Saturday, April 6, 2024
HomeCAMERAS, LENSES AND ACCESSORIESRecommended Nikon Z5 Settings

Recommended Nikon Z5 Settings

With the release of the budget-friendly Nikon Z5 full-frame camera, we now have a number of different options to choose from in the Nikon mirrorless line-up. Although the Nikon Z5 is aimed to be a lower-tier camera than the Z6, its image sensor, ergonomics, and the menu system are very similar to those of its bigger brother.

This also means that the complexity of the controls and the menu system is fairly similar between the two cameras. In this article, I will provide detailed information on what settings I use on the Nikon Z5 and shortly explain what some of the camera buttons and controls do. A downloadable settings file for the Z5 is also provided at the end of the article.

NOTE: This guide is applicable to Nikon Z5 firmware v1.01. If you are running an older version of Nikon firmware, please make sure to update it before you load the settings file below.

Here is a quick summary of the differences between the Z5 and Z6. First of all, despite the fact that both cameras have the same body size, the Nikon Z5 has a slightly simplified camera body, lacking a top LCD screen. Second, the Z5 has dual SD UHS-II memory card slots, while the Z6 has a single XQD / CFexpress slot. Third, there are differences in continuous shooting speed, with the Z6 managing up to 12 FPS, while the Z5 is limited to just 4.5 FPS. Fourth, the Z6 has superior video shooting capabilities, taking advantage of the full sensor width while the Z5 is limited to 1.7x crop. Fifth, the Z5 has a slightly inferior LCD screen with 1.04 million dots (2.1 million on the Z6). And lastly, there is a $600 difference in MSRP between the two cameras (although considering the current $200 promotion on the Z6, the difference is roughly $400 in the US). If you would like to find out more, check out our detailed Nikon Z5 vs Z6 article.

Before we go into the camera menu, let’s first check out the exterior controls. The Nikon Z5 has a lot of menu options, but there are some things that you can only control via specific buttons and controls.

Camera Mode Dial

On the top right side of the camera, you will find a standard “PASM” dial that allows changing camera modes. Aside from the standard Program Mode, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual modes, the camera also offers an “Auto” mode, as well as U1, U2 and U3 user settings that you can save your settings to (more on that below).

Once you get to know your camera better, I would recommend exploring these user settings, as they could save you quite a bit of time when switching between different shooting environments (say when switching between photographing landscapes to fast action).

EVF Mode Button

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) mode button sits on the left side of the viewfinder. The button cycles through two modes:

  1. Automatic display switch: This mode makes the camera use its EVF eye sensor to automatically toggle between the EVF and the LCD screen.
  2. Viewfinder only: This mode enables only the EVF and turns off the LCD completely.
  3. Monitor only: This mode enables only the LCD screen and the EVF is turned off completely.
  4. Prioritize viewfinder: This mode makes the camera work similar to a DSLR camera, where the LCD screen is turned off by default and the EVF is enabled. Once you playback a picture or press one of the buttons that engages the camera menu, the LCD screen turns on.

Personally, the two modes I use the most are “Automatic display switch” and “Prioritize viewfinder”. The first one is useful for shooting with both the EVF and the LCD but does end up wasting battery life because either the EVF or the LCD is always turned on. I mostly use this mode when shooting landscapes and doing travel photography. When shooting landscapes I can use the EVF for hand-held shooting, and when I am shooting from a tripod, the LCD is automatically turned on. The “Prioritize viewfinder” mode is more practical to use in situations when I want to preserve battery life as much as possible since neither the EVF nor the LCD is engaged by default. If the EVF does not detect an object at proximity, it goes blank, while the LCD will not do anything until I fire up the camera menu or playback an image.

Other Top Buttons

On the grip of the camera, you will find three buttons: “ISO” for changing camera ISO, video recording button (with a red dot), and Exposure Compensation button. Since the video recording button does not do anything useful in stills mode, I re-programmed it to change autofocus modes (more on that below), so that I can quickly toggle between AF-S (Single Servo), AF-C (Continuous), and Manual Focus. Although one can use the “i” button to switch between autofocus modes, it simply takes longer.

