Advanced Nikon D7000 settings


The essentials for controlling the Nikon D7000 as an advanced photographer – that's what this guide is all about. A tour through the manageable number of manual settings that really matter, are most important for the look of your photos.

In case you're wondering why I chose the settings presented here of all things for this page, I explain it here:

A way through the jungle of advanced camera settings

Camera mode

The camera modes for advanced and expert users are P, S, A, M and U1, U2.

P, S, A, M are four modes with different exposure control and only here you have full control over all camera settings.

Which of the four you should choose is also a matter of personal preference. You can get identical results with all four. My personal order is:

  • Programmed auto P is best for more comfortable shooting and to be quick because the camera chooses aperture and shutter speed automatically, instantly.

However, you can always change the combination of shutter speed and aperture with a turn of the rear dial when it matters.

  • Aperture priority A is the best choice for more deliberate shooting, but it forces you to constantly keep an eye on the aperture and change it if necessary. Some people see this as an advantage to get used to having the aperture always in view.
  • Shutter priority S comes after aperture priority A for me for two reasons:
    • It's more common to want to choose a large or small aperture than to need a specific shutter speed – and it's in aperture priority A where you determine the aperture.
    • The latitude in aperture is limited by the lens and is smaller than that for shutter speed. Aperture priority S tends to lead to situations where the camera cannot set a suitable aperture. However, you can get around that with ISO automatic, see below.
  • Manual mode M needs even more attention; you have to set both aperture and exposure time for each shot. And if you forget or make a mistake, the exposure will be wrong.

U1, U2 are modes you can configure yourself, with any other camera mode plus personal camera settings that differ from Nikon's defaults. This way you can always return to a set of basic settings you have defined, e.g. one for sports photography and one for landscape photography. One quick turn of the dial then replaces changing several other settings with buttons and menus.

My guide to all D7000 settings is more specific about how you can use these modes:

Assign personal favorite settings to camera modes U1 or U2

Recommendation for camera modes: Start with P or A. If you find that you keep changing certain camera settings back and forth, you can assign U1 and U2 with frequently used favorite values and start shooting in these two.

Resetting your D7000 to familiar settings

In camera modes U1 and U2, resetting the D7000 to a basic state that you know is simple:

  • Turn on, tap the shutter button - metering must be active.
  • Turn the mode selector to any other mode and back to U1 or U2 - that's it for all settings in camera menus and what you can change with buttons + dials.
  • Don't forget to check the purely mechanical switches on the camery body and lens.

In the camera modes P, S, A, M it is different. There is no panic button that immediately resets all camera settings to reasonable, leave alone personally preferred values. Settings you change stay as you set them – even if you turn the camera off and on again, even if you change the camera mode.

A reset is the only help, it at least puts common settings back to Nikon's default values; you have to restore your preferred deviating values yourself afterwards.

    • Image quality and size
    • White balance
    • ISO
    • Autofocus settings
    • Exposure metering, compensation and lock
    • Flash settings
    • Picture Control
    • Multi-exposure, bracketing, ADL is turned off.

To reset, hold down the two buttons on the back with a green dot for about two seconds until the LCD flashes briefly.

Everything else you have to reset yourself if necessary. The shooting menu and the custom settings menu have their own menu items for this. Otherwise, you will have to go through all the menus you have touched and check the purely mechanical switches on the body and the lens.

Viewfinder or camera display?

This description applies to taking pictures while looking through the camera's viewfinder.

You can also take pictures with the D7000 by using a preview on the camera monitor (”Live View“). However, the D7000 then reacts noticeably slower and, especially in bright daylight, you recognize your image content much better through the viewfinder.

For me the Live View mode is for filming and for rather special cases in which you want to see a preview with the effect of camera settings.

Focal length

Der Zoomring an einemm Objektiv einer Spiegelreflex-Kamera

As an advanced photographer, you should be familiar not only with what focal length(s) your lens offers, but also how wide-angle, normal, and telephoto focal lengths affect images differently. This is not generic knowledge, not specific to the D7000, however.

The D7000 has a crop factor of 1.5, which means that a focal length of about 30-35 mm matches to the standard focal length of 50 mm on a 35 mm camera, smaller ones to wide-angle and larger ones to telephoto lenses.


Focus tracking | Focus Tracking controls whether the autofocus ”locks“ once it can focus correctly or whether it constantly tracks moving subjects.

You can select it with the autofocus button and the rear control dial. You don't recognize the autofocus button as its own button at first glance; it's the round center of the autofocus switch. It's easy to use without taking the camera from your eye; icons for the currently selected setting appear in the viewfinder:

  • AF-A: The D7000 automatically decides whether to stop autofocus after focusing is complete or to continuously track for moving subjects.

The subject must be moving at the moment of focusing for the autofocus to switch to focus tracking.

  • AF-S (”single auto focus“): The D7000 focuses once and does not change focus until you take your finger off the shutter button and press it again.
  • AF-C (”continuous auto focus“): The D7000 continuously adjusts the focus as long as you keep the shutter button pressed.

Focus on a certain point in the image | Focus point selection controls which of its sensors the D7000 uses to focus.

