Important Functions of Nikon Cameras

This article will be useful to Nikon Digital SLR owners. Many people already know how to adjust shutter speed, ISO, aperture, but Nikon cameras have very useful functions and settings. Today we will focus on a few basic ones.

Thoughts on setting up Nikon cameras

Thoughts on setting up Nikon cameras

Setting Picture Control Modes

Almost all Nikon DSLR cameras have image management modes. This setting is in Shooting Mode Menu -> Picture Control Mode. Depending on the model, you can select one of the shooting modes in the submenu. Most often it

  • SD - standard
  • NL - Neutral
  • VI - saturated
  • MC - monochrome
  • PT - portrait
  • LS - landscape or native shooting mode.

This is very convenient - with the desired type of shooting you just need to set the appropriate mode and get the image settings for a given plot.

These modes affect sharpness, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue the resulting image. For example, the portrait mode has low sharpness, contrast and brightness in order to correctly convey skin tones. A saturated mode, on the contrary, has saturated colors, great sharpness and contrast.

Here is an example of the same photo in different image management modes. There is an improvement in color saturation:

Standard and Rich snapshot management in action

Standard and Rich snapshot management in action

All sample photos in this article are made on Nikon D90 using a tripod and remote control Nikon ML-L3. Focusing with Live View on Nikon 50mm F1.8D in manual mode. The items are mounted on a studio stand and flash foot. If you look closer, 1 to 1, you can see an improvement in sharpness in VI mode compared to SD

Difference in SD and VI image management modes

Difference in SD and VI image management modes

Important notice! If you shoot in RAW format, then the file is actually recorded in RAW format raw information from the camera’s matrix, but in EXIF cameras record data about the shooting control mode. At the same time, a picture with the established image management mode will be visible on the camera’s display. But when loading into a RAW converter like ADOBE LIGHTROOM, ADOBE Camera RAW these converters will not accept the metadata from the file and you will see naked original RAW picture without overlaying Picture Control. So, shooting in RAW and processing the picture on a computer, you don't have to bother with the selected picture control mode.

But, if you are shooting in JPEG, then the selected mode will greatly affect the photo. I strongly recommend that you always remember about the mode that is set and change it depending on the situation. By the way, when shooting in MC mode - monochrome, BW letters will flash in red in the viewfinder, warning that you are shooting in black and white. And if you shoot in RAW, then on the computer you will be able to see the original color photo, and if you shoot in JPEG, it will already be impossible to restore the color in the photo.

High ISO Noise Reduction

In order to minimize noise at high ISOs, you can, and sometimes need to enable the noise reduction function. Function is in  Shooting Mode Menu -> High ISO Noise Reduction. This feature helps to reduce digital noise and make your photo more attractive. The function also has the name NR (noise reduction) and several intensity values.

Two photos with and without noise reduction

Two photos with and without noise reduction

If you increase the scale, then the difference in image quality will be really visible. See for yourself:

Noise Reduction Function

Noise Reduction Function

Important factor! Shooting in RAW mode does not actually reduce the noise in the image, and the camera, when reviewing the image, shows the RAW image with noise suppressed. If such a RAW image is viewed on a computer with and without noise reduction mode, they will be identical. At first for the article I shot in RAW, but when viewed on a computer, all the photos with or without noise reduction looked the same.

Shooting in JPEG you really get a picture with suppressed noise. But always remember that shumodav is not a panacea, it reduces noise but with the same success reduces the detail of the picture (including its sharpness). For non-commercial purposes and printing, 10 * 15cm can be safely shot in JPEG at super high ISO with noise reduction turned on at maximum power level.

Using Active D-Lighting

This feature expands the Dynamic Range and preserves shadow detail. In short - the function programmatically pulls information from the shadows.

Active D-Lighting in action

Active D-Lighting in action

As you can see for yourselves, dark details became brighter in the pictures and the picture turned out brighter at the same values excerpts and apertures.