The ISO button allows quick change of ISO with the rear dial, and the front dial allows switching Auto ISO on and off. Exposure Compensation works in a similar way as ISO, except the front dial duplicates the function of the rear dial to tweak your exposure.

Back Buttons

Aside from the standard buttons such as Playback, Trash and Menu, the Nikon Z5 has a few extra buttons on the back of the camera that are worth going over. The first one is the button / switch with the “DISP” label on it. The switch is for toggling between stills and video, but the DISP button is particularly important – it is used for switching between different display modes in the viewfinder and the rear LCD.

When pressing the “DISP” button, the camera cycles between the following:

  1. Indicators on – shows camera mode, exposure information, as well as other relevant information
  2. Simplified display – only shows metering, exposure information, number of shots remaining, and battery level on the bottom of the camera
  3. Histogram – displays a live histogram
  4. Virtual horizon – displays a virtual horizon in the center of the viewfinder / LCD
  5. Information display – displays the same information as the “Info” button on DSLRs (not available in EVF)
  6. Flash info – displays information related to a mounted flash (not available in EVF)

Here is the graphical representation of all this:

Personally, I prefer to use an uncluttered view with minimal information when composing my images, so I use the “Simplified display”.

The other two important buttons are on the right side of the LCD. The “i” button is there for accessing some menu options, and it can be useful for doing quick adjustments to the camera. The options shown on the screen are customizable, which is great (more on how I customize this screen below).

Below the Menu button, you will also find the “Release Mode” button. If you press this button, you can rotate the real dial to toggle between different release modes such as Single, Continuous Low, Continuous High, and Self Timer (2, 5, 10 and 20s using the front dial).

All the other buttons are fairly standard, similar to those you can find on many other Nikon DSLRs.

Alright, now that we have gone through all the important buttons, let’s go through the camera menu and customize the settings.

Playback Menu

I rarely ever touch anything in the Playback menu, since that’s only used for displaying pictures on the rear LCD or the EVF. The only two settings that I ever mess with are “Playback display options” and “Rotate tall”. The “Playback display options” can be useful when reviewing images. When you press the playback button on the back of the camera, you can press up/down buttons and you will be able to see different types of information. To keep the clutter out, I have three things turned on: “Focus point”, which allows me to see where I focused, “Highlights” to show overexposure in shots (a.k.a. “blinkies”) and “Overview”, which gives me a summary of my exposure (shutter speed, aperture, ISO, focal length, etc). I always turn the “Rotate tall” setting off, because I do not want my camera to rotate vertical images to horizontal when I review them – it is much easier to rotate the camera to see a vertical image, rather than having to zoom in every single time. Everything else is the default.

Photo Shooting Menu

Let’s now go through the Shooting Menu, which is the first place that I usually go to when checking my settings. I will first provide my values, then talk about the most important settings:

  1. Reset photo shooting menu: – –
  2. Storage folder: default, don’t change
  3. File naming: DSC (default), don’t change
  4. Role played by card in Slot 2: Overflow
  5. Choose image area
  6. Choose image area: FX
  7. Image quality: NEF (RAW)
  8. Image size
  9. JPEG/TIFF: Large
  10. NEF (RAW): RAW L Large
  11. NEF (RAW) recording
  12. NEF (RAW) compression: ON (Lossless compressed)
  13. NEF (RAW) bit depth: 14-bit
  14. ISO sensitivity settings
  15. ISO sensitivity: 100
  16. Auto ISO sensitivity control: ON (see the next section below)
  17. Maximum sensitivity: 12800
  18. Maximum sensitivity with flash: 12800
  19. Minimum shutter speed: Auto
  20. White balance: AUTO (AUTO1 Keep overall atmosphere)
  21. Set Picture Control: SD (Standard), Default values
  22. Manage Picture Control: – –
  23. Color space: Adobe RGB
  24. Active D-Lighting: OFF
  25. Long Exposure NR: ON
  26. High ISO NR: OFF
  27. Vignette control: OFF
  28. Diffraction compensation: OFF
  29. Auto distortion control: OFF
  30. Flicker reduction shooting: ON
  31. Metering: Matrix Metering
  32. Flash control: – –
  33. Flash mode: Rear-curtain sync
  34. Flash compensation: 0.0
  35. Focus Mode: AF-S (Single AF)
  36. AF-area mode: Single-point AF
  37. Vibration reduction: ON (turn off on tripod)
  38. Auto bracketing:
  39. Auto bracketing set: AE bracketing
  40. Number of shots: 0F
  41. Increment: 1.0
  42. Multiple exposure: OFF
  43. HDR (high dynamic range): OFF (grayed out)
  44. Interval timer shooting: OFF
  45. Time-lapse movie: OFF
  46. Focus shift shooting: OFF
  47. Silent photography: Off

