Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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Recommended Nikon Z7 Settings

Nikon’s entry into the full-frame mirrorless market came in the shapes of Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras. The Nikon Z7 is the high megapixel version of the two, sporting a 45.7 MP BSI CMOS sensor and a more sophisticated autofocus system with 493 phase-detection autofocus points.

Since much of the camera capabilities of the Nikon Z7 comes from high-end cameras like the Nikon D850, and due to the fact that mirrorless cameras introduce new features previously not found on DSLRs, the number of controls and menu settings on this camera can be quite confusing, even for an advanced photographer. In this article, I will provide information on what settings I personally use on the Nikon Z7 and shortly explain what some of the camera buttons and controls do.

NOTE: The below recommended settings are for firmware 3.30. If you are running an older version of Nikon firmware, please make sure to update it, or the settings in this article may not match the ones you see.

Before we go into the camera menu, let’s first check out the exterior controls. The Nikon Z7 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 left side of the camera, you will find a standard “PASM” dial with a lock button on the top. 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, to the right of the PASM dial. The button cycles through the following 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 this button does not do anything useful in stills mode, I re-programmed my video recording button 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. Unfortunately, Nikon removed the AF switch from the Nikon Z6 and Z7, so the only quick way to switch between autofocus modes without triggering the camera menu is to use a customized button. 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 Z7 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. Flash info – displays information related to a mounted flash (not available in EVF)
  5. Information display – displays the same information as the “Info” button on DSLRs (not available in EVF)
  6. Virtual horizon – displays a virtual horizon in the center of the viewfinder / LCD

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 (1 to 5 fps using the front dial), Continuous High, Continuous High (extended) and Self Timer (2, 5 and 10s 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 at 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. Choose image area
  5. Choose image area: FX
  6. Image quality: NEF (RAW)
  7. Image size
  8. JPEG/TIFF: Large
  9. NEF (RAW): RAW L Large
  10. NEF (RAW) recording
  11. NEF (RAW) compression: ON (Lossless compressed)
  12. NEF (RAW) bit depth: 14-bit
  13. ISO sensitivity settings
  14. ISO sensitivity: 64
  15. Auto ISO sensitivity control: ON (see the next section below)
  16. Maximum sensitivity: 6400
  17. Maximum sensitivity with flash: 6400
  18. Minimum shutter speed: Auto
  19. White balance: AUTO (AUTO1 Keep overall atmosphere)
  20. Set Picture Control: SD (Standard), Default values
  21. Manage Picture Control: – –
  22. Color space: Adobe RGB
  23. Active D-Lighting: OFF
  24. Long Exposure NR: ON
  25. High ISO NR: OFF
  26. Vignette control: OFF
  27. Diffraction compensation: OFF
  28. Auto distortion control: OFF (might be ON and grayed-out; if so, just leave it ON)
  29. Flicker reduction shooting: ON
  30. Metering: Matrix Metering
  31. Flash control: – –
  32. Flash mode: Rear-curtain sync
  33. Flash compensation: 0.0
  34. Focus Mode: AF-S (Single AF)
  35. AF-area mode: Single-point AF
  36. Vibration reduction: ON (turn OFF if using a tripod)
  37. Auto bracketing:
  38. Auto bracketing set: AE bracketing
  39. Number of shots: 0F
  40. Increment: 1.0
  41. Multiple exposure: OFF
  42. HDR (high dynamic range): OFF (grayed out)
  43. Interval timer shooting: OFF
  44. Time-lapse movie: OFF
  45. Focus shift shooting: OFF
  46. 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 64, Maximum sensitivity set to 6400 (my personal limit for “acceptable” noise levels) 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 64 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.” This engages the electronic shutter, which is useful for landscape photography to avoid any blur from “shutter shock.” However, in artificial light, it can cause banding in your images, so we recommend leaving it OFF by default. You may want to turn it ON and save it to one of your U1/U2/U3 modes if you use one of those modes for landscape photography.

