D850 vs D5 Menu & Controls ?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by WAngell, Jan 31, 2018.

  1. Possibly the thing I most dislike about Nikon is the consistent inconsistency of menu's and controls. Every new body requires a somewhat significant new learning curve. I'm currently shooting mostly with a D800 and D5. Different controls on each. If I were younger or more intelligent then perhaps this wouldn't be a problem... I don't have this on other things like laptops. [crotchety mode off]

    So, is the D850 significantly closer to the D5? Nearly identical perhaps? Much easier to go between the D5 and D850 than D5 and D800?

  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Certainly. Starting from the D5 and D500 (January 2016), Nikon moved the ISO button to the top right side, just behind the shutter release button. The D850 has that same kind of arrangement and actually so does the D7500.

    See the top-back side of the comparison between the D850 and D500:

  3. Also the touchscreen and AF joystick, I have to point out. And you get the backlit controls on the D850 that you get on the D5.

    The D850 menu guide (PDF here) and the D5 version (PDF here) are available online if you'd like to compare.
  4. I learn each camera by using it for a while after which the controls seem to be in some kind of muscle memory and I "feel" which camera is in my hands and don't have to think about where the controls are.

    Although the messing around of ISO, REC, and MODE buttons in recent generations of cameras does cause some confusion in my mind still, this is because I was using the D810 and D5 for a while and now with the D850 in hand my fingers haven't yet learned that "ah, this feels a bit like a D810 or D750 but acts like a D5". I'll get over it.
  5. I now see that Nikon moved the ISO button from the back of the camera to the top. I would prefer to leave the ISO button on the back by the small LCD.
  6. I suspect many of us (at least in D8x0 land) have had the record button programmed to ISO in the past; having ISO on the top left of the camera makes it effectively inaccessible when the left hand is holding a large lens (as I argued to Nikon back in the D700 days; I'm sure I wasn't alone). Nikon finally seemed to realise that ISO is just as much an aspect of exposure as aperture and shutter speed, and put it where you can actually reach it when shooting, if you don't mind configuring Rec to do it. As of the D5/D500/D850 (and I think, without checking, D7500) generation, Nikon seem to have registered that (apparently only almost) everyone does this, but thinks they don't change exposure mode dynamically instead. I do change mode, although not as much as ISO, but fortunately you can map the mode button to the record button on these bodies. Effectively, then, all that happened is that record swapped with the Mode/ISO button.

    I get that on a D8x0 body you might want to stick at base ISO as much as possible (at least, I try to) - but for a D5, which has relatively low dynamic range at low ISO but maintains its performance as ISO raises (much as the D3/D700 and D3s did), why would you possibly want ISO to be where you can't reach it during normal shooting? While I do rely on auto-ISO a lot, I'd absolutely want it accessible for rapid manual adjustment, even more so than on my D810 - on the D810 I lose dynamic range if I let ISO rise, but on the D5 I'd absolutely use it to adjust exposure if I had shutter speed and aperture requirements since the effect on the image would be minor. I'd not really paid much attention to the D4's layout (the nearest to relevance I have is the F5, and dynamically changing ISO isn't so useful there), but I'd consider its choice of ISO button position to be awful if I were to use one in anger. The first thing I'd do is the same as I did on my D810, and map ISO to the movie record button.

    Putting aside my astonishment, and my frustration about how long it took Nikon to move the ISO button to where you could reach it right-handed (and my ongoing annoyance that they moved the AF area mode controls and exposure controls from their D700 positions, where you could reach those too...), why do you object to the new position, BeBu? I see no benefit to it being under the small LCD (unless you activate it with your tongue), so I'm curious to understand.
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  7. I am accustomed to setting the ISO to match the environment I am in before I raise the camera to my eye. I like the ISO button there because I want the ISO display there too. Besides 2 handed is easier for me than 2 fingers of 1 hand.
  8. I think the history of the ISO button is fairly logical. It was positioned at a not terribly easily accessible location with film cameras because it was something you’d set once when loading film and leave it be.

