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Nikon D5000 User's Guide:
Shooting (Camera) Menu

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Nikon D5000

Nikon D5000. enlarge

June 2009    Top of D5000 Users Guide    D5000 Review    More Nikon Reviews


NEW: Nikon D5000 Users Guide for iPhone and iPod 23 December 2009


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How to Get Here

Press MENU, click left and then up and down to select the camera (shooting) menu. You'll then see "SHOOTING MENU" on the top of the screen.


What it Sets

It sets parameters related to what film used to do. The Shooting Menu sets ISO, grain, contrast, color and a zillion other critical things that set the look of your images.

The shooting menu would make more sense if it were called the Film menu, since many other menus also affect shooting.


What I Change

I change a lot here. This is where I make the D5000 give me the wild colors I love.


Clarification and Complaints

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

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

Don't worry about what's in what menu. It doesn't make complete sense and you'll forget where things are, but that's why there's the My Menu menu.



Set Picture Control        top

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

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

These work the same, and give the same look, among the D3, D700, D300 and D5000.

I prefer VIVID and +3 Saturation for crazy photos of things, NEUTRAL and +1 Saturation for photos of people, and STANDARD for shots in the studio when I need product colors to be accurate.



Manage Picture Control        top

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



Image Quality        top

This chooses JPG, raw or both and the JPG compression level.

I use BASIC JPG. I can't see any significant difference in photo quality between raw and BASIC, or BASIC and FINE, and I can see a huge difference in file size, disc and card usage and download speeds, so I shoot JPG BASIC.

Why do I worry about file size? Simple: I shoot a lot, and I bloated files waste time and money in transfer, backup and storage. Try it: shoot the same thing at several settings, and you won't be able to see the difference! See examples from my D200.

Pros shoot JPG. I shoot JPG. The only people who shoot raw are people who aren't getting work as pros because they don't yet understand the basics of exposure and WB I explained at the top of page one. These second-stringers instead spend their time teaching or just talking to anyone who'll listen to them run on about photography, so they have confused many new photographers. Ignore them and see my JPG versus raw article.



Image Size        top

This chooses the JPG image size in pixels. It does not directly choose the size of the file in bytes.

I use Large (12MP) or Medium (6MP) and JPG BASIC.

The D5000 has enough resolution for great 20 x 30" (50 x 75cm) prints even at the Medium setting.

I usually shoot in Medium unless I plan to be making huge enlargements.

I shot Medium for family photos, and Large if I'm out in Yosemite shooting landscapes I might want to make mural size some day.



White Balance        top

This duplicates the WB control from the INFO panel, and adds even more adjustments.

I use AUTO. See Examples of WB Settings and Setting White Balance.


Warm/Cool (Amber/blue) and Green/Magenta bias

Once you've selected a WB setting in this menu, click right and you'll get into a colorful White Balance fine-tuning menu! Use the rear multi-controller to set any color bias you want.

The D5000 is awesome in that you can set different biases for each WB setting.

I prefer warmer (more orange) images, so I set A3 on my AUTO setting. A6 is even more orange, and B settings are bluer.

Last I tried, a severe limitation of Canon DSLRs is that this adjustment affects every setting. In other words, the D5000 has a slew of different different WB settings, each of which will remember its own G/M and A/B tweak, while with Canon, one G/M and A/B setting affects them all.

To add or remove a little green or magenta to your photos, click up or down on the color graph. I don't use this adjustment axis.


Multiple Fluorescent options

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

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

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

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



ISO sensitivity settings       top

ISO sensitivity

This duplicates the ISO setting in the INFO panel. I use ISO 200.


ISO sensitivity auto control

This is where we program the AUTO ISO feature.

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

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

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


Maximum sensitivity

This is the highest ISO that AUTO ISO will use before lowering the shutter speed. ISO 3,200 looks great, so I set ISO 3,200 here.


Minimum Shutter Speed

This should be set to the slowest speed at which you won't get any subject or camera motion. I hope Nikon some day offers automatic tracking of this based on a selectable fraction of lens focal length, but for now, this is one of the settings I change as I change lenses or subjects.

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

I almost never set the ISO setting directly, but I set this almost any time I change a lens or subject matter.



Active D-Lighting       top

This is Nikon's mis-naming of its wonderful Automatic Dynamic Range Control.

