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Nikon Z7 & Z6 Fast Start

Lesson 11 of 15

Menu Functions: Focus Settings


Nikon Z7 & Z6 Fast Start

Lesson 11 of 15

Menu Functions: Focus Settings


Lesson Info

Menu Functions: Focus Settings

Next up is focus shift shooting. And this is, I think, one of the more interesting ones in the camera. It's relatively new to the Nikon cameras. The Nikon D850 had it. And it was a great feature for macro photographers, some landscape photographers, product photography. And it's for very challenging focus situations. So lemme explain a little bit how it works, and then we're gonna do an actual demonstration here. So, what this does is it shoots a series of photographs at slightly different focus places. You might think of them as slices. And this way, you can have enough depth of field to carry from the front to the background. As an example, if you shoot at 1.4, you're gonna get really shallow depth of field. If you say, "Hey, I want all that stuff in focus," you stop down to f/22, it's still not all in focus. And that's because you're focused on the front object, and you should probably be focused more towards the middle of your subject if you want the focus to extend in front and be...

hind it. So, we move the focus point to the middle, and you know what? f/22 still does not get us sharp focus in the foreground and the background. And that's because this is a subject that is pretty close up to the camera, and you just don't get a lot of depth of field when you're close to the camera. And so, in this case, if we wanna get everything in focus, we're gonna need to do a focus stack. And so, what we do is, in this case, I'm setting f/11, and I'm gonna shoot 50 photographs, step width of one. I'll talk more about that in a moment. And I'm shooting a bunch of different photographs. And if we look at the first photograph, we can see that I'm focused on the foreground subject. And if we look at the last photograph, I've photographed towards the background. And so, we have all these different steps between the front and the back, and we put them all together, and we can get everything sharp in the photograph. And so, when we zoom in nice and close, we can see that our subjects, both in the foreground and the background, are very, very sharp. And if you compare how sharp they are to just using f/22, there is a huge difference between these two. So, if you wanna do this, it only works with non-moving subjects because we're shooting a whole lot of photos that are not all at the same time. Camera should be on a tripod 'cause you can't be moving. You should be in manual exposure because all of these are gonna become one photograph. And f/8 to f/11 tends to be where the best aperture is where you're gonna get a fair bit of depth of field, but not really getting into a diffraction problem. So, let's look at the menu in here. We can start it off right here. Very important is the number of shots. How many shots you'll need will depend on how much magnification and how shallow your depth of field is. We'll do a couple of experiments here. Next up is your step width. And this is how much it adjusts focus from one image to the next. And so, there's no real specific data on what's happening when it goes from one to two. It's just going more of a distance, and it'll be a little bit of a trial and error for you to figure out what's appropriate. Once again, we'll play with this in just a moment. If you were gonna be shooting with a flash, and you needed to let the flash recycle, you could set an interval for two, three, five seconds or more. If there was perhaps a vibration in your tripod or something where you wanted each image to be delayed by a little bit, you could do so here. If you wanted to lock the exposure on the first frame because you're using an automatic exposure mode, you could do that. I recommend doing this in manual exposure where this is not necessary. Peaking stack image. All right, Nikon, nice job on this one. I haven't seen anybody else do this. This is fantastic. I'm gonna show you examples of this. And this is where it gives you a reference of what the camera focused on. And so, we can see three examples where I shot in small, medium, and larger amounts. And this is kind of like the highlights that you might see, the peaking. And this shows us how much we've got in focus. And so, you'll see this little peak symbol. And I have found that you do need the Z-mount lenses to make this feature work. It's not listed in the instruction manual, but I have not got it to work with the adapter. You'll hit the i menu, and ask to display peaking stack image. And as I said, we'll do this here in just a moment. And this is a great way for you to tell if you have really got your subject in total focus. And I would leave that turned on. It's not an image that you can download to your computer. It's only an image that you will see in your camera when you have shot a peaking stack in there. And it's a great way to see how much your depth of field is. And I was out shooting with the camera over this weekend, and I was thinking, I was like, I really like that peaking stack image. What if I only wanna take one picture? 'Cause I just wanna see how much technically is in focus with one photograph. And so, I tried it out, and the thing is is that if you want, you can do a stack of one and just shoot one photograph and get that peaking image. I don't know where it goes. It must be hidden somewhere in the cards, but it's not something that I've been able to find and access and download anyplace else. I've had to photograph the back of the camera to show you what it looks like. Silent photography, this is one area where it might be good to turn it on because a lot of times, you're shooting very high magnification, and any sort of movement in that shutter opening and closing could cause a very subtle vibration in the camera. And so, I think silent photography, in most cases, is probably gonna be fine here. And then you could, of course, store everything in a separate folder 'cause you do end up shooting lots of photos in this case. Okay, so we are gonna dive into the focus shift shooting mode. And before we've done this, just to let you know that we have pre-focused on our foreground subject right here. And what we're trying to do is trying to get our photograph, our subject in the foreground. Let's spin it around and we have some detail here. There, we got some detail in there. As well as a subject in the background. I'm gonna put the camera in aperture priority. We'll keep it, actually, we'll adjust it to f/11. Let's see, there's f/11. And we're gonna bring the ISO down to something a little more reasonable. We'll go to 800, which is fine for this. And now, we're gonna dive into the menu. So, our image is basically set up. We're gonna come to the right here. We don't wanna start yet. We're gonna choose the number of shots. And I'm gonna change this to 10 shots. Press OK. Focus step width of five, and that's right in the middle, so we're just gonna say... Actually, I wanna show you what it looks like at one