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Nikon D5200 Guide:
Shooting Menu
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Nikon D5200

Nikon D5200 and 35mm f/1.8 DX (body weighs 19.6 oz./555 g with battery and card, about $800, or $900 with 18-55mm lens). enlarge. My biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this link directly to it at Adorama or directly to it at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thank you! Ken.


December 2013      Nikon D5200 Review    Nikon Reviews    Nikon Lens Reviews

NEW: Nikon D5200 iPhone/iPod/iPad App 16 December 2013

How to Set and Use the D5200's Autofocus System


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Many of these menu options are often deactivated in anything except the P, S, A and M modes.


How to get to the SHOOTING Menu

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

You also can change some of these settings on the INFO screen with the < i > button.


What it Sets

It sets everything having to do with what film used to do: ISO, resolution, saturation, noise and etc.

The D5200 is much better thought out than earlier Nikons, which spread these settings around in three other menus.


What I Change

I change a lot here. This is where I get the wild colors I love.


Reset shooting menu       top

This resets everything below back to factory defaults, so pay with these all you want without fear.


Storage Folder       top

You can create, name and rename folders on your memory card.


Select Folder

This selects the folder into which new photos are written.

You could use this to record images into a previous folder.

You might want to use this feature if you shot one event or subject, went on to a second and made a new folder for it, and then returned to the previous subject.



This creates new folders.

Unlike some pro cameras, there is no trick by which you can hold the ? button on power-on to create a new folder automatically.


Rename and Delete



Image Quality        top

You also can set this with the < i > button.

I use JPEG basic.

To set this, use:

MENU > CAMERA > Image quality > JPEG basic.

This selects the kind of file (raw, JPG or both), and the size of the JPG file (FINE, NORMAL or BASIC).

I always use JPG, never raw. (see JPG vs. Raw.)

BASIC JPG looks the same as NORMAL It also makes a file half the size of Normal, which speeds up everything and saves space on my hard drives and backup CDs.

I never use FINE; it looks the same as NORMAL and wastes space twice as much space again. Feel free to use any settings you like; that's why they're here, but JPEG Basic look the same as the others ans takes up much less file space.

You can see examples from a D200 at D200 Quality Setting Examples.


Image Size        top

You also can set this with the < i > button.

I use Large for things I might need to make billboard-sized, and Small for normal photos pf my family. Resolution of the D5200 is so good that even at Small I can get great 20 x 30" (50 x 75 cm) prints.

At Small, the D5200 still has far more resolution than Nikon's first D1 and D1H professional cameras whose images were often printed on two-page spreads in news magazines.

Large is the default, but unless you want to print everything mural size, the files take up too much space on the card and in your computer.

To set this, use:

MENU > CAMERA > Image size > Large, Medium or Small.


White Balance       top

You also can set this with the < i > button.

I'm only explaining how to set these below. How to Set White Balance and White Balance Examples explain when and why you'd want to use these settings.

I leave my main WB at AUTO, and trim it with Amber 2.


Main WB settings


Auto (A)

I use this all the time. I don't use the other settings below.

It makes its best guess for WB. It's usually very good.

Indoor tungsten can be too orange unless you have very bright tungsten light.


Incandescent (hanging light bulb icon that's easy to confuse with the sun icon)

This makes the picture very blue.

Use this only for deliberate Arctic freezing effects, or under conventional tungsten light bulbs.


Fluorescent (glowing tube icon)

Used to make crappy fluorescent light look less crappy.

These settings rarely work; I use the preset setting for better results.


Direct Sunlight (sun icon)

Use this in direct frontal sunlight.

Use other settings for shadows or indirect sunlight.


Flash (lightning bolt)

I never use this. It's almost the same as direct sun.

I'm told it's really for studio strobes, since the Auto mode compensates magically for flash if you use it on-camera.

The reason to use this is if you use a different trim value for your strobes than you do for sunlight.


Cloudy (cloud)

Warmer (more orange) than the sunlight position. I use this in shade, too.


Shade (house casting a shadow)

Very warm (orange). Use this for sunset shots and deep shade.


Preset manual (PRE)

You can use this setting with a white or gray card to get perfect color matching.

I use this in bizarre artificial light that I wish to make look natural, or to get exact color with my studio strobes. An Expodisc makes this easier, but even without an Expodisc or white card I shoot off anything neutral, like a piece of paper, a napkin or a T-shirt.

