6 Simple and Useful Tricks for Nikon DSLRs

Our perception of any piece of technology is greatly influenced by it’s ease of use and overall user experience. For example, when I bought my first DSLR, my decision came down to Canon vs Nikon. I tried Sony, Pentax and Olympus and didn’t like them for one reason or another, but I knew that I could be happy shooting with either Canon or Nikon. How did I finally end up making my decision? The menu system. I preferred Nikon’s menus and navigation over Canon’s, so I bought a D40. Now, eight years and tens of thousands of dollars later, I’m still a Nikon guy, all because of the difference in menu design.

In this article, I’m going to share a few simple tricks that I’ve picked up over the years that make using my Nikon a little bit easier. To some of you, these might be completely obvious and old news, but to others they might very well change the way you view and use your camera!

All images shown are from the D800 menu. Your menu may look a little different.

1) Formatting Memory Cards

If your camera has two memory card slots, you’ll usually want to format both memory cards before you start shooting. Back in the days before I learned this trick, here’s how I used to format my memory cards: format my primary memory card, turn off the camera, take it out, turn the camera back on, format my secondary memory card, turn off the camera, put my primary back in, turn the camera on and then start shooting. Do you format your memory cards this way, too? Well, time to stop it! Here’s a much faster and easier way to format both memory cards without ever having to turn your camera off:

  • Hold down the two buttons marked as “Format” in red to format your card.
  • Notice that on the control panel (top screen), one card is flashing. This is the card that you are about to format.
  • Go ahead and format that card by pressing the two buttons again.
  • Now, hold down the two buttons to format your card. Notice the same (primary) card is still flashing.
  • Turn the command dial (rear wheel) one click. Notice that the card that’s flashing has changed to your secondary card?
  • Go ahead and format that card.
  • That’s it! Now both of your cards have been formatted in about half the time as the old way.
Nikon Tricks format memory card

NIKON D810 + 85mm f/1.4 @ 85mm, ISO 800, 1/80, f/2.0

Why you should care: Saves time and decreases how often you have to remove/insert memory cards
Should work on: any Nikon DSLR with two memory card slots

2) Quick Image Scrolling

Have you ever looked on with envy as Canon users quickly scrolled through 10 images at a time while reviewing their shots from the day on the back of their camera? I have too. Although it’s not as elegant, I found a solution for quick image scrolling on Nikons:

  • Go into Custom Setting Menu > Controls > Customize Command Dials > Menus and Playback
  • Choose On

Now when you’re reviewing images, you can zoom out to the thumbnail view and quickly scroll through using the sub-command dial (front wheel).

Nikon Tricks

Why you should care: Saves time when reviewing images in-camera
Should work on: Any body

3) Buffer Indicator

This one is super simple and is just an act of observation. No need to change any settings at all!

Have you ever noticed the number in the lower-right corner of your viewfinder and in the lower-right corner of your control panel (top screen) that looks like this: [r16]? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, grab your camera, make sure there’s a memory card in it, and press the shutter button halfway down like you’re focusing. Look in your viewfinder or on the top screen and you’ll see it appear when you press the button. Your number will probably be different, but you get the idea.

Nikon Tricks buffer indicator

NIKON D810 + 85mm f/1.4 @ 85mm, ISO 800, 1/80, f/2.0

Do you know what that indicates? It’s the number of shots remaining in your buffer. For the longest time I had no idea and couldn’t anticipate when my buffer was going to fill up. Now, when I’m shooting bursts of images I keep an eye on that number and know when I’m about to fill my buffer. If I happen to fill it up, I also can see when it starts to empty so that I can start shooting again.

Why you should care: Decreases likelihood of missing shots due to a full buffer
Should work on: Any body

4) Quick Button

One of my favorite features of all Nikon DLSRs I’ve owned is the My Menu feature. If you’ve never used it, here’s a quick summary of what it is. Basically, you can create your own custom list of options from the different menus available in the camera, up to 20 items. I add a few of the top things that I frequently use and don’t want to have to search through menus for (Battery Info, Self-Timer Settings, Virtual Horizon, Time Zone, Auto ISO and Date).

Nikon Tricks my menu

To set up your “My Menu”, just go into the Menu screen and scroll through the menus on the left until you get to “My Menu”. From there you can add items and organize it.

Now, once you have your My Menu set up, here’s the real trick for quick access. You can set up the Preview or Fn button on the front of the camera to access My Menu. Now all of your most frequently used menu features are available at any time with the push of a button! Here’s how to make this happen:

  • Go into Menu > Custom Setting Menu > Controls > Assign Fn (or preview) Button > Fn (or preview) Button Press
  • Some cameras may have the option for >MY MENU while others may only have > Access top item in MY MENU.

That’s it! Just choose which button you prefer to access My Menu and your most used menu items are at your fingertips.

If you only have the option to access the top item in My Menu, not a problem. When you access the top item by pushing your chosen button, simply arrow to the left and you’ll be in My Menu and will have access to all of your other My Menu options.

Nikon Tricks

NIKON D810 + 85mm f/1.4 @ 85mm, ISO 800, 1/80, f/4.0

Why you should care: Immediate access to your most-used menu options
Should work on: Most high-end Nikon DLSR bodies

5) Shooting Menu/Custom Setting Banks

This is one trick I wish I had learned about years ago. Sometimes when I second shoot weddings with other photographers, they want me to use different camera settings than I typically use for myself. I’d find myself changing settings like white balance, image quality and which card was my primary before the wedding and then have to remember what I changed and change everything back before I started shooting for myself again.