It is a very important part of why the D5000's images can look so great.

I always leave it set to its default of AUTO, which magically optimizes highlights and shadows to look great.

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



Auto Distortion Control        top

I leave this ON.

It attempts to correct straight lines from becoming slightly curved due to lens defects.

If you're using a lens which the D5000 recognizes for this, it really works, and if you're using a different lens, it doesn't do anything.

It defaults to off, and I prefer to leave it ON.



Color Space        top

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

If you're reading this guide, it is highly unlikely that you should touch this setting.



sRGB is the default.

sRGB is the world standard for digital images, printing and the Internet. Use it and you'll get great, accurate colors everywhere, all the time.

Like what you see in my Gallery? That's all coming to you in sRGB. Use it and you'll automatically get great, saturated and accurate color everywhere. See Color Management is for Wimps for examples.

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


Adobe RGB

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

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

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

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

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

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

See more at Adobe RGB.



Long Exp. NR        top

This is Long Exposure Dark-Frame Subtraction Noise Reduction.



Default. Leave it here.



Don't use this.

If you do, the D5000 will double the amount of time you have to wait around for longer time exposures. The D5000 is so good you don't need this. Nikon only includes this because old-timers would get peeved if it was missing.

Try it for yourself and don't use it blindly.



High ISO NR (High ISO Noise Reduction)       top

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

I find the NORMal (default) position optimum.

You can set it higher, but it removes fine details and texture.

You can set it lower and get more sharpness along with more noise.

The Normal position gives less NR than the much softer Normal setting of the D300.



Active Folder       top

You may create and name new folders into which the D5000 stores your new photos.

I use this to keep photos of each new subject in its own folder, for easy sorting when I download them.

There are five spaces, and you may use letters as well as digits.

There is no easy way to crate a new folder incremented by one, as the older cameras could do.



Movie Settings       top

You only need to chose your choice of resolution, and whether or not you want sound.



Interval timer shooting (intervalometer)       top

This works and it's fun. This lets you set the D5000 to fire automatically at preset intervals.

The D5000 is better than a video security camera because it has so much more resolution. You can point this outside, cover a wide angle and have more than enough resolution to read the plates off a perp's car. You'll even be able to read the titles off your DVDs that they're hauling away.

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

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


Calculations       top

You tell the D5000 the interval between shots and how many shots to take.

The D5000 doesn't calculate how long the series will take.

You can't tell the D5000 to run for a certain period and make so many shots. You have to do the math yourself and tell the D5000 how many shots and how much time between them.


Battery       top

It's easy to run down the D5000 battery since you can program it to make so many shots. Long night exposures will kill the battery, too. You'll wake up and wonder why it stopped halfway through.

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

Be sure to turn off the LCD review.


Select Intvl*Shots Menu (Intervalometer)        top

This feature may or may not be in your D5000.

If so, this does more than a regular intervalometer. The D5000 lets you shoot one shot at each interval, or a burst of them. The interval is set in another menu. The default interval is a minute and can be set from one second to many hours.

The Select Intvl*Shots menu is as clear as a lens cap. The Select Intvl*Shots menu in in the format of 001 x 1 = 0001.

The first 001 number sets the total number of intervals at which shots are made. If you set "060" and a one minute interval, the D5000 shoots each minute for an hour (60 x 1 minute = 60 minutes).

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

The last number is the total number of shots. This is calculated by the D5000. You don't enter it. It's the number of bursts (the 001 part) multiplied by the number per burst.


Time Lapse       top

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

To do cool stuff like this you need to:

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

2.) Import all your shots to your Mac.

3.) Open iMovie or Final Cut.

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

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

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

7.) Hit go and voila! Time lapse!

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

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

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

You can cheat and shoot bracketed bursts and import each set of shots as its own parallel timeline. You can crossfade between them as the sun comes up or down. Thomas found all this effort didn't have much benefit. (Beats me how to shoot bracketed bursts on the D5000, I haven't tried. Thomas shot what you see with a Canon 20D. He wears out a lot of them!)



My D5000 User's Guide continues below.

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Back to Top of D5000 User's Guide or Top of Nikon D5000 Review









          a Autofocus

          b Exposure

          c Timers/AE Lock

          d Shooting/display

          e Bracketing/flash

          f Controls




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