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Nikon Z7 & Z6 Fast Start

Lesson 9 of 15

Menu Functions: Image Quality


Nikon Z7 & Z6 Fast Start

Lesson 9 of 15

Menu Functions: Image Quality


Lesson Info

Menu Functions: Image Quality

Okay folks, it is time to get into the menu of the camera, and this is gonna be a long list of all the features of what this camera can do. So when you get into the menu system you'll immediately notice there are tabs on the left hand side, and Nikon has done an admiral job of breaking up different features into their obvious points. And so we have a lot of very clear obvious tabs, I love seeing a video menu 'cause there's a lot of specific things for video in there. The big one is the custom menu, there's a lot of different things in there. That goes into a lot of sub-categories, and that's gonna be activated of course all by pressing the menu button. To navigate, you're gonna use the four-way control on the back of the camera to go up and down and use the okay button to select any particular feature. Now the one thing where Nikon is different if you are coming from another camera manufacturer, is that they have long pages that you have to scroll through. Just because you went to a pa...

ge and didn't see anything, doesn't mean it's not there it means you need to scroll down through those pages. And in fact on the menu the recommended settings I give you in this class, you'll notice that there are white backgrounds and gray backgrounds, and that's as you get from one page to the next as you scroll down through the menu system. You can use the right key to enter and you can use the left key to exit a menu that you have entered, 'cause you're gonna enter all these little sub-menus and make selections. Now of course if you want you can use the touch screen, and you can flick up and scroll down and touch the items you want, and confirm what you want in that manner as well. Don't forget the little help button if you want a little bit more information about what a feature does, in some cases, not all cases, this question button will give you an answer to that. And so a feature that this camera is missing that I like on other cameras is every once in a while you'll have a camera set up in a particular way, where a feature is grayed out. This camera does not explain why it is grayed out in general. There are a few cases where it might tell you it but in general it doesn't tell you so you're gonna have to think logically about why isn't this working? And it's inevitable that you're gonna come across something you wanna set something and you're like "Okay why can't I do something?" And in some cases it's because you need to be in RAW or JPEG or maybe because you're using an adapted lens rather than a Native Z lens. So those are some common reasons why a particular feature may be grayed out. Let's dive into the menus, we're gonna start at the top and work our way down one item at a time. We're starting in the playback menu, first option is to delete. Well there's a perfectly good delete button on the back of the camera, why do you need to come in here and delete? If you're gonna delete a large number of photos, more than 10 or 20, it's gonna be faster to come here and delete them because you don't have to hit the delete key twice. You basically find the image, check it off and you hit delete once once you've selected all the images you want to delete off. As you go through the menu system, always be looking for arrows and extra information. So that arrow over on the right-hand side by selected, yeah that means there's more info. Go to the right and there's gonna be a little subscreen or more information down there. And what's that down along the bottom of the screen? Oh there's instructions on which buttons to press to do various different features with that particular thing, so you can zoom in to take a look at the image you might be deleting, hit the okay if you wanna delete it and then go to the next image. In general, you don't need to come here if you wanna delete the off-hand picture, you could just hit the garbage can twice. In fact generally true on the whole playback menu on here is, you generally don't need to come back. These are only things dealing with playback. Next up is the playback folder, encourage you to keep this in all. This has not been the way that Nikons have usually come, they usually come designated only to look in Nikon folders. If you were to take another memory card that was in (gasps) another camera, and stick that into this camera it may not see those other images. In this case if it's in all, it'll see everything that is on the card. Next up is the playback display options. This is what I talked about earlier in the class, I went in and I checked off and showed you all the different information options that you can see by pressing the display button. Now all of these are turned off as a default at the very beginning, so this is something I encourage you. Turn as many of these things on as you think you might need. One of the options you'll see is a highlight option, which will show you the pixels that are overexposed, and might be causing an exposure problem. And so it's a good reason to potentially change your exposure, so those are one of the options that you'll see in there. I think most people should just check them all off, and then if you find that you're not using them and they just get in the way, go back in and turn them off as you know you're not gonna use them. Next up is image review, so when you take a photo do you want to see it on the back of the camera? And so we have on, on monitor only, and off. The monitor only doesn't play back in the viewfinder, it'll only play the image back on the back of the camera. And so as we go through this camera I'm gonna have more advanced and more basic setting examples so it's kinda nice to see the image on the back of the camera to confirm that you got it. But this is a mirrorless camera, and it shows you a real-world preview of what you're shooting. And in many cases, you're gonna see what the picture looks like before you actually take it. And so that's why I can say turn it