Once I discovered Shooting Menu Banks, my life changed for the better. What are Shooting Menu Banks? Basically, you can save the settings for your camera in a Bank (you can even name it so that you remember what it’s for). For example, here are the changes my body makes when I select my “2nd shoot” Bank: changes to Auto White Balance, records images as M-Fine JPEG to the primary card and RAW to the secondary card and changes my primary slot to my SD card.

Nikon Tricks

As the name suggests, the Shooting Menu Bank lets you create different banks for anything in your Shooting Menu, while the Custom Settings Bank lets you create different banks for anything in your Custom Settings. You can create up to 4 banks in each.

If you don’t shoot weddings, you’ll definitely still be able to find a use for this trick. For example, you might want to have different Shooting Menu Banks for shooting in different lighting conditions. Or perhaps you could set up one bank for landscape photography, while setting up another for portraiture. You might have different Custom Settings Banks if multiple people use the same camera body and have different preferences for settings.

Here’s how you set up your own Shooting Menu and Custom Settings Banks:

Let’s assume you want to set up a new Shooting Menu Bank…

  • Go into Menu > Shooting Menu > Shooting Menu Bank
  • You should currently be in Bank A, which means your current camera settings are saved as Bank A.
  • To set Bank B, navigate down to B and press OK. You should now be back in the Shooting Menu and the first item, Shooting Menu Bank, should read B.
  • Now, any changes you make to your shooting menu will be saved as the default for Shooting Menu Bank B.
  • If you want to give Bank B a description, simply right arrow in the Shooting Menu Bank when B is highlighted.
  • To switch back to Bank A and your original camera settings, just navigate up to A and press OK.

It’s the exact same process for Custom Settings, only you’ll go into Menu > Custom Settings Menu > Custom Settings Bank

Nikon Tricks

NIKON D810 + 85mm f/1.4 @ 85mm, ISO 800, 1/80, f/4.0

Why you should care: Less time spent changing camera settings
Should work on: Most pro-level bodies (Dxxx, Dx) as well as most newer D7xxx bodies

If you own a Nikon D600 / D610 or D7000 / D7100 series cameras, you have even more user-friendly U1 / U2 settings that can be permanently saved, then accessed via the top dial of the camera.

6) Instant Zoom During Playback

Another really neat feature that comes in really handy is the ability to instantly zoom in to a specified magnification level when viewing a photo. Instead of having to press the Zoom In / Zoom Out buttons many times, you can configure the center button of your multi-selector on the back of the camera. When reviewing a photo that you have just captured, pressing this button will zoom in and pressing it again will zoom out back to the full image. The neat thing about this feature, is that it zooms in to where your focus point was!

Here is how you configure it:

  • Go to Menu -> Custom Setting Menu -> Controls -> Multi selector center button -> Playback mode -> Zoom on/off
  • From here, you need to pick the magnification level. Personally, I like “Medium magnification” or “1:1″ on the Nikon D810, which displays the image at pixel level
  • Once set, press the playback button to display a captured image, then press the multi selector center button. You will see the image get instantly zoomed in
  • Pressing the button one more time will zoom out to the full image

Why you should care: Saves a lot of time when reviewing images and allows to check sharpness immediately after capture
Should work on: High-end / professional Nikon DLSR bodies (does not work on the D600 and D610, but does work on the D7100)


That’s only six tricks, but I know there are many more out there that can save us all a bit of time and make our time spent shooting a little bit easier. These are my favorites, but I’ve got plenty more that I use. In the comments, please feel free to leave any tips that you think others might find helpful. Maybe we could do a second article with the best reader tips! Happy shooting!


  1. 1) Marina
    July 31, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    #6 wow…..life changing!

    • July 31, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      Glad you like it Marina! Once you get used to it, you’ll really miss it if you ever use a camera that doesn’t have it.

      • 1.1.1) sceptical1
        July 31, 2014 at 8:29 pm

        Indeed, love #6!!

    • 1.2) Noelle
      August 1, 2014 at 1:28 am

      No. 6 doesn’t seem to work on my D7000. :-(

    • 1.3) vulise venu
      August 18, 2014 at 10:44 am

      thank you for PL in NIKON

  2. 2) Errol
    July 31, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Not able to get #6 to work on D600. Any suggestions?

    • July 31, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      Errol, unfortunately, Nikon stripped out that feature from both D600 and D610 :(

      • Profile photo of Errol Bennett 2.1.1) Errol Bennett
        July 31, 2014 at 4:20 pm

        Thanks Nasim. This was a very useful article nonetheless.

      • 2.1.2) ilia
        July 31, 2014 at 4:37 pm

        Nasim, call them up!
        tell them we need it back.

  3. Profile photo of Jeannie Girard 3) Jeannie Girard
    July 31, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Wonderful tips..thank you

  4. 4) Angel
    July 31, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    #6 D600?

  5. Profile photo of shawn 5) shawn
    July 31, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Great to see these all in one place.
    Very useful stuff.
    Thank you for taking the time to put it together.

  6. 6) Norman Silva
    July 31, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Great help – thanks.

    I look forward to your next list of tips.

  7. 7) Martina
    July 31, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Wow, thanks for this great list!! Can’t wait to try these with my D200 and D800 :)

  8. 8) Patrick
    July 31, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Yeah #6 works in D7100 but not the D610! Weird. I do have a follow up question: some of the settings in the custom menu have a little * above the F , like f1 is *f1 (OK button (shooting mode)) Is there a way to change it to view mode?

    • July 31, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      Patrick, that’s because Nikon decided to strip that feature out of the D600 and D610!

      If settings have a * in front of them, it means that the setting has been changed from the default value.

      • 8.1.1) EnPassant
        August 1, 2014 at 8:23 pm

        I don’t think that is the correct description.
        It’s rather that these cameras, D600/610 and the D7000 which they are based on are too old.
        The feature was only added to Nikon’s advanced user cameras with the D7100.
        The “D620″ will propably have the function as it will be based on a D7100 or “D7200″.