With the autofocus button and the front dial you can change the AF point selection. You can keep the camera at your eye while doing this, the D7000 will show in the viewfinder what is currently selected:

AUTO: Automatic selection from all 39 metering points, most of the time the D7000 will focus on the foreground.

Nikon D7000 AF-single or S in viewfinder: single focus point (S for "single")  you select one sensor for focusing.

Nikon D7000 AF d9 Nikon D7000 AF d9 Nikon D7000 AF d39 or d9 / d21 / d39 in viewfinder: "Dynamic" – You select a sensor for focusing and try to track your moving subject with it. If you lose it for a moment, the D7000 uses the surrounding sensors as a supplement. Not available with AF-S.

3D: You select the metering field for initial focus and the camera's automatic system tracks your subject with all the metering fields as it moves within the viewfinder. Not available with AF-S.

Aperture, exposure time, ISO

Viewfinder display | The D7000 displays the exposure time and the aperture at the bottom of the viewfinder when the exposure metering is active, briefly tap the shutter release button if you do not see any green numbers there.

  • On the left is the exposure time.

A simple number is to be read as a fraction of a second, e.g. 60 means a 60th of a second.
A number with two dashes " is to be read as seconds, e.g. 2" means two seconds.

  • To the right of this is the f-stop number, preceded by an F.

The D7000 does not display the ISO sensitivity in the viewfinder in Nikon's default settings. However, you can display it permanently using the custom seettings menu d3 ISO Display and adjustment. Select

  • Show ISO sensitivity or
  • Show ISO/Easy ISO.

Recommendation: Select Show ISO/Easy ISO, it also makes it easier to change the ISO value. More on this below.

The ISO sensitivity then appears at the bottom right of the viewfinder instead of the number of pictures that still fit on the memory card. I think this is a good swap.

LCD reading | Exposure time and aperture appear at the top of the LCD; the numbers can be read like those in the viewfinder. Tap the shutter button briefly if you can't see them.

The ISO sensitivity appears at the bottom right when the exposure metering is active, if you follow the tip above and set it in the d3 menu. Otherwise it is not visible on the display.

Display on camera monitor | You can get the same indications as on the camera display appearing larger on the monitor by pressing the info button at the bottom right of the camera back.

Setting aperture and shutter speed | How you can change aperture and shutter speed depends on the camera mode:

  • P = programmed auto, the D7000 suggests aperture and shutter speed.

You can change the aperture and shutter speed combination by turning the rear dial.

This is called "program shift", the camera mode display changes from P to P*.

If the aperture and shutter speed do not change when you turn the rear dial, you have probably reached the maximum or minimum possible aperture of your lens.

  • S = shutter priority, you select a shutter speed with the rear dial and the D7000 selects the appropriate aperture.
  • A = aperture priority, you select an aperture with the front dial and the D7000 selects the appropriate shutter speed.
  • M = manual control, you select the aperture with the
    • the aperture with the front dial and
    • the exposure time with the rear dial.
  • U1, U2 are identical to P in Nikon's presets, but you can assign any other type of exposure control to them. Depending on which exposure control you save there, you can set aperture and shutter speed as described above.

Setting ISO sensitivity | In Nikon's default settings, the ISO value is set by pressing the ISO button and simultaneously turning the rear control dial.

But there is an easier way: if you follow the tip above and select Show ISO/Easy ISO once in the custom settings menu d3, you can change the ISO sensitivity instantly with a turn of the front dial.

Doing so you do not only eliminate the need to reach for the ISO button, you get instant control over aperture, shutter speed and ISO without having to take the camera from your eye.

In camera mode A, the front dial is reserved for aperture selection, there you have to turn the rear dial for a simplified ISO setting. And in M mode, the nice trick does not work because both dials are assigned to aperture and shutter speed.

The auto ISO sensitivity control can automatically increase the ISO value you have selected if the exposure time is in danger of becoming too long. If you want to react quickly with your camera, this can be an important setting.

Here's how the auto ISO control works:

  • The D7000 uses the ISO value you set as long as the exposure time is shorter than the minimum shutter speed. The D7000 can vary the minimum shutter speed depending on the focal length.
  • If the exposure time would become longer, the D7000 will automatically increase the ISO sensitivity up to the maximum value stored in the menu.
  • Only when the maximum sensitivity is reached the D7000 will allow longer exposure times.

You can set the auto ISO control in the shooting menu only.

Exposure – controlling image brightness

Auto exposure lock

I have already described the simplest method for controlling image brightness, exposure lock, in the basic Nikon D7000 settings:

Basic Nikon D7000 settings | auto exposure lock

Exposure metering

The exposure metering method determines where in the frame the D7000 measures brightness and how it deals with differently bright parts of the image.

You select it with the metering button together with the rear dial:

Nikon Symbol Belichtungsmessung Matrix Matrix = exposure metering with 2016 sensors over the entire image area and evaluation with complex logic of the camera electronics.

