7 tricks to customize your Nikon camera and make shooting more efficient

7 tricks to customize your Nikon camera and make shooting more efficient

There are plenty of ways to customize your camera. And this time, I�™m not talking about adding bling to it. This is something far more useful, and intended for Nikon shooters.

Steve Perry goes through seven Nikon tricks for customizing the controls. They work on most Nikon cameras, and they will make your shooting faster, more efficient and more enjoyable.

Steve points out that these tricks may not work on all Nikon cameras. As I was writing this article, I tried all of these on my Nikon D7000, so I�™ll share if it works for this model or not.

1. Quickly zoom in to check focus

Press the multi selector center button to zoom into the captured image 100%. This makes checking for sharpness much quicker, and the setup is pretty quick as well:

Go to Custom Settings Menu > Controls > choose either Multi selector center button or OK button > go to Playback mode and press that > select Zoom on/off > choose 1:1 (100%) magnification. Click OK, and you�™re done. Now when you press the OK or center button after you take the shoot, the camera will zoom it to 100%.

This particular setting doesn�™t work on Nikon D7000, because you can only use the OK button to highlight the active focus point or select the center focus point.

2. Quickly zoom to 100% in live view

This is related to the previous trick, and it�™s useful if you use live view often. Here again, you can use the center or OK button to zoom in 100% in live view to check focus:

Go to Custom Settings Menu > Controls > choose either Multi selector center button or OK button > go to Live view and press that > select Zoom on/off > choose 1:1 (100%) magnification, click OK and you�™re all set.

Since it�™s connected to the previous one, it also doesn�™t work on Nikon D7000.

3. Fast image review

You don�™t need to be jealous of the Canon shooters for using the command dial to scroll through the images quickly. Nikon has that option as well, and you can set it up on your camera. You can use the command dial on the back of the camera to scroll through one image at a time, or the one on the front to scroll through ten images at the time:

Go to Custom Settings Menu > Controls > Customize command dials > Menus and playback > choose ON or ON (Image review excluded). Confirm it with the OK button and scroll away.

Note that with the ON (Image review excluded) option you can only scroll through the pictures when you press the Playback button, and not when the camera offers a preview of the photo you�™ve just taken. With just choosing ON, you can scroll through the images whenever you like.

Another important note is that, on some cameras, back command dial will scroll through the photos one by one, and the front one will switch between different display modes. This happens with my camera, and I find it even better than scrolling ten after ten images.  Oh, and I guess you can conclude �“ it works for D7000.

4. Fast card format

Formatting a memory card on a Nikon really requires you to dive deep into the menu. If you want to do it quicker, here�™s the way:

Do you have the two buttons with red label �œFormat” next to them? Press and hold those two simultaneously until �œFor” appears on the top LCD screen. Now repeat the press and hold procedure, and the camera will format your memory card.

But there�™s one more trick if there are two cards in the camera. Press and hold the �œFormat” buttons until �œFor” appears. Then use the back command dial to switch between the two memory cards. When the one you want to format appears on the screen, press and hold the �œFormat” buttons again and that�™s it.

Nikon D7000 has the �œFormat” label next to the Delete button and Exposure metering button, so you can format the card this way.

5. Temporarily disable flash

When you have a speedlight attached, you may not need it all the way through the shoot. Instead of switching it on and off all the time, you can program the Function or Preview button to temporarily disable flash when you press and hold it while you shoot. The settings can vary with different cameras, but here�™s how it works for most of them:

Go to Custom Settings Menu > Controls > Assign preview button > select Press from the resolving menu > select and press the Flash off.

This one also works for Nikon D7000.

For Nikon D5 and D500 users, it goes like this:

Go to Custom Settings Menu > Controls > Custom Control Assignment > select Pv or Fn1 from the left-hand column > find the Flash Disable/Enable option, select it and press OK.

6. Use the movie record button to change ISO

If you need to change the ISO quickly, you can program your movie record button to do it. It�™s worth noting that, if your camera has a separate ISO button, this option will not be available. But if you don�™t have it, here�™s how to set the record button for the quick ISO change:

Go to Custom Settings Menu > Controls > Assign movie record button > select Press + command dials > choose ISO from the resolving menu.

When you set this up, you�™ll be able to press and hold the record button and scroll with the main command dial on the back of the camera to switch between the ISO values quickly. If you scroll with the command dial on the front, you can change between regular and Auto ISO.

As for Nikon D7000, it has an ISO button assigned to the Zoom out button, so this doesn�™t work.

7. Store AF points by orientation

This function looks really cool, and frankly �“ I had no idea this existed. It remembers where the AF points were when you held the camera in the vertical orientation, and where they were when it was orientated horizontally. It will return the focus points into those positions each time you rotate the camera.

This option doesn�™t only switch between the focal points in different orientations, but you can also choose different AF area modes for horizontal and vertical shooting.

Go to Custom Settings Menu > Autofocus > Store by orientation > choose either Focus point or Focus point and AF-area mode. Note that on mid-range cameras there�™s only �œon” or �œoff” because focus point is the only option.

When you customize this setting, the camera will remember the last focus point you had when you held it in horizontal or vertical position. Of course, you can always change it, and the camera will memorize the new one. And if you shoot Nikon D7000, I�™m gonna have to disappoint you �“ you can�™t set this up.

There are tons of buttons and controls on DSLRs, and there�™s always something new to find out. So I hope you discovered new stuff from this tutorial and that you�™ll use them to make your Nikon perfectly fast, handy and tailored for you.

[The 7 Best Nikon Tricks Ever! | Steve Perry]

How to Overcome Difficult Lighting Scenarios at Weddings

How to Overcome Difficult Lighting Scenarios at Weddings

A wedding photographer has to be prepared for pretty much anything. Big belly laughs, impromptu outbursts of song and bear hugs can happen at any moment. Not to mention that the light is constantly changing and you’ve got yourself a schedule to keep. Let’s just say weddings keep you on your toes.

That’s why it’s always worth planning ahead and being prepared. Weddings rarely take place in just one location and moving from indoors to outside, or from sunshine to shade can cause a huge change in exposure. When not competing with the sun, indoor lighting poses new problems. Tungsten bulbs mixed with daylight causes all sorts of white balance issues. But this is why we love weddings, they keep us sharp.

Being prepared and practice is key to achieving consistent results. Here are three top tips on how to make the most of difficult lighting situations.

Couple portraits – How to find good light on a dull day

Believe it or not, it is raining at the point of capture in the image below. This photograph was taken in July in Surrey, UK. The British weather was doing all it could to play up to the stereotype it would seem.

Couple portrait weddings

Not every wedding takes place on a gorgeous sunny day and it’s not always feasible to shoot at sunset to capture the golden hour of light. What can you do to create images that your clients will love and to which you’re proud to put your name? Especially when the heavens decide to play against you. Here is the process I use when assessing lighting conditions and how this photograph was taken.

Understanding the principles of lighting is fundamental in any photographer’s quest to a beautifully lit photograph. Fortunately, these principles are consistent regardless of where you are located in the world or how expensive your equipment is. Whether you’re using the latest Canon or a generation old Smartphone, light can be manipulated to your advantage.

Approaching every scenario with the same set of questions can radically change how you see light and ultimately how you take pictures. Where is the light coming from, where is the even light and where are the greatest differences in the light?

Place the subjects in shade

Shade weddings

Here you can see the scene exposed to what the human eye sees. The background is correctly exposed which throws the foreground into darkness. What we want is to do is correctly expose the foreground to create a clean canvas with an overexposed background. In this scenario, there is about three stops difference in exposure, which is perfect.

Shade overexposed weddings

By placing the couple under the branches of the tree they are instantly evenly lit. There are no stray light rays coming through branches or dappled light on faces, and the pebbles on the driveway aid in reflecting light back onto the subjects. By exposing for the skin tones the background will be overexposed, providing a clean canvas.

A few tweaks in Lightroom to warm the skin and recover some of the highlights and voila! An evenly lit portrait on a rainy day. The added benefit of the tree branches is that they, of course, provide shelter from the wind and rain. This technique of using trees as shelter can also be employed on dry days that are windy. Even if the sun is shining, a venue on a hill can increase the risk of a veil blowing away!


Why is this difficult? Depending on the location of the venue or church, you may be competing with changing light that the couple will walk through as they process down the confetti line. This is problematic as you are going to be walking backward, trying to capture the action, as well as tracking the changing light.

It is quite common in the UK for churches to have tree lined pathways, this creates a lighting issue as a break in the trees will cause the couple to walk from light to shade to light, etc. This can mean a dramatic jump in exposure.

Confetti lighting weddings

Take pictures of your hand

This is probably the easiest method to test the exposure of skin tones which can and should be used to test all of the techniques in this article. Take a photograph of your hand, inspect the screen and adjust accordingly. The wedding guests may look at you in an odd way, but when you’re working at a fast pace this can be a life saver.

Take images of your hand in both the light and the shade and note the difference in exposure before the bride and groom appear. Depending on how you shoot, it makes sense to only change one setting as you will be multi-tasking. The control for shutter speed on Canon cameras is located where the index finger naturally rests, and logically is the easiest of the settings to change.

Pay attention as the couple moves from light to shade, remembering the readings of your hand. The camera settings are displayed in the viewfinder and alternate between the two as the light changes. Where possible, pre-plan your shots, performing a mental run through of where people are likely to be and what lighting difficulties you may encounter.

Confetti lighting 2 weddings

First dance

Who knows what kind of lighting setup the DJ will have. Will they make a beautiful white spotlight for the first dance, or will they bust out some crazy laser snowflakes? Anything could happen. One method to overcome this is to shoot into the DJ’s lights and use them as compositional features rather than compete with them.

This isn’t the only option, sometimes shooting with the lights are beneficial as it gives you scope to capture the guest’s reactions. To create this shot, one flashgun at both corners of the stage (pointing at the center of the dance floor), elevated on tripods, and attached to Yongnuo wireless triggers were used.

First dance weddings

This setup offers two things. Firstly, by backlighting the subject even exposure on the skin can be achieved with no unwanted shadows. Secondly, you don’t have to worry about what the DJ is doing with their lighting setup.

It pays to ask the DJ before any dancing commences, what they plan to do and work with them. You would certainly be unlucky should you encounter anyone who wasn’t amiable in having a discussion. However, the point remains that they have a job to do. If they feel the song warrants a change in lighting then they will adapt it for the benefit of the wedding, not for your advantage. This is completely understandable, however, lighting surprises aren’t often welcome. This is why it makes sense to pre-plan and take control of the lighting.

Lens chimping technique

A caveat to shooting in this way is that it is possible to end up with equipment or the DJ themselves in the background. For this reason, an interesting tactic to employ is Sam Hurd’s lens chimping technique. By placing a convex lens element in front of your lens it creates cool flares and throws the background out of focus.

First dance 2 lens chimping technique

Practice is certainly recommended as an incorrect application of this technique can result in the lens element focussing all lights onto your sensor and completely blowing out the shot. The first dance is often a tricky one to shoot, it would be interesting to hear about your ideas and innovations below. Happy shooting!


Hopefully, these quick tips will help you deal with challenging lighting situations at weddings or any other photography opportunities. Do you have any others you want to share? Please do so in the comments below.