off for more advanced users because it's gonna be the same as what you see in the viewfinder, and it speeds up the process of shooting. All right, after deleting an image do you want the camera to go to the previous, or go to the next image? It's a subtle little difference, not a big deal. If you shoot a burst of images, shoot 10 images in a row, do you want the camera to go back and look at the first image so that you can scroll through them, or just go to the last image to see where you ended up? So if you shoot a lot of sports and action photography, this might be an important setting to set as you like. Rotating tall should be adjusted to off in my opinion, that way you can get the maximum size image for reviewing your images. Now you may have to turn the camera sideways to see it, but it allows you to see the image with maximum magnification. Next up is slide show, so if you're hooking up through the HDMI port you're gonna go in here, there's gonna be a sub-menu. You can start your slide show, you're gonna be able to control various aspects of what type of images or movies you're gonna show on any particular collection, you can choose how long they are shown on screen for. Next up is rating, and let's say you got stuck at the airport you got nothing to do, you're coming home from your trip, you can get a head start on your editing because then you can star rate your images, and that information should pass forward to most software programs afterwards in the metadeta of that particular photograph. Next up we're diving into the shooting menu. So first option in here is to reset anything that you might have accidentally set, or just wanna reset it back to the factory defaults. So if you wanna go back and reset everything in this one tab, you can do so here. Next up is our storage folder, and when you take photos they get put in different folders on the memory card, and if you want to go ahead and change that you can select a different letter code in here. So if you want you can rename the folders for different projects that you are working in There's gonna be a little keyboard, and you can put in a different name. You don't have a lot of letters to work with, but a different code for anything. You can give it a specific number if you want. The camera will automatically do this for you if you don't want to do this, and if you want to have different folders and then select you have different projects, and so you wanna put different pictures in different folders you can go ahead and select those folders as to where all the images are going to be stored. Most people won't need to play with this. It's only if you have one memory card and limited access to computers for organizing your images. Next up is file naming. The camera has its own protocol for file naming which is fine for in-camera work, but once you get into the computer a lot of people like to re-organize. But in most cases this camera is gonna start off with a three-letter code DSC. And if you wanna go in and change that code you can change that code to a different letter sequence. Next is choosing the image area, and here is the only area between the z6 and z where there is an option that one of the cameras doesn't have. And so we can crop in-camera. Generally, I would always wanna shoot in the 24 by fx area 'cause you're shooting off of the entire frame. But if you know for a fact that you're gonna be cropping an image later, and you would like to see it in the view finder so that you can compose it more accurately, that would be a good reason for choosing one of these crop options. So we have the DX, which is a cropped version of the Nikon sensor that they used with many other products. We have different other framing aspect ratios that might meet up with common frames, photo frames, five by four, or TV frames, 16 by nine. And so if you really know you're gonna need these, you could set it up so that that's all you see in the view finder so you can accurately compose your images, knowing what they're gonna look like finally. Image quality, we talked about this before in the I-menu. RAW, JPEG, TIFF option, we have RAW plus JPEG. You want the highest quality, you wanna shoot in the RAW setting. If you don't have the software to look at RAW images, you probably wanna be in the highest quality JPEG setting. As I mentioned as I go through this, the gray recommendation on the right-hand side is your basic standard recommendation. The ones in red are for more advanced users who wanna get a little higher performance out of the camera, or are willing to do things a little bit more manually. Next up is image size, we did talk about this in the I-menu this is where we can record small, medium, and large options. And this goes with JPEG or TIFF images. Generally you wanna be shooting the largest file size that gives you the most options later on, but you can select it specifically with RAW and JPEG. There are times where professionally, I know that I do not need a very large file size and I will shoot a medium, or hold your breath folks, I will shoot a small size RAW image. Because I know what the purposes of that image are, and it's very limited in its scope. It's not gonna become a poster image on my wall. All right NEF recording, now this gets a little geeky, a little nerdy, and that's why I like this section so much. So this is controlling the exact RAW image. There's the RAW image, but there's the exact flavor of the RAW, you might say. So there's a couple different options in here, we have different compression options with the RAW, we also have bit depth from this. Now my general advice to anybody in photography is to shoot the highest quality best photos you can the majority of the time. And I'm gonna deviate slightly from that, and let me explain why. Because I've done some testing examples, and the top part of this is dealing with the compression of the file size, and the second part of it is dealing with the bit depth which has a lot to do with the colors that are recorded. And so I've shot test examples with both the z6 and z7 in this. And I wanted to see the difference between all of these different settings, so I shot an