        • Patrick O'Connor
          August 1, 2014 at 8:36 pm

          I’m not sure about our last sentence. Nikon obviously looked for ways to cripple the D6xx in order to discourage folks who bought D8xx from moving down to the D6xx. This feature could be just another item on their list. Assuming there’s a D620, we may not see it there either. Of course I hope I’m wrong.

          • EnPassant
            August 2, 2014 at 11:06 am

            Well if you change words we must discuss semantics.
            My comment was about the use of the word strip.
            Strip and cripple is not the same thing.
            To be able to strip, be it a feature or clothes, what is stripped must be there in the first place.
            And as the feature also was missing in D7000 that was not the case.
            Cripple can however in this context also be used about functions or features not included that exist on more expensive cameras, even though they were also missing in the predecessor camera.

            If a feature, especially a simple one only needing a firmware upgrade, have trickled down from the pro cameras I don’t see a reason for it not to be included in a D620. I also expect a D620 will get the FF version of the better, wider area AF module used in D7100.
            That is if Nikon keep doing their regular upgrade and not build a completely new type of body.

            • Patrick O'Connor
              August 2, 2014 at 12:03 pm

              I understood and agree with your statements, regarding the use of “strip.” That’s why I only questioned your last sentence. Even there, it wasn’t my intent to challenge you in any way; merely to state a different opinion which, again, I hope is wrong. :-)

          • Graeme
            August 22, 2014 at 12:32 am

            The image review zoom feature on the central multi-selector button isn’t a new idea at all as it was included on the D700.

            The D8xx bodies are very different from the D6xx bodies too. The D800/810 have the same build and control layout that has feautured on the top level bodies for years. The D600/610 have the layout and build that started with the D7000 and continued with the D7100, although both lack some of the more advanced features of the D7100.

        • Roberto Santoro
          August 2, 2014 at 2:10 am

          The much older D300 has this feature.

          • EnPassant
            August 2, 2014 at 10:27 am

            D300/s belongs to Nikon’s Semi-Pro line and is a predecessor of D700 and D800.
            The Advanced user line of cameras include D90, D7000, D7100, D600 and D610.
            The Pro and Semi-Pro line have had this feature long time. But it was only added to the Advanced user line with the D7100. My comment about the cameras being too old was not about the Pro and Semi-Pro cameras.

            • Roberto Santoro
              August 2, 2014 at 2:12 pm

              The D610 is newer than the D7100.
              So it’s not about the age of the camera

            • EnPassant
              August 13, 2014 at 2:37 pm

              D610 is just a minor update of D600 fixing the oilspray issue.
              D600 was announced in September 13 2012 and D7100 February 21 2013.
              Therefore D610 is indeed an older construction than D7100, only with a few updates that didn’t include the function we are speaking of.
              Under normal conditions D610 would have been named D600s the updates are such minor. But as Nikon didn’t want the camera be to closely associated with D600 they used the name D610 for marketing reasons.

    • 8.2) Gio
      August 2, 2014 at 6:42 pm

      I am not able to get #6 with my D7100…I’m I doing something wrong?

      • 8.2.1) Dmitry
        August 4, 2014 at 9:10 pm

        Gio, this how you would do it on D7100. ” Custom setting menu”, “Controls”, “OK button”, “Playback mode” ” Zoom on/off”.
        I hope this will help.

        • Gio
          August 5, 2014 at 6:17 am

          Dmitry, Thank you for your reply, your suggestion worked perfectly.

  9. 9) Tomas
    July 31, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    OK…..here I got 6 reasons to upgrade my D5100 to a D7XXX

  10. 10) Patrick Downs
    July 31, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    VERY useful and helpful … thanks!

  11. 11) Vick
    July 31, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Thank you. Very helpful. Looking forward to more tips.

  12. 12) John O'Hanlon
    July 31, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Thank you for this and this will be a great help for me to learn and use

  13. 13) Jose Carlos
    July 31, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    I have a D40 (my first), then a D300 and now a D7000; I still use D40 that I get better pics than the two others that I rarely use. Any tip?

    • July 31, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      Sorry, but I don’t have any tips for the D40, Jose. Maybe someone else does?

      • 13.1.1) Roberto Santoro
        August 1, 2014 at 5:41 am

        You can set Fn button to change Iso setting.
        D40 has also a fully customisable “my menu” which is far better then any other newer Nikon.

        • Jose Carlos
          August 1, 2014 at 8:19 pm

          Tks Santoro, As I said, I have some difficulty to manage D7000, but I’ll learn.

  14. 14) Ricardo Santos
    July 31, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Thank you, I knew all the six tricks and except for 5) I use them all, but I’m sure many people didn’t know and will really appreciate this post.

    Today while I was exploring my D700 I found an option I didn’t know it existed and it’s really great, not much to save time but more to prevent accidental changes.

    Menu -> Custom Settings Menu -> f Controls > f8 Shutter spd & aperture lock

    This option, when enabled prevents the shutter and/or aperture dial to change the values we have set.
    This is really useful when we’re shooting manual and don’t want to accidentally change these values for a while.

    Obviously it makes more sense if we have a simple way to enable/disable this feature so I assigned my FUNC. button to make this change, so from now on, if I need to lock my aperture/shutter values, I just press that button and lock my values.

    Thanks for sharing this post.


    • July 31, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      Thanks, Ricardo! That’s a good tip to know if you need to lock your settings and I love the fact that you can set the Fn button to quickly turn it on or off. Thanks for sharing!