Any light weird enough to need this setting won't care about small inaccuracies in the neutral reference.


To set this using the menus:

1.) Ensure your card or other neutral object is in the light representative of the light on the subject.

2.) Select PRE via the menu button

3.) Press OK (or click to the right).

4.) Select Measure and click OK (or to the right). (The Use Photo option is a backwards bow to Canon's convoluted setting method. Canon Jihadists used to brag about this. It does the same thing, but requires twice as many steps. Ignore this option.)

5.) Select YES.

6.) Point your camera at the card or neutral colored thing and press the shutter.

7.) If the LCD says "data acquired" or the viewfinder flashes "Gd," you're set. Shoot away!

8.) If the display flashes "unable to acquire" or the viewfinder flashes "no Gd" then repeat from step 2.).


To set this much faster using the Fn button, if set to control WB:

1.) Press and hold Fn Button.

2.) Spin dial to select PRE.

3.) Release Fn Button.

4.) Press and hold Fn button until PRE flashes.

5.) Point your camera at the card or neutral colored thing and press the shutter.

6.) If the LCD says "data acquired" or the viewfinder flashes "Gd," you're set. Shoot away!

7.) If the display flashes "unable to acquire" or the viewfinder flashes "no Gd" then repeat from step 4.).


WB Trim (fine-tuning)

To fine-tune (trim, make warmer or cooler) each setting individually, after selecting it in the menu, click right to get to its trim setting. You'll see a colorful square on which you can move up, down, left and right to tweak the color in any direction you'd like.

You may adjust it to your choice of any mild tint along the amber/blue and green/magenta axes. I usually shoot anyplace between A2 and A4, making things warmer (more amber).


Set Picture Control        top


Manage Picture Control

This is where you set the look of your image.

Setting this correctly is critical to getting the look you demand right out of the camera.

It is so important that I have a complete page all about how to set and use Picture Controls.

I covered the settings I prefer to use on the first page of this guide.


Auto Distortion Control        top

When set to ON, the D5200 automatically and subtly corrects geometric distortion (bending of straight lines) with some lenses.

The reason it's OFF by default is that it can lose a tiny bit of sharpness towards the sides from resampling all images, however the benefits of straighter lines are only apparent in a few photos where there are straight lines running close to the edges of the frame.


Color Space       top

Don't touch this. Leave it at sRGB unless you want duller colors that don't match.

More at Adobe RGB.


Active D-Lighting (ADR)       top

You also can set this with the < i > button.

ADR (adaptive dynamic range) makes pictures look better by adding details in both shadows and highlights. It works great!

It is ON and set to AUTO by default, and I leave it there all the time.

You can change it by:

MENU > CAMERA > Active D-Lighting.


HDR (High dynamic range)       top

This is a trick mode that combines two photos of the same thing in an attempt to render extreme highlights and shadows more naturally.

It really works, even hand-held, but I don't use it. Try it yourself and you may love it.

To use it, set this to ON (MENU> SHOOTING (camera icon) > HDR > ON), then point the camera and hold the shutter button so it can make two automated exposures. The D5200 processes the two files for a moment, during which "job hdr" flashes in the finder, and then the D5200 records a single image to your card.

You must set this to ON for each shot; it resets to OFF after each.

I don't use this setting, so I leave it at AUTO if I was going to use it. You can force it to various strengths (LOW to Extra HIGH), but since the meter already knows more than we do, I let the D5200 do the work at AUTO.


Long Exposure NR       top

This is short for Long Exposure Dark-Frame Subtraction Noise Reduction.

It doesn't reduce noise or grain. It will eliminate the occasional hot pixel, and correct purple fog around the edges of insanely long astronomical exposures.

OFF: Default. Leave it here.

ON: Don't use this. If you do, the D5200 will double the amount of time you have to wait around for time exposures of a second or longer. You people who need this know who you are, and even for you I suggest trying the D5200 with out NR first. it may save you a lot of time waiting around out in the cold.

I have details with examples from my D200 at D200 Dark Exposures.


High ISO NR       top

This sets how much the D5200 smears images made at high ISOs (low light) to reduce the grain, or noise, in the pictures.

I leave it at NORM. Setting it to HIGH will make less grainy pictures at high ISOs like 12,800, but soften the image slightgly.