While there are a lot of different settings here, do not worry – you won’t be changing many settings very often. Let’s go through some of the important settings.

First up is “Image quality”, which you should set to “RAW”. “NEF (RAW) recording” is always set on mine to 14-bit Lossless Compressed. I choose 14-bit to get the best image quality the camera can deliver and “Lossless” compression results in much smaller files than “Uncompressed”. “White Balance” is Auto and all other settings like Picture Controls, Active D-Lighting, HDR, etc. are turned off, since none of them (with the exception of “Long Exposure NR”) affect RAW images. Remember, RAW files contain non-manipulated data and require post-processing, so the above settings only impact images displayed by your camera’s LCD screen (each RAW file contains a full-size JPEG image, which is what is used to display images on the LCD) and if you use Nikon’s proprietary software like Capture NX-D, those settings can be applied to RAW images automatically. Since I use other third-party software to store and process my images, the second part does not apply to me. Everything else is turned off.

Although color space does not matter for RAW files, I use AdobeRGB because it gives a slightly more accurate histogram (since the camera shows histograms based on camera-rendered JPEG images, even if you shoot exclusively in RAW).

The big menu setting that I frequently change is “ISO sensitivity settings”. When shooting hand-held, I mostly use Auto ISO, because it is a great feature that saves me a lot of time. Instead of specifying ISO for every shot, I just have it set on Auto, with its base ISO set to 100, Maximum sensitivity set to 12800 (my personal limit for “acceptable” noise levels on the Z5) and Minimum shutter speed set to “Auto”. The “Auto” minimum shutter speed setting is great because it reads the focal length of the attached lens and automatically adjusts the minimum shutter speed to the focal length of the lens.

If you have shaky hands, you can change the Minimum shutter speed Auto to be one step closer to “Faster”, which basically doubles the minimum shutter speed. For example, if you have a 50mm lens mounted on the camera, your minimum shutter speed will go from 1/50 to 1/100 of a second with one step up. If you move it all the way to the end (Faster), it will double the shutter speed again to 1/200 of a second. When using in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which is referred to as “Vibration Reduction” in the camera menu, the “Auto” setting should work quite well, although you can often safely push it to “Slower”. Unfortunately, Nikon has not yet implemented a way to automatically compensate for image stabilization, so you have to adjust this setting based on the lens you are using. When photographing landscapes or architecture with the camera mounted on a tripod, you should turn Auto ISO off and use base ISO 100 to get the highest dynamic range and lowest noise levels.

When it comes to camera metering, Matrix metering works really well in most environments and that’s what I use most of the time, but sometimes other metering modes can come in handy.