  15. 15) Phillip M Jones
    July 31, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Uhh, I hate break it to John. He has several Tips he say should work on any camera.
    The tips you mention only works on cameras 7100 – and up the 3000 and 5oo series does not have many of the features you mention. I doubt seriously he ever looked at 3000, 3100, 3200, 3300, 5000, 5100, 5200, 5300 camera .None of those camera’s have Black & White LCD screen that is on top of camera next to the shutter. Everything you see and can do is either on the Color Display on back of camera or in view finder.

    The subject Title should be changed to all Pro and Prosumer cameras.

    • July 31, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      Phillip, I tried to note which cameras these would work on and think that at least #2 and #3 will work on any body. Can you confirm that they don’t and let me know which bodies you have so I can mention it? On #3 you’ll have to look in the viewfinder since you don’t have a top screen. I’m not trying to mislead anyone, just trying to help.

      • 15.1.1) Phillip M Jones
        August 1, 2014 at 6:14 pm

        Neither the 3000 series nor 5000 series uses dual SD Slots it one and one only. I have had a 3000 and now I won two 3200’s (really didn’t want two, but seems the store I bought it from sent it to a service center which lost it. Then after a purchased a replacement, it showed up fixed)

        Neither the 3000- 5000 series also have the LCD screen on top of the camera.

        • Patrick O'Connor
          August 1, 2014 at 7:38 pm

          Wow! You’re really focused, aren’t you!? ;-)

    • 15.2) Patrick O'Connor
      July 31, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      Well, he DID state it would be in the top screen OR in the viewfinder.

  16. 16) Jay Noe
    July 31, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Been shooting Nikon for years and learned something very useful from your post. I have pushed the + for years to zoom…I kinda feel a little bit stupid as this one feature you described is so useful.

    Thank you for the post.


  17. 17) Russ
    July 31, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Tricks? Proves you shouldn’t think you know it all and just read the manual. I had these all set up on my first Nikon after I read the manual!

    • 17.1) Patrick
      July 31, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      This guy was trying to help people. Your comment doesn’t help one bit.

  18. 18) Patrick O'Connor
    July 31, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    I knew about the ones that apply to my cameras but they’re worth repeating for those who don’t.

    The single most life-altering tip for me has been using the AF-On button to separate autofocus from the shutter button. I have no idea what all bodies this works on but it makes me smile every time I think about it! :-) See?

    • July 31, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      The AF-On focusing (back-button focusing) is great! I started using it last year and really love it. Thanks for mentioning it… I was going to add it to the next list if no one else said it. :)

  19. 19) Rory
    July 31, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    One I find useful is turning auto ISO on/off by pressing the ISO button and rotating the front command dial… not sure which models this works on besides the D800 and D4. While on ISO, also on the D4 and D800, you can reprogram the movie button to be another ISO button, which allows you to make all exposure adjustments with just your right hand.

    • July 31, 2014 at 7:30 pm

      Rory, you just made my day. I had never bothered to see what the Movie Record button options were. I just changed mine to ISO and think I’m going to love it! Thanks!

      • 19.1.1) Rory
        July 31, 2014 at 8:44 pm

        You are most welcome.

    • 19.2) Christ Clijsen
      August 10, 2014 at 6:19 am

      I knew this works on my D800, but I use 2 D700’s besides the D800 shooting a lot of events. Now I’m used to this function on my D800, and can’t find a solution to make the ISO easy accessible on my D700’s! Is there a workaround to easily change the ISO while looking through the viewfinder? I tried to make the preview or Fn button with wheels change my ISO, but can’t find a way to make it (also tried it with “top function of My Menu, but that only opens it on the screen and I still can’t change it while looking through the viewfinder & change my hands).

      • 19.2.1) Rory
        August 14, 2014 at 7:05 pm

        You are out of luck on the D700. C’est la vie.

  20. 20) John Clark
    July 31, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Awesome tips, John!

  21. 21) vijay kumar
    July 31, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    all tips are also possible with D70 camera

  22. 22) Anthony
    July 31, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks! Programming Function button to get me to delayed shutter release atop My Menu will save me lots of time and aggravation. Otherwise, very cumbersome.
    I can format 2 memory cards faster and without touching them from Format Mem Cards in Setup Menu. Allows me to select CF or SD and “just do it.”

  23. 23) Pete
    August 1, 2014 at 3:02 am

    I shoot wedding and product photography and keep forgetting to adjust flash settings from commander mode for product and TTL. The shooting menu will prove very useful, I intend to try it today. Really great article.

  24. 24) Pranav
    August 1, 2014 at 3:44 am

    Thanks John.

    Very fine tips. Knew some of them but wasn’t aware of the Formatting & the Buffer Indicator one. Good stuff. Also, Tip # 6 above for Instant Zoom during Playback was new to me until Nasim showed it & adjusted it on my D800 during the recent London Photo Walk he had kindly conducted :-) Lovely tip that one too.

    In all, very fine & useful tips. Much appreciated. Cheers..

  25. 25) Aditi Kashyap
    August 1, 2014 at 4:15 am

    Thanks a lot for the tips..:)

    It will be very helpful if you can tell how to enable multiple focus points in Nikon D5100.
    When ever I try to take portraits of my daughter I am not able to keep her both eyes in focus.

  26. 26) Roberto Santoro
    August 1, 2014 at 5:44 am

    Nothing about quick exposure compensation?

  27. 27) Shmuel
    August 1, 2014 at 6:04 am

    Nice collection, thank you.
    As for No. 5 (shooting banks) it is a shame Nikon don’t bother to endorse this option with the same functionality as the U1 U2 of the D7000 series. A real pity that the D800 series do not have the U1 U2 knob at all. However, they could at least program the shooting-banks in the same fashion, i.e., have the banks save the preferences so that one could always revert to them over again. The way it functions now is almost useless i.m.o.

