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Nikon Z7 & Z6 Fast Start

Lesson 15 of 15

Camera Operations


Nikon Z7 & Z6 Fast Start

Lesson 15 of 15

Camera Operations


Lesson Info

Camera Operations

All right, the Retouch Menu is the menu that we are not going to spend too much time on here. This is kind of like Photoshop in the camera. So if you wanna work on an image that you've taken, you can do so in here, you can add an effect, or you can process an image. Now I will show you just a little bit on how to do this. There's a page in here and there's got all sorts of little things that you can do. So let's go to the camera for a little demo here. And what I'm gonna do is I am going to process a RAW image. So we're gonna try to find an image that is a RAW image, and this is a RAW image right here. I'm gonna go into the Menu, come down here to the Retouch RAW. Now the reason I would wanna retouch a RAW is, let's just imagine a scenario where you are traveling. You do not have your computer with you. You are shooting RAW, and somebody says, "Can I get a copy of that photograph?" And you have a card reader and they have their computer. And so, you wanna make a JPEG. So we're gonna ta...

ke this RAW image and we're gonna go and say okay. And we are gonna select an image. And I'm not picky about an image, I'm just gonna say, yeah, that's a good image. Now if we look along the bottom here, we can say okay, which just kinda brings us back to the main menu, but we wanna set this image, which is the minus button or this little thumbnail. And so, we're gonna hit that, and now we have an image checked, and now we can press okay. So the camera's gonna allow us to process this image. And we can do a number of different things with this. We can change the style of JPEG. Let's make a normal JPEG. And image size, well I'm gonna make a large one. And we can change the white balance if necessary. You know, this image seems a little on the bright side. So I am gonna make this image a little bit darker. So I'm gonna... Ah, that's a little too far. We'll go to minus . and I'm gonna say okay here. There's a number of other settings in here. I'm not gonna do very many of these. D-Lighting, tell you what, let's just do this one. Go to the right and you can see what D-Lighting does here. Let's leave it on normal here, okay. And so this is looking pretty good, so I'm gonna go back to the top of the list with execute and I'm gonna hit okay. And it's gonna take and create a JPEG image. So this is my normal image here. The other image. Now I think this put it at the end of the list. So this was image number 75 and the original image was one of these other ones in here. And so you can see how I have a bunch of RAW images, and as I get to image number 75, then we're at a normal image. So now we have a JPEG image that we've created in-camera. And this is helpful for people who do not have computers out in the field to make smaller sizes and slight little adjustments to their images. And so, if you wanna play with your images in the camera, you can do so in here, but I think you're much better off getting a computer and actually working with them in a proper program like Lightroom, or Photoshop, or many of the other good ones that are out there. The final menu for this camera is the best one. And that is My Menu, and not mine, John's, but your menu and this is where you get to customize the menu with the items that you want in the order that you want. So if you wanna think about the priority of how you settle the functions on this camera, first off we have the custom buttons and dials on the camera. You wanna get those set to anything you use on a daily basis. And then there's the I menu, the shortcut, that's got about, what do they have in there? About 12 items in there? And so, that's where you wanna set things that you go to pretty frequently. And then for all those other things that you do hit up occasionally, you wanna put into My Menu. And so, in here you're gonna be able to go in and add menu items, and then you'll be able to choose from all sorts of different things that you can have in there. And then once you do that, you can go down to Choose Tab and choose to either see My Menu or the settings that you've recently gone to. So let's go ahead and set up My Menu with some custom things in here. All right, so I hit the Menu button. And I come down to My Menu. And there's really nothing in here now. So we're gonna add some items. And they can be from any one of these tabs. I'm gonna go into Photo Shooting Menu. I want things that are important. And so, I'm gonna choose Image Quality, okay, saved. I'm gonna add another item. Go back into Photo Shooting Menu, doing Image Size. That's good, all right, let's continue to add some items. Let's choose some items, actually, go back into the Photo Shooting Menu. Choose some items that are less important and so I'm just gonna randomly choose some stuff here. And let's add some items from the Setup Menu. Okay, so the Format Memory Card, that's a good one. I use that all the time. Let's see what else we have in here. Just add this one more in here. Okay, so I think we're pretty good in here. And so we've got a number of items. We can add up to 20 items, so you'll have two, two and a half screens of information. And then, so for choosing the tab, I want it to go to My Menu. That way when I'm working with the camera and I hit the menu button, I can come in here, and it's with My Menu right here. So I hit Menu, and it's all my stuff. But you know what? This isn't the order that I want. I want Image Quality be at the top. So I can come down here to Rank