Over the past few months of owning the Nikon D850 I can say I truly love this camera and find it to be such an incredible tool to my creativity and workflow. That being said, it is also a camera that can be refined to your personal shooting style and preferences. I do this each time I get a new body by going into the Menu and creating a more personal "My Settings" menu where I add my most used and favorite camera settings within this one area. This helps so I don't have to go rooting around each menu and sub-menu finding that one thing I'm looking for each and every time, like Shutter Delay or Focus Shift Shooting - two of my most commonly used settings being a landscape photographer.
In this blog post I'm going to briefly explain what each setting means and does as well as allow you to download a small .bin file that has all of these settings and button customizations applied to the camera. All you have to do is download this file, insert it into your Nikon D850, Load these settings and voilá! Done! After downloading and loading this file, your camera will operate in this same fashion as mine and all of these settings I have here can easily be tweaked and modified by you to match your preferred setup.
Update since publishing this post: I wanted to add a couple of comments here so the downloader understands the settings theys will be getting overall:
Color Space: Adobe
Single point A/F point, Continuous
14 bit RAW uncompressed
Large RAW, Large jpeg
Primary card slot: XQD with SD as backup set to L jpeg
Long Exposure Noise Reduction: Off
Image Review: On (simply means after every shot the screen will pop on and you can see your previous image. Very important!)
Rotate Tall: On (simply means your vertical images will now be "normal" on the screen and rotated, not sideways. Trust me here, you want this.)
*You will need to update your Copyright settings under the Settings menu after you perform this install.
Note: I recommend inserting an empty SD card into the camera's SD card slot and formatting it and "saving" your current settings to that card. You can easily re-insert your card and "load" your settings back onto your camera. It's just a simple safety net to ease your mind.
Once you download the .bin file at the bottom of this page or here, simply drag/drop or copy/paste this file into the root directory of that SD card which simply means when you navigate in Finder (Mac) or Explorer (Windows) you'll see Nikon d850 and upon opening that file you will also see a DCIM and NIKON. Place this .bin file next to the DCIM and Nikon and not inside either.
To Save and Load these settings perform these steps:
Menu --> Setup Menu --> Save/load settings --> and in the next screen toggle down to Load and that's it!
Note: now the button Fn2 on the back of your camera just below OK will be a "hot button" taking you into your new MY MENU
Focus Shift Shooting - this is Nikon's imbedded software that takes the difficulty out of focus stacking in the field. Up to this point each camera I have owned has required me to stack as I shoot by manually changing the focusing distance with each frame slowly from my closest focal point to infinity. Now this is done in-camera and with a couple of clicks of a button. It's amazing! I also currently have my Pv button on the front of my camera configured to access the top item in My Menu, which is Focus Shift Shooting so all I have to do is hit this button with my finger and it pulls me immediately into the FSS menu.
To briefly explain FSS, it is intended to take any number from 1 to 300 images at a user set Focus Step Width from 1 - 10 which simply means how much each photos focal difference varies to the next: 1, the camera's focus shifts minimally, 10 is much more. Think of a macro photographer, each "step" or time you would rotate your focus ring you would most likely want to move this just a tiny amount - e.g. a step width of 1 - which would also result in a high shutter count. As a landscape photographer, I have my Focus Step Width set to 3 and will set my No. of Shots to somewhere between 5 and 7, sometimes going up to 10, but rarely. I find the Step Width of 3 to be a pretty ideal number.
Exposure Delay Mode - This is simply how long after you depress the shutter button before the camera actually takes a photo. I have this set to .5 second being I shoot with my 14-24mm f/2.8 ultra-wide 90% or more of the time and I just want a little "damping" or "settling" before the camera fires to reduce vibration. If I am using my 70-200 f/4 I will set this to 3 seconds to allow for longer settling.
Image Size - This will allow you to quickly adjust your file size of each image: Jpeg and RAW.
Self-Timer - This setting will allow you choose how long the cmaera waits before taking a photo, the number of images that are taken in total and interval between each image. I like mine set to have a 2 second delay, 5 images and .5 seconds between each image.
Time Lapse Movie - This is a really cool and useful setting Nikon introduced with this camera that automatically takes a time lapse and joins it into a movie you can later edit upon import into your preferred editing software. It's really slick! You operate it just the same as Interval Shooting in the past, but now you get a video file output with this "stitching" done for you thereby not requiring a third party editing software to join all of these frames together. The settings that come included in this download are a great starting point for you to get going with your first shoot, but to briefly explain what each setting with this menu does I'll go into this real quick here:
*Tip: I prefer Aperture Priority mode anytime I'm shooting and before you let your camera go with this Time Lapse feature it is best to quickly take a test-shot checking exposure, sharpness and your histogram making sure everything looks good. Aperture Priority mode will also help ensure a well balanced time-lapse output at the end.
Interval - how long between each photo the camera waits to take another image. This should be set longer than the slowest anticipated shutter speed during your shoot.
Shooting Time - your total shooting time you anticipate. This is setup in hours, minutes and seconds.
Exposure Smoothing - the camera automatically adjusts its exposure a small amount from shot to shot helping to ensure a smooth transition between frames.
Silent Photography - this feature is really nice as it makes your D850 slightly like a mirrorless system as it locks up your mirror and, in a way, activates your sensor to "expose" a frame at each interval electronically. This also creates for an even smoother exposure not only from the absence of mirror slap, but Nikon built into the camera's firmware an algorithm that helps prevent jitters from frame to frame that occur in other cameras. This is set to "On" in the file download.
Interval Timer Shooting - I wish Nikon would make this setting more user-friendly and intuitive to the everyday user, which is everyone, literally! I don't know why it's so cryptic and being honest with all of you, it goes without fail I make a mistake here from time to time. But, if you understand the settings above in Time Lapse Movie and the sub-settings of Interval all you need to take away from Interval xShots/Interval is this: each number you place to the left of the "x" will multiply that nuber by the Interval, in this case it is "1" so you'll have whatever value you inptu for each of the four Shots blanks multiplied by 1 giving an opportunity of 9999 images taken. Go buy some additional XQD cards ;~)
Image Review - I have this set to On to be able to preview every image I take immediately after I take it. I can't tell you how important this is from a workflow standpoint and checking your exposure fast!
Monitor Brightness - This is set to "0", but feel free to turn it up or down, based on your preference.
Clean Image Sensor - Does just this either now, when you want this to happen, or a user-defined time. I have this set to perform this function at startup and shutdown.
Lock Up Mirror for Cleaning - You must have a fully charged battery to perform this function. The camera locks up the mirror so you can clean sensor dust from the sensor that the built-in cleaning doesn't get rid of. Access this menu setting and press OK, you shutter will be raised until you turn off your camera.
Note: I am not encouraging you to perform this on your own, the sensor is very delicate. I assume no responsibility for damages you incur.
Format Memory Card - Will open the option to format your XQD and SD. Press OK once the desired slot is selected.
Peaking Highlight Colors - I have this set to Yellow. You can choose from any of the colors in this menu that you prefer. To utilize Focus-peaking on your D850 simply switch your camera into Manual A/F mode via the focus mode selector on the front of the camera to the left of the lens. This will disengage the A/F motor and now you will see the peaking color you've selected. Whatever is in "yellow" is in-focus.
Time Zone & Date - A quick reference to get into your time-zone settings. Be sure! to update these when traveling outside your time-zone and before starting up a timelapse, it will really help your workflow later in post-processing and specifically the cataloging of your images.
A/F Fine-Tune - You can save fine tuning values for specific lenses when they are mounted on your camera for greater accuracy. I recommend reading Nikon's How-To here to read the steps on how to perform this function. You really need to be careful here though as you don't want to create a value that is "off" the camera will then recognize as being "in focus".
Thanks for reading this post and I hope you find it helpful to you and your experience shooting in the field. If you would like to follow along on future emails and newsletters, please sign up to my email Newsletter!
Nikon D850 settings file download