Nikon D100 custom settings

Nikon D100 custom settings

The various settings and custom settings on the Nikon D100 make it a very flexible and versatile little machine, with many photographers changing the Custom Settings to suit their own style and needs.

Here are my preferences .. and why.

If you find these articles interesting and of value, then you can help by using
these affiliate links to order equipment & other goodies.   Thank you!

There are two custom settings (#5, #14) which I believe should be changed from the default settings. Then there is a custom setting like #3, which I believe should never be changed from the default.

For the other custom settings, there are some I have set differently from the default, but is purely personal preference, and others which I believe should be kept to the default for specific reasons.

I don’t discuss the Custom settings that in my opinion, are entirely dependent on personal choice, such as how long the display remains lit, or how long the self-timer delay should be, etc.

option 1 – Image review

With this setting you choose whether or not the image immediately displays on the LCD monitor directly after the shot is taken.

default : OFF,
my preference : ON.

This one is personal preference. I have mine set to show the image on the LCD after every shot, since I want to confirm that the image is correctly exposed, and look at the histogram. And anyway, I just want to see what I photographed. :-)
The downside to keeping the Image Review setting to ON, is that the LCD consumes some of your battery power, especially the longer you set the LCD to remain lit up.

option 2 – Disable Shutter if no CF Card?

This option disables the shutter release if there is no CF card or if the CF card is full.

default : ON,
my recommendation : ON.

The default here makes a lot of sense. If you were to shoot continuously without stopping to check how many frames you have left, you really do want your camera to stop operating when the memory card is full (or out), and not have you snap away, thinking you are getting the photograph, when you aren’t.

option 3 – ISO auto

This setting allows the camera to automatically adjust the ISO upwards if the camera decides that proper exposure can’t be achieved at the current exposure settings.

default : OFF,
my recommendation : OFF.

With the Auto ISO setting ON, you will run into a problem with your camera if you use manual metering mode. Auto ISO will override your manual metering settings every time if it is any different from what the camera’s meter says – thereby completely negating the very reason for Manual Metering’s existence.

This will obviously cause problems as well when Auto ISO is used with studio lighting. Since there is no way for the camera to know what you are doing with the studio lights, the camera’s metering will perceive there not to be enough available light to take the photograph under the specific settings – and it will bump up the ISO in an attempt to get ‘correct’ exposure. This causes major over-exposure with the studio lights. If you were metering for 200 ISO with your flash meter, and the camera bumps your ISO to 1600, then your photos will be over-exposed by 3 stops.

There are two other scenarios where you might want to consider Auto ISO.

  • If you should need a very specific shutter speed and aperture, which you then set in manual metering mode. Then, to accommodate lighting changes, you could have the camera adjust the ISO automatically to match the meter reading at that point.
  • Also, if in Shutter Priority mode, if you wanted to work only within a certain range of apertures, you could use Auto ISO to keep your auto exposures correct when you move out of the range of possible apertures.

But these would be unusual situations, and for all practical purposes, I would still recommend that the ISO Auto setting be set to OFF.

option 4 – Long Exposure Noise Reduction

As explained in the camera manual, there is risk of noise being introduced if shutter speeds lower than 1/2 sec is used. This setting can eliminate that.

default : OFF,
my preference : OFF.

With this setting ON, the D100 will automatically reduce the noise levels during long exposures, when there is more risk of noise on the image. The noise reduction processing only kicks in with exposures of 1/2 sec or slower.

With Long Exposure Noise Reduction set to ON, the camera will appear to reduce the buffer space, but this doesn’t actually have that much effect if you’re shooting in JPG format, but reducing the buffer space from 4 NEF files to 3 NEF files is a significant reduction. I mostly shoot in NEF format, therefore I keep this setting to OFF for most of my photography, unless specifically needed.