Focus mode by default is set to AF-S (Single AF). I won’t go into too much detail about each focus mode, since it is all explained in detail in this article. Here is a quick recap:

  1. AF-S – this mode is called “Single-servo AF” and it is used only for stationary subjects that do not move. When you half-press the shutter button, autofocus lock on the subject and if the subject moves, the focus will not change, resulting in a blurry picture. Only use this mode for photographing stationary subjects (landscapes, architecture, etc) and when shooting in extremely low-light situations and need the camera to engage the AF-assist lamp.
  2. AF-C – known as “Continuous-servo AF” in Nikon’s lingo, this setting is used for photographing moving subjects. When you half-press the shutter button and your subject moves, the camera will re-acquire focus.
  3. MF – the last mode is “Manual focus”. In this mode, autofocus is turned off completely.

Other menu items such as Multiple exposure, HDR, Interval timer shooting, Time-lapse movie and Focus shift shooting are all used to engage specific tools and effects. I am not going to go through these settings since they go over the scope of this article.

The last menu item is “Silent photography”. You should keep this turned off by default, because turning it on will engage the electronic shutter (and you should only use the electronic shutter for non-moving subjects).

Movie Shooting Menu

  1. Reset movie shooting menu: – –
  2. File naming: DSC
  3. Destination: Slot 1-
  4. Choose image area: FX
  5. Frame size / frame rate: 1080 p24 (1920×1080); 24p
  6. Movie quality: HIGH
  7. Movie file type: MOV
  8. ISO sensitivity settings
  9. Maximum sensitivity: 25600
  10. Auto ISO control (mode M): ON
  11. ISO sensitivity (mode M): 100
  12. White Balance: Auto1 (Same as photo settings)
  13. Set Picture Control: Same as photo settings
  14. Manage Picture Control: – –
  15. Active D-Lighting: OFF
  16. High ISO NR: Normal
  17. Vignette control: Normal
  18. Diffraction compensation: ON
  19. Auto distortion control: ON
  20. Flicker reduction: AUTO
  21. Metering: Matrix metering
  22. Focus mode: AF-F (full-time AF)
  23. AF-area mode: Auto-area AF
  24. Vibration Reduction: ON Normal
  25. Electronic VR: ON
  26. Microphone sensitivity: Manual 10
  27. Attenuator: OFF
  28. Frequency response: WIDE
  29. Wind noise reduction: OFF
  30. Headphone volume: 10
  31. Timecode: – –

I am not going to go through the movie recording features, because it highly depends on what you are trying to do. Some of the features won’t work depending on what FPS you are going to shoot, so if you see anything grayed out or not working, you might need to switch to different video sizes in order to enable them.

Custom Setting Menu

This is where a lot of people get lost, since there are so many different settings. Here are the settings that I personally use:

  1. Autofocus
  2. AF-C priority selection: Release
  3. AF-S priority selection: Focus
  4. Focus tracking with lock-on: Blocked shot AF response: 3
  5. Auto-area AF face/eye detection: Face and eye detection on
  6. Focus points used: ALL
  7. Store points by orientation: Yes
  8. AF activation: ON – please read below on this setting
  9. Limit AF-area mode selection: (all checked, default)
  10. Focus point wrap-around: OFF
  11. Focus point options
  12. Manual focus mode: ON
  13. Dynamic-area AF assist: ON
  14. Low-light AF: ON
  15. Built-in AF-assist illuminator: ON
  16. Metering/exposure
  17. EV steps for exposure cntrl: 1/3
  18. Easy exposure compensation: OFF
  19. Center-weighted area: 12mm
  20. Fine-tune optimal exposure: – –
  21. Timers/AE lock
  22. Shutter-release button AE-L: OFF
  23. Self-timer
  24. Self-timer delay: 2s
  25. Number of shots: 1
  26. Interval between shots: 0.5s
  27. Power off delay: 10s, 1m, 4s, 30s
  28. Shooting/display
  29. CL mode shooting speed: 3 fps
  30. Max. continuous release: 100
  31. Sync. release mode options: Sync
  32. Exposure delay mode: OFF
  33. Shutter type: Auto
  34. File number sequence: ON
  35. Apply settings to live view: ON
  36. Framing grid display: ON
  37. Peaking highlights: Peaking Level -> 1 (low sensitivity), Peaking highlight color: Red
  38. View all in continuous mode: ON
  39. Bracketing/flash
  40. Flash sync speed: 1/200*
  41. Flash shutter speed: 1/60
  42. Exposure comp. for flash: Entire frame
  43. Auto ISO sensitivity control: Subject and background
  44. Modeling flash: ON
  45. Auto bracketing (Mode M): Flash/speed
  46. Bracketing order: Under > MTR > over
  47. Controls
  48. Customize i menu
  49. #1 Top – Focus Mode
  50. #2 Bottom – AF Area Mode
  51. #3 Top – Metering
  52. #4 Bottom – Auto bracketing
  53. #5 Top – Release mode
  54. #6 Bottom – Exposure delay mode
  55. #7 Top – Vibration reduction
  56. #8 Bottom – Long Exposure NR
  57. #9 Top – Silent photography
  58. #10 Bottom – Shutter type
  59. #11 Top – Apply settings to live view
  60. #12 Bottom – Interval timer shooting
  61. Custom control assignment
  62. Fn1 button: AE lock (Hold)
  63. Fn2 button: Metering
  64. AF-ON button: AF-ON
  65. Sub-selector: Focus point selection
  66. Sub-selector center: Select center focus point
  67. Movie record button: Focus mode/AF-area mode
  68. Lens Fn button: AE/AF lock
  69. Lens Fn2 button: AF-ON
  70. Lens control ring: Focus (M/A)
  71. OK button
  72. Shooting mode: Zoom on/off -> 1:1 (100%)
  73. Playback mode: Zoom on/off -> 1:1 (100%)
  74. Shutter spd & aperture lock: – – (OFF / OFF)
  75. Customize command dials: All default
  76. Release button to use dial: OFF
  77. Reverse indicators: – 0 +
  78. Movie
  79. Customize i menu: All default
  80. Custom control assignment: All default
  81. OK Button: Select center focus point
  82. AF Speed: 0
  83. AF tracking sensitivity: 4
  84. Highlight display: – –

Once again, I won’t go into details about each setting, so let me just go over the most important ones that you should know about. The “Autofocus” section is pretty important, because it controls the way your camera autofocus is configured. The first two settings “AF-C priority selection” and “AF-S priority selection” are there to assist in shooting in Single or Continuous modes. It is best to leave the AF-C priority selection at the default “Release” option so that the camera takes a picture even if the subject is not in focus. However, if focus accuracy is more important to you than FPS, then the “Focus” option is going to be the way to go. For “AF-S priority selection”, the “Focus” option forces the camera to acquire focus before taking the shot, so that’s the one I would recommend to keep by default.

The next setting is “Focus tracking with lock-on”, which I normally keep at the default setting of “3” for “Blocked shot AF response”. This setting controls how quickly your autofocus will re-engage when it detects focus errors. When shooting fast action, I tend to reduce that setting to short delays, because I want autofocus to re-engage even with smaller changes. The rest of the time, I keep it in normal and almost never go up to long waits. I like keeping Face detection on when using Auto-area AF mode and it works fairly well. Storing focus points for vertical and horizontal shooting separately is also a cool feature, which is why “Store points by orientation” is set to “Yes”.

The “AF activation” setting on my Nikon cameras is always set to “OFF” (AF-ON only) to allow me to use the dedicated AF-ON button on the back for focusing. If you have not read our articles on the Focus and Recompose technique and Back-Button Focusing, now is a good time to do it, because it explains this feature in detail. Basically, once you switch the autofocus function from your shutter release (half-press) to the AF-ON button on the back of the camera, your camera will no longer autofocus through the shutter release button and will only respond to depressing the rear AF-ON button. It is a neat feature that I always use by default on all of my cameras. I have it turned off in the menu above so that those who don’t read this section or download the settings file do not end up panicking when their camera doesn’t focus using the shutter release button.

I do not like when my focus points roll over to the other side of the screen when I am in the corners and I like to shoot with all focus points enabled, so my “Focus point wrap-around” is turned off and “Focus points used” are kept at their default settings.