Active D-Lighting Function

Active D-Lighting Function

Attention! Although the function takes a picture with a large DD, at the same time there is one trick. Both pictures were taken in manual control of the camera at F2.8 1 \ 4c, but in automatic mode and with Active D-Lighting turned on, the camera tries to underexpose the frame by reducing excerpts or aperture. Also, information from the shadows is extracted by the program method and as a result there is an extra noise in the shadows.

More useful features

Long exposure noise reduction function should reduce noise when shooting at long exposures - but I tested and did not notice any significant change in noise. The test was carried out on shutter speed 30 seconds in RAW and JPEG - the result is almost the same at ISO100 and ISO 400. Therefore, I did not take any sample photos. Caution - Long exposure noise reduction also reduces frame buffer. For example, for Nikon D200 from 21 frames in the buffer, when this function is enabled, it sags up to 11 frames. Similarly, on other cameras. And also, when shooting at slow shutter speeds with this feature turned on, you reduce the speed of the camera. If a excerpt was 10 seconds, then the camera will “think” and process the image for 10 seconds after the picture is taken, and the display will show “work nr”. Personally, sometimes it is very, very inconvenient for me to wait 30 seconds before I can take the next picture, because this function is almost always turned off for me.

Chromatic Aberration Control Function - reduces HA. Distortion Control Function - reduces distortion. Since I have on mine Nikon D40, D80, D90, D200 I don’t have these functions, I can’t describe their work with examples, but in any case they are also very useful when shooting in JPEG.


All image enhancement functions are mainly software implemented. When shooting in JPEG, they are an indispensable means of improving images, but all of them can equally well be implemented by editing a RAW file. In order for Nikon's RAW file (NEF) to be used with the image control function applied there, you need to use the native Capture NX utility, you will have to do everything yourself in other RAW converters.

Thank you for attention. Arkady Shapoval.

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Comments: 353, on the topic: Important functions of Nikon cameras

  • Tatyana

    Help me please!!! They gave me Nikon v1, but I can't take a single high-quality picture, all the photos are either smeared (when I take a photo of my 8-month-old son, it turns out to be crap). If the photo is enlarged, it is very pixelated.

  • Elena

    Tell me what settings should be in order for serial shooting to work! Just when I turn on the series, he still takes a picture 1 time while holding the button! Model d3200! Thanks!

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Turn on AF-C mode for focusing, burst shooting in the shooting type section, turn off the flash.

      • Elena

        Thanks! And what other main settings are needed, I just bought it, I still can’t figure it out! What to look for !?

  • Sergei

    D3100 In Hurghada, I shot the sea from almost one point, mode A, saturated, aperture 8, but the sky in some pictures is juicy blue, and in some light, almost white. What is the reason?

    • Nicholas

      And the sky must be removed using a polarizer, juicy it turns out!

  • Andris

    How to return, so that the processing menu is available? Nikon D7000 Thanks.


    How to set the video mode on the Nikon D90?

  • Sergei

    D3100. I connected the Soviet lens Jupiter 37, I want to try astrophoto, in M ​​mode the maximum shutter speed is only 30 seconds. How to put more ???

  • Newbie

    Hello, I'm a beginner)))) 50mm 1.8D lens
    on the lens when standing at 22 he takes pictures
    and when I switch to 1.8 or 2.8 and so on, it’s not a photographure, and it’s not reacting to anything
    maybe I'm stupid, but please help
    I'm just starting to study.
    I have a Nikon D90, for some reason the video no longer shoots: with
    How can I configure it?
    Sorry, maybe I'm really stupid x)))

    • anonym

      switch to manual mode

    • Nicholas

      You probably shoot on a sunny day. at 1.8 a very fast shutter speed should be, try shooting in the shade ...