Movie Shooting Menu

  1. Reset movie shooting menu: – –
  2. File naming: DSC
  3. Choose image area: FX
  4. Frame size / frame rate: 2160 p24 (3840×2160); 24p
  5. Movie quality: HIGH (though will be grayed-out if shooting anything more than 1080p at 60 FPS)
  6. Movie file type: MOV
  7. ISO sensitivity settings
  8. Maximum sensitivity: 12800
  9. Auto ISO control (mode M): ON
  10. ISO sensitivity (mode M): 64
  11. White Balance: Auto1 (Same as photo settings)
  12. Set Picture Control: Same as photo settings
  13. Manage Picture Control: – –
  14. Active D-Lighting: OFF
  15. High ISO NR: Normal
  16. Vignette control: Normal
  17. Diffraction compensation: ON
  18. Auto distortion control: ON (may be grayed out)
  19. Flicker reduction: AUTO
  20. Metering: Matrix metering
  21. Focus mode: AF-F (full-time AF)
  22. Vibration Reduction: ON Normal
  23. Electronic VR: ON (for handheld work); OFF (for tripod work)
  24. Microphone sensitivity: Manual 10
  25. Attenuator: OFF
  26. Frequency response: WIDE
  27. Wind noise reduction: OFF
  28. Headphone volume: 10
  29. 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: AF-ON only (please read below about this setting)
  9. Out-of-focus release: Enable
  10. Limit AF-area mode selection: (all checked, default)
  11. Focus point wrap-around: OFF
  12. Focus point options
  13. Manual focus mode: ON
  14. Dynamic-area AF assist: ON
  15. Low-light AF: ON
  16. Built-in AF-assist illuminator: ON
  17. Metering/exposure
  18. EV steps for exposure cntrl: 1/3
  19. Easy exposure compensation: OFF
  20. Center-weighted area: 12mm
  21. Fine-tune optimal exposure: – –
  22. Timers/AE lock
  23. Shutter-release button AE-L: OFF
  24. Self-timer
  25. Self-timer delay: 2s
  26. Number of shots: 1
  27. Interval between shots: 0.5s
  28. Power off delay: 10s, 1m, 4s, 30s
  29. Shooting/display
  30. CL mode shooting speed: 3 fps
  31. Max. continuous release: 200
  32. Sync. release mode options: Sync
  33. Exposure delay mode: OFF
  34. Shutter type: Auto
  35. Limit selectable image area: All checked
  36. File number sequence: ON
  37. Apply settings to live view: ON
  38. Framing grid display: ON
  39. Peaking highlights: Peaking Level -> 1 (low sensitivity), Peaking highlight color: Red
  40. View all in continuous mode: ON
  41. Bracketing/flash
  42. Flash sync speed: 1/200 (Auto FP)
  43. Flash shutter speed: 1/60
  44. Exposure comp. for flash: Entire frame
  45. Auto ISO sensitivity control: Subject and background
  46. Modeling flash: ON
  47. Auto bracketing (Mode M): Flash/speed
  48. Bracketing order: Under > MTR > over
  49. Controls
  50. Customize i menu
  51. #1 Top – Focus Mode
  52. #2 Bottom – AF Area Mode
  53. #3 Top – Metering
  54. #4 Bottom – Auto bracketing
  55. #5 Top – Release mode
  56. #6 Bottom – Exposure delay mode
  57. #7 Top – Vibration reduction
  58. #8 Bottom – Long Exposure NR
  59. #9 Top – Silent photography
  60. #10 Bottom – Shutter type
  61. #11 Top – Apply settings to live view
  62. #12 Bottom – Split-screen display zoom
  63. Custom control assignment
  64. Fn1 button: AE lock (Hold)
  65. Fn2 button: Exposure delay mode
  66. AF-ON button: AF-ON
  67. Sub-selector: Same as multi selector
  68. Sub-selector center: Select center focus point
  69. Movie record button: Focus mode/AF-area mode
  70. Lens Fn button: AE/AF lock
  71. Lens Fn2 button: AF-ON
  72. Lens control ring: Focus (M/A)
  73. OK button
  74. Shooting mode: Zoom on/off -> 1:1 (100%)
  75. Playback mode: Zoom on/off -> 1:1 (100%)
  76. Shutter spd & aperture lock: – – (OFF / OFF)
  77. Customize command dials: All default
  78. Release button to use dial: OFF
  79. Reverse indicators: – 0 +
  80. Movie
  81. Customize i menu: All default
  82. Custom control assignment: All default
  83. OK Button: Select center focus point
  84. AF Speed: 0
  85. AF tracking sensitivity: 4
  86. 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 by orientation” is set to “Yes.”

The “AF activation” setting on my Nikon Z7 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 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 Z7 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. You could also leave this at “mechanical” if you choose, and then remember to change the camera to silent shooting or EFCS whenever you are shooting landscapes.

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 setting 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 Z7, 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 Z7 does not have the AE / AF lock button, another button can be used to compensate. I assign the second Fn2 button to Exposure Delay Mode, so that I can quickly set it to the desired value.

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 Z7’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 a lot with the Nikon Z7, 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.

I would recommend setting 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 you again. 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.

We do recommend turning ON the new “save focus position” setting that Nikon added to the Z7 in firmware version 3.30. Previously, whenever the Z7 was turned off and back on, the lens would reset focus to approximately infinity (if a Nikon Z lens rather than an adapted lens). This was annoying behavior for landscape photography. You might be taking some photos focused on a nearby foreground, turn off your camera to replace the battery, turn it back on, and not even realize that your focus position changed! There are no real downsides so just turn this option ON.

Retouch Menu

I haven’t touched this menu on my Nikon Z7, 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,” “Focus shift shooting,” “Time-lapse movie,” and “Silent photography,” 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 Z6 / Z7 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 Z7. 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.

PASM Dial: Aperture Priority

Photo Shooting Menu:

  1. ISO sensitivity settings
  2. ISO sensitivity: 64
  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 shutter (enabled by going to Photo Shooting Menu > Silent photography > ON)

Basically, we are turning off Auto ISO with ISO set to 64, disabling things that are not needed for landscapes and turning on things like the electronic shutter 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: 64
  3. Auto ISO sensitivity control: ON
  4. Maximum sensitivity: 6400
  5. Maximum sensitivity with flash: 6400
  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: 64
  3. Auto ISO sensitivity control: ON
  4. Maximum sensitivity: 6400
  5. Maximum sensitivity with flash: 6400
  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.

I hope you found this article useful. Once again, these are settings that work for me and 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!

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