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Nikon D700 rear. enlarge.
NEW: Nikon D700 User's Guide for iPhone and iPod. 12 December 2009
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From left to right, top to bottom:
Play [>] Button top
Press it to see your pictures. Press again to turn them off.
There are a lot of trick play modes, like zooming all the way in with the center control button and being able to scroll around with the dials.
Trash (also doubles as one of the two FORMAT buttons) top
With an image on the LCD, press once. You'll get an "Are you sure?" message. Press again and the shot's gone. The D700 ignores this button if it's not playing back.
Hold this along with its brother (the MODE button) to format a memory card as I explained on the previous page.
This gets you inside your D700.
I'll cover what you can screw up with this in the 11 long pages that follow.
In Playback: It protects (locks) the image from erasure.
Warning 1.): it marks the file so well that it won't empty out of my trash on my computer unless I go in and remark the file on my computer first!
Warning 2.): these images are erased from your memory card when you format anyway. Now you see why I don't use the lock feature.
In Menus: Press for more information about whatever you're setting.
Checkerboard (-) top
Playback Only: Tap it to select one, four or nine shots up at once. If zoomed, tap it to reduce the zoom.
Trick: When you have 4 or 9 images up, spin the front knob to flip more quickly between rows of images, presuming you've turned this on in custom setting f9.
Magnifying Glass (+) top
Playback: Press to zoom in. You can use the thumb switch to scroll around the image. I prefer to set a trick mode explained here to zoom in a lot more by pressing the center of the thumb navigation button.
While in the menus: takes action on what you've set.
While playing back: calls up the Retouch menu.
Finder Blind top
The finder blind is the little lever just above and to the left of the eyepiece.
Flick it left to close a shutter to prevent light from leaking into the finder.
You'll want to do this if you're shooting without your eye on the finder. If you take your eye away, light could get in this back door and cause the meter to underexpose your pictures.
If you close it, you won't be able to see through the finder until you flick it to the right to open it.
AE-L AF-L (Top center) top
Hold this to lock settings while shooting. You alter what this button does in the Custom Setting Menu f7.
This is the rotary switch wrapped around the AE-L AF-L button, just to the right of the finder window.
It has three positions: Spot, the dot on the left, Matrix, the rectangle in the middle, and Center Weighted, the circle on the right.
I always use Matrix, the center rectangle. Matrix is a magic system which really figures out what you're shooting, even if it's very dark or very bright and white, and just gives the correct exposure. It sees in color, sees depth, it sees in over 1,000 places in the finder, and has an astounding amount of perception in getting exactly the exposure I want. Even with Nikon's first Matrix meter in the FA of 1983, I could point the camera at anything, even right into the sun, and always get perfect exposures.
Sunrise, Mono Lake.
I shot this with a Nikon FA, 600mm f/5.6 ED Nikkor AI-s, Matrix Meter, Program Auto exposure and Fuji Velvia. I just pointed and shot; the Matrix meter does the exposure calculations so I can pay attention to the composition.
The meter in the D700 is many times better.
I never use center weighted (on the right), and I certainly never use spot (on the left). With the Matrix meter, just shoot. It's smart enough to do all the compensation and locking that you used to have to do in the older modes.
The other positions are left-overs from earlier decades. They are blind to color, blind to absolute luminance, blind to distance, and blind to relative position in the frame. Matrix sees in many dimensions at once, while these blind old meters see in only one dimension. The Center-Weighted (CW) meter was Nikon's most poplar meter in the 1960s and 1970s, and the Spot meter is left over from the 1980s.
The CW meter was useful in its day because it measured just the right area of the finder so you could point the camera at the main subject, set a manual exposure, recompose, and shoot. Unless the subject just happened to be the right tone, you'd always have to use exposure compensation for light and dark subjects. In the 1970s, AE cameras had AE locks, so you'd point, meter, lock, recompose, and shoot. What a pain!
The Spot meter sees only a small spot in the finder. It requires knowing the Zone System to use well, since few scenes actually have any tones at exactly Zone V from which to spot meter. See How to Use the Nikon Spot Meter.
I ought to weld my selector switch somehow, since sometimes it can get knocked off Matrix. No big deal; I just feel stupid when I start getting bad results and take a while to notice the switch got knocked. Nikon's pro cameras like today's F6 and D3 have locks on the switch for just this reason.
Focuses the lens, but doesn't take a picture.
This button is helpful if you disable the AF from activating when you press the D700's shutter in CSM a5. If you do, then you can focus with this button, and have an AF lock when you release it. I'd rather it was a self-timer, but Nikon didn't ask me about this one.
Big Thumb Button top
The Nikon D700's Big Thumb Button.
This is used for everything: menu navigation, selecting AF areas, scrolling through playback images and a whole lot more.
I set mine to zoom way into an image when pressed in the center.
Trick: If you set a center push to zoom on playback, you can spin the rear dial to move to different images at the same position and zoom! This makes it easy to pick out the sharpest image. Unfortunately as soon as you hit the delete key it goes back to unmagnified, sort of making this less useful for in-camera selection and deletion.
L - • (around Big Thumb Button)
This is an electronic lock.
It's smart: it only locks the AF selection.
It doesn't lock you from anything else.
Because of this, if you can't select AF areas, check it because it can get knocked. Even in L you can still do everything except select AF areas.
AF Area Mode Selector (below Big Thumb Button) top
Focus Area Mode Selector Switch
This lets you choose how the D700's brilliant AF system uses all its sensors. This switch is important for switching from shooting static subjects to action. I explain this on an entire page on How to Use the D700 Autofocus System.
INFO button (below AF Area Mode Selector) top
This tiny button is one of the D700's biggest features.
Hit it once and the rear LCD immediately lights up with everything you might want to know about what's going on. This isn't a big deal, because I prefer to program my illuminator (power) switch to do the same thing. I can hit my illuminator button faster with my trigger finger than I can hit the INFO button with my thumb.
The innovative part is if you hit the INFO button twice. Now you can set anything you read along the two lines at the bottom with just one hand. You can adjust:
Having programmed my illuminator (power) switch to call up the INFO screen, a second tap of the illuminator button turns it off. It doesn't let me adjust the bottom items.
If I tap my illuminator button and then hit INFO once, it lets me adjust these items.
For someone like yourself who now knows what these all do, you'll find it extremely helpful having this option to get to these.
My D700 User's Guide continues below.
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