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Nikon D800 and D800E User's Guide:
Custom Setting Menu: Controls

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Nikon D800 and D800E

Nikon D800 and 50mm f/1.4 G. enlarge.


July 2012    D800 and D800E Review  Nikon Reviews  Nikon Lenses  All Reviews

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Custom Settings Menu:

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f1 - f13: Controls


How to Get Here

Press MENU, go to the left and select up and down to the pencil icon.

You'll then see CUSTOM SETTING MENU on the color LCD.

Click down to f CONTROLS and click to the right.


What it Does

Here lie some of the most important tricks I use on my D800 and D800E.

These change what some of the buttons and knobs do.


What I Change

I change a lot of these. Read on.


f1 Light Bulb Switch       top

This is a very clever option.

If you set it to Light and Information display, when you swing the power button, you'll light up the rear INFO screen.

Once you've done that, tap the INFO button to change the items along the bottom.

Set any of the FUNCT, PREVIEW or AE-L/AF-L buttons to ACCESS TOP ITEM IN MY MENU to give one-handed access to the complete menu system!


f2 Multi Selector Center Button       top

This lets you select what happens when you press the center of the rear thumb selector.

You may select different things for shooting, for playback, and for Live View.



In shooting I prefer to have mine select the center AF area.



In playback there is a very clever trick to set it to zoom right into an image. I show people this in a workshop, and think that this trick alone just made the whole workshop worthwhile! I suggest everyone set:

Under playback mode, select ZOOM ON/OFF. Now pressing the center of the selector zooms in! I choose MEDIUM.

Trick: Once you set this and use it, the rear dial flips through all the shots at the same position and magnification (presuming you turned on this feature)! I do this all the time. It's great for selecting which shot is sharp or not. Sadly once you use the Delete key the D800 and D800E reverts to non-zoomed mode, so you'll have to zoom and scroll back to the same spot to continue in-camera editing.


Live View

I prefer to have it zoom in to MEDIUM.


f3 Multi-Selector       top

You can set the rear thumb selector to turn on the meter or the AF system.

I never use this.


f4 Assign Fn button       top

This selects what the magic Function Button does. These settings are so helpful I wish I had several Fn buttons, or the ability to assign these to other buttons I don't use.

You only get one choice (Press or Press+Dials) at a time. The D200 let you do two things at once, but not on the D800 or D800E.

Using the Fn button to get to the top item in MY MENU is a clever trick to let you get into the entire menu system using just one hand.

You also can assign the PREVIEW and AE-L/AF-L buttons to do most of these same options below.

Here are what these various selections do:


Fn button press



Depth-of-field preview.


Fv lock

Tap the Fn button, the flash goes off and meters itself - once. Now every succeeding shot needs no preflashes! This means that, so long as your distance stays unchanged, that you'll get instant shutter release, and more importantly, no blinking from the preflashes. This choice fires the preflashes only once, and uses that information for every succeeding shot until you reset it.

It resets itself when the meter turns off, or if you tap the Function Button again.


AE/AF lock

Locks exposure and focus.


AE lock only

Locks exposure.


AE lock (Reset on release)

Locks exposure and holds it until you take a picture, the meter turns off or you press Fn again.


AE lock (Hold)

Locks exposure and holds it until the meter turns off or you press Fn again.


AF lock only

Locks focus.



Press Fn to make the lens autofocus.


Flash Off

Doesn't fire the flash so long as you hold the Fn button.


Bracketing burst

In single frame mode, the D800 or D800E goes off and shoots an entire bracketing sequence as set elsewhere.


Matrix Metering

Goes into Matrix metering.


Center-Weighted Metering

Goes into CW metering.


Spot Metering

Goes into spot metering when held



Now the Fn button does the same thing as the regular PLAY button.


Access top item in MY MENU

Overrides anything else, except picture taking, and brings you to your top menu item.

This is the key to getting into anything in the menu system with just one hand. Try it.



When you hold the Fn button while taking a picture, or press it before, you'll also get an NEF file along with your JPG. This only works while shooting JPG, not with TIFF.


Viewfinder virtual horizon

Bar graphs are shown in the finder for the electronic level.



Don't like any of the above? Then this turns it off!


FUNC button + command dials


Choose image area

Selects among various sensor crops. I USE ThIS FOR MY FN BUTTON.

This allows fast in-camera cropping and digital zoom.

You have the ability to select which of the various options are available. I select only FX, DX and 5:4; I never use 1.2x. Remember to select OK after your selections, or the D800/D800E will ignore you.


Shutter spd & aperture lock

Hold Fn and turn the front dial to lock or unlock aperture.

Hold Fn and turn the rear dial to lock or unlock shutter speed.

You also can set this more permanently in f7 and not need this option.


1 step spd/aperture

I select this in the exposure CSM, but here you can force the D800 and D800E to shift in full stops as long as you hold the Fn button.


Chose non-CPU lens number:

You use this to select easily among the various manual-focus lenses you've programmed under enter non-CPU lens data.


Active D-Lighting

Use the Fn button and dials to select the setting for ADR.



Don't like any of the above? Then this turns it off!


f5 Assign preview button       top

This selects what the depth-of-field preview button does. If you chose anything other than Preview, you usually lose the preview function.