    With digital people at first used ISO rarely as they were used to not adjusting it often and after a while started to use it more liberally. Still, I recall an observation of Reuters photographers a few years ago, in some photojournalism contest the prized or commended entries were shot at even stop ISO settings familiar from film: 100, 200, 400, 800 etc. I think for a time many photographers only changed ISO when they needed to, and used familiar values which they knew in terms of the quality you could expect. The ISO was not adjusted all the time because the quality would vary from shot to shot which is not desirable if you do a series of documentary images. Anyway this is just my theory.

    I also tend to adjust ISO when I need to, and not all the time. If I am in an environment where I would expect wildly varying exposures, I may use auto ISO. But generally I prefer to set ISO and aperture manually and let shutter speed vary. Of course, I monitor the shutter speed too. If it gets too slow I may raise the ISO. I do use fractional stops on the ISO scale.

    As for the button location, it really doesn’t matter to me much. I think Nikon felt the same way for a long time. They did allow reprogramming the record button to ISO in FW 2.0 of the D800 if I recall correctly. To Andrew’s question of why it didn’t matter, it is because people weren’t adjusting it all the time and even if they were, use of two hands on the body to set the ISO is not hard as long as you aren’t hand holding a heavy lens (heavier than a 70-200/2.8). You just take the left hand from under the lens and press the button and turn the dial, then take the left hand back under the lens. Takes a few seconds. If you use a heavy lens such as a 500/4, you probably have the lens on a tripod or monopod, left hand is free to press the ISO button. Easy enough. The MODE button and AF selector switch are operated in a similar way. I think here we get the the crucial issue: heavy teles that were not safe to hang from the body were not really expected to be used hand held. It wasn’t customary when these lenses didn’t have stabilization and ISO settings that led to good image quality were limited. So it was not seen as a problem. Personally I think only a few heavy teles are really hand-holdable even today. The 300/2.8 and 200/2 come to mind, and the new 500/4 FL, and 200-500. I would personally only hand hold the 200/2 in this list and that’s an unusual lens that few people use.

    Still, Nikon did move the ISO to a prime time position eventually. Perhaps it is because these 2-3kg lenses are becoming more common and are hand held by people, for better or worse. In my experience 200-500 shots at 500mm definitely were not as good as tripod based shots and it was hard to hand hold it and get precise control over the composition. Furthermore the zoom is so stiff that I felt hand held adjustment of focal length led to too much stress on the bayonet. For me a 500mm lens is very obviously something I would put on a tripod, and then this whole question of ISO, AF mode button placement largely evaporates. But anyway the ISO button is now easily accessible with the right hand and the MODE button is on the left hand side (sigh). AF area mode can be overridden by any of a number of Fn buttons as well as the lens buttons. I tend to have 9/25-point dynamic as default when shooting sports and group area activated by the lens buttons which I find a convenient way to set things up. However many of the smaller teles don’t have lens buttons which can disrupt learning to shoot using them.
  9. That's unfortunately a very good description of what Nikon has been doing - in particular because older cameras did not get a firmware update to allow programming of buttons the same way the newer cameras do. Case in point is the ISO on the D7100 - not programmable to the REC button as it is on the D7200.

    If I wish for one thing - no matter if through a menu item or physically - then that would be to have those four buttons on the left side of the prism lockable. First and foremost the QUAL button - I never change the setting but last year someone not yet familiar with the new layout inadvertently changed the setting from RAW to (luckily) JPEG FINE (and not JPEG BASIC (which would have been turning the command dial in the opposite direction)) and never realized it until the images were transferred to the computer at home after the vacation. At the very least, I want that QUAL button lockable - or gone for good.

    I wasn't happy about moving the MODE button - but at least the REC button can take that function. Since I hardly ever change metering mode, I am OK with wherever Nikon decides to locate it.

