Improving Already Great Cameras -- Menus

March 23, 2019

I saw an article the other day that asked what Nikon should put in the as-yet-unannounced D5 replacement (the D6?).  Most of the comments were for things that I don’t need, so were I to "upgrade" to a higher end body, a D5 or D850 would be fine.  

But what would *I* want to see changed, not only in the D5, but in any prosumer or higher level camera?  What would it take to get me to upgrade? 

I’d like to see some changes in the menu system.

 

First, we need to be able to “lock” the menus. 


For some reason, the Nikon menus cannot be “locked.”  For example, I can set the White Balance via the Shooting Menu or via the on-camera button/main command dial.  And because there are 4 Shooting Menus (A, B, C, & D), I can have 4 different WB settings that I can access at any time via the menus. 

Let’s say I set the WB to daylight in Shooting Menu A.  Then things change, and I need to change the WB on the fly to one of the other settings (tungsten, for example).  Rather than go through the menus to make that change, I just hit the button and spin the main command dial, and it’s changed. 

But it is also now changed to tungsten in Shooting Menu A.  Returning to Shooting Menu A will no longer reset the WB to daylight — because the menus are not “locked.”  Because of this, it is necessary to remember to rest the WB manually. 

This particular thing applies to all of the menu settings that can be changed by accessing camera controls.  At least having the option to lock the menus down would be very helpful.  I could change on the fly, and still return to basic settings.

I also think that only four possible menus is not enough.  Personally, I could easily put 6 to good use.  Assuming of course, I could lock them down so making a change on the fly with the camera controls won’t inadvertently alter a menu I’d really like to come back to.

The last change I’d like to see is to make the Shooting Menu be an actual *shooting* menu, where one could change EVERY setting, including those otherwise accessed vial buttons and/or command dials — shooting mode, ISO, WB, shutter speed, aperture, type of focus point (single, group, etc), single shot/continuous, image quality (RAW, JPG, etc), metering mode, flash, etc.

Here’s my reason for wanting such a menu (and at least 6 of them so I can have 6 completely different sets of settings):

Because of the clients I have for the work I do, I often find myself making a LOT of changes in the way the camera works, way beyond just shutter speed & aperture.*  I’ve been known to change ISO, WB, bracketing, the self-timer, and more. 

 

Unfortunately, as I get on in years (yes, I’m old . . .), I forget things.  I might forget to reset the ISO or the WB or something.  I can’t help but feel that if I had a menu system where I could set **everything**, I’d be a lot less prone to forgetting to set one thing to one of these oddball settings.

Worse (or better?), I’d be a lot less prone to forgetting to RESET one (or more!!) of them to my normal shooting settings.  


I just finished a conversation with a fellow Nikon shooter, who was shooting last night in some very difficult, very contrasty lighting conditions that caused her ISO to be all over the place (among other things).  I suggested that she might look into Highlight-weighted metering and auto ISO.  She thought that was a good idea, but she lamented to the same problem I have — having to reset the camera to her usual settings. 

 

As a result, features her D5 is perfectly capable of doing, which would have made her shoot immensely easier, go unused.  Having a menu that had all of her usual settings saved and which could be locked to prevent inadvertent changes, would have allowed her to use these tools in that particular situation without having to worry about resetting all of them to their standard values. 

 

So I really think Nikon’s next big change needs to be in their menu systems.  The menus haven’t changed significantly since my first Nikon digital camera, the D2h.  There are more items in the menus, the obvious result of additional features in the new cameras, but the menus and the way they work have not changed.  

 

So how about it?  Can we get better menus?  Would you find it helpful?  Would you use them more if these changes were implemented?  

 

* - One of the things I have been known to use is a little known auto mode called “Auto ISO.”  I prefer to shoot in Aperture priority, and probably 95% of my shooting is in that mode, but there are times when I must have a decently fast shutter speed AND decent DOF (via a smaller aperture), but would still prefer to let the camera set the actual exposure.  In that case, I set the shutter speed to what I want, then the aperture to what I want, and the ISO to “auto.”  It works very well.

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