    • gnome

      ISO 100 set, you can use a neutral gray filter to reduce brightness, or go into the shade, indoors, etc. in general, do not torment the matrix with an open diaphragm and bright light

    • people

      and you regulate a diaphragm how? if on the lens itself, then you need to set the minimum value to 22 and everything will be a beam, and directly adjust the aperture value using the scroll, which is on the camera itself)

  • Nicholas

    or in a room where the shutter speed will be longer or at dusk ...

  • Andrei

    Tell Arkady, I was filming my spouse at oriental dances, the hall is dark, the background of the scene is illuminated with the colors of the “rainbow”, so you can't shoot with a flash, I shot it with a high-aperture fix, tried to get a clear image of the dancer on a d 7000 camera, but the noise in the photos just killed me, and when you turned on the shumadavs, of course, the detail disappeared, in general, I spat and bought myself a d800, with the expectation that it already has good detailing, which can be sacrificed in the future (D 3,4 I just don’t pull money) when turning on the noise reduction , the question is, have I gone in the right direction? and the second question is whether, under such shooting conditions, the increase or decrease of sharpness in the camera affects the noise of the photo.

    • Ruberoid

      For such purposes, you need to buy a Canon 6D, D800 and D7000 in difficult lighting conditions, with little difference in noise.

      • Oleg

        SW roofing material, Kenon 6D is much inferior in quality to Nikon D 800

  • Andrei

    forgot to add the choice fell on d 800 due to the need for cropping

  • Alina

    Hello ! Tell me pzhl. Nikon 3100 on the camera, while watching a photo, something is constantly flashing. especially if metal objects or photos were taken in the frame on the street, but there are also black dots blinking on the cheeks of the child’s cheeks and so on almost all photos. What to do in repair or something with the settings. For example, a photo where a child is standing on the street, a flower is painted on his pants, this flower blinks in black or silver. or if a window got into the frame, then this window blinks in black, then in its own color.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      This is the "light" mode, it is disabled in the camera menu, in the photo viewing settings.

  • Levani

    this is the view mode, in which the camera shows overexposed areas of the image. this problem is not solved in a tricky way - just press the joystick up or down a couple of times :-)

  • gecko

    I am shooting in jpeg. Arkady, in your opinion, does it make sense to turn the "sharpness" parameter to the maximum in the image control mode? In the factory settings, in all preset modes (“standard”, “neutral”, “portrait”, etc.), the “sharpness” parameter is either in the middle values ​​(0), or even reduced (-1).
    In a purely worldly way, you can reason like this: you need to unscrew the sharpness initially to the maximum and shoot like that by default. The type of sharpness is never superfluous. After all, it is because of the notorious "razor sharpness" that people buy expensive lenses. And if I suddenly need to reduce the sharpness ("soften" the portrait, etc.) for some artistic ideas. then I can always do it without problems in the editor. But if I initially shoot with the settings of NOT maximum sharpness, then I will not stretch it later, if necessary.
    But I guess that it’s not so simple, and Nikon’s engineers would hardly begin to degrade the picture quality with the default settings.
    I can only assume that the sharpness of the raw RAW file will correspond exactly to the value of sharpness = 0 (or so) in the settings of the camera's image control mode. But twisting the sharpness in the camera in plus values ​​will be equivalent to the software way to raise the sharpness of the image, that is, it is as if we were trying to “improve” a photo in Photoshop or Lightroom. Any thoughts on this?

    • Eugene

      The one you are talking about is called local sharpness (sharp), which means programmatically increases the DIFFERENCE (contrast) of adjacent image pixels. The final result visually looks like “sharp” “in details”, in fact it is “noise” of the image and kills the “plasticity”.
      The real sharpness (iron / glass) provides the lens and the resolution of the matrix, which is stored in the RAV. Sharpness parameter = 0 is WITHOUT using soft sharpe.

      Personally, as a lover of sharp shots, I set the sharpness to 1.0-1.5 in ViewNX - it is barely noticeable, and the pleasantness increases.