Setting it to LOW or OFF will make slightly sharper pictures at high ISOs, but with more grain or noise.

It doen't have much effect most of the time; it affects only thre high ISOs.


ISO sensitivity settings        top

You also can set this with the < i > button.

I always set Auto ISO, which lets the D5200 selects my ISO for me.

This is so important that I've already covered it in detail on the first page of this guide.

To set it, MENU > SHOOTING (camera icon) > ISO sensitivity settings > Auto ISO sensitivity control > ON.

I set Maximum sensitivity to 6,400 and set Minimum shutter speed to 1/125 for people and action, and to the slowest speed at which I can hand-hold for still subjects, usually 1/8 for wide VR lenses and 1/30 for VR teles.

Firmware Defect: Nikon's firmware leaves Auto ISO active even in manual exposure mode. This makes the D5200 change the ISO automatically and defeat the purpose of manual exposure. Remember to deactivate Auto ISO when using Manual exposure mode.


Release Mode       top

You also can set this with the < i > button.

This is where you set single, continuous, arm the remote control, or set the self timer.

The modes are:


[ S ] Single Frame

Press and the shutter fires once, period.


[ ]]]]] L Continuous L

Tap the shutter and it fires once.

Hold it and the shutter keeps running at up to about 3 frames per second, if the AF system can keep up.


[ ]]]]] H Continuous H

Tap the shutter and it fires once.

Hold it and the shutter keeps running at up to about 5 frames per second, if the AF system can keep up.


( `\ ) 10s Self-timer

Shutter fires 10 seconds after the shutter button is pressed.


2s Delayed remote

Shutter fires 2 seconds after the optional $14 ML-L3 remote control is pressed.


Quick release remote

Shutter fires when the optional $14 ML-L3 remote control is pressed.


[ Q ] Quiet shutter release

This mode only makes the D5200 a little quieter, but it als makes the finder go black after every picturte until you take your finger off the shutter, at which time the finder image comes back and the camer amakes another click.

It's not much quieter than normal, and much slower, so I never use it.


Multiple Exposure       top

This is silly. It lets you do what we did back on film.

D3 Multiple Exposure

Easy example: The Blinds in My Office. (5 exposures.)

This works and it's easy to use.

Unlike film, it's smart enough to compensate the exposures so they add together without overexposure.


To use it:

MENU > SHOOTING > Multiple exposure, then:

1.) Set to ON

2.) Choose the number of shots to combine (2 or 3).

3.) Hit OK.

3.) Leave Auto Gain ON. If you turn it off, you'll get a lot of overexposure.


You'll see a tiny icon on the top of the LCD that looks like two rectangles mating.

Make your shots. You'll see each on the rear LCD as you make it. You'll also see the mating rectangle icon on the LCD.

You'll keep seeing the mating rectangles icon on the top LCD until you complete all the exposures for which you asked in step 2.).

The D5200 won't tell you how many you've made until you're done. You can cancel it in the same menu if you want by setting it to OFF.

When you've made the last shot, the D5200 shows it as it did for the other shots for a moment, then goes off and adds them all together. After the CF light blinks a few times you'll see the composite image on the color LCD. The intermediate single images are not saved.

It works with JPGs and NEFs.

It resets to OFF after each use.


Interval timer shooting (intervalometer)       top

This lets you set your D5200 to shoot automatically at preset intervals. You also can set it to start at any time of your choice, for instance, to put it on a shelf and have it start at 8PM and snap every 5 seconds.

The D5200 is better than a video security camera because it has so much more resolution. You can point it outside, cover a wide angle and have more than enough resolution to read the plates off a criminal'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 D5200 the interval between shots and how many shots to take.

The D5200 doesn't calculate how long the series will take, which is too bad, because we usually want it to start at one time and stop at another. You have to do your own algebra to calculate how many images you want so it stops at your desired time.


Battery       top

It's easy to run down the D5200 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.

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.


Time Lapse       top

Use the right software to assemble your stills into the right file format, and you can create cinema-grade 4k time-lapse files.


Movie settings       top

This sets movie format (resolution and frame rate) as well as the audio gain.

Audio gain is AGC (auto gain control) by default. Manual setting only happens at High, Medium, Low or off.

It defaults to HDTV and HIGH quality, which makes huge files. I set NORMAL quality, and lower resolution. Movies look essentially the same, with much smaller file size.


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