example, I cropped it, I enlarged it, and these are the results from it. So on the top row we have our 14 bit, which is four point four trillion colors of information. Uncompressed is basically the straight information from the RAW. Lossless compressed is a compression system where they are not losing any information, but they're able to compress it for a smaller file size. Now the compressed one gets you a slightly smaller file size but they are throwing away some information, and that disturbs me just a little bit. Now we have it also available in 12-bit, which is 68 billion colors. Now which one of these is gonna be the best? Well I would say the 14-bit uncompressed is undoubtedly going to be the best. And I think it is, although all of 'em are so close I can't tell the difference between them on virtually any example I've seen. And I think the best practical choice here is the 12-bit lossless compressed. Now the lossless compressed means that we are not losing any information, but it is compressed. Now it is 12-bit not 14-bit, and there's some people that are going crazy right now 'cause I'm choosing 12 rather than 14. The problem is that if you shoot 14, you're shooting more information but there is virtually no way that you will ever see this information. Because how do we use our photos? Well we print them, we show them on monitors like tv screens, and we project them with projectors, and all of those other things have limitations in what they can do. And going from 68 billion to four point four trillion has no effect with these other devices. And so maybe somewhere down the road 50, 100, 500 years down the road, we'll notice two percent better color in a photograph, because it was shot with 14 bit rather than 12 bit. I've gone through and I've done testing, I've overexposed-underexposed by five stops tried to bring it back, used all the samples, I cannot see any real world difference. And not satisfied with my own testing I decided to go to a very scary place, I went on the internet. And I looked up everybody who's done testing between 12 bit and 14 bit, and I have yet to find a single photographer on the internet, which is like half the internet, that has tested this and can show viable examples of what is better. This is why 14-bit is better. It's a bigger file size, but it's not getting you much more. And so that's where I am setting my camera. If you don't believe me do your own test, I'd love to see results that show me something else. All right shooting the z6, yeah I would shoot lossless compressed 12-bit, gets you 26 megabyte file size. And when you're downloading images having half that size compared to a 48-megabit file, it's gonna make everything process a lot easier and all your images are gonna be virtually 99.999999999 percent the same. So that's why I'm setting things at 12-bit lossless compressed. Next up we have ISO sensitivity we talked a little about this before, but now we can get in and fine-tune this a little bit more. We have slightly different setting options between z6 and z7 as far as the top end and the bottom end, I think you're familiar with that by now. Auto sensitivity, so if you wanna let the camera change the ISO for you you can turn this on. This is how the camera comes programmed from the factory. So in many cases I recommend people turning this off, and using this specifically where they want to let the camera take control of the ISO. The maximum sensitivity can be capped if you want. For instance, let's say you have standards that say I don't want the camera to go up to 25,000 ISO. Well you could cap it at 12,800, and the camera will not go beyond it. Which might be a good number 'cause that's kind of the last number, we were still getting very good, clean results. Maximum sensitivity when you're using a flash. Maybe when you're using a flash you're adding light in, you don't want the ISO to go up quite as high. You could set a separate number, or the same in whatever case you want. The minimum shutter speed is really important for using auto ISO, because it's gonna determine when the camera goes from changing shutter speeds to changing ISO's, so let me give you a little bit of a visual example on this one. Let's say you are in aperture priority, and you have set an aperture of five point six, which means the camera is in control of shutter speeds, and is also in control of the ISO. So let's say it's day time, normal day, and your camera says we need a 60th of a second at ISO 100. Now as it gets more toward the middle of the day it gets brighter and brighter and brighter. Your camera will use a faster shutter speed to compensate for the exposure. And then as it gets darker and darker in the afternoon, your camera will continue to change the shutter speeds to a point. And where's that changing point? What is the lowest shutter speed that you want the camera to use before it switches over and starts using the ISO? And so this is when auto-ISO kicks in. And so it's that changeover point when we go from ISO to shutter speed, where do you want that to be? You can pick if you want, a specific shutter speed. And you can have that determined maybe by the action you're shooting. Maybe you're shooting sports in action where you need 500th of a second. Maybe if you're just using your camera handheld, you wanna have it done automatically adjusted for the lens you're using. Which means wide-angle lenses and telephoto lenses will have slightly different shutter speeds that this changeover occurs when using auto ISO. So let's say for instance you are using... And so if you dive into auto you'd get to another little sub-menu, the 35 millimeter lens. Normally you could handhold that at about a 30th of a second, but if you want you could have it set on stop lower, or two stops, or three stops lower. Or if you're shooting action you could have it something a little bit faster than that. And so this is a great system to have, auto in the middle is a good place to start and then you can adjust from there as necessary. And that is your ISO sensitivity settings, and that is your first page in the photoshooting menu.

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!!!