    What I am absolutely not fine with is the asinine location of the button to change AF area modes - and the fact that it's functionality can't be re-programmed to any other button (at least not to the full extent). On the D500 I am using up no fewer than 3 programmable buttons to give me single point AF-ON, 25-point AF-ON (on the preview button) and Group AF ON on the joy-stick press - thanks a bunch Nikon for thinking this through so thoroughly! Thanks also for your continual refusal to update the D500 firmware to give it the D9 AF area option (that was updated on the D5 and is available on the D850).

    I am not even going to comment (oops, I just did) on which buttons Nikon finds to be important enough to be reached by one's right thumb on the lower right of the back LCD - even though the functionalities they access are useless when the camera is up at the eye.

    While I will not lift Sony up on the pedestal of placing controls that much better than Nikon does - but at least they are all reachable with one's right hand. Even Canon seems to make an effort to have more functionality accessible with the right hand than Nikon does - though I am not sure I like a row of identical buttons all that much.

    On the issue of putting large and heavy lenses on a tripod vs shooting hand held - sometimes, hand held is the only viable option. And I fail to see why placement of button can't be made to accommodate this - as the placement is largely irrelevant when the camera is on a tripod.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I happen to think the ISO button is now in a very convenient location. With modern digital gives us very good high-ISO results, such that we can change ISO as often as aperture and shutter speed, it is very logical to put the ISO button in a convenient location such that one can hold it down with the right index finger and the rotate the main or sub-command dial to changes it (the sub-command dial to take it in and out of auto-ISO, which I use very often now), all with just the right hand. Video recording is now important so that its control is in a convenient location as well.
  11. Thanks for explaining, BeBu. I get the "overloading the right hand" thing (I spend all my time typing and I learnt the piano in school; doing several things with my fingers never bothered me, but I can see it might to others). I don't think being near the display is particularly a beneficial argument - it makes it more likely that your hand will block the display while reaching for the button, after all. I do agree that it's "set once" on the F5 (although it usually gets picked up from the film coding anyway) so it's not a usability issue there - I suspect the location stayed so long on the single-digit Nikons because the designers were speaking to people with very film-centric habits.

    The reason I'm sore about this is that one of the first lenses I bought when I switched to Nikon (a decade ago) was the 150-500mm Sigma (because, having gone FX, I wanted the reach I could achieve with my 70-300 on a Canon crop body). Since then, I've had the 200 f/2 and now 200-500mm, and both Sigma and Tamron have produced a range of hand-holdable telezooms. Even with lenses that I'd just about feel happy to cantilever off the body (70-200, 300mm f/4 AF-S) I want to be changing the ISO while looking through the finder, because I want to be pointing at the right subject to see what the meter is telling me (frankly, an argument that applies with any lens - I shouldn't have to poke myself in the eye to get at controls while lining up a shot). Plus, obviously, I don't want light coming through the finder (because my eye isn't blocking it) to influence the meter. Until the fix for the D800 firmware, the ISO position was a perpetual annoyance. I also complained at Nikon about the auto-ISO behaviour; finally, they do zoom-dependent base shutter speed with an adjustment offset - now I just need to persuade them to make that offset something you can change without menu diving (since it's effectively program shift) and we'll have got a metering system working vaguely how I want.

    On that note, I absolutely switch metering area fairly frequently, and I'm not very happy that the only way to automate it is to use multiple custom buttons. I quite like DoF preview and the virtual horizon to be available, so getting rid of them just because Nikon put a button in an awkward place annoys me. Great that Nikon added an extra programmable button on the D850, but you can't actually program it to do very much, and it's in an abominably useless place. Frankly, I'd even like the play button to be reachable with my right thumb, because then I could chimp without finding something to rest a lens on (or balancing the camera precariously on my left hand and hopping my right hand over). Ironically, the D5x00 series has, for me, a much better layout - because Nikon is forced not to put buttons on the left by the position of the screen hinge.

