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 the improvement in sharpness in VI mode compared to SD

Difference in SD and VI image management modes

Difference in Picture Control Modes SD and VI

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

  • Lyudmila

    Hello. Thank you for your kind and informative site. Found a lot of useful for myself. Tell me what options to choose for the built-in flash? What to focus on? If you already have an article about this, give a link. The Nikon D3100 camera.

  • Lusik

    Hello everyone! I have had a Nikon D5100 model for 4 years. I had no problems until a year ago the camera stopped working normally. At any position, for some reason, it happens that eror writes on the screen and asks to press the shutter button again, which when pressed It doesn’t give anything, there is a photo, but it’s as if taken at night. In the service center they say that the matrix has been erased and it needs to be replaced. (very expensive) And also I am tormented by doubts whether this is so (for many reasons) If anyone knows what I am grateful to help in advance, I will accept all comments. I will not stay in debt !!! Thank you

  • Alexander

    The matrix is ​​an electronic device and can be erased only if it is rubbed with its skin)) It can burn out, turn off, etc.

  • anonym

    tell me how to photograph moving objects so that they are not blurred on nikon d5100

  • Natalia

    Hello, please tell me how to take a photo, for example: many colors, but only one was clear and the others were blurry? How to focus exactly the item that you need on the NIKON D5100?

  • Victor

    Good day! Who can tell me, the AF backlight does not always work when shooting with an external flash (((D7000 fotik, Yangnou flash (suits me))

  • anonym

    Victor, the AF backlight works ONLY when you focus on the center point or in 3d mode, if you shift the focus point, the backlight will not work

  • Diana

    Hello! Tell me please. When I photograph, no pictures are visible. That is, there are pictures only they are shown in black. What could it be? Is something in the camera broken or in the settings lost? Thank you in advance!))

    • Sergei

      Hello Diana!
      If the result - photos of black reasons may be different)
      But the first thing that comes to mind is the lack of light for the camera and you need to set the shutter speed longer.
      Under what conditions do you shoot? In the afternoon on the street, in the evening at home or in the twilight?

    • Oleg

      Another option is low ISO.

      • Dim

        The cap was not removed from the lens.

  • anonym

    Hello! Tell me please. When I photograph, no pictures are visible. That is, there are pictures only they are shown in black. What could it be? Is something in the camera broken or in the settings lost? Thank you in advance!))

  • Peter

    Long exposure noise reduction actually removes hot pixels. After shooting at slow shutter speeds, the camera takes another shot with the same ISO and shutter speed settings, but the mirror does not raise. It turns out the second shot, absolutely black but with the same hot pixels. The camera, figuratively speaking, subtracts the second image from the first. The result is a snapshot (the first) that does not have a single hot pixel. Therefore, the shooting takes twice as long and the buffer, as it were, is reduced by half, since two shots are taken (although in the end one remains). It's very easy to check. Two long exposure shots are taken with the lens closed. The first with the function disabled, the second with the enabled. As a result, the first image is black but with hot pixels (multi-colored and different-sized), the second is absolutely black.

  • Andrei

    Arkady, can you please tell me when the “Noise reduction at high ISO” function is enabled, in what ISO range will it actually work? Thanks in advance!!!

    • Andrei

      I forgot to write a D5100 camera.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      It will not work, although the frame buffer will still be reduced.

  • anonym

    Tell me how to remove the restriction of 30 seconds ?? on nikon d3100

  • Andrei

    Thank you!

  • anonym

    Hello Arkady. I haven’t found opinions on HDR mode on your blog. What do you think of it?

  • Vadim

    Hello. I have a problem. Trying to deal with the flash. Nikon D3100 camera, Metz 50-1 flash. Before the flash fires, it makes 3 more pre-fires, this is when the camera is on the manual. When the camera is on the machine, the flash fires normally. Help fix, thanks in advance .

  • Vadim

    The answer was found. It was just that you had to install REAR on the camera. And I had red-eye suppression set.

  • Irina

    Arkady hello! Tell me how to set up the viewfinder, it’s very dark not to see what. display on the screen is also dark! The battery is charged. What could it be? Pictures are bright. D90 camera thank you in advance!

  • Ivanna

    Hello, my Nikon 3100 does not have focus in the scope. How can I fix it?

  • Yaroslav

    Arkady good day! you couldn’t help me set up a Nikon D3100 photo camera, I bought it like a year ago and the horror photo, when I open the photo to Photoshop, they ask me what I’m doing with the photo, they say that the photo was taken from a mobile, and I want to cry as much as I dreamed about this photo library, if you are not annoyed, answer me on my email I will be very grateful!

    • anonym

      Put photoshop on your computer and do not wear to the masters.
      Learn the basic principles of photography. Maybe buy a fast lens

  • Batman

    how to turn on the flash np Nikon D40

  • Victor

    Hello everyone! Tell me how on Nikon d5100 Find the setting, so that the image of the future photo is shown on the display.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Find Live View Lever (LV).

  • Sarmatian

    people are always needed, who are kindly answering questions, if they have knowledge, experience, for me it is better to ask such a MAN than to read a book.

  • Sarmatian

    time heals, do not rush to live, study literacy in everything,

  • Christina

    Please tell me this situation ... the child indulged in and changed the settings and all the photos turned out to be black. Is it possible to create these pictures in color like that?

  • Ri

    Good day!
    Tell me, did I understand correctly that it is possible to use a RAW file from Nikon (NEF) with the image control functions applied there when processing photos in Capture NX? How much is this program different from Lightroom? And does it make sense to switch from a mastered lightroom to a new one if the goal is to get rid of aberrations due to the auto-correction offered by the D5100?

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