These options are the same as the options for the Fn button, with the odd absence of the AF-ON option.

I leave mine on preview.


f6 Assign AE-L/AF-L button       top

This sets the function of the AE-L/AF-L button on the rear of the D800 and D800E.

These options are the same as the options for the Fn button.

I set mine to AE lock only. This way I point the camera where I want my exposure, and hold the button until I recompose and make my exposure.


f7 Shutter spd & aperture lock       top

This does not work and is grayed-out in Program mode.

In other modes, it allows you to lock the manually-set aperture and/or shutter speeds so they don't get knocked.

Once either is set here to ON, it stays locked until unlocked. This is another good practical joke to set on know-it-all friends.

An easier way to do this is to program the Fn, Preview or AE-L/AF-L buttons for this. If you do, hold that button and spin a dial and you won't need to set this in this menu.

No, I never use any of these locks.


f8 Assign BKT button      top

Nikn D800 and D800E TOp Left panel

Nikon D800 and D800E top left controls. bigger.

I set mine to HDR.

Here are your options:


Auto Bracketing (default)

Hold BKT and spin the rear dial to set bracketing on/off and how many frames, and the front dial to select the exposure increments between frames.

Firmware flaw: If you have CSM b2 set to full stops as I do, then bracketing can only be set at full stops; it locks you out of the 0.3, 0.5 and 0.7 options.


Multiple Exposure

Hold BKT and spin the rear dial to set bracketing on/off and for just one or many sets, and the front dial to select how many frames.

The top LCD and INFO screen show you what you're doing, and also show if AUTO GAIN is set, which you set in the Shooting Menu.



I set my BKT button for HDR.

When set to HDR, hold BKT and spin the front dial to select the range between HDR exposures, and the rear dial to engage HDR for one or many shots.

Once set, just press the shutter and the camera does the rest.

The options you can set as seen on the top LCD and INFO screen are:

BKT + front dial: exposure range. I set AUTO.

BKT + rear dial: no HDR, one-shot in HDR and reset to normal ("HDR" seen on top LCD and INFO screen), or keep shooting in HDR until reset ("HDR" and "L" seen on top LCD and INFO screen).


f9 Customize command dials       top

This allows some very clever things you'll appreciate, like swapping images on playback using the dials.


Reverse Rotation

So what: the dials go the other way.


Change main/sub

So what: the dials swap positions.


Aperture Setting

Lets you set apertures with the ring on the lens if you desire.


Menus and playback

Yes! Set this to ON!

If you do, the rear dial now can scroll quickly among your shots, and the front dial scrolls among the various data screens.

This is another trick that workshop participants say makes the whole trip worthwhile.

If you set it to ON (image review excluded), the dials will still set apertures and shutter speeds after you've just snapped a photo and the image is on the screen. I use this option when testing lenses and I'm making a lot of big adjustments while shooting different frames.


f10 Release button to use dial       top

This lets you tap a button once to adjust instead of having to keep holding it. You can keep adjusting until you tap the shutter, at which time it cancels.

I don't use this.


f11 Slot empty release lock        top

Nikon defaults this to the wrong position so that the D800 and D800E can be shot at the counter in one of those long-gone "camera stores" without a memory card.

Be sure to set this to LOCK, otherwise the camera shoots and plays back without a card!

If you don't set this away from the default of OK, you could shoot for a week and, if you don't try to play back other shots, might not notice you have no card and therefore no pictures until after you've shot a very important job!

Nikon does put up a red DEMO warning flag on playback, and the fact that they call it Demo means that you know it was done to help long-gone retail camera stores sell, not to help photographers shoot.

Earlier model cameras used to default to the correct LOCK position, but this meant that retail camera stores needed salespeople who actually knew how to use a camera to set it up so it could shoot in-store. Those days are gone: the default of ENABLE is so these can be put out by the janitor at Best Buy today for people to try.

Don't forget to set this to LOCK!


f12 Reverse indicators       top

Nikon's exposure meters have always read backwards. More exposure goes to the left, and less exposure goes to the right. Huh?

Nikon's very first rangefinder cameras of the 1940s had shutter dials and aperture rings which rotated in one particular direction. No big deal, but when Nikon added meters to cameras in the 1960s, the meters had to read to make sense as you moved the dials, so Nikon's meter needles and bar graphs have always gone in the wrong direction. (The superior vertical bar graphs of the D4, D3, D2 and F6 don't have this problem: up is more.)

Thankfully Nikon has never changed this, since in whatever decade they do, there will be massive confusion among all Nikon users familiar with the (wrong) way it's been done since 1946.

For newcomers, you can use this menu to flip things back to normal, as Canon has done it since their EOS cameras of the 1980s. If you do, more goes to the right.


f13 Assign MB-D12 AF-ON       top

This sets what the AF-ON button of the MB-D12 grip does.

Its options are explained under the Fn button. It doesn't do all the options of the Fn button, but everything it can do has already been explained above.

Top of D800 and D800E User's Guide

Nikon D800 and D800E Review



Setting the D800 and D800E's Autofocus System











          a Autofocus

          b Metering/Exposure

          c Timers/AE&AF Lock

          d Shooting/Display

          e Bracketing/Flash

          f Controls

          g Movie  < < NEXT





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