for this particular example. There's gonna be no interval between these. I don't need this... Well actually, I do need this on because I am in aperture priority. We definitely want the peaking stack image on. Silent photography, I'm gonna leave it turned off, so you can actually hear the shutter firing. And I'm not gonna change the storage folder. And I think I have everything set right, so I'm gonna hit start, OK. It's gonna take a moment to kind of organize itself, and then you're gonna hear it go through 10 shots. (shutter clicking rapidly) All right, so those were our 10 shots. And if we were to play back these images, they're not gonna look that different. Let's change the display on this so we can see. I wanna just see the image. There we go. And so, the difference isn't very much in here. And when I do hit the display, you'll see at the top, it says Peak. That means I have a peaking image. And I'm gonna hit the i button, and I wanna display the peaking stack image, which is down here at the bottom of the display. I'm gonna hit OK. And so, it's gonna show you that it focused on our lens in the foreground very clearly. But Kenna in the background and the prop table did not get very much focus on it. So, I'm gonna shoot this whole stack series again. Oh gosh, here we go, we gotta do it again. But this time, I'm gonna do 20 shots. And rather than a step width of one, I'm gonna do a step width of five, in the middle. So, it's gonna shoot them a little bit further apart. We don't need to over-overlap them. We just want them to overlap a little bit. Everything else seems fine. So now it's gonna shoot for twice as many shots. Goes through the preparing, and here we go. (shutter clicking rapidly) Now, it would go a little bit faster, but we're shooting at a third of a second. So it needs a third of a second for each shot. Gonna take ourselves about six or seven seconds. Okay, so we're done. Now you can see this last image, the background is in much better focus. So, let's take a look at, these are the individual photographs. We're on picture number 74, so let's go back. And you can see now, we're focused more on the foreground. So, let's go in and take a look at the peaking image because we see the word Peak up there. We're gonna go into the i menu, and press the display peaking stack image. And we've done a little bit better job, although it's not as good as I thought it would be. I wonder if I am still on the first series of photographs. Let me make sure, I might be on the first series. We might have, I think I was on the wrong series. So now, let's check out. That was the first peak stack. And there's the second peak stack. And so that tells us that we've got focus from the foreground to the background on this. And so, the stack image doesn't seem to take up any notable amount of file space in there. I kinda wish I could just keep it just as its own particular art form. I mean, that could become its own style. So, I'm gonna put this back. And that is a little bit on how peaking stack works. It works best, in my opinion, with macro photography. Can work very good with landscape photography if you have subjects that are very close in the foreground, and you wanna make sure that they're in as sharp a focus as the background, and you're afraid of diffraction, closing down to f/16, 22, 32. This allows you to shoot things at a better prime aperture like eight or 11. So I think it's a really neat, useful tool. It's only useful in a few very special applications, but it is very good at that. Last item in the photo menu is silent photography, and this is where the camera uses an electronic shutter rather than a mechanical shutter. So, let me explain a little bit about what's going on in these two situations. All right, so a mechanical shutter uses a physical shutter, usually four blades that move up and down, for the first and second shutter going in the camera. So, the first one closes, and as it comes up, there may be a little bit of vibration during the exposure before the second one comes up and closes it off, and this is why there is an option for doing a silent shutter is that the mechanical ones either cause a noise or they cause a vibration. So, with a silent shutter, what happens is the pixels are turned on and off, and because of the type of sensor, they're not able to all turn on and off at exactly the same instant. They kind of do it in a scanning fashion across the sensor. And so, it's not gonna be perfect. It's gonna be a problem with moving subjects. And so, as it scans across the image, it takes a little bit of time. And for the Z 6 and Z 7, it's a slightly different amount of time. It's a little bit faster, so there's a less of a rolling shutter effect, as it's also known, with the Z 6 than the Z 7. But you're gonna need to be very careful shooting motion with this. Now there is also something that we're gonna get to in a little bit called the electronic front-curtain shutter. And what happens here is it's kind of a half-half scenario. It electronically turns all the pixels on to start with, but then it uses the shutter to turn it off. And you can get an even exposure, and it works very well, and you do not get any vibration during the exposure itself. So this can be very good for macro photography, for instance. You can go in and you can control the electronic front-curtain shutter in custom menu D3, and we'll get to that in a later section in this class. Now, if you were to shoot a test chart with a normal mechanical shutter speed, you're gonna get straight lines. The problem is is that when you put it into the silent mode and you start moving the camera around from side to side, it's gonna get this distorted jello effect, rolling effect. And so, even if you use a fast shutter speed, the individual pixels are turning on and off quickly, but between the rows, they're not all turning on and off at the same time. Out in the real world, as you pan with a car driving down the street, the buildings are, in essence, moving themselves because they're moving across the background. They're the ones that are gonna be distorted. And if you have a subject just move past you, those round wheels are gonna get distorted into ovals. And so you don't wanna be shooting action with a silent shutter unless you want this unusual effect. And so, the main reason I would use a silent shutter is probably either for silent photography like you're in a court room or backstage at a studio and you don't wanna make any sort of noises to interfere with the production, or if we're being mounted on a tripod with a long lens or a high magnification macro lens. There's a lot of problems with these. Big part is the moving subjects, but there's a lot of other features that will just not work when silent is turned on. And so, take a look at those cons and be very aware of them because that is why you don't wanna have this turned on all the time. So, silent photography is something that you would wanna leave turned off, as a default system. Only when you actually need it is when you wanna turn it on.

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!!!