The buffer space counter in the camera says that the buffer is reduced from 4 to 2 NEF files, and from 6 to 3 Lrg JPG files .. so it would seem as if the camera wouldn’t be able to keep up with a fast shooting pace. But in real terms, if the shutter speed is faster than 1/2 second, then most of the buffer space is available since there is no noise reduction processing taking place. The buffer space is then close to what the camera would have had available compared to if the Long Exposure Noise Reduction was set to OFF. (eg, 3 NEFs can be recorded despite the camera saying there is only enough buffer space for 2 files … compared to there being buffer space for 4 NEFs when this custom setting is OFF.)

With faster shutter speeds and shooting in JPG format, having this setting ON or OFF will have very little effect, and may be kept ON for all practical purposes .. unless you need that extra bit of NEF buffer space.

option 5 – File No. Seq

This default chooses whether the file names reset to 0001 every time you use a new CF card or new folder, or whether the camera remembers the last file name used and keep numbering sequentially from there on.

default : OFF,
my recommendation : ON.
This is one of the settings which I recommend be changed from the default.

File No. Seq OFF – will name the image files the same every time you use a new memory card or a clean memory card. The file naming will resume from the last image recorded on the memory card. This means that if you use more than one memory card, you will have duplicate file names. Even if you only use one memory card, you run will most likely get to the point where you have to rename image files continually on your computer.

File No. Seq ON – will resume file naming from the last name used. So if you use more than one memory card, the file names will be different from each other on the different memory cards. This will save you the bother of having to rename files when you download it on the computer, or of having to keep image files from different memory cards in different folders in your computer.

option 9 – EV Step

This custom setting controls whether the shutter speed / aperture / exposure compensation increments are in 1/2 or 1/3 steps.

default : 1/3 step,
my preference : 1/3 step.

This one is personal preference. I have mine set to 1/3rd steps, because it allows better fine tuning of exposure and exposure compensation. However, I can see how it might be easier or more convenient in some cases to be able to set 1/2 stop apertures and shutter speeds.

With non-dedicated flash units and studio strobes, the maximum flash sync speed will be very slightly different whether you use 1/3 stops increments (1/160th), or 1/2 stop (1/180th). The difference is very little and of no real practical concern.

However, with dedicated flash units such as the SB80-DX, the top flash sync speed is 1/180th regardless of whether you have 1/3 or 1/2 steps selected.

option 10 – Easy Exposure Compensation

This custom setting dictates whether the [+/-] is needed as well to dial in exposure compensation.

default : [+/-] & CMD dial,
my recommendation : keep it to the default.

If this setting is changed from the default, then a simple twiddle of the dials will change exposure compensation .. very nifty .. and all too easy to do by accident when using the camera in day to day photography. It’s simply safer to keep it to the default, where there is an extra safeguard in that the [+/-] button has to be pushed as well, before exposure compensation can be set.

option 14 – AE-L / AF-L

This setting controls the behavior of the AE-L / AF-L button.

default : AE/AF Lock,
my recommendation : anything other than the default.
my preference : AE Lock

Exposure and Focus lock should not be linked. They have nothing to do with each other – the point that you meter off is most likely not to be the same point you are focusing on. You really don’t want to limit yourself by having the AE Lock button to also be your Focus Lock. Either use the AE/AF Lock button as an AE Lock .. or .. an AF Lock, but not both at the same time.

Which setting you choose depends entirely on your shooting style. If you use Continuous Focusing often, then it makes sense to use this button as an AF lock or set as the AF-ON selection (which will remove the focusing action from the shutter button.

My preference is to use this button as the AE lock exclusively. I only shoot in Single-frame and Single-Servo AF since this combination allows me to use the shutter button as a focus lock between frames.

option 15 – AE Lock

This option controls whether exposure will lock while the shutter-release is pressed half-way, or only with the AE-L/AF-L button.

default : AE-L Button
my recommendation : keep to the default.

The default makes sense here, since the other option is to have the shutter button work as the exposure lock, which can be confusing, since it once again links the point of focus to the place you meter – which should not be thought of as the same thing, since it isn’t.

With this default, Nikon is essentially disagreeing with its own default for option #14, because now they see the need to keep focus and exposure lock separate. And that’s the way it should be.

option 16 – LCD Illumination

This option controls whether the LCD lights up only when the LCD illuminator button is pressed, or when any button is pressed.

default : Lamp On Switch,
my preference : any button.