Items. And now I'm gonna choose Image Quality. Select it by hitting Okay, and bringing it up to the yellow line, and I'm gonna put it at the top of the list. I'm gonna take Image Size, which is pretty important as well and I'm gonna put it right below it. And then I'm gonna take Format Memory Card and I always like leaving that at the bottom of the list. And Format Memory Card is right there. And so, we are then set on this. And so I'm gonna hit Menu to back out of there. And let's come back down to My Menu. And so now we have Image Quality, Image Size up at the top, and Format Memory Card down at the bottom. So spend a little bit of time, go through the options, see what you use, put it in there in the right order, and customize your camera so that you never have to dig through and sift through all those menus that we just went through. If you go through it once and you do it right, you don't need to do it again. All right, for our last little section on this class, we're gonna talk about the operation. We've gone through and talked about all the little bits and pieces. Now I think about it more in a chronological order. If we're gonna go out and shoot, what are the important settings and where do they need to be? What do I need to be thinking about? So first thing you wanna do is have that charged battery. You wanna have a memory card. I'd probably wanna format it before I go out on a new shoot. Make sure that the image quality is set to where you want it be, RAW, high quality fine JPEG might be okay. Check through any other settings that you might have been playing with recently. If you're gonna shoot a really important job or event, or going on a traveling trip and you wanna take a lot of photos, make sure your sensor is clean before you leave. It's always easier to clean it at home, where you have a nice controlled environment. And so make sure that that is set properly before you head out on a big event. We talked about dozens, if not hundreds of controls on this camera, but when you're out working in the field, that really only comes down to about five to 10 controls that you use on a regular basis. Most of these are gonna deal with exposure, which is why we have lots of easy to access buttons and dials right on the top of the camera. The front of the camera, at least as it comes packaged from the factory, has your white balance and your focusing modes. You may wanna flip these around and play around with the customization of the buttons if necessary. The release mode has got an easy to access button on the back of the camera. And these are the ones that I work with on a regular basis. If you find there's another one that you use, well just program that to one of the other buttons on the camera that's easy to get to. So most of these modes are dealing with exposure and focus. And let's look at how we would set the camera up for different types of situation. The first up is Super Simple, all right? So if you wanna keep the camera in a very, very simple setup, but still allow you full access to all of the features, the Program Mode will control shutter speeds and apertures for you. So you don't need to worry about those. You still need to worry about the ISO, and Auto ISO is gonna take care of those for you. I'm not totally happy with it, but for a super simple setup, it's probably gonna be okay. Leave the Exposure Compensation at zero, unless you are specifically needing it. White Balance can be at Auto, unless it seems to be off. So you'll just change that as necessary. If you're shooting basic standard subjects that are stationary, the AF-S would work fine in most all situations. The Auto-area is choosing the large area. It's gonna focus on the nearest subject. It's not great for being very particular, but remember, we're doing a very simple setup here. And it's gonna easily catch on and focus on things 'cause it's got lots to choose from. And then for the Drive mode, leaving it in Single so that you shoot one shot at a time. I think that's a good way to set this camera up for a very simple option. Next up is Landscape Photography. In this case you're gonna probably wanna have more depth of field. The shutter speed isn't as important as is the aperture for controlling the depth of field. Oftentimes you'll be working from a tripod. And so that'll affect our settings as well. In this case I would prefer to be in Manual Exposure so that I can get very specific settings with the camera. Next up I'm actually gonna jump over to ISO. If I have the Z 7, I'll put it at ISO 64. Those of you with the Z 6, ISO is your native best resolution. And that's where you're gonna get the cleanest, best information. Shutter, Aperture is next and important 'cause you typically want a fair bit of depth of field. F8, 11, 16, 22, it depends a little bit on the scene that you have set up in front of you. And the Shutter Speed, the exact one is gonna depend on the light. You're gonna probably end up with a slower shutter speed when you've set your aperture so small. And this is why it's very helpful to have a tripod when shooting this type of photography. Don't need to worry about Exposure Compensation because we're in Manual and that really doesn't have any effect when you're in Manual. Auto White Balance, maybe Natural Light Auto because you're under natural lighting conditions. That would be a very safe setting. Auto focus would be in single 'cause your subject is not moving around. And for Focus Area, you could be in Single-point. You might try the Pinpoint if you wanna be very, very precise about where the focusing is. The Drive Mode can be in Single, or you could use the Self-timer. If