    Ironically, with the near ISO-less sensors like the D810's, I'm less inclined to change ISO if I don't have to. (I usually shoot in manual with auto-ISO, trying to keep the ISO low if I can but letting it drift to get the shot - but I could effectively allow underexposure and shift in post with very little effect. This is absolutely not true of the D5's sensor, though. I'd rather be in aperture priority, but the difficulty of getting to the shift for auto-ISO puts me off, so I spend my time spinning the shutter speed manually to compensate for zoom length.)

    I know I keep promising, but I really will come up with that feature list soon (just in time for Nikon to divert to mirrorless and ignore their DSLR ergonomics forever...)

    I do, generally, like the ergonomics that Nikon have. But I'm often convinced that their designers work either entirely on tripods, or with very light lenses. A few more should run around with a big telephoto (and/or a heavy flash on the hotshoe) before they sign off on decisions. (Canon generally have a lot more controls on the top right, although I'm not a fan of their "take your finger off the shutter to move the top dial" design. On the other hand, their lower end bodies - including the 300D I own - have always put the DoF preview button in a mind-bogglingly stupid place; the 5D/6D/7D all put it on the right hand.)
  12. I think the right hand Fn/Pv buttons are not so easy to use because of different relative positions of the buttons in vertical and horizontal orientation. So in practice I don’t use them a lot. Lens buttons I do like. They act the same irrespective of orientation.

    I felt the AF area mode control in the D200 and D3 was difficult to access and quite stiff; when I would try to adjust it by one notch it would often move by two. For me the two handed control is a bit more comfortable to use and I like it that all the options are available (though I have shortened the list for faster access). But again, all but one of my lenses are light enough to carry from the camera so having both hands free to operate controls on the camera is typical.

    If you talked to experienced photographers some 10-15 years ago they had long backgrounds in film photography and most of them were not thinking of ISO as just another exposure parameter (the usable range was too narrow). Anyway, there was a change in the way people used cameras and this happened after the liberation of ISO at around 2007-9 (D3, D3S), so a few years later Nikon incorporated this change in camera user interface.

    And yes, Nikon probably consider large telephotos lenses that are intended to be used from a tripod or monopod which is perfectly reasonable and matches my thinking. Although I shoot figure skating hand held, most of the pros at those events shoot from a monopod. I assume they care about their ergonomics and their necks, backs, and knees so the avoid working in a way that could lead to health issues over the long term. When I tested the 500/4 VR we put it on a tripod with a gimbal head and shooting with it felt like heaven compared to hand holding a 200-500. It was effortless, and focus was instantaneous, results sharp at a long distance. And if I wanted to change AF area mode or any other camera setting, there was no reason I could not have easily done so. I am sure that this is still the way many experienced professional photographers shoot with long lenses. I know hand holding is also common in certain circle but I have serious doubts that the 500mm hand holders get as good results as those using a tripod. And these are professional cameras designed to meet the needs of those who shoot day in day out. Perhaps moving all the controls to the right side would encourage bad working habits such as hand holding long lenses. Ergonomic design encourages correct working habits (use of a tripod or monopod with a long lens) to avoid future health problems.

    Now, how wobbly tripod mounts encourage tripod use, I haven’t been able to figure out.
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I am sure all of us have a lot of different opinions about how the controls on Nikon DSLRs should be, but the OP's question is whether the D850's controls are consistent with those on the D5, and I think it is. Let me post another image of the back side of the D850, and I am sure this kind of images are easy to find on the web.

    We also had an earlier thread about the initial impression on the D850:
    Nikon D850, Early Impressions

    Now you are free to express your opinion on Nikon's control layout. ;)

  14. :D
    Use of a monopod or tripod is fine (and preferred) if the photographer is not moving around much or at all (as is the case at sports events). Personally, when I use a long lens, I move around a lot and leveling a tripod every time I do is not something I am willing to cope with. Especially in-flight photography often makes the use of a tripod impractical or at the very least, limits the options. Naturally, when I can remain at one position for an extended period of time, I'd prefer to have a tripod so that I don't have to hold the lens all the time. Almost unnecessary to point out that whenever I do, a gimbal head is a must; ball heads and long lenses don't go well together for me.