I most often work in dim areas, and I want to be able to read my LCD any time without having to hit the Lamp button. With the “any button” selected, the LCD will light up whenever I hit any of the D100 camera controls. It just makes it easier for me when the LCD lights up any time I use the camera – then it doesn’t become an extra button that I have to push.

option 18 – Focus Area Illumination

This option controls whether the active focus area is illuminated in red in the viewfinder.

default : Auto,
my preference : ON.

I like having it on – then it is immediately obvious at all times exactly where the camera is focusing.

option 19 – Grid Display

This allows a grid pattern to be displayed in the viewfinder.

default : OFF,
my preference : ON.

This one is personal preference. The display isn’t intrusive, and it is a useful guide to have as a reference to keep verticals and horizontals correct.

option 22 – AF Assist

This option controls whether the auto-focus assist light comes on in low light to help auto-focus latch onto the subject.

default : ON,
my preference : OFF.

The bright lamp light can be annoying and intrusive at inopportune moments, so I keep it switched off.

option 23 – Flash Mode

This controls whether the pop-up flash is D-TTL controlled or full manual flash output.

default : D-TTL auto flash,
my recommendation : stay with the default.

I can’t really see why anyone would want to change the pop-up flash to full-power only. One thing to note, is that the manual output doesn’t give a pre-flash like the TTL output does – this may be of help if you’re in a squeeze and need to trigger studio slaves with the pop-up flash. (The pre-flash emitted with Nikon’s TTL flash system triggers studio slaves too early.)

option 24 – Anti Mirror Shock Mode

This delays the shutter’s opening by half a second to stop internal vibrations.

default : Off,
my recommendation : Off,
unless you’re working on a tripod with slow shutter speeds.

I often get emails from photographers wondering why their camera’s response has slowed down. Check this setting!

You only purposely want to use this setting if you’re working on a tripod with slow shutter speeds. For all other situations, keep this setting Off.

37 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 1Pete Wright says

    Newcomer at the age of 60 to DSLR, started with D40 and happy but wanted more so bought a D100 as an intro to real cameras, your article has helped me understand the settings much more, looking at flash guns now and have a D100 Battery grip. Got lenses up to 300 and hope to get some interesting shots
    Thanks for the article a great help

  2. 2Shahnawaz Mohammad says

    Thank you so much.i am glad that some of your technics regarding Nikon D100 setup do work for a new commer and i need to know more about the set up of this camera.if u have published any books regarding Photography Technics for detail then please to let me know from where i can purchase it.
    Thank you so much.
    Shahnawaz Mohammad

  3. 3trad alqahtani says

    Thank you very much for useful post … :)

    Long time I’m looking for someone who explains the meaning of settings of d100…
    Thanks a lot again … :-)

  4. 4Kevin says

    I thoroughly enjoyed your breakdown of the D100 settings… Your recommendations have made a huge difference in my photography. Thank you! :o)

  5. 5JENNIFER says

    Hi! HELP??? I can’t figure out why nothing is displaying on my D100 lcd screen after I shoot a picture- it was fine yesterday- I have a shoot tomorrow… oh boy..
    I’m new to this D100 and need some emergency advice re settings. Hopefully it’s something simnple. Have a great day!

  6. 8maurice pearson says


  7. 9 says

    Shoot in RAW.

    High shutter speed. Wide aperture. Adjust your ISO to get that.

    Timing. Patience. Long lenses. You’re all set. But do shoot in RAW.

    Neil vN

  8. 10maurice pearson says

    cheers neil sti ll struggling with blurry photos now and then i am useing sigma 70mx300m lens

  9. 12maurice pearson says


  10. 14 says

    Braden, turn your camera to Manual metering mode. Then you have up to 30 seconds. If you want to go past that, you need to set your camera to B (Bulb)

    Neil vN

  11. 15Duy Tu says

    I have a D100 and bought my daughter a D90. Her pictures come out consistently better than mine (better color and focus). My indoor shots are often dark and blurry even with flash. Outdoor shots are better. Is the D100 as good of a camera as the D90? If I set up my camera per your recommended settings will I be able to achieve better quality pictures?

