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Nikon Z7 & Z6 Fast Start

Lesson 4 of 15

Camera Controls: Top Deck


Nikon Z7 & Z6 Fast Start

Lesson 4 of 15

Camera Controls: Top Deck


Lesson Info

Camera Controls: Top Deck

Alright, next up on the top of the camera is the ISO button. And here's where we have our first subtle difference between the Z six, and the Z seven. The Z sevens native resolution is ISO 64. And for the Z six, that's ISO 100. And that native resolution is where you're going to get the best information on to the sensor. And so you can actually go to a low setting where if you were really wanting a slower shutter speed, you could drop it down. You can also raise it up quite high we have slightly different high levels of 25 thousand and 51 thousand between the two. We have high one and high two settings, which will kind of extend that ISO range even further. And so you're going to get to the ISO by pressing the ISO button and because this is one of those kind of two finger buttons, you have to press and hold the ISO button while you are turning the main command dial in the back of the camera. Now the sub option on this is , to turn the auto ISO on and off, and it's not quite as easy. Som...

etimes you have to reach up and press the ISO button with your thumb, and then move your forefinger around to the front the sub command dial and turn the auto on and off. And so that's how you can quickly turn the auto on and off. Now, kind of as a slight aside, the way Nikon cameras come from the factory is a bit of a head scratcher for me. And I'm not real fond of it One of the things is is that they have auto ISO turned on as a default, I guess for easy picture taking that might be fine. And so be aware of that. The other thing if you just taking your camera out of the box and you started shooting photographs, the camera is set to a very mediocre image quality level. And so you want to pay attention to the menu section when we start talking about image quality. But let's stay on ISO here. So let's take a look. I always like to run these cameras through a little ISO test just to see where would feel comfortable shooting on these cameras. Let's take a look first at the Z six. All right now in theory, the Z six with less pixels should be able to be good at a higher ISIL. And everything from 50 to 32 hundred is looking very clean. And so I've enlarge the section I'm looking at the dark areas, I'm looking at the highlights, and we're not really seeing any significant noise in here at all. Obviously, when you get up to the high settings, it's very noisy, 51 thousand is still pretty rough 25 thousand is pretty rough as well. But 12 thousand eight hundred is looking amazingly clean. I would think that you could shoot at 12 thousand eight hundred and shoot a book cover. You could shoot a double page spread in a magazine and it's it would look pretty good. And so obviously with ISO you want to keep it as low as you can as often as you can, but I don't think I would be too scared about setting that Cameras up to 12 thousand eight hundred. All right, let's take another look at the Z seven in this case. And we'll go through the same process of cropping and enlarging and we can go all the way down to ISO 32 here, up to 16 hundred looks very clean. Of course, when we get into the high one and two settings high two is really rough, they're pushing it, there high one is pretty bad. But it's amazing how good 25 thousand is for what it is for 45 megapixel camera. It's still not great, it's not that good. And so the top end here would be 64 hundred to 12 thousand eight hundred depending on your standards in there, and so it's only slightly worse than the Z six in my opinion. Now, one of the things that Nikon cameras have been known for is their exposure latitude, the range of shooting that they can shoot in between highlight and low light and how much can you rescue data from those highlights and shadows. So I want to test these cameras, if you were to miss the exposure, how much could you correct for it? And how good are the sensors and so what I did is I shot a whole bunch of photos, everything from five stops underexposed to five stops overexposed and then I corrected all of them to try to make them normal. Alright, so obviously the one that's shot normal is going to be the best. And the worst ones is the overexposed by five stops and then corrected in post production. Over three, four and five are really unacceptable in my opinion. But two stops over, I was able to resurrect most of the data quite well and this is from the Z six. Underexposed, five stops gets very noisy four stops is very noisy. Three is moderately noisy, but acceptable for a lot of situations I think, and under two stops was pretty good. And so it was pretty good at being able to raise up to two three stops under were Up to two stops overexposed. Running through the same test with a Z seven underexposed by five stops overexposed by five stops. The over three, four and five are horrible. Over two is a little bit rough and so maybe one, one and a half stops on the underside, under five under four pretty rough under two to three is looking pretty good in there. And so the cameras actually have pretty similar performance, which is surprising given the pixel difference between the two. It's fairly similar between the two but a little bit better range I would think on the Z six in some regards. But that is the trade off between the number of pixels and how big they are and how much light they can gather. Next up is the Exposure Compensation button on the camera once again, this is the button that you need to press in turn the back dial on the camera simultaneous And so this is used for making your pictures a little brighter or a little darker. And so you'll be able to turn that Exposure Compensation down to five stops below or five stops over and you will see the indicator or the Exposure Value in the viewfinder change. Now you can do this in third stop increments I'm showing you in the full stops, one stop over as an example or two stops under is going to look like that. Now these are mainly intended for modes where the camera has input over the final exposure like program Shutter Priority and Aperture Priority. However, and I think Nikon's the only camera manufacturer on the market that does this, you can use it in the manual mode. Now it doesn't do anything. If you set a manual ISO, shutter speed and aperture and then turn the Exposure Compensation dial as much as you want. It's not going to change the exposure But it does change where the indicator is on the light meter. And it basically fools the light meter and tries to tell it make everything darker or lighter than average. And so if you did like to manually expose and you just want to fool the light meter, make everything darker, you could do that. But be aware if you have done that, because it can be done manually and you may not want to be doing that. So generally you want to get that reset to Zero for standard shooting. All right, we have a Movie-record button which doesn't do anything when you are in the photo mode. It only works for recording video when you are in the video mode. And this becomes one of many different buttons on this camera that is programmable. So if you want to get in and customize this button, you can go into the Custom Settings Menu under F2 and there's going to be a whole bunch of buttons and dials that you can change on the camera and customize and so if you would prefer that Was your ISO button and you wanted to move that ISO over a notch. You could do that if you want to make it a focusing button, depth of field preview or a lot of other things you can reprogram it and seeing how it's not programmed with anything right now I think that's a button that is just asking to be reprogrammed in some ways for all of the still photographers using this camera. We have a control panel on the top of the camera, which will give you kind of a quick readout of your basic settings. This is just kind of convenient. As you're preparing your camera for the next shot to see what's going on. There's not a lot we can do with it, it's just kind of on we can go into the Menu system and we can control the brightness of this if you're shooting nighttime and you just want to darken everything up on the camera you can turn the brightness of it down or up if you need to cause you're shooting with it and really bright light you want to see it more easily. There's a little kind of funky mark right by that main Command dial and that is the Focal plane markets unlikely that you will ever need this. But if, for certain reasons with certain special lenses like Macro lenses or City lenses where you need to measure the distance from your subject to the focusing plane in the camera, that's where the sensor is in the camera. So if you need to have that for a technical reason, and then when you're playing back movies, there's a little speaker on the top so you can hear what the sound is from the movie that you have recorded. Next up is the Hot Shoe on the camera. This is where you can attach external devices, mostly flash, there's connections in there to electronically not to power but to communicate with the flash to send it correct triggering time and flash information as far as power. Nikon has many different good flashes and icons one of the strongest manufacturers when it comes to flash features and operation. And so with this camera, I would think a lot of people would be probably in the SB seven hundred to SB five thousand which are pretty powerful flashes that give you a lot of options. If you are using the external flashes, you can use an SC-29 core to get the flash off the camera, either a reachable distance or onto a bracket so that if you are photographing at an event like a wedding reception or some sort of corporate gig and you wanted to have the flash above the lens in all cases, you can have rotating flash brackets, and this will help keep the flash in the right position and automatic communication between the camera and the flash for all the power information that it needs.

Class Description


  • Easily navigate the controls, menus, modes, and settings on the Z6 and Z7
  • Shoot with confidence in full manual mode
  • Utilize advanced features like focus stacking
  • Use the 4k film options for incredible video performance
  • Adjust camera settings to shoot in challenging situations, such as low light
  • Master the autofocus system and different autofocus modes
  • Understand the camera's strengths and limitations
  • Choose the right lenses and accessories for the Z series cameras


The Nikon Z6 and Z7 wrap several advanced features in a compact mirrorless system -- but as first generation full-frame cameras, there's no precedent to get a jump start on exactly where all those features are. Covering both the Nikon Z7 and Nikon Z6 with nearly identical control schemes, this Fast Start class quickly brings you up to speed on using Nikon's new full frame mirrorless cameras. These mirrorless digital cameras offer 4K UHD video recording, superb in-body image stabilization, and excellent low light capabilities. But the Nikon’s long list of features is just money wasted if you don’t actually know how to find them and put them to use.

Skip the floundering through menus and join photographer John Greengo exploring the camera’s many features, from customizing the camera to understanding subject-tracking focus. Locate the controls, find hidden features, and put the camera's advanced features to use, whether you are new to interchangeable lens cameras or have shot Nikon DSLRs for years.

This class is designed for photographers using either the Nikon Z7 or Nikon Z6, from those just pulling it out of the box to photographers that just haven’t found all the camera’s features yet. The class can also serve as an in-depth look if you’re not yet sure if the Nikon Z6 or Z7 is the best camera for you. The Nikon camera class covers the camera from the exterior controls to the menu.

What's packed in this Nikon camera Fast Start? Learn the vital information in less time than it takes to analyze the menu -- and have more fun doing it too.


  • New Nikon Z6 or Z7 camera owners
  • Nikon DSLR shooters moving to the mirrorless system
  • Photographers considering buying the Z6 or Z7
  • Photographers, from beginners to advanced
  • Videographers and vloggers


With more than 50 classes exploring the features of interchangeable lens cameras across half a dozen brands, John Greengo is one of CreativeLive's top instructors. His class list includes Fast Starts for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, and Panasonic, as well as classes covering photography basics and beyond. Shooting his first Nikon in the 1980s, the award-winning photographer is intimately familiar with the ins and outs of different cameras and different camera brands. When he's not teaching, he's building on his three decades of experience as a travel and landscape photographer.


  1. Class Introduction

    Get acquainted with Nikon's new full-frame mirrorless cameras. In the first lesson, see what's so different about the Z series, look at lenses and the FTZ adapter, and gain an overview of the class.

  2. Photo Basics

    In this lesson, John explains several basics for photographers picking up an interchangeable lens camera for the first time before diving into the controls on the Z6 and Z7. Quickly learn basics -- or gain a refresher -- on aperture, shutter speed, and image sensors. Then, get acquainted with the physical controls on the camera body.

  3. Exposure Control

    Dive into the different exposure modes on the Z6 and Z7. Locate where the essential exposure details are inside the electronic viewfinder or EVF. Learn to shoot in aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual mode, as well as digging into unique options like bulb.

  4. Camera Controls: Top Deck

    Continue the tour of the camera at the top. Find the ISO controls, including understanding the high ISO limits and turning auto ISO on and off. Dive into ISO performance and how the image quality stacks up between the Z6 and Z7 from the base ISOs and ISO 100 to high ISOs. Learn to adjust exposure compensation, record a video, and understand the top control panel.

  5. Camera Controls: Back Side Control

    At the back of the camera, explore the electronic viewfinder and tilting LCD screen with Live View, learn to read the different symbols, and customize the settings displayed on the EVF. Then, work with the physical controls at the rear of the camera.

  6. Camera Controls: Back Side Control Continued

    Continue exploring the back of the camera. Dive into the different options in the quick menu or "i" menu. Adjust colors and contrast with camera picture controls for JPEG images. Set the compression for shooting in RAW, link with Wi-Fi and SnapBridge, turn on continuous shooting with burst mode and more using the quick menu.

  7. Left Side & Right Side, Bottom and Front

    Move to the sides, front and bottom of the camera. Locate the different ports, XQD memory card slot, and other features. Dig into the different accessories for the camera, from microphones to battery grips, and learn the limitations of the EN-EL15b battery life and the differences between XQD cards and CFexpress. Finally, take a look at the full-frame sensors and the difference between the higher-resolution Z7 and the faster Z6.

  8. Lenses

    The Z series is compatible with F-mount lenses (and DX lenses cropped) using the FTZ adapter -- but the cameras also launched with its own new Z-mount lenses. Learn the controls that are located on the Nikkor Z lenses themselves instead of the camera and the new Z lenses available so far, like the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S and Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8.

  9. Menu Functions: Image Quality

    Decipher the menu on the Z6 and Z7, starting with the playback and photo shooting menus. Customize your camera's playback displays, organize files, and choose the image quality such as 12-bit or 14-bit RAW. See real-world examples of what the different image quality settings look like.

  10. Menu Functions: Shooting Settings

    After setting the image quality, work through the different available shooting settings located in the menu system like white balance, flicker reduction, metering, flash controls, and other advanced controls.

  11. Menu Functions: Focus Settings

    Tackle focus stacking using the built-in focus shift shooting feature on the Z6 and Z7. Then, choose between the mechanical and silent shutter and learn the pros and cons of each.

  12. Menu Functions: Movie Settings

    Ready to capture video with the Z6 or Z7? Learn the ins and outs of the different video settings, from video quality to slow motion frame rates and white balance. Master the difference between AF-C and Full-Time Autofocus.

  13. Menu Functions: Set Up

    Inside the custom setting menu, the Z6 and Z7 allow you to customize the camera for your shooting style. Work through the different available options, beginning with the phase detection autofocus options.

  14. Menu Functions: Playback Menu

    Fine-tune the way the camera works with the setup menu. Pick up advanced tools like AF fine tune, recording N-Log with HDMI output external recording equipment and more, along with basics like setting the time stamp.

  15. Camera Operations

    Finish navigating the camera menu with a quick overview of the retouch menu with in-camera RAW processing. Then, make the most frequently used settings easy to find by building a custom My Menu. Finally, go through a pre-shoot checklist for prepping the camera and note suggested settings for different scenarios.


Edward Luczak

I love all of John Greengo's classes. Now he is a Canon man but he gives the Nikons a fair review and his lessons on them are excellent. I have the Z6 and I picked up a several pointers I had not run across yet, so this course has paid for itself already. The only negative I have, and hopefully this is because the course was streaming, but the camera focus was off when the video was zoomed into the Z camera. John may need to give the creative live camera operators a lesson on focusing. Great informative course at an excellent price.


Thank you very much, John! I've been using Z 6 for 18 months, so far, and now I've got Z 6 II as well and your training about these cameras is just an excellent job. Of course I've been following you in other trainings as well, like "Photography Fundamentals" (or something like that) and I've got some of your books too, all excellent, but with this Z 6/7 training have been useful to learn some new things and to remember others already forgotten. Thanks a lot!.

Lynn Fisher

Loved the class. Just bought the Z6ii (waiting for it to ship) , so this is a great introduction. Would greatly appreciate it if John could add one more chapter to this class - Tell us about the Z6ii and Z7ii updates. It seems Nikon has addressed a lot of the concerns (particularly 2 card slots), so it might be very helpful for folks trying to decide on which camera to buy. Thanks!!!