Using the Nikon® Autofocus System

Lesson 8/17 - Menu Banks


Using the Nikon® Autofocus System


Lesson Info

Menu Banks

You know, so far we've talked a lot about the menu system, we've talked about the dynamic area settings, we talked about how many focus points we use, and we related them so far into different shooting scenarios. For example, bird in flight photography, landscape photography, portrait photography, and you notice, your camera actually should be set up differently for each of those scenarios. In the real world, when you're out taking a photograph, it's oftentimes hard to remember everything that you need to put together for that scenario. Oh this is sports, I need to have my delay set for this, and it was erratic that, and dynamic 25 here, and blah, blah, blah, and blah, blah, blah. So what's an easy way to help you prioritize and remember those settings? Well I recommend that you use your menu banks. The higher end cameras from Nikon have what are called banks, and I'll call them the prosumer cameras, maybe something like the D750, these cameras have what are called custom user groups, ...

or user one and user two settings, okay? So let me talk about these and how they might help you be more efficient in the real world. I'm gonna do this based on my camera here on the tripod. If you go into your menu system, you'll notice that the custom settings menu and the shooting menu both have what are called shooting menu banks, okay? The shooting menu, this menu here, is related to things that affect the look