    Thanks for the great article.

  12. 16 says

    I’m not surprised. The D90 is a couple of generations better than the D100. So there will have been many improvements to the sensor and the internal processing of the image.

    That said, do you shoot in JPG or in RAW? If you shoot in RAW, then you’ll be more able to adjust the image.


    Neil vN

  13. 17Duy Tu says

    I shoot primarily in JPG (fine, large file) otherwise I have to use Nikon View to view/edit the pictures. However, I will try your suggestions to see if I can shoot better pictures more consistently. Thanks for the quick reply.

    Best regards,

  14. 18George Dickinson says

    Neil,You are tip top, man!!! Thanx for the help. I am having problems with my lcd srceen thou. Sometimes it doesnt light up and other times it does. Any ideas of what the problem may be?
    thanx -geo

  15. 20Roy says

    Great for those who don’t have the time to read the manual as it’s hard to remember all this stuff and play with the camera at the same time. I’m 63 now and made some great shots with my D100 but the only thing that reaally gripes me is the shutter lag.When I press the shutter realease I expect it to fire now not 1 second later. I’ve missed some action shots with this camera because of this. I was once shooting a rattlesnake that was coiled up and by the time the camera fired ,the damn thing had struck. Of course they are lightning fast but you know.I finally got smart and got a D2Xs and gave my D100 to our daughter and now she is asking me the same questions as I had 6 years ago but I forgot the answeres so she is into the book. My D2xs is (to me) the king of all cameras and it does just what it is suposed to and built like a tank just like my F2s and F4e.,,,,,,,,Thanks very much for the info.,,,,,,,,,,,Roy

  16. 21Steve says

    Quite a lot of useful trips!!! Thanks!!! But somehow I always suffer with a black image in my screen after shutter!!! Is it some setting in to change???

  17. 23Seba says

    Hi, I have trouble configuring the camera nikon d100. I take pictures without flash and the pictures are dark. Help please

  18. 25Misty says

    I need suggestions for taking sports pictures. I enjoying photographing high school football games but as it starts to get dark, I have trouble getting good shots. What settings should I use for very low light, action shots?

  19. 26 says

    Misty, this is the point where you have to have wider apertures on your lenses, and a camera with which you are comfortable pushing to high ISO settings.

    There’s no other way around it.

    Neil vN

  20. 29Scott Johnson says

    Great info Neil , I Just bought my D100 this year off C.L. and had it recalibrated.
    Great camera for most situations and for learning with. No preset or Auto setting force you to learn the old fashion way. Images hold good color and shapeness.

    You help answer a few questtions I was wondering about with the settings , thanks.

  21. 33M.C. Mays Pulliam says

    Great info, just bought a used D100 and i love it, it reminds me of the cameras of old (film) since it allows me the manual control that i am used to…I hope that you are still around, i may have a question or two in the future!


  22. 35Dunhill Dufrens says

    I have one question though.. Why is it the every time I take a photo, the Nikon D100 ISO settings will become ERR or error. I don’t know why it is always happening to me… Thanks my friend..

  23. 37Hartmut D. says

    Hallo Neil,

    vielen, vielen Dank! Sie haben meine uralte D100 wiederbelebt; Ich hatte die Kamera schon zum Vitrinenstück degradiert.
    Auf deutschen Seiten fand ich keine Hilfe.

    Erst Deine Option 24 (Anti Shock-Spiegel-Modus auf „off“ mit dem Hinweiß auf Fragen wegen der langsamen Reaktion) war die Rettung: so simpel und doch wusste ich mir nicht mehr zu helfen!

    Jetzt habe ich endlich wieder eine agile Dritt-Kamera für „riskante“ Jobs (bei einem dieser Jobs hat wohl irgendwer in der Kneipe, in den Tiefen des Menüs „herumgefummelt“)

    Sorry dafür, dass ich nur Deutsch kann!

    Ein Frohes Neues Jahr 2015 mit gutem Licht!

    Hartmut D.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *