F. JPG- and RAW-files

Level:Special knowledge

All Nikon D7000 settings related to the creation of JPG and RAW files explained. They control what can happen to the image data on its way from the sensor to a finished JPG and/or RAW file.

Choosing file format

What | RAW and/or JPEG? You have the choice. For JPG files, the D7000 expects additional information about how many megapixels the image file should have and how strong the compression should be.

Where & How | The QUAL button on the back is responsible for these settings:

Use it with the rear dial to set the file format and JPG compression:

  • If RAW is visible on the LCD or monitor, the D7000 will create a file in Nikon's own RAW format, file extension .NEF.
  • If FINE / NORMAL / BASIC is displayed, it will create a JPG file. RAW and JPG can be combined as you like.

The FINE / NORMAL / BASIC levels represent different compression; FINE gives the largest files, and BASIC the smallest.

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×.448 pixels)
S for approx. 4 megapixels (2,464×1,632 pixels)

Clever JPG compression | Images rich in fine details suffer more easily from quality losses of the JPG compression and the JPG compression does not work as effectively with them. The shooting menu JPEG Compression has a choice how to handle this:

  • Size priority (default): The 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.

RAW format for single shots | In the custom settings menu f3 or f4 there is a menu item +NEF (RAW). If you select this entry, you can get the D7000 to save the next image in RAW format by pressing the Fn resp. preview button.


  • When deciding whether it is best to use RAW and/or JPG, there is no standard answer. Don't trust a blanket ”you have to shoot in RAW to get better quality“ or an undifferentiated ”JPG will do“. It depends, you have to weigh it up yourself.
  • With JPG compression, you can choose BASIC don't worry. The files become much smaller and the differences are hardly visible. You have to look very closely to spot differences in quality.
  • At the same time, please set the JPEG compression menu to Optimal quality as described.
  • For the image size, take L to have a reserve when cropping images.

The path to a JPG file: in-camera image processing

Sharpness, contrast, brightness, colour saturation and hue

Nikon summarises these parameters for the development of RAW data into JPG under the title Picture Control.

The options Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape are predefined combinations of these parameters by Nikon. If you press the ISO/zoom out button in the menu, the D7000 displays a graphic that shows the differences, at least for saturation and contrast.

The Monochrome configuration is different, for creating black and white or differently toned monochrome images. It offers filter effects that simulate the use of colour filters in analogue black and white photography, to control contrast of the final image.

You have three options for adjusting the image processing to your taste:

Select an existing Picture Control configuration | In the shooting menu Set picture control, select one of Nikon's predefined configurations. The differences are subtle but visible; most obvious with Vivid and Landscape.

Change existing Picture Control configuration | When selecting one of the configurations, you can press the arrow key to the right and adjust the individual parameters behind it. The configuration then gets an asterisk * attached to its name.

These changes are lost again when you perform a camera reset.

Create your own Picture Control configuration | You can create your own configurations using the next menu item Manage picture control. After selecting Save/edit, you can access and change an existing configuration as before, but save it permanently under its own name at the end.

This is the best way to use your own configurations permanently.

Recommendation | Use this menu if you want to permanently apply a specific custom fine-tuning to your JPG images. That is, if you keep noticing that the images have e.g. a bit 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; also it is difficult to judge the effects on the small camera monitor.

White balance

You can select the white balance 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 cooler colours (with b as in blue).

A manual white balance on a grey or white reference surface is done as follows:

  • Select PRE as the white balance value and release the WB key.
  • Press the WB button again until the PRE indicator flashes.
  • Point the D7000 at your 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.

A second option is the shooting menu White balance, with does the same as before plus allowing some finer tweaks:

  • The automatic white balance has two options AUTO1 and AUTO2.

The difference is only noticeable with incandescent light, AUTO1 will then produce more neutral and AUTO2 more yellowish colours. AUTO2 corresponds to the white balance of earlier camera models, which does not work so well with incandescent light.

  • Fine-tuning can change the colour not only towards blue or orange but also towards green or magenta.

Pressing the direction button to the right takes you from a menu item to a graphical adjustment aid that is easy to operate with the direction buttons.

  • The reference images used for a manual white balance are visible here as thumbnails, d-0 is the last one taken. You can save it under a different abbreviation d-1 to d-4 and with a plain text name for repeated use.
  • When setting white balance with the WB button, the front dial allows you to select d1-d4 when you have reached PRE with the rear dial.
  • When selecting the fluorescent light type, Nikon provides seven different lamp types to choose from.

Lighten shadows with Active D-Lighting

Active D-Lighting (ADL) is a brightening of shadows, one of the most common post-processing tasks. Not quite as pronounced, it also helps reduce overexposure by making the D7000 expose a little shorter and brightening the image afterwards. ADL uses the RAW data from the image sensor on its way into a JPG file, giving it an advantage over later editing of the JPG file.

It is switched off in Nikon's default settings.

If you assign Active D-Lighting to the Fn or preview button in the custom settings menu f3 resp. f4, you can adjust ADL more quickly with your favourite button and the rear command dial.

I like to have ADL set to Automatic and the D7000 decides how much to brighten shadows. I haven't seen any images where ADL has had a negative effect, only improvements. But it's not a magic wand either, it intervenes rather gently, you'll still find shadows in the image processing that will benefit from brightening.

Noise reduction for long exposures

When you turn this feature on, the D7000 applies additional image processing for noise reduction when shooting with more than 1 s exposure time.

More noise reduction means a smoother, cleaner image, but surface textures and details are washed out.

I always leave it turned off. The noise of the D7000 is already quite low and if necessary it can be done just as well afterwards in image processing − at least in RAW files.

Noise reduction at high ISO sensitivity

Here you can set whether the D7000 applies additional noise reduction at higher ISO sensitivities. I leave the default value NORM.

If you select OFF, the noise reduction is not completely switched off, just weaker and only takes effect from ISO 1600.

Lens distortion correction

Distortion means that a lens produces a slightly curved image of straight lines. How much depends on the lens and, in the case of zoom lenses, also on the focal length.

Auto distortion correction reduces this aberration. It does not work with all lenses; according to Nikon, only those with a G or D in their type designation.

In Nikon's default settings it is switched off.

If exactly straight lines are important to you, this function brings a small, but fine and important improvement. On the other hand, it crops the image slightly at the edges, so take a slightly larger picture.

However I never use the function, in the meantime good image editing programmes like DxO PhotoLab or Adobe Lightroom automatically recognise camera and lens and correct distortion exactly and automatically. The built-in distortion correction of the D7000 is quite good, but not completely accurate.

Colour space

The shooting menu Color space allows you to capture images in AdobeRGB instead of the default sRGB. Change it only if you know what you are doing and are sure to edit and view your images with correct colour profiles.

Choices for RAW files

The shooting menu NEF (RAW) recording lets you change two details for the RAW file format:

  • 12 or 14 bit colour depth − accordingly the D7000 stores each colour component at 4,096 or 16,384 brightness levels respectively.
  • The RAW files can be compressed more heavily, but with losses in quality.

I just leave this menu as it is; the higher colour depth and lossless compression are preset and are welcome to remain so for the best possible quality.

File names and location

Create or select folders for saving new images | This can be done in the shooting menu Storage folder. To create a new folder on the memory card, however, you can only enter a three-digit number, the other five characters D7000 are fixed.

If a folder icon appears next to a number when you enter it, there is already one with this number.

Changing file names | In Nikon's default settings, file names start with DSC, you can replace these first three letters with your own abbreviation in the shooting menu of the same name.The rest of the file name is always the same:

  • The three letters are followed by an underscore _ if you are using the sRGB colour space. For AdobeRGB it precedes them.
  • A four-digit sequential number follows and 
  • the file extension .JPG or .NEF.

Reset the four-digit number in the file name | This is controlled in the custom settings menu d8 file number sequence.

  • On: In Nikon's default setting, file names contain a consecutive four-digit number. After reaching 9999, the D7000 creates a new folder starting again with 0001. 
  • Off: The D7000 will start with 0001 again and again − after transferring all photos, formatting or replacing the memory card and creating a new folder.
    Caution! This results in many photos with the same file name on the computer. 
  • Reset: It's a one time reset, the D7000 starts once again with 0001, then it continues as with On.

Handling two memory cards | In case you have two memory cards in your D7000, the shooting menu Role played by card in slot 2 tells the D7000 what to write to it:

  • Overflow (default): the D7000 will not write to the memory card in the lower tray 2 until the one in the upper tray 1 is full. 
  • Backup: The D7000 stores each image on both memory cards. 
  • RAW slot 1 − JPEG slot 2 does what the title promises.

Saving image orientation

What | With Nikon's default settings, the D7000 stores in every JPG and RAW file whether you have held the camera horizontally or vertically. If you don't want this for whatever reason, you can suppress it.

Display programs can read the information about the image orientation to automatically show photos in portrait or landscape format as taken.

Where | In the system menu Auto image rotation.

Copyright information | Text entered in this system menu is stored by the D7000 in so-called metadata. This means it is invisible, but software that read this data can display it.

If you want to use it, don't forget to close the menu by selecting Done.

Image comment | The same function is available for any other text comment that the D7000 saves with each image. Also in the system menu.

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