If you shoot sports or wildlife, the Z5 has a couple of menu settings to limit the number of focusing options. This is known as “Limit AF-area mode selection”. If you never shoot in say Wide-area AF, you can now disable it in the menu. Once you do that, pressing the movie recording button and rotating the front dial will not toggle through that option, which is neat!

I never mess with any of the “Metering/exposure” settings, so I would just recommend leaving them at default values. I would also skip the whole “Timers/AE lock” sub-section, aside from perhaps the “Self-timer” option, which I normally set to either 2 or 5 seconds.

Under “Shooting/display”, the three main settings to note are “Exposure delay mode“, “Shutter type” and “Apply settings to live view”. The first option is very important because it allows one to set a delay before each time an image is captured, which can help completely eliminate camera shake. Basically, with “Exposure delay mode” turned on, the camera waits a specified amount of time and only then opens up the shutter to capture the image. The nice thing is, you can specify up to 3 seconds of delay, which can completely eliminate camera shake originating from touching the camera’s shutter release button. So if you do not have a camera remote (remote cable release) with you, you can use this feature to reduce camera shake and it works really well. Similarly, you can also use the Self-timer feature, although Self-timer does not have such short delays as 0.2 seconds (the minimum is 2 seconds).

If you want to completely eliminate Shutter Shock, you will need to make sure that the camera can automatically switch between Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter (EFCS) and mechanical shutter. You can achieve this by setting “Shutter type” to “Auto”. The camera will then use EFCS at shutter speeds of 1/250 and slower, while switching to mechanical shutter at faster shutter speeds. Shutter shock is not an issue at such fast shutter speeds, so it is safe to use “Auto” in most cases.

By default, you probably want to set your camera to “what you see is what you get” mode, so that changes to your exposure are visible on the EVF and the LCD. The setting that is responsible for that is “Apply settings to live view” and that’s the one I recommend to keep turned on. If you turn it off, your camera will boost the LCD and the EVF to the same brightness each time, no matter what camera settings you have chosen.

If you are planning to use the focus peaking feature in Live View, I would recommend to set your desired color and sensitivity. My default sensitivity level is 1 (Low), but if you don’t have good vision, you might want to increase it to standard or high. As for color, the Red color typically works the best, but it all depends on the color of the subject you are photographing, so make sure to select the appropriate color from this menu.

The “Framing grid display” is a neat feature that creates vertical and horizontal lines on the EVF and the LCD. I use those grids all the time when composing my shots – they are great for aligning the horizon horizontally or vertically and having a better visual look at my framing/composition.

I won’t go into Bracketing/flash sections, because that’s a big topic on its own. The only thing that I usually change here is Bracketing order – I like to have my frames underexposed, normal, then overexposed, so I set “Bracketing order” to “Under > MTR > over”.

The “Controls” section is something I always change on my Nikon cameras, because there are some time-saving features there. The first one is “Customize i menu”, which is the menu that pops up when you press the “i” button on the back of the camera. I do not like the default settings that Nikon provides on the Z5, since there are things like Picture Controls and Image Quality that I never touch. My menu settings are very different – I start off with more critical things like Focus Mode, AF-area mode, Metering, and Bracketing. Although I also have the movie record button assigned to change focus modes, I like having access to the same items through the “i” button as well. Being able to quickly access critical camera settings is very important for me, so I chose the ones above for that reason.