it's in Single, you might want to be using the cable release so that you're not moving the camera when you're actually taking the photo. Our next type of photography is Portrait Photography. And in this case, you're gonna be off the tripod. You're probably handholding the camera. You're gonna need to be having a little bit faster shutter speed to stop your handheld motion to the camera, as well as the subject you're shooting. I prefer to be in Manual Exposure. That way I can take a series of shots that are all the same in their exposure. Oftentimes with portrait photography, especially in the field, you'll want shallow depth of field. And so, if you have a lens that opens up to 1.4, it could be nice to separate your subject from the background. Anything in the F4 to 1.4 range is usually pretty good. You're gonna want a Shutter Speed fast enough to stop your subject and yourself from any sort of movement. 125th of a second or faster for this. Obviously, the lowest ISO that your camera has, the lowest number, not the extra low setting, is probably gonna be best. If you need to bump it up, I would then kinda compromise and bump that ISO up as needed from there. Set White Balance on Auto or as necessary. Focusing would be Single, as long as your subject isn't moving around too much. For the Focus Area, I'd wanna be very precise and focus on their eye. You could use the Pinpoint or you could use the Auto-area and use the Face Detection in order to achieve focus, which can be very, very accurate and very versatile because you can move their face around the frame and it follows that location very quickly. And for the Drive Mode, I would probably just leave it in single so that you can get one good shot at a time. Next up is a little bit of Action Photography, so whether it's sports or wildlife, your subjects are moving around. You're gonna need to change the focusing of the camera, as well as the Shutter Speeds. I still like Manual Exposure here because I like my photographs to be consistent from one shot to the next. We're gonna need a faster Shutter Speed. 500th of a second or faster. For human action, if it's really fast, you might need to get up into the 1,000ths of a second. This is where it pays off to have the wide aperture lenses that go down to F2.8. Typically if it's sports in action, you're usually shooting your lens wide open most of the time. It's best to have the ISO as low as possible, but when you're using those really fast Shutter Speeds, you're very frequently gonna be at ISO 400 or higher. White Balance at Auto, adjust as necessary. One of the more important changes here is having the Focus Mode in the Continuous Mode. That way if the subject is moving towards you or away from you, the camera will follow that subject, and track that subject. Focus Area, I want something kind of medium in size, and the Wide-area Large seems to fit the bill pretty closely. The Dynamic-area would also be a good option as well for the area. And finally, I would probably choose the Continuous High. I don't like the Continuous High Extended because it doesn't give you as good of viewing between the frames, but if you really need the frames per second, you could go up to the Extended section. But if you don't need it, you could also go down to the Low setting as well to set a particular number of frames per second. All right, our final one is Basic Photography. And this is where you might have the camera just set up as the default system, not knowing what your next photo is going to be. I think this is a good travel mode for a lot of people. Aperture priority will give us a little bit of automation. We get to select the aperture and the camera will figure out the shutter speed for us. We will be keeping an eye on the Shutter Speed to make sure it's not getting too low if we are handholding the camera. A middle Aperture around 5.6 is a good in between setting. If you need more or less depth of field, just turn that front dial on the camera and that will adjust your Aperture setting. I typically like leaving the camera set to its lowest native ISO, 64 for the Z 7, 100 for the Z 6. And then adjust as the light changes and my needs for the Shutter Speeds and depth of field change. Auto White Balance is fine. Most subjects are stationary, so AF-S focusing Area, maybe the Wide-area Small. It's a little bit larger than that small Single-point Area. It's a little bit easier to grasp on to different types of subjects. And then finally, Single Drive will take one photo at a time and that's gonna be good for general photography. So if you've made it this far into the class, congratulations! It was a long class, but we got the entire camera covered I believe. So hopefully you've got your camera setup the way you want it to. I think this is gonna be a great camera and a great system for Nikon in the long-term. So, keep an eye on the system 'cause they're gonna be adding lots of new lenses, and other accessories for it. And this is where Nikon's gonna be for the future. If you are interested in connecting up with me, I do have my stuff all at my website. You can check out everything there. There's connections to my Facebook and my Instagram accounts. I'm sending out photos pretty much on a daily basis there. So you can keep up with some of my adventures and travels there. I do have a number of other classes here at CreativeLive, and so if you are interested in different types of photography classes, one on Nikon lenses or travel photography, you can check those out there as well. So thanks very much for tuning in and have fun with that camera!

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!!!