smart software is then needed to expand the colors back to where they should be when opening the file.

If you have the right software to re-expand the colors you theoretically might have a slightly broader range of colors. However, if at any point in the chain you don't have the right software and haven't attached the Adobe RGB profile you'll get the duller colors as recorded instead!

Web browsers don't have, and print labs rarely have, the right software to read Adobe RGB. This is why people who shoot it are so often disappointed. Even if a place has the right software, if you forget to add the Adobe RGB profiles to your files these places still won't read them correctly and you'll get dull colors.

Adobe RGB may be able to represent a slightly larger range of colors, but no screen or print material I've used can show this broader range, so why cause yourself all the trouble? I've experimented with 100% saturated grads in these two color spaces and never seen any broader range from Adobe RGB either on my screen or on SuperGloss Light jet prints.

Worse, if you're the sort of vacuum-operating geek who wants to shoot Adobe RGB because you read about it in a magazine article, did you realize that because the colors are compressed into a smaller range that there is more chroma quantization noise when the file is opened again? Ha!

See more at Adobe RGB.


Active D-Lighting       top

This is Nikon's corny mis-naming of the Automatic Dynamic Range Control.

It is a very important part of why the D800 and D800E's images can look so great.

I always leave it set to AUTO, which magically optimizes highlights and shadows to look great every time.

This is so important that I have a complete ADR page all about it.


HDR (high dynamic range)       top

This is a trick mode. It takes two pictures, and combines the best highlights and shadows of each to attempt to recover from crappy, too-contrasty lighting.

You need to use a tripod, since if you don't; the two images won't line-up and you'll get a lot of double-edges in many places of your final image.

I don't find this a useful feature, but I do find it more useful than bracketing, so I program my BKT button to enter this mode. Once you set this, hold BKT and spin the rear dial to select the HDR Mode, and the front dial selects the Exposure Differential, all explained next:


HDR Mode

On (series)

This makes every shot use the HDR trick.


On (single photo)

Only the next shot is made with this trick mode. The next photos are back to normal.



Default, the camera works as it should.


Exposure Differential

This selects the variation between the highlight exposure and shadow exposures made.


I use this. It lets the camera, which already knows everything about the dynamics of the image from its zillion-segment 3D color matrix meter, select the best variation between highlight and shadow exposures.


1EV, 2EV and 3EV

These settings let you define the variance.

The 3 EV setting covers a broader range, but could render middle grays more poorly than the other settings.



HIGH tends to make a smoother image than LOW.

I leave mine on Normal.



Vignette Control        top

This corrects for darkened corners.

I leave mine on NORMAL. It works with most AF-D and AF-S lenses.


Auto Distortion Control        top

This corrects for lens distortion.

It works with most AF-D and AF-S lenses, in other words, almost all autofocus AF lenses made since about 1993.

If your D800 shows a gray menu item here, that means that it can't do it with your lens. If you're using a very new model autofocus lens, this means that you'll need to load the latest lens profiles from Nikon into your camera.

Once working, it does a great job of correcting even complex ultrawide-angle distortion. It usually corrects pincushion distortion completely. It won't correct the strongest barrel distortion all the way, but the good news is that it removes the worst of the complex part of the distortion so what's left is easy to correct in Photoshop, that otherwise wouldn't be correctable.


Long Exposure NR        top

This is Long Exposure Dark-Frame Subtraction Noise Reduction.

This is used by astronomers and other nutty types to lessen heat and other artifacts picked up in long exposures.

I never use this; I leave it at its default of OFF.

If you do set this to ON, the D800 and D800E will double the amount of time you have to wait around for longer time exposures. For instance, after a 1-minute exposure, the D800 will make another 1-minute exposure with the shutter closed, and then subtract whatever garbage is in that frame from the first one it shot of the subject.

The D800 and D800E are so good that you don't need this except for exposures so long (many minutes) that only astronomers would have the patience to wait for this to complete.


High ISO NR (High ISO Noise Reduction)       top

This lets you control the strength of the noise reduction (smudging) applied at high ISOs.

Set it higher for less noise, but it removes more fine details and texture.

Set it lower to retain more texture and detail, at the expense of having more noise.

I set it to HIGH.


ISO sensitivity settings       top

ISO sensitivity

This duplicates the ISO button. I use ISO 100, the default.

Note: You can set any value you want, but with AUTO ISO ON, the D800 and D800E will default back to the closest setting inside the AUTO ISO range we'll program next.


Auto ISO sensitivity control

Auto ISO magically bumps up the ISO as the light gets weaker, saving you a lot of time since you no longer need to watch your lighting or shutter speeds. Set this and just shoot, from daylight to moonlight.

Auto ISO leaves the ISO alone until the shutter speed would get slower then the Minimum shutter speed set below. If the light (or your camera settings) would cause a slower speed, Auto ISO increases the ISO so the shutter speed remains at the slowest setting below.

Auto ISO keeps increasing the ISO as the light dims until it hits the Maximum sensitivity you've set, after which the shutter speed will be allowed to get longer than what you've set.

The settings are:


ON and OFF

Self-explanatory; this is where we set the AUTO ISO feature ON or OFF.


Maximum sensitivity

This is the highest ISO that AUTO ISO will use.

If it gets any darker, the D800 and D800E will lower the shutter speed.

I choose ISO 6,400 for my nature and landscape shots, and ISO 12,800 (HI+1) for my people and action shots. I set different values in the Settings Bank I use for each, so my AUTO ISO settings change with my subject.


Minimum Shutter Speed

This is the shutter speed below which the D800 and D800E will start increasing their ISO as the light gets darker.

Set this to the slowest speed at which you won't get any subject or camera motion.

I set 1/80 or 1/100 for people photos and 1/125 for kid photos. For a 300mm telephoto lens, I might choose 1/250. For a wide angle lens for dim landscapes, I might choose 1/8.

New in the D800 and D800E are the option to let the camera choose this speed based on the lens' focal length, which is the AUTO option in the shutter speed options. Click right from here, and you can choose either one or two stops faster or slower than the classic 1/focal length shutter speed.

It's the best ever made for AUTO ISO, but still not smart enough yet to adjust itself even slower if you have VR ON, which would allow even slower shutter speeds for still subjects.


Multiple Exposure       top

This is silly. It lets you do what we did back on film.

D800 and D800E Multiple Exposure

Easy example: The Blinds in My Office. (5 exposures.)

This works and it's easy to use.

Unlike film, it's smart enough to compensate the exposures so they add together without overexposure.

Here are the options:


Multiple Exposure Mode

Off is off.

On (Series) means it keeps shooting multiple exposures as set.

On (single photo) means it makes one multiple exposure series, and resets back to normal operation.


Number of Shots

How many exposures are taken and combined.


Auto Gain

If on, corrects the exposure so the resulting combination doesn't get too light.

Leave this ON for most uses, or set to OFF if you're shooting against black and each successive additional exposure is a subject against a different black background.

In other words, use OFF if each piece of image only appears once in the frame against black. If objects are superimposed, use ON.


To make multiple exposures:

1.) Click MENU > SHOOTING > MULTIPLE EXPOSURE > ON. Only on the INFO screen will you see a tiny icon that looks like two rectangles mating to let you know you're about to make multiple exposures.

2.) Select NUMBER OF SHOTS > (Choose the number of shots to combine (2 - 10)).

3.) Make your shots. You'll see each on the color LCD as you make it. After the last shot, the camera processes them into one image.

The D800 and D800E won't tell you how many you've made until you're done. You can cancel it in the same menu if you want. Choose OFF.

It works with JPGs and NEFs.


Interval timer shooting (intervalometer)       top

This works and it's fun. This lets you set the D800 and D800E to fire automatically at preset intervals.

The D800 and D800E is better than a video security camera because it has so much more resolution. You can point this outside, cover a wide angle and have more than enough resolution to read the plates off a perp's car. You'll even be able to read the titles off your DVDs that they're hauling away.

I tried it and busted a pair of cute bunnies who spent all night eating grass and hanging out in the middle of our street.

The basics are easier to figure out on your own than for me to explain here, so I'll only cover some specifics below.


Calculations       top

You tell the D800 and D800E the interval between shots and how many shots to take.

The D800 and D800E doesn't calculate how long the series will take.

You can't tell the D800 and D800E to run for a certain period and make so many shots. You have to do the math yourself and tell the D800 and D800E how many shots and how much time between them.

You either have to do this in your head, or check out the Timelapse Calculator app for the iPhone and iPod touch


Battery       top

It's easy to run down the D800 and D800E battery since you can program it to make so many shots. Long night exposures will kill the battery, too. You'll wake up and wonder why it stopped halfway through.