    With permission - where's the fun in that?

    Some time ago, I already pointed out that it would be easy for Nikon to move those row of buttons from the left side of the LCD to the right side - where they would be easily accessible without the need to "unburden" the left hand from holding the lens/entire rig. In the future, many of those buttons might disappear, replaced by using the touch screen.

    With regard to the AF area mode button - moving it - or even just duplicating it on the other side of the mount - would provide a much more convenient solution.
  15. I don't much care for the D850 touch screen, I accidentally swipe it or touch it too often and something unintended happens. Furthermore at low temperatures and in rain the touch screen is not ideal (it doesn't work with gloves on and may not work when wet). All functions should be accessible using normal controls without resorting to the touch screen since cameras are used in all kinds of weather conditions.
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  16. First world problems, Ilkka? :) At least the D5 has Fn2 on the pinkie finger (even if it's designed for portrait shooting - is it?). I'd dearly love that on the D850. If there had been an extra button on the MB-D18, that would really encourage me to buy one. Canon had the sense to put four buttons on the front - even if two are expected to be used in portrait mode.

    I wasn't a fan of the D700's AF area mode control either, but at least I could reach it without putting the camera down. I don't mind it being a button, I just don't like it being a button I can't reach! (And, IIRC, you can't remap it to a programmable button).

    Yes. I just sometimes wonder how many of Nikon's advisors have been set in their ways since the original F. To their credit, they change things, but it takes a while for them to notice. I've no idea whether customer feedback influences them.

    If we're talking a 600 f/4, yes. But that's not reasonable in a world where the typical hand-holding position for anything upwards of a 70-200 is in front of the body (at least my hand is usually busy with the zoom ring, even on the 14-24 - let alone manual focus rings). Expecting people to cantilever a 300 f/4 so the left hand is free may not break the mount, but it's hardly convenient. Pretty much every lens I own is big enough that my hand isn't in the right place for the AF control button (the 35mm Art is close; the 50mm is too long, the 150mm Sigma is too long, the Tamron 24-70 is just about too long...) Even allowing for that, you often want to point the camera precisely in order to change a setting, because it may depend on the meter, which may depend where you're pointing - or (in the case of AF area) you may want to change in the middle of a sequence. I get that some people set the camera before raising it to the eye, and rely on scene-wide metering and hyperfocal distances to sort out the mess, especially with a low-res sensor like the Df's... but some of us don't. Even with the 200 f/2, I'm often moving around rapidly when I shoot with it - especially at tiddlywinks events, where I need to be on the correct side of the player and other people tend to stand in the way; there's no world in which a tripod is going to work.

    I'm with Thom Hogan on that one too.

    Absolutely - which would still allow the mechanical interlock for the AF screw drive (as I've argued before). At least allow a button that you can reach (preferably a D5-like Fn2 under the pinkie) to be reprogrammed for it. And allow chording so you can get more effective buttons. My main interaction with the AF button in its current location is to press it accidentally when trying to hold the camera/lens one-handed during image review. Which of course stops the image review working. Argh.
  17. The nice backview of the D850 reminded me of the first thought I had when i saw it when it came out.

    Wouldn't it be nice if all the real-estate taken up by the fold-out screen and mechanism could be replaced by a 4" fixed screen?

    I inadvertently picked up my D500 rather than my D810 in a rush to get out to shoot some Perseids. They looked near identical in the gloomy room, but could I find the ISO button in the dark? No, it wasn't there!

    Anyone think there's going to be a D850A?

    PS. Anyone remember that fake image of the (pre) Df that had the 3rd command dial, just below the shutter button to adjust the ISO? Doesn't seem quite so daft now!
  18. Not really. When pressing and holding a button I am moving the point of contact where I hold the weight of the camera to the part where my fingers touch and press the button. I can hold the weight by squeezing my fingers inwards (such as when pressing and holding the AF-ON button). But with the Pv and Fn button pressing and holding them in this way would disengage the contact from the grip onto my fingertips, squeezing inwards, and I don't find this comfortable. Furthermore gloves that I use in winter have air pockets around the finger tips (because the air acts as insulation and the fingertips are the first to freeze) and this means I don't get a good "feel" for the Fn/Pv button when using the camera with gloves on. If Nikon moved the Pv/Fn1/Fn2 buttons to the inside of the grip (both vertical and horizontal grips) then I believe I would be able to use them comfortably, but now I can't, so I only use them for oddball tasks, if anything. If I wanted to use them, in practice I would have to reprogram all of them to the same function so that I would be able to use them from both vertical and horizontal orientation, and so this is a time-consuming process again leading to not using them at all.

    Rather than shuffle from all the possible AF area modes (which are numerous), for me it makes sense to settle on one or two for a given shoot and use the lens buttons to override. If you prefer the Fn or Pv buttons, by all means use them, I don't find them ergonomic to use for press-and-hold type shooting. Perhaps my frequent need to shoot with gloves affects my preference.

    Yes. I just sometimes wonder how many of Nikon's advisors have been set in their ways since the original F. To their credit, they change things, but it takes a while for them to notice. I've no idea whether customer feedback influences them.

    They listen to customer feedback, but a random customer isn't going to have the same influence as an experienced professional when Nikon are designing their professional cameras; they want to be sure that the cameras work in an uncompromised way for the specific target user. The experienced photographer is typically a bit more conservative and slower to change what has worked for them in the past than someone just starting out because they use a camera through reflexes. Personally I think moving the buttons around is stupid and annoying and makes it harder to use new and old cameras together.

    I don't see it that way. The mount can handle anything up to a 70-200/2.8. Each AF area mode follows its own logic and for me it takes a while to get used to shooting in a particular mode so fast changes between modes just don't fit into my shooting. I make a change and shoot a while with those settings so that I get on board with the way the algorithm works. I have enough experience shooting figure skating that I can switch between group area and 25-point dynamic area AF depending on the subject's size in the viewfinder, however, this is about as far as I can go. I don't go changing between the different sizes of dynamic area because the action is so fast that I would not be able to adapt to the subject and the changes in the algorithm parameters fast enough to be always doing the right thing in the right mode. For other subjects such as walking or running people I typically have the the camera set for D9 and I may use the same for a while so that my operations are tuned to the algorithm. The AF area mode affects how I compose etc. Changing the AF area mode settings is a bit like changing how my brain controls my legs, if the connections were changed to rapidly I am sure I would trip and fall at some point.

    Could you give an example of when you change AF area modes and based on what considerations? My reason to switch between dynamic area and group area AF in skating photography is because when the subject is far enough, the subject size is so small in the viewfinder that a single point (or dynamic) positioned on the face may focus on the background and group area AF exercises closest-point priority within the group so it holds focus on the subject. I let go of the lens button, switching back to dynamic area when the subject approaches closer as then it becomes necessary to exercise more precise control over focus (i.e. single point or dynamic), when the subject is really close, group area would not focus on the eye but some part of the body that may be closer (also in a close-up the whole skater isn't within the depth of field). When the skater jumps I often switch back to group (pressing and holding the lens button) because it is the fastest focusing AF area mode and to keep up with the jumper I need some sidewise latitude. However, for most photography of people I stay in D9.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
  19. Oh, sorry, I thought you were complaining about the Fn2 button on a D5 when used in portrait not quite lining up with the Pv button when used in landscape. Fingers moving to put the front buttons out of reach when holding the camera from above is another concern - although it doesn't usually bother me too much because I'm usually taking most of the weight on my left hand.

    Hmm. I'd like more controls on the back too (for which using the touchscreen would be a poor but partial substitute), but I wouldn't like to move the front ones. My thumb is usually on the rear dial and/or the AF-On button - one thing I like about the front buttons is that they ought to allow both dials to be used. (Side note: it would be nice if there was a way to say that any buttons being pressed when the shutter is half-pressed act as though they're still being pressed until the shutter button is released - particularly so you could choose to get AF-On or AE-Lock while you're doing other things with your thumb.)

    I admit I don't make full use of all the AF modes. I do use three metering modes. Essentially I'm out of buttons if I want to do anything quickly.

    Some of the changes don't seem well thought-through, and are just incompatible for no obvious reason. A lot of the incompatibility is largely because Nikon don't just allow everything to be user-configured anyway. I do agree that I don't expect Nikon to drop everything to tailor a camera just for my use (or any other single customer). One reason I speak up with thoughts here is to learn how others use their cameras. For example, concerns that trying to control too much with the fingers of the right hand is awkward don't apply to me, but they're perfectly valid, and mean that whatever Nikon may do to make the camera more right-hand-friendly, they also need to be sympathetic to the double-handers. I try to ensure that most of the things I propose (at least seriously) don't harm other use cases while helping me - most of what I want Nikon to do just involves additional options, not fundamental changes. Generally I think it's possible to do that, and my objection to many of Nikon's changes is that they don't seem to have been thought through enough to avoid this problem. The reason I complained so much about the Df was that I felt they'd produced a horribly compromised camera for some users while trying to meet the needs of some others - and that this didn't need to be the case.

    In my case, often photographing birds (usually hand-held, often with the 200-500). If I'm tracking something that moves fairly slowly, I use 3D tracking, partly because I can recompose a little faster than I can manually change the AF point location (and most of the time it works as "please focus precisely on what I want, but cope if it moves"). If this gets confused, I might use single-point AF to nail the eye. If something takes off and 3D isn't following it, I'll switch to an area mode. If I'm tracking a bird in flight and the surroundings are busy enough to confuse the area mode, I might switch back in a hurry. At the moment I have to do that manually (which involves missing some of a sequence) - partly because the D810 doesn't let you fiddle with AF mode from the custom buttons, but largely because I actually want DoF preview and a virtual horizon available too. I have similar problems when I want to toggle between highlight metering, matrix and spot, all of which I tend to use fairly regularly. I appreciate the complication to the manual and to technical support, but allowing the users to configure this stuff completely arbitrarily really should just be "a small matter of programming", and it would make a big difference to camera use for me.

    Not that I necessarily claim to have the best practice either with metering or AF mode use - but configurability can only be a good thing.
  20. But if you moved the AF area/mode button to the right hand side, how would you operate the two dials while pressing it, all with the right hand fingers? I guess some people are more right handed than others; I enjoy using both hands on the camera similar to using a keyboard with all fingers or playing the clarinet.

    I can use Pv in horizontal and Fn2 in vertical but if I want two separate functions then I can’t configure them to work the same relative position in both orientations. Having the option to tie the programmed functions together would be helpful so I could use them without having to remember to set both to the same function. Still I don’t find their position near the mount to be easy to use; when pressing one of these front buttons, my right hand fingers are no longer in contact with the grip so holding the button down makes the camera less secure (I can see with short fingers the situation may be different). When used for rarely used functions such as flash value lock or non-CPU lens number, I don’t mind as much the position but for something I’d use frequently while actually shooting, I prefer the lens buttons, which thankfully exist on both my heavy lenses.

    I generally don’t switch modes all the time because my brain isn’t going to remember how I set it this time and instinctively use it correctly. So I set the AF area mode to something that I think will work and use it until there is a pressing need to change it. I know from experience what will work in a given situation or subject type. I might shoot all day with given settings. The main reason for me not to fiddle with settings is because I know I can’t learn instinctive operation of a camera if it doesn’t always respond in the same way, or at least the same way for long stretches of time.

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