    • 27.1) Marco
      August 1, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      I’ll take consumer grade U1-U7 dial positions over the “professional” shooting and custom banks any day!

      It is criminally stupid that that Nikon setting banks can’t be locked down. Unless one reloads the bank settings from a memory cards every time (only later bodies can even do this), the setting values aren’t remembered if changed. It’s hard to believe Nikon has never implemented a firmware option to freeze the desired settings in place.

  28. 28) Tommy
    August 1, 2014 at 7:34 am

    I started to notice some of these features myself when I got into wedding and candid photography. It takes some time to get used to but its definitely worth it as it saves so much time. Thanks for this great article!

  29. 29) Jim
    August 1, 2014 at 7:44 am


  30. 30) Mildred S Yip
    August 1, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Thank you so much for the above tips! I often wondered what the [r16] was all about!! Now to figure out how to keep my camera’s various other quirky issues!


  31. 31) Steve
    August 1, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Great tips. The best thing I discovered which has made the greatest improvement in focusing accuracy is using the AF-ON button to focus and lock focus while in AF-C mode. Now I control when to focus, not the camera.

    The My Menu is great, but sadly it does not allow you to put some of my most used options in it. I don’t know why – but you cannot put the Auto ISO controls “Maximum sensitivity” and “Minimum Shutter Speed” options on it. So for those, you still have to go through the menus. It even says “This item cannot be used in ‘MY MENU'” when you try to select them.

    Having a separate button for “Set Picture Control” helps too.

    Because my models both have the AF-ON and AE-L buttons, (D800/ D300) I can use both to quickly compose and focus my shots. I don’t like the fact that the D4s for example only has one button. So I am trying to figure out how I would be able to shoot with the same ease as I now do when I upgrade.

    I was at a family member’s wedding and the “pro” there had not learned the tip on how to remove the “beep beep” from her Canon camera. All through the ceremony and the vows “Beep Beep”, “Beep Beep”. Very unprofessional and thoughtless.

    • 31.1) Patrick
      August 1, 2014 at 9:56 am

      Wow, Beep beep from a Pro!!?? That’s the first thing I turn off. I’ve been known to turn it off for other people too. Annoying, to say the least, but during a wedding?

  32. 32) David
    August 1, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Great and useful information here. The format tip blew me away
    Looking forward to your writing a follow up article with more tips


  33. 33) Jerrie
    August 1, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Thank you, I’m still very new to all this went from a simple Nikon 3200 to a Nikon D800… A lot to learn but if I’m gonna take the time to learn I wanted it to be worth it. So thank you for the great tips. Can’t wait for more!! Having fun with my AWSOME camera.
    Thanks again, Jerrie

  34. 34) Manolis
    August 1, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Hallo to everybody. Mr. Boshley, why would anyone take in and out the memory cards to formate them? Besides the two external buttons for formating, if you go in the menu at formating, the camera gives a very obvious choice of which card to formate. Choose one and off you go! It works this way on all Nikons with two card slots. That was really a weird way to formate cards.


    • 34.1) Tonio
      August 1, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      Yeah the quick format “trick” didn’t seem useful to me — I don’t mind a little friction when performing an operation that may accidentally destroy useful data. The other stuff is nice to know, though.

    • August 4, 2014 at 10:34 am

      Hi Manolis, that’s just the way I used to format my cards because I never knew any other way. Some people just do things weird until they find a better way to do them! :)

      • 34.2.1) Patrick O'Connor
        August 4, 2014 at 10:42 am

        You are SUCH a nice guy! A lot of people act like jerks on the internet (I do more than I care to admit), rather than speaking as they would face-to-face. You, on the other hand, handle praise as well as negative criticism like a gentleman.

        • Profile photo of John Bosley John Bosley
          August 4, 2014 at 10:56 am

          Thanks, Patrick. It’s way too easy to get worked up over little things. I just prefer to smile and accept the fact that even on something as simple as formatting memory cards, there won’t ever be a “right” way that everyone agrees on.

          • Steve
            August 4, 2014 at 11:02 am

            That’s an excellent attitude John. Too many people think that the way they have chosen to operate is what everyone else should follow. They assume that everyone shoots the way they do, and there is only one way to do something.

            I like your style … you state tips that you find useful, and let people decide what works for them and their needs. You can tell from your wording that you don’t think you know more than everyone else in the world … like some others do. You have a kindness and humility that I wish everyone had …

            • Profile photo of John Bosley John Bosley
              August 4, 2014 at 11:10 am

              Thanks for noticing and sharing that Steve. I’m sincere when I say that my day is better because of it. :)

  35. 35) Steve
    August 1, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    I would never, ever format cards with photos on them, in the camera, or on the computer. I don’t know how many horror stories I have read about people losing photos by doing this either in the camera or on a computer.

    When I am done a shoot … I drag and drop (copy) all the photos onto my C: drive into a new folder. Then I do the same to a Network external drive, and then I do a third drag and drop to a USB external drive only this time I hold down the shift key and it becomes a MOVE instead of a copy. When the move takes place, for every file on the card, it does a copy, then verifies the file is on the destination drive, and then it deletes the file from the card. You can never accidentally photos this way, and you always have at least 3 copies on different drives at all times for every photo. I also can put a copy onto my website as an added offsite backup. When your move is done, your card is empty and ready for the next shoot. No need for deletes, or formatting, and thus no chance for accidents.

    • 35.1) Patrick O'Connor
      August 1, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      I’d always heard and read that you should format the cards, frequently, to refresh them and, thereby, avoid problems as the card(s) gradually degrade more quickly otherwise. The rest of your process is undoubtedly a good workflow.

