The 25 custom settings on the Nikon D70 enable this great little camera to be adapted to the photographer’s specific needs – which may change from situation to situation.
This page details my preferences .. and why.
There are custom settings such as #15, which I believe should be changed from the default settings. Then there is a custom setting like #5, 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 are entirely dependent on personal choice, such as how long the display remains lit, or how long the self-timer delay should be, etc.
Custom Setting 1 – Beep
With this setting you choose whether or not the camera beeps as focus confirmation.
default : ON,
my preference : OFF.
The beep that the D70 emits is fairly subtle as beeps go. But my personal preference would still be to keep this setting OFF, because the sound of beeping camera could be distracting to others.
Custom Setting 2 – Auto-focus mode AF-C or AF-S
This option determines whether the auto-focusing mode will be Singe or Continuous Focus.
default : AF-S,
my preference : AF-S.
I prefer shooting in Single-Servo Mode (AF-S), because it allows me to lock my focus with the shutter button, so that I can recompose and then shoot. In this mode, the shutter will only trip if the subject is in focus.
Continuous-Servo Mode (AF-C) allows the camera tracks a moving subject. With AF-C mode, you can fire the shutter even when the subject isn’t in focus.
This sounds great in theory, but unless ..
- you have a fast lens, (f2.8 or faster),
- and you’re shooting in bright conditions,
- and focusing on a contrasty subject,
- with subject always falling on the selected focusing sensor,
.. you might be disappointed in the camera’s follow-focus capabilities. As sweet as the D70 might be, a isn’t a D2H.
Custom Setting 3 – AF Area Mode
This option controls which focus sensor is chosen by the camera .. or not.
default : Single Area,
my preference : default.
This custom setting is up to individual preference, but there is a very obvious point that is sometimes overlooked – the more control you leave over to the camera, the less control *you* have. With that in mind, I prefer the Single Area mode, where I can keep the focusing to the center sensor, which is the stronger focusing sensor. In comparison, the Closes Subject Mode might not select a point of focus that is appropriate.
Custom Setting 4 – 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.
Custom Setting 5 – 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.
The D70 has an interesting and potentially useful application of the Auto ISO feature, where the camera will bump up the ISO to try and get a minimum shutter speed. This could be quite useful in helping to eliminate camera shake or subject movement, by having the camera automatically adjust the ISO. This might be a feature worth trying out, but just make sure that the Auto ISO feature doesn’t make your exposure metering inconsistent in manual metering.
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.
Custom Setting 6 – No CF Card?
This option disables the shutter release if there is no CF card or if the CF card is full.
default : LOCK,
my recommendation : LOCK.
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.
Custom Setting 7 – 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 : ON,
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.
Custom Setting 8 – 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.
Custom Setting 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.
Detailed CSM Options
The following Custom Settings are only available if you select
the detailed Custom Settings Menu option.
Custom Setting 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 away from the default, then a simple twiddle of the dials will change exposure compensation – very easy to adjust, but all too easy to do by accident such as when the camera rubs against your clothing or against your camera bag.
It is 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.
Custom Setting 15 – AE-L / AF-L
This setting controls the behavior of the AE-L / AF-L button.
default : AE/AF Lock,
my recommendation : any of the other selections than the default.
This is one of the settings which I recommend be changed from 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.
Custom Setting 16 – 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 #15, because now they see the need to keep focus and exposure lock separate. And that’s the way it should be.
Custom Setting 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.
Custom Setting 19 – Flash mode
This option controls which mode the built-in (pop-up) flash will be used in.
default : TTL
Your decision here will rest on whether you need your built-in flash as the main flash or fill-flash (and then TTL would usually make the most sense), or whether you want to use the strobe as the Commander strobe to control a Slave flashgun (a remotely triggered SB-600 / SB-800).
More here on setting up your D70 to use wireless flash.