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Basic Camera Setup
Amur Tiger Cub – Dave Shaner (dave_17531)
Nikon has a new flagship DX camera, the Nikon D7100!
With a camera body design and internal operating system upgraded from the
mature and very stable Nikon D7000 and many of the same internal hardware
features as the Nikon D600 and D800—including the new, very powerful EXPEED
3 dual-core microprocessor system—the Nikon D7100 is the ultimate advancedenthusiast DX camera.
Many photographers prefer the DX sensor because of its high-quality image
capability, extra telephoto reach, and lower-cost lenses. The camera body is the
perfect size for a person with an active, outdoor lifestyle or someone who appreciates a compact, yet powerful, genuine high-definition single-lens reflex (HD-SLR)
The D7100 has everything an enthusiast photographer needs to bring home
incredibly good images, without jumping through hoops. The massive resolution
of the 24 megapixel (MP) sensor, with a wide dynamic range and no anti-aliasing
(AA or blur) filter, makes the D7100 one of the world’s best DX cameras for advanced enthusiast photographers.
The image is what counts, and the Nikon D7100 can deliver some of the highest-quality images out there. It’s a robust camera body designed to last.
4 Basic Camera Setup
New Nikon cameras will come out, and, like me, you’ll be attracted to them.
However, with the D7100 you won’t have to buy a new camera unless you really
want to. It will last for many years!
Now, let’s learn how to configure and use your new D7100.
Learning about the Nikon D7100
In Mastering the Nikon D7100 I’ve tried to balance the needs of new and experienced users. I remember my first digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera and my
confusion about how to configure it compared to my old film SLR. What’s all this
histogram, white balance, and color space stuff?
The Nikon D7100 is a rather complex camera, and it requires a careful study of
resources, like this book, to really get a grasp on the large range of features and
functions. According to Nikon, the D7100 is an advanced camera, with features not
found in lesser consumer models. It’s designed for people who really love photography and have a passion for image making that far exceeds just taking some nice
pictures at a family event.
In addition to all the features of the mature Nikon D7000, the D7100 adds features found in the D5200, D600, and D800, which professionals use to make a living. In fact, the Nikon D7100 is becoming the camera of choice for many pros who
want a backup camera or a smaller, lighter camera for pleasure use while hiking,
skydiving, and going on underwater adventures. With its magnesium-alloy frame,
Learning about the Nikon D7100 5
the camera body is robust
enough to take abuse and
Following the publication of my books Mastering the Nikon D600 and
Mastering the Nikon D800,
I compared the D600, D800,
and D7100 side by side. I’m
here to tell you that the
Nikon D7100 has all the critical functions found in the
D800—including the advanced 51-point autofocus
system—and it extends the
feature set of the D7000.
If you are the type of
photographer who wants
to take full control of your photography, you will find no limitations with the
Nikon D7100. You can turn off the automatic functions and take full manual control of all aspects of camera operation, or you can use semiautomatic modes, such
as Aperture-­priority auto (A) or Shutter-priority auto (S), to control one important
feature, and the camera backs you up by controlling the rest.
For photographers who want some creative camera assistance, the D7100 has
seven cool effects functions that originally appeared in the Nikon D5200: Night
vision, Miniature effect, Selective color, Silhouette, Color sketch, and High and
Low key.
If you want to loan your camera to a friend or family member who knows little
about photography, the D7100 has a full AUTO mode that lets the camera decide
how to make amazingly good images for an inexperienced person. If an amateur photographer wants to get a little more creative, the camera offers 16 Scene
modes, such as Close up, Portrait, Party/indoor, Sunset, Pet portrait, and Child.
Additionally, the D7100 has a full range of retouch functions that allow you to
shoot images and post-process them in the camera instead of on your computer.
If you don’t like computers but want to take digital photographs and videos, the
Nikon D7100 is the camera for you!
Finally, the Nikon D7100 has a very powerful video subsystem that allows you
to record H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) compressed Full HD movies on the camera’s memory cards, or you can stream uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2
video to an external video recorder through the camera’s HDMI port.
6 Basic Camera Setup
I could rave for hours about all the cool features in the D7100. In fact, I do rave
about this camera for the next 520 pages. I hope you can sense my enthusiasm for
this cool new imaging machine as you read this book. There are few cameras in the
world with this capability level, and you own one (or will soon)!
What Is the Purpose of This Book?
People who buy advanced HD-SLR cameras, such as the Nikon D7100, are usually fairly familiar with photography and photographic principles, otherwise they
would probably not buy an advanced enthusiast camera.
The Mastering the Nikon DSLR series, of which this book is number 10, is not
about photographic technique. Advanced enthusiasts already know good technique and don’t need me to tell them how to create a picture. There are plenty of
great books out there that explain the basics of photography and, if you are like
me, you probably own several. If you need photographic technique training, consider my book Beyond Point-and-Shoot: Learning to Use a Digital SLR or Interchangeable-Lens Camera. It focuses on the important basics of digital photography.
Instead of photo technique, this book focuses on the camera itself. To make excellent photographic images, you can’t spend time fumbling around with camera
controls, trying to figure out what a button does or where to go in the menu system to find certain settings. Mastering the Nikon D7100 covers every part of your
new camera in exquisite detail. If you take the
time to go through this book with your camera in hand, you will improve how you use
it, which will improve your photography.
Is this book a camera manual? Yes and
no. It covers most of the material found in
the Nikon D7100 User’s Manual; however,
instead of showing just a single black-andwhite screenshot of a menu with a
few words of explanation, this
book shows the entire flow
of each function with all the
available screens and menu
selections for step-by-step
configuration. It discusses
each camera function in
full detail so you’re not left
trying to figure things out
on your own.
Downloadable Resources Website 7
This book compiles all the available information on each camera function in
one place so you don’t have to jump from here to there, like in the user’s manual.
Finally, I offer configuration recommendations for each setting as a starting point
for your own experimentation with that setting.
Each camera menu has its own chapter or section. Plus there is additional information on how to bring it all together in chapters like Metering, Exposure
Modes, and Histogram; White Balance; Autofocus, AF-Area, and Release
Modes; Live View Photography; and Speedlight Flash. Since the D7100 has a
movie mode, we’ll cover video capture in a separate chapter, Movie Live View.
Things to Know When Reading This Book
Here are a few things that you’ll need to remember as you read this book. There
are a lot of buttons and controls on the camera body. I have provided a Camera
Body Reference section in the front of the book and a document titled Camera
Control Reference that you can download from the website for this book. See the
links to the downloadable resources in the next section.
Turn to the Camera Body Reference when you want to locate a control, including covers and doors. The Camera Control Reference provides a deeper discussion of each button, dial, and switch on the camera.
I use Nikon-assigned names for the controls on the camera, as found in the
Nikon D7100 User’s Manual. For instance, I may say something like “press the Playback zoom out/thumbnails (ISO) button” to show you how to execute a particular
function, and you’ll need to know where this button is located. Use the Camera
Body Reference in the front of the book to memorize the locations of the camera
I provide page number references to the Nikon D7100 User’s Manual at the beginning of most sections in case you want to refer to it for additional information.
Using the Nikon manual is entirely optional and is not required to fully learn how to
use your camera with this book. If you have no interest in using the Nikon manual,
simply ignore the page number references.
Downloadable Resources Website
Several chapters in this book have references to downloadable resources that provide additional information on particular subjects. You can go to either of these
websites and download all the available documents:
8 Basic Camera Setup
Although the D7100 is an advanced enthusiasts’ camera, some people purchase a D7100 as their first DSLR-type camera. New users may not know how to
attach and remove a lens or change the battery, and they may need help with inserting and formatting memory cards, so I created a document called Initial Hardware Considerations that is available on the downloadable resources website.
Now, let’s start with the initial configuration of a brand new Nikon D7100. There
are five specific steps you must complete when you first turn on the camera.
Five Steps for First-Time Camera Configuration
This section is devoted to first-time configuration of the camera. There are certain
settings that must be set up immediately (covered in this section) and others that
should be configured before you use the camera extensively (covered in a later
section of this chapter, Camera Functions for Initial Configuration). I won’t go
into detail on all possible settings in this chapter. Those details are reserved for the
individual chapters that cover the various menus and functions. The later chapters
will cover virtually all camera settings.
With previous Nikon camera models, after you insert a battery into a just-outof-the-box camera, the word CLOCK normally flashes on the camera’s upper Control panel or Information display (rear Monitor). When I first turned on my brand
new Nikon D7100, I was expecting to see the flashing word, but it wasn’t there.
Instead, the Control panel was blank, except for a battery charge indicator in the
upper left corner. Nothing else appeared on the Control panel until I completed
the five-step initial setup, then a normal Control panel display was activated.
If you ever see the word CLOCK flashing on any camera display, it means the
camera’s internal clock has not been set. We will review and set the clock during
the final step of the five-step initial setup.
When you insert the EN-EL15 battery, the camera will use it to charge the internal clock battery. This is a separate, non-user-replaceable battery that takes about
two days to fully charge. When the clock battery is fully charged, it will power the
clock for about three months without a main battery in the camera.
Let’s examine how to configure a new camera. You’ll see the following five
screens when you first turn on the camera, and they must be set up immediately.
Setting the Language – Step 1
The D7100 is multilingual or multinational. As partially shown in figure 1.1, the
menus can be displayed in 32 languages. Most likely the camera will already be
configured to the language spoken in your area since various world distributors
preconfigure the camera somewhat.
Five Steps for First-Time Camera Configuration 9
Here are the steps to select your language:
1. Refer to figure 1.1 for the Language list the camera presents on startup.
2. Use the Multi selector on the back of the camera—with arrows pointing left, right, up, and
down—to scroll up or down until your language
is highlighted.
3. Press the OK button in the center of the Multi
selector to select your language.
Figure 1.1 – Setup Menu
Language screen
The camera will now switch to the second screen in the setup series, the Time
zone screen.
Setting the Time Zone – Step 2
This screen is easy to use as long as you can recognize the area of the world you live in. Use the map
shown in figure 1.2 to find your area, then select it.
Here are the steps to select the correct Time
zone for your location:
1. Refer to figure 1.2 for the Time zone screen.
Yellow arrows point to the left and right on eiFigure 1.2 – Setup Menu Time
ther side of the small world map.
zone screen
2. With the Multi selector, scroll to the left or right
until your location is highlighted in yellow. You will see either a vertical yellow
strip or a yellow outline with a red dot. At the bottom of the screen you will see
the currently selected Time zone. Mine is set to New York, Toronto, Lima (UTC-5).
3. Press the OK button to lock in your Time zone.
The camera will now present you with the next screen in the series, the Date format screen.
Setting the Date Format – Step 3
The English-speaking world uses various date formats. The Nikon D7100 allows
you to choose from the most common ones (figure 1.3):
• Y/M/D – Year/Month/Day (2014/12/31)
• M/D/Y – Month/Day/Year (12/31/2014)
• D/M/Y – Day/Month/Year (31/12/2014)
US residents usually select the M/D/Y format. However, you may prefer a different format.
10 Basic Camera Setup
Here are the steps to select the Date format you
like best:
1. Refer to figure 1.3 for the Date format screen.
2. Use the Multi selector to scroll up or down to
highlight the date format you prefer. I chose
3. Press the OK button to select the format.
After you select a Date format, the camera will
switch to the Daylight saving time screen.
Figure 1.3 – Setup Menu Date
format screen
Setting Daylight Saving Time – Step 4
Many areas of the United States observe daylight
saving time. In the springtime, US residents in
those areas set their clocks forward by one hour on
a specific day, then in the fall they set their clocks
back, leading to the clever saying, “spring forward
and fall back.”
You can use the Daylight saving time setting to
Figure 1.4 – Setup Menu Dayadjust the time on your D7100 forward or back by
light saving time screen
one hour, according to whether daylight saving
time is currently in effect in your area.
To enable Daylight saving time, follow these steps:
1. Refer to figure 1.4 for the Daylight saving time screen.
2. There are only two selections: On and Off. The default setting is Off. If daylight
saving time is in effect in your area (spring and summer in most areas of the
United States), select On. When daylight saving time ends, you will need to
manually change this setting to Off (via the Setup Menu) to adjust the clock
back by one hour, then you’ll need to turn it On again in the spring. This is not
an automatic function.
3. Press the OK button to select your choice.
After you set the Daylight saving time option, the camera will move on to the last
screen in the series of five setup steps, the Date and time screen.
Settings Recommendation: If you live in an area that observes daylight saving
time, it’s a good idea to adjust this setting when daylight saving time begins and
ends. When you set the time forward or back on your wristwatch and clocks, you
will need to adjust it on your camera as well. If you don’t, the time in the metadata
of your images will be off by one hour for half the year. This setting allows you to
adjust the clock quickly by simply selecting On or Off.
Accessing the Camera Menus 11
Setting the Date and Time – Step 5
This screen allows you to enter the current Date
and time. It is in year, month, day (Y, M, D) and hour,
minute, second (H, M, S) format.
Here are the steps to set the Date and time:
1. Refer to figure 1.5 for the Date and time screen.
Figure 1.5 – Setup Menu Date
2. Use the Multi selector to scroll to the left or right
and time screen
and select the various date and time sections.
Scroll up or down to set the values for each one. The time values use a 24-hour
clock (military time; for example, 3:00 p.m. is 15:00:00).
3. Press the OK button when you have entered the Date and time.
The camera finishes the initial setup by displaying a screen that says Done. You
are now ready to start configuring other parts of the camera, in whatever order
you find convenient. You’ll use the menu system, as described in the next section,
to access individual configuration screens. Each configuration step described in
this book is accompanied by all the screenshots you’ll need and step-by-step
Let’s look at an overview of the menu system.
Accessing the Camera Menus
To access the various configurable menus in the
D7100, you’ll use the MENU button on the back
of the camera near the top left of the Monitor (figure 1.6). Please remember the location of this button since it will be used often in this book. To avoid
unnecessary repetition, I won’t mention again that
you need to press the MENU button to get into the
Figure 1.6 – Press the MENU
camera menus.
button to open the menus
There are six primary menu systems in the camera, and this book has a chapter devoted to each
one. Let’s take a brief look at the opening screens of the six menus, shown in figure 1.7. After you press the MENU button, you can access these six menus by scrolling up or down with the Multi selector. A selector bar with icons will appear on
the left side of the Monitor. You can see the selector bar at the left of each menu
in figure 1.7.
As you scroll up or down in the selector bar, you’ll see each menu appear on the
Monitor, with its icon highlighted in yellow on the left side of the screen. The name
of the menu you are currently using will be displayed at the top of the screen.
12 Basic Camera Setup
Figure 1.7 – Six primary menus
The order of the six menus in the D7100 is as follows (figure 1.7):
Playback Menu
Shooting Menu
Custom Setting Menu
Setup Menu
Retouch Menu
My Menu or Recent Settings
My Menu can be toggled with an alternate menu called Recent Settings. These
two menus can’t be active at the same time. My Menu is much more useful for
most people, so it is shown in figure 1.7. The chapter titled My Menu and Recent
Settings covers both of these options in detail so you can choose which one you
want to appear most of the time on your camera. My Menu allows you to add the
most-used menu items from any other menus to your own personal menu, and
Recent Settings shows you the last 20 menu items you’ve changed.
Camera Functions for Initial Configuration
The following is a list of functions that you may want to configure before you take
many pictures. These set up the basic parameters for camera usage. Each function
is covered in great detail on the page number shown, so I did not repeat the information in this chapter. Please turn to the indicated page and configure the function, then return here and move on to the next function you want to configure.
When you are done, your camera will be ready for use.
Camera Functions for Initial Configuration 13
Setup Menu
• Format memory card – Page 247
• Monitor brightness – Page 252
• Auto image rotation – Page 264
• Copyright information – Page 267
Shooting Menu
• Role played by card in Slot 2 – Page 64
• Image quality – Page 66
• Image size – Page 74
• JPEG compression – Page 79
• NEF (RAW) recording – Page 81
• White balance – Page 85
• Set Picture Control – Page 88
• Color space – Page 105
• Active D-Lighting – Page 108
• Long exposure NR – Page 116
• High ISO NR – Page 119
• ISO sensitivity settings – Page 121
• Movie settings – Page 138
Playback Menu
• Playback folder – Page 24
• Playback display options – Page 29
• Image review – Page 42
• Rotate tall – Page 44
Custom Setting Menu
• a1 AF-C priority selection – Page 149
• a2 AF-S priority selection – Page 150
• a3 Focus tracking with lock-on – Page 152
• c4 Monitor off delay – Page 172
• d1 Beep – Page 176
• d2 Viewfinder grid display – Page 178
• d7 File number sequence – Page 185
• e1 Flash sync speed – Page 194
• f2 Assign Fn button – Page 220
• f3 Assign preview button – Page 220
• f4 Assign AE-L/AF-L button – Page 220
Of course, there are hundreds more functions to configure, and you may find one
function more important than another; however, these are the functions that you
ought to at least look at before you use your camera extensively.
14 Basic Camera Setup
Settings Recommendations
All through the book I offer my personal recommendations for settings and how
to use them. Look for the Settings Recommendation paragraph at the end of
most sections. These suggestions are based on my own personal shooting style
and experience with Nikon cameras in various shooting situations. You may decide
to configure things differently, according to your own needs and style. However,
these recommendations are good starting points while you become familiar with
your camera.
Author’s Conclusions
Take the time to work through each function in this book, with your camera in
hand, to be sure you have your camera configured in the best possible way. Later,
after you have gone through the chapters, you can use the extensive index to refresh your memory about a certain function.
If you have the printed book, you can carry it in your camera bag as a field reference, instead of carrying the user’s manual. You can also get an e-book version to
carry on your tablet or smartphone for ultimate convenience.
Thank you for buying Mastering the Nikon D7100. I hope you gain a lot of benefit from this book. Your advanced knowledge of the camera should improve your
Now, let’s proceed into the configuration of the camera’s internal settings. Even
though there are a lot of settings and it may take a few days to work all the way
through them, I promise you it will be worth it. First, we’ll examine the Playback
Menu in chapter 2.
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