      • 35.1.1) Steve
        August 1, 2014 at 3:05 pm

        Yes, I have heard the same thing, but I have never formatted my cards and have not had a problem. However, I did not say not to format empty cards. I only mentioned never formatting cards with photos on them. If the cards are empty … format away … that won’t change the workflow at all.

        • Patrick O'Connor
          August 1, 2014 at 3:24 pm

          Your last sentence confused me. Unfortunately, that gets easier all the time and even in my youth, wasn’t especially difficult! ;-)

        • Gav
          August 2, 2014 at 2:15 am

          Steve, the cards are never empty. Even if deleted which I’m sure you know. Formatting resets links and helps prevent problems. I had a ghosting image that was 2 photos. One from a former delete and the one I had just taken. I like the idea of the shift delete ensuring a complete copy however a format is still a good idea to help prevent your present set of photos being compromised

          • Steve
            August 3, 2014 at 9:53 pm

            Yes, as I said, formatting an empty card will not affect the workflow I was recommending. I have heard people say that formatting the card is a good thing to do – but I have only formatted my cards once – when brand new. I haven’t had any issues yet — and I have been reusing the cards for many years. However, I don’t buy cheap cards either. I don’t power off my camera when it is writing to the card. I don’t pull out the card with the camera on, etc. And when I am on a weekend shoot for a race, for example, I will shoot about 80GB worth of photos in 2 days. Now I am just curious how long I can go before I will need to format them a second time. :)

            If you only format an empty card then you will never lose a picture in doing that. My point was about not losing photos not about formatting …

            If you have a corrupted card, then formatting may correct it. However, it will not prevent the card from getting corrupted in the first place.

            • Steve
              August 3, 2014 at 11:40 pm

              The D800 manual states:

              “Format the Memory Card … Memory cards must be formatted before first use or after being used or formatted in other devices.”

              Technically the first ‘or’ should be ‘and’ … but that being said … It recommends formatting the card before the first use, and again if you use the card in something else. Which is exactly what I have followed. And note that at no time did I recommend when to format your cards … I only stated my experience. What I recommended was the workflow to ensure you never lose a photo.

    • 35.2) sceptical1
      August 6, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      I really like your move idea. I don’t know why I never thought of this! I always make a couple copies immediately and don’t format the cards for a few days (I have 16 cards that I rotate across Nikons and Oly’s) so that if something happened there would be a copy on the card. I also do a lazy store (usually just bulk a bunch to the web, very time consuming though) So far, I have not lost photos, but I like your immediate 3rd copy even better than my current system. I will be updating to this as it is very logical!

  36. 36) Guest
    August 1, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Great stuff, John! Question: any tricks/buttons on the Nikon menus to help us make a good picture? ;-)

  37. 37) Bernard Doughty
    August 2, 2014 at 3:39 am

    A camera button configuration that I have found to be very useful, is to set the function button to disable the flash. f Controls – Assign FUNC. button (D700). This means that while using the flash, rather than turning it off to take a non flash photo, you can just press and hold the function button for that particular photo, then release it to resume with the flash. A very quick method.

    • August 4, 2014 at 10:40 am

      Bernard, that’s an awesome tip! I’ve always found it very cumbersome to turn off the SB-800 in the middle of shooting, especially if it’s only for a few photos. For me, this is an extremely useful tip! Thank you!

  38. 38) gregorylent
    August 2, 2014 at 4:02 am

    love the instant zoom!

  39. 39) Judy
    August 2, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    Thank you for this article, yes the instant zoom is great.
    Every tip helps. I also was told about back button auto focus which I am getting used too.

    • August 4, 2014 at 10:40 am

      You’re welcome, Judy. The back button focus is great, but it does take a bit of getting used to.

  40. 40) Martin Strban
    August 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Nice tips; thank you for the column, John. The buffer one will be particularly useful.

    One feature I’ve been using on my D800 (& also works on D810) comes from Moose Peterson’s D800 settings from 2012. Go to Custom Setting Menu d7, item B & activate Show ISO/Easy ISO. With this feature in A (or S) priority, your command dial will allow you to control ISO! In other words, with your shooting hand you can control ISO, aperture (or shutter speed) and exposure value.

    It is surprising that Nikon doesn’t advertise or play-up this feature (or that other photographers don’t mention it). I suppose the name “Easy ISO” makes one leery of using it (or everyone is shooting Auto ISO). Anyways, I find it incredibly powerful for my shooting.


    Martin Strban

    • August 4, 2014 at 10:42 am

      That’s a great tip, Martin! I always shoot in manual, so I never would have discovered this one on my own, but it will be valuable to a lot of people. Thanks for sharing!

    • 40.2) sceptical1
      August 6, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Hi Martin

      This is a great one and also works on the D7100 (custom D3)

  41. 41) John Richardson
    August 3, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    NUMBER 1:

    You may be one of the lucky ones who gets away with not reformatting your cards, but the day those links break because you haven’t taken care of them will be the last day you think you got away with it. Backing up is not going to help a bad card, ever. Not reformatting after each use or at least a couple uses is the worst advice I have ever heard. I suggest you do some heavy polling of professionals and engineers before you give this bad advice. Why you even formatted your cards in the manner you started out with is time consuming, wasteful and completely unnecessary. Which Nikon Camera Manual did you find that in???

    As an engineer in the digital age for over 40 years I will give this advice: Reformat your cards, no matter what John Bosley says. It is better to know your have a failed card before you shoot than after you think you have photos to recover. Oh, yeah, and it doesn’t matter how expensive your cards are, DO IT ANYWAY.

    • 41.1) John Richardson
      August 3, 2014 at 11:22 pm

      oops forgot: Try reading the D800 Manual on page 32 and 326.

      If you haven’t read Thom Hogan’s ‘Complete Guide to the Nikon D800/800E, version 1.05″, I suggest you buy it, as a D800 owner, and I suggest you look at page 144, “Card Troubleshooting” LOST CLUSTERS — copyright Thom Hogan, which prevents me legally from cutting and pasting here.

      Thom has been around the digital world a long long time also, and not just in cameras. His words for thousands of Nikon photographers is that of complete and total trust.

      • 41.1.1) John Richardson
        August 4, 2014 at 12:17 am

        Edit: Should be directed to “Steve” for not formatting
        To John for the strange way he formatted his cards.

        Sorry guys way too early in the morning for me I guess.

        • Steve
          August 4, 2014 at 10:04 am

          Wow John, you need to take a breath and think before posting so many errors.

          You posted a comment accusing the wrong person of giving bad advice.
          You accused someone of giving bad advice about formatting when I simply said that “I” would never format cards WITH PHOTOS ON THEM … and I certainly stand by that. That is not advice, that is stating what I do. That is not advice.
          You actually give advice which contradicts what the D800 manual states (which is fine but I would not do that)
          You replied outside of the thread you were commenting on.

          I quoted the D800 manual – stating when to format – which is what I have been following and all that I had stated. Everyone is free to follow whatever advice they want. I follow the Nikon manuals. I have never lost a photo nor had a bad card in shooting hundreds of thousands of photos. I advised people to never format cards WITH PHOTOS ON THEM. I didn’t ever state not to ever format cards. I stated what I did – not what other people should do – as your post did.

          My comments were about workflow because of so many posts where people have lost photos because they don’t have a proper workflow for how to get their photos transferred to their computers. And they formatted cards with photos on them. Had they followed my workflow (whether they format the cards or not) they would never have lost a photo when they did perform their formats. It wasn’t about the formatting – it was that they were formatting with photos on the cards as a way to clear the photos off the cards. If they were formatting for another reason I didn’t even address that.

          You totally missed the point, and accused someone of something they didn’t do, and even accused the wrong person. I did not advise people not to format, and I certainly didn’t give advice in ALL CAPS as you did. I merely stated my personal workflow, what I do, and the reasons behind why I do it that way. I didn’t tell anyone to follow what I did – as you did in your post.

          Please chill out and read the posts carefully before commenting, and you likely won’t end up falsely accusing two different people.

    • August 4, 2014 at 10:52 am

      John, wow it must have been early in the morning, but I’m glad you caught your mistakes and corrected them. :)

      I never found my way of formatting in a manual, it’s just how I used to do it. Just like you tie your shoes a certain way or cook spaghetti… you do it how you do it and get a result that works for you. It might not be how everyone else does it, there might be a better way of doing it, but it for you it works.

      I’d suggest in the future you re-read your posts and make sure you’re clear on what you’re saying and who you’re saying it to before hitting that “post comment” button. I don’t have a problem with criticism, but when you criticize the wrong person for things they never said things get confusing.

      • 41.2.1) John Richardson
        August 4, 2014 at 11:28 am

        I surely owe everyone a big apology. I clearly had my head up where the sun doesn’t shine and there is no excuse for me bing a jerk. I am very sorry. I promise, John and Steve, that will not happen again.
        I have always enjoyed this forum/blog and I can not believe I sullied it.

        Please accept my apology. None of you deserved to talked(typed) to like that.


        • Profile photo of John Bosley John Bosley
          August 4, 2014 at 11:51 am

          No worries, John. Apology accepted.

          It’s way too easy to blast off a comment without thinking about what you’re saying and I’m sure we’ve all done it before. Thanks for being active on the blog posts and being a part of the community!

        • Steve
          August 4, 2014 at 11:56 am

          No problem John, … I’m glad you have such a good sense of humour about it!

          You made me laugh!

  42. 42) Roger Fisher
    August 4, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    What tips do you have for us D3200 users?

  43. 43) Alanc
    August 6, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Sorry I’m a little late in catching up on this great item.

    I have used the zoom on playback for some years now (way-back on my D200) but I never knew that it zoomed onto the focus point. I do now!!

    With regard to formatting, I had to send back to Nikon a fouled up D300 because (inadvertently) I made some shots on a card I had some D200 shots on. On the next power up of the D300, the poor camera didn’t know what camera it was because of the two types of files. It threw a wobbly and decided not to boot up. Out of habit, and experience, I will ALWAYS, IMMEDIATELY, format a card I have just placed in a camera.

    • 43.1) Steve
      August 6, 2014 at 9:53 am

      Yes, as the Nikon manual states, you should format all new cards, and any cards that were used in other devices before using it in your camera. If you are not sure – then format it anyway – but I would never format a card that had photos on it (as I described earlier).

      • 43.1.1) Phillip M Jones
        August 6, 2014 at 12:17 pm

        If you are going to reformat a Card with photo’s on it, save the photos first to your Computer, then Reformat.

        If and I mean IF, the photos came from the same model camera, or possibly same model series you can always:
        1). Remove card from Camera.
        2). plug into computer when Mounts copy the entire folder to computer.
        (On a Mac hold down option key and drag to the desktop.)
        3). Now dismount the card.
        (On a Mac hold down control key while clicking on the Card’s Icon appears as an external Drive)
        4). A Context menu appears.
        5). Choose Eject Name of card (whatever card’s name is). Icon will disappear from screen.
        6). Now remove from Card slot.
        7.) Insert back into camera and Reformat.

        If you want to add pictures Back Open the backup folder you just created.