The second important menu item under “Controls” is “Custom control assignment”. Here, you can pick your favorite selections for each assignable button. For me, the key button is Fn1, which I set to AE lock (Hold), so that I can easily lock my exposure with a single press of a button. This is very handy when doing things like panoramas – I only press the Fn1 on the front of the camera once, then once I complete my panorama, I release the button to disable exposure lock. Unfortunately, the Nikon Z-series cameras do not have the AE / AF lock button, so another button is used to compensate. I assign the second Fn2 button to “Metering” so that I can quickly switch between different metering modes. The joystick is used for moving focus points and pressing the joystick button resets/centers the AF point – this is the default behavior. On the Nikon D850,

I preferred to use the joystick button to lock my exposure and the OK button to reset the AF point, but with the Z5’s ability to zoom into the subject even when using the EVF, I find a lot more value out of assigning the OK button to do a 1:1 zoom instead. For this reason, I now go back to the default joystick behavior. However, as pointed out above, I did change the Movie record button to change Focus mode / AF-area mode, so that I can toggle between AF-S, AF-C, MF, and different focus options using the movie record button + front and rear dials. I did not bother changing the lens buttons and control ring – the defaults work just fine.

The “OK button” is now set by default to zoom into the image at 1:1 when you press it in playback mode, which is nice! To make the EVF and the LCD also zoom in to 1:1 when shooting (incredibly useful when manually focusing), I set the same button to “Zoom on/off -> 1:1” under “Shooting Mode”.

The rest of the “Controls” section, as well as the “Movie” section I kept at default settings, although if you shoot movies with the Nikon Z5, you might want to review the settings there.

Setup Menu

Not much to go over here, because this is the area that you will only use for particular tasks like setting time/date, adding image comments, adjusting LCD brightness, formatting memory card, etc. The only thing I would do is set up “Image comment” and “Copyright information”. Basically, these settings add text information that gets embedded into each photograph. If you ever happen to lose your memory card somewhere (which I personally have in the past) and someone finds it (let’s just assume that you have no labels on the card with your info) leaving your Copyright and/or Name could help big time in finding/locating you. Plus, you are writing data into RAW files, so if you ever needed to prove that you are the author of a photograph, the RAW file along with your contact info could make for great evidence.

If you are planning to use the connectivity features of the camera to send images to a smartphone, a tablet or a PC, you will find all the available menu options here, as well as other options such as enabling touch controls on the LCD.

Retouch Menu

I haven’t touched this menu on my Nikon Z5, since I don’t care about doing any in-camera post-processing. However, if you need to do a quick edit of your images or videos, you can do it from here.

My Menu

Make sure to add a few important items under “MY MENU”, so that you can have quick access to them. Personally, I add a few menu options here such as “ISO sensitivity settings”, “Interval timer shooting” and “Time-lapse movie” but that’s all a matter of preference.

U1, U2 and U3 User Settings

Now that we have gone through the whole menu and set up some defaults, let’s go ahead and set up the U1, U2 and U3 user settings. The nice thing about the Nikon Z mirrorless cameras is that you can set them up with different profiles such as landscape, portrait, and action, then depending on what you are shooting, simply rotate the PASM dial to one of the user settings and all the menu items will switch accordingly.

Instead of going through the whole menu again, let me show you the settings that differ for each user setting on my Nikon Z5. Please keep in mind that you will need to remember the name of each user setting:

  1. U1 – Landscape
  2. U2 – Portrait
  3. U3 – Action (Sports and Wildlife)

Once you set all the settings below, make sure to visit “Menu” -> “Setup Menu” -> “Save user settings” and set which user setting number you want to save it in. Remember to do it for each user setting separately.

U1 – Landscape

When shooting landscapes, I assume that you are going to be using a tripod. If you don’t use a tripod, make sure to modify some of these settings such as Auto ISO and Exposure Delay Mode as needed.

Note: Unfortunately, Nikon’s current firmware does not allow saving user settings into the downloadable file below, so you will need to do these by hand at the moment.

PASM Dial: Aperture Priority

Photo Shooting Menu:

  1. ISO sensitivity settings
  2. ISO sensitivity: 100
  3. Auto ISO sensitivity control: OFF
  4. Flicker reduction shooting: OFF
  5. Focus mode: AF-S
  6. AF-area mode: Single-point AF
  7. Vibration reduction: OFF

Custom Setting Menu:

  1. Auto-area AF face/eye detection: OFF
  2. AF activation: AF-ON only -> Out-of-focus release -> Enable
  3. Built-in AF-assist illuminator: OFF
  4. Exposure delay mode: 3 s
  5. Shutter type: Electronic front-curtain shutter

Basically, we are turning off Auto ISO with ISO set to 100, disabling things that are not needed for landscapes and turning on things like EFCS and Exposure Delay Mode to eliminate camera shake. If you are going to be shooting hand-held, I recommend turning on VR and disabling Exposure Delay Mode.

U2 – Portrait

When switching to shoot portraits, some of the settings such as Auto ISO and face recognition should be turned on. Let’s go through the differences for portraiture:

PASM Dial: Aperture Priority

Photo Shooting Menu:

  1. ISO sensitivity settings
  2. ISO sensitivity: 100
  3. Auto ISO sensitivity control: ON
  4. Maximum sensitivity: 12800
  5. Maximum sensitivity with flash: 12800
  6. Minimum shutter speed: Auto
  7. Flicker reduction shooting: ON
  8. Focus mode: AF-C
  9. AF-area mode: Auto-area AF
  10. Vibration reduction: ON

Custom Setting Menu:

  1. Auto-area AF face/eye detection: Face and eye detection on
  2. AF activation: AF-ON only -> Out-of-focus release -> Enable
  3. Built-in AF-assist illuminator: ON
  4. Exposure delay mode: OFF
  5. Shutter type: Mechanical shutter

U3 – Action (Sports and Wildlife)

Most of the action settings are going to be similar to portrait ones.

PASM Dial: Aperture or Shutter Priority

Photo Shooting Menu:

  1. ISO sensitivity settings
  2. ISO sensitivity: 100
  3. Auto ISO sensitivity control: ON
  4. Maximum sensitivity: 12800
  5. Maximum sensitivity with flash: 12800
  6. Minimum shutter speed: 1/1000 (for fast action, adjust as needed)
  7. Flicker reduction shooting: OFF
  8. Metering: Center-weighted metering
  9. Focus mode: AF-C
  10. AF-area mode: Dynamic-area AF or Auto-area AF
  11. Vibration reduction: Sport

Custom Setting Menu:

  1. Focusing tracking with lock-on -> Blocked shot AF response: 2
  2. Auto-area AF face/eye detection: Face and eye detection on
  3. AF activation: AF-ON only -> Out-of-focus release -> Enable
  4. Built-in AF-assist illuminator: OFF
  5. Exposure delay mode: OFF
  6. Shutter type: Mechanical shutter

The most important setting for the Action user setting is the minimum shutter speed under ISO sensitivity settings. I set mine to 1/1000 to catch fast action, but I recommend changing this setting depending on what you shoot. If you shoot a slower subject, set the minimum shutter speed to Auto (perhaps one or two steps towards “Faster”). If you want to capture a fast subject such as a bird in flight, you might want to set the minimum shutter speed to something like 1/1600 or 1/2000 of a second. Also, pick the right AF-area mode depending on the subject. For erratic subjects that move in and out of the frame, Auto-area AF might work the best, while for subjects you can easily track, Dynamic-area AF might be a better choice. VR should be set to Sport instead of Normal in this mode.

Download Nikon Z5 Settings

If you would like to download my Nikon Z5 settings to your camera without having to go through the whole menu one by one, please download the below file:

  1. Recommended Nikon Z5 Settings by PL

Once you download the file, please copy it to the root folder of your memory card, then put the memory card into your Nikon Z5 and go to Menu -> Setup Menu -> Save/load settings -> Load settings. This will add all the recommended settings from this article.

I hope you found this article useful. Keep in mind that while these settings work well for me, they might not necessarily suit your needs. It is best that you explore your camera and learn about each setting as much as you can in order to take advantage of all the available features and customizations!

The Photograohers
The Photograohers
Welcome to The Photographers, your go-to source for all things photography. We are a team of passionate photographers and enthusiasts who are dedicated to providing you with the latest news, reviews, and educational resources to help you improve and excel in your photography skills.


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