You may want to get an AC adapter if you really get into this, or be clever and optimize your ISO to keep exposures shorter.

Be sure to turn off the LCD image review.


Start Time        top

Start now, or start whenever you want later.


Interval        top

This is the amount of time between shots.


Select no.of times x Shots        top

The D800 and D800E does more than a regular intervalometer. The D800 and D800E lets you shoot one shot at each interval, or a burst of them. The interval is set in another menu. The default interval is a minute and can be set from one second to many hours.

The Select no.of times x Shots menu is as clear as a lens cap. The Select no.of times x Shots menu in in the format of 001 x 1 = 0001.

The first 001 number sets the total number of intervals at which shots are made. If you set "060" and a one minute interval, the D800 or D800E shoots once each minute for an hour (60 x 1 minute = 60 minutes).

The second single digit is how many rapid-fire shots are fired at each interval. Set it to one and you get the usual one shot at each interval. Set it to several and you'll make several rapid shots at each interval. You'd do this if you intend to cherry pick one shot from each burst, for instance, to recover if someone walks in front of your camera at one interval.

The last number is the total number of shots. This is calculated by the D800 and D800E. You don't enter it. It's the number of bursts (the 001 part) multiplied by the number per burst. This might be helpful to be sure that your card and battery are up to it.


Start        top

Here's where you tell it to go and shoot the sequence, yippee!


Time Lapse       top

Want to see some intensely cool stuff? Check out Thomas Kranzle's time lapse reels. He makes a shot about every 4 seconds, runs for about 640 shots, and assembles them in a film editing program at 24 fps for motion pictures. I saw his work when he showed our photo club. Also see more time-lapse magic here.

To do cool stuff like this you need to:

1.) Turn off every auto anything, including auto contrast and auto saturation. If you don't, your sequences will flicker from the auto WB or auto sharpening or auto anything from frame-to-frame.

2.) Import all your shots to your Mac.

3.) Open iMovie or Final Cut.

4.) Create a new project. Thomas selects HD to get good enough resolution for film-out.

5.) Select all the stills and drag them into the clips pane.

6.) Find the command to sequence them together in the timeline as independent frames, one frame each. I forget where this command is and will vary with your software.

7.) Hit go and voilà! Time lapse!

8.) Save it as you prefer. Thomas saves them as .MOV files and outputs to 35mm movie film, although more and more clients are asking for the files instead.

Of course you can do this down at video resolution, but using HD resolution (1,920 x 1080 24p) looks incredible and is easy from a digital still camera. This looks insane when projected digitally from a computer, since video by comparison is only 720 x 483i. My old iBook laptop can do this and output in HD easily with the software that came with it for free; good luck in Windows. I have an article on Why Video Looks Crappy, and thus why you should do this in HD. HD has two-megapixel resolution while video has only 1/3 of a megapixel.

Exposure is set manually and left alone. For sunrises and sunsets it looks much better to have it fade to or from black than to twiddle the exposure frame-to-frame.

You can cheat and shoot bracketed bursts and import each set of shots as its own parallel timeline. You can crossfade between them as the sun comes up or down. Thomas found all this effort didn't have much benefit. (Beats me how to shoot bracketed bursts on the D800 and D800E, I haven't tried. Thomas shot what you see with a Canon 20D. He wears out a lot of them!)


Movie Settings        top


Frame size/frame rate

Here you choose the video format.

25 FPS is for European and PAL release, while 30 FPS is for USA/Japan NTSC. Actually, what's marked 30 is really 29.94.

24 FPS is for motion-picture, theatrical and DVD release; and it also uses less data. The slower rate is less natural, and that's exactly why cinematographers prefer it for drama because the extra veil from reality lets the imagination take over better in getting into the story that's being told. I forget, but I think 24 is really pulled-down to 23.976 as well.

I see no 4:3 or standard definition modes.


Movie quality

This sets the bit rate. I'd use NORM unless you have a very good reason to be using HIGH.




Sets the audio level automatically, like a cheap camcorder (default).



Lets you set and fix the recording level so the sound doesn't pump up and down as people speak.

It also means you're more likely to get overload on load sounds, or not be able to hear soft sounds



Records MOS (Mit out Sound or "silent").



Select the card to which you want your movies recorded.


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





Home  Donate  New  Search  Gallery  Reviews  How-To  Books  Links  Workshops  About  Contact