        A). Insert card (or replacement card) you formatted back in computer.
        B). Open up each sub folder within the Folder Created to find the picture files
        (will be jpeg or NEF or Raw or whatever your files format is.)
        C). Now locate the same folder on Formatted card.
        D). Select all Files (on Mac use ⌘ – A / Select All) and drag to the same folder on Card.
        E). Once files have completed downloading, Eject SD card again and insert in Camera.
        f). When you turn on Camera you should see your pictures on the newly formatted card.
        Don’t do this if your going from say a D3200 Nikon to a D5200 or D7100.
        But if going to another D3200, or possibly a 3300, or from a D5100 to a D5200, or D5300 (have to be same Series 3000,5000,7000) then its Okay.

        I have done this myself with no ill effects. I moved some pictures from my D3000 which I sold (and reformatted card afterwards before selling) to my D32000.

        If this doesn’t Work out for you simply reformat the card again before using.

        • Steve
          August 6, 2014 at 12:38 pm

          There are lots of people who do that exact thing, and then lose photos because they don’t notice the copy failed, or they miss an entire folder on the card, and they choose to only take one copy as your steps seem to indicate.

          So my workflow as I listed above:

          1 – I drag and drop (copy) all the photos onto my C: drive into a new folder.
          2 – I do the same to a Network external drive
          3 – I do a third drag and drop to a USB external drive only this time I hold down the shift key and it becomes a MOVE instead of a copy.

          When the move takes place, for every file on the card, it does a copy, then verifies that file is on the destination drive, and then it deletes that file from the card. It does that file by file. You can never accidentally photos this way, and you always have at least 3 copies on different drives at all times for every photo. When your move is done, your card is empty and ready for the next shoot.

          The key is not to do just one copy or move.

          If your card is not empty – then you didn’t move it properly and you know something is wrong. Otherwise, on a copy you would have no way of knowing, unless you compare file by file – size by size – that everything is there. If you have time to kill you can do that but you are still subject to mistakes and lost photos.

          So if you put your card back in the camera and it shows photos – then you know that a process failed and your photos are not backed up the way you think they are. A good way to find out you are about to lose photos you thought you had.

          Thus, if you get in the habit of never formatting cards with photos on them – you will never run the risk of this happening. And from the postings I see – it happens quite a lot.

          I don’t know about that mount and unmount stuff – that’s what we used to have to do in the old days when computers were made of wood. :)

          • Phillip M Jones
            August 6, 2014 at 2:45 pm

            Mac and PC have different terms for doing the same thing.
            You turn off your camera before ejecting your SD card.
            When you insert into SD Slot of your Computer or card reader, you are Mounting the card as if it is another Hard drive. After you have finished copying the Card of Files on the Card. You choose eject (which is dismounting the card. Mac do that for safety. When a Eject command is given it tells the computer to make sure all files are copied and no activity on card before dismounting or ejecting.)

            You can duplicate the Copy as many times as many places as you want. When You open an SD Card on a Mac you see two Folders on Nikon Formatted cards. One has no Picture/Graphics Files. The other if opened up may show several sub folders of Photos depending upon how you use your camera. Or there may be just a series of picture Files.

            One way to Make Sure you get everything is Click on th SD Cards Icon to Highlight. Hold down the Option Key (Mac computer and keyboard) while dragging the Icon of the SD Card to another folder. You’ll notice as your Dragging the image will show a + symbol next to it. It is moving, this indicates copying. Once you have reached your destination folder, release to drop in that folder. When you go to to destination folder and open your copy of the SD Card files everything is Copied that is on the SD card. (I am using SD Card as an example because most Nikons – not all- use SD Cards I think the Mirror-less cameras use something else, and some of the full Frames use a combination and of course other Companies may use something different.

            The General Premise is the same.

            Can a Novice or someone that’s never tried this before miss some pictures. Sure if they are not careful. They need to look into every folder on the card and see where all the Photos are, and make sure they copy all the photos.

            What they can do is practice on a card with pictures that are of no value. Or that you have several backups of.

            Another point to bring up Software Programs such as LightRoom and similar can read photo’s from these file copies as well. So you can use this to place in Photo software and upload through them to your Photo Services such as Flikr , Picasa, ShutterFly or whatever you use.

            • Steve
              August 6, 2014 at 7:39 pm

              Thanks for the tips – as an I.T. Consultant for more than 30 years I do know how computers function.

              A safe workflow is not just for novices. Novices and Pros can all make mistakes. The whole point of my workflow is that it is foolproof. It works for every kind of card … CF, SD, Micro SD … The process is the same, and you are assured of not losing photos on any kind of card. There is no manual checking of files, file sizes, file dates, or comparing folders. It is simple, fast, and foolproof.

              This is so simple – yet so many people are asking how to recover from a mistaken format and lost photos. The problem is not their mistaken checking of the files, the problem is that the checking was not even necessary in the first place.

              Yes, you can do all kinds of time consuming checking and comparing but I would rather not have to do that since it is not necessary. With each manual check there is a possibility of error and thus the chance for disaster. A workflow that has eliminated risks is better even if it is more complex. This is not only less risky, but simpler and faster. It is a win, win – but you are all free to do whatever you like.

              I don’t have time to check over thousands of files every time I am done a shoot to see if I “got them all” when the computer can do it perfectly for me. It is time wasted simply for not following a risk free workflow process. The less time I waste checking over files the more time I can be out shooting. We use computers to do the mundane things like this exact example – for accuracy and safety. So I let it. But hey – I am lazy.

  44. 44) sceptical 1
    August 6, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    I do make a couple copies on import with Lightroom. First I import into Lightroom, then immediately export to a NAS (RAID 5 ). The NAS is backed up nightly to a second NAS. Finally every two weeks I backup to the web. As a final precaution. I rotate memory cards so a copy is normally on the card for a few days after import in case something goes wrong. It’s simple and mostly automated. I haven’t lost pictures yet, but you never know. ..an SD card could easily fail!

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