  • Magellan

    Arkady, good day,
    Thanks for all your contributions. You explain in a very accessible way that things are “cloudy” for me. But still I want to clarify for myself again ... I shoot in RAW, processing in Aperture. I understood you correctly that the options:
    - Both noise reduction (high ISO and long exposure),
    - Picture Control Mode,
    - ADL.
    I stupidly turn off and forget about them?

    • eugenius

      - Both noise reduction (high ISO and long exposure),

      Unfortunately, Arkady in this article did not adequately expand the concept of the NoiseReduction function (I hope he reads this and supplements himself).
      NR takes two frames, the first is normal (through the lens) and the second is “Black frame” with the same settings (including exposure time) with the shutter closed. The black frame contains the “multi-colored carpet” of hot pixels that is currently in this matrix, the FA makes a mask out of it and applies it to the first frame by “subtracting” the noise of the black frame from it.
      This function starts to be useful from exposures of 1 sec and if it is enabled it is applied automatically. NR is very useful for shooting night landscapes and stars with a tripod, especially at ISO> 400.

      - Picture Control Mode,
      This mode is useful for shooting immediately in the LPEG, and for RAV this mode is already set during processing (this was mentioned)

      - ADL.
      Arkady also spoke not enough clearly about this regime:
      If you look at the histogram of UNEXPECTED or EXCESSIVE shots (in RAV), you can see that the first ones have ___ light tones in the ___ area, and the second dark ___ tones are empty - there are no pixels. This function "stretches" the histogram and the _medium_ tones, in the first case, go to the light in the second to the dark area.
      As a result, the picture looks balanced and ACHIEVED.
      From my own experience, I can say that in some cases it works just magically !!! - you can correct the photo that you have already mentally put an end to.
      BUT, when SvetaA, and TenI are the artistic design of ADL only spoils the picture!

      Total: “stupid” to shoot is stupid!
      You need to know how your FA works and use its Smart capabilities.

      • Arkady Shapoval

        As soon as time appears, I will supplement the article.

  • Anna

    Hello! Could you tell me how to set the shutter speed on the Nikon coolpix P510?
    I will be very grateful)

  • Elena

    How to set up a black and white frame ???

    • Arkady Shapoval

      In the menu, set the image management mode to black and white, usually indicated as BW or MC

  • Olga

    Good afternoon! Please tell me if the Nikon D5100 has a white balance function. I plan to shoot underwater, trying to figure out whether the existing functions are suitable for underwater video. And they presented exactly this model.

  • Jigurday

    Thank you very much, informative

  • Eugene

    Tell me how to configure Nikon D40 fotik to work with the RC-N remote control ???

  • Misha

    here these are questions to the author :-) I already read out! :-) But the author is well done, hold on !!

  • Dmitriy

    Arkady, in your opinion, for all Soviet lenses you need to set the flatness mode in Picture Control, or for the greedy of them there are already ready-made profiles, and is it necessary at all?

  • Elena Fokina

    Good day, Arkady. More than a year ago, you reviewed the Nikon d3100 and noted that this is one of the best options for beginners. Has your opinion changed today? What can you recommend within 15000 p.? Needs are not professional photos of family, holidays, leisure. At the moment I use a Sony digital camera of 2007 and a mob camera. Tel But really want to take the opportunity and try a SLR camera. Thank you.

  • Ananastasia

    What should I do if when I look at photos on the nikone D3100 then the photo is displayed only in the top left corner? and the diaphragm is displayed Help URGENTLY!

    • Vladimir

      In the menu, find the display mode-detailed information about the picture, everything is configured there.

  • Mriya

    Hello!!! Please tell me the photo. Nikon D40 photographed children indoors (birthday) with a flash, then they turned out to be lit, although, along the way, the photos on the display were normal. How is it possible and can these photos be restored? thank you in advance.

  • Maria

    please tell me what you need to do if when you get the image very blurry and the photo too, and if you remove the manual focus, then the camera photographs only a close object?

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