Nikon Symbol Belichtungsmessung Integral mittenbetong centre-weighted = metering of brightness over the entire image area with higher weighting of the centre of the image (a circle with a diameter of approx. 50% of the image height)

Nikon Symbol Belichtungsmessung Spot spot metering = metering of brightness exclusively in a small circle around the active autofocus sensor or the centre of the image. The diameter of the spot metering area is only about one tenth of the image width, unfortunately not marked in the viewfinder.

Exposure compensation makes a photo lighter or darker than with the automatically measured exposure. You can apply it to any metering method as a manually selected correction.

You set an exposure correction by pressing the +/-button and simultaneously turning the rear dial.

White balance

You can select the white balance and thus the colour rendition with the WB button and the dials:

  • The type of light together with the rear dial.
  • An additional fine-tuning with the front one. The display A1-6 stands for warmer colours (A for amber), b1-6 for more blueish ones.

Set a manual white balance on a grey or white reference surface as follows:

  • Select PRE as the white balance and release the WB key.
  • Press the WB button again until the PRE indicator flashes.
  • Point the D7000 at the reference area for white balance. It should fill the entire frame and does not need to be in focus. You can simply switch off the autofocus (AF switch to M) and move as close as you like to your reference area.
  • Press the shutter release button.


Turning flash on and off

In camera modes P, S, A, M as well as U1, U2 you have to switch the flash on and off yourself.

Pressing the flash control button will pop it up, and then the D7000 will fire it. Otherwise it won't. To switch off, press the flash from above to retract it.

Flash exposure compensation

A flash exposure correction makes the flash shine brighter or darker compared to the automatically determined brightness. The brightness of the background, where the flash does not reach, remains unchanged.

You can adjust it with the flash control button plus turning the front dial.

Flash synchronisation

Flash synchronisation is the coordination of the very short flash duration with the longer exposure time of the camera.

Flash synchronisation is controlled with the flash control button together with the rear control dial:

Nikon-Symbol Aufhellblitz: The flash lights up at the beginning of the exposure time ("synchronisation to the 1st shutter curtain").

The exposure time is limited upwards and downwards; (changeable) Nikon default:

    • min. 1/250 s,
    • max. 1/60 s.

Nikon-Symbol Blitz Langzeitsynchronisation : The longest exposure time can deviate up to 30 s (slow sync).

Nikon-Symbol Blitz-Synchronisation 2. Verschlussvorhang: The flash lights up at the end of the exposure time (“synchronisation to 2nd shutter curtain”). In P and A modes, the D7000 will then automatically add slow sync SLOW as well.

Nikon-Symbol Blitz Rote Augen-Reduzierung: Before shooting, the AF-assist light will illuminate for about one second to reduce red-eye.

Please do not use this setting, it is unpleasantly blinding and creates corresponding facial expressions in your photos.

RAW and/or JPG files

Select file format

The QUAL button on the back is responsible for the RAW and/or JPG file format and additional JPG options:

  • Together with the rear dial, you set the file format and JPG compression, if applicable:
    • If RAW is visible on the LCD or monitor, the D7000 will create a file in Nikon's proprietary RAW format, file extension .NEF.
    • If FINE / NORMAL / BASIC is displayed, it will create a JPG file. RAW and/or JPG can be combined as you like.

The levels FINE / NORMAL / BASIC stand for different compression, FINE delivers the largest, BASIC the smallest files.

  • Together with the front dial you set the image size for JPG files:

L for approx. 16 megapixels (4,928×3,264 pixels)
M for approx. 9 megapixels (3,696×2,448 pixels)
S for approx. 4 megapixels (2,464×1,632 pixels)

Clever JPG Compression | Recommendation: Additionally change the shooting menu JPEG Compression. It has the following options:

  • Size priority (default): Compression varies and tries to produce files of approximately the same size.
  • Optimal quality: Adjusts JPEG compression to the subject, compresses images with fine details less, quality improves and file size fluctuates more.

This is the better choice, unfortunately not preset by Nikon.

Options for JPG files: in-camera image processing

Nikon groups together common settings for developing RAW data into JPG files under the title Picture Control: sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue.

The predefined titles Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape are combinations of these parameters. They bring subtle but visible differences. If you press the ISO button while in the menu, the D7000 displays a graph showing the differences, at least for saturation and contrast.

The Monochrome configuration is different, for creating black and white or differently toned monochrome images. There you can set filter effects that simulate the use of colour filters in analogue black and white photography. This allows you to influence light-dark contrasts.

Use this menu if you want to permanently apply a certain custom fine-tuning to your JPG images. Use this menu if you want to permanently apply your own fine-tuning to your JPG images, i.e. if you keep noticing that the images have a little too little saturation or could do with a little more sharpening.

It is too complicated and impractical to play around in this menu all the time; it is too difficult to judge the effects on the small camera monitor.


You will already be familiar with image playback and scrolling through photos at this point, including zooming in and out of displayed photos.

Please also try the up and down arrow keys ⏶⏷ while the D7000 is displaying a photo full screen. This will change the information displayed with a photo.

In the Playback menu Display mode you can activate or deactivate various views of an image carrying different additional information. In particular, you can switch on and off the RGB histograms necessary for assessing the exposure or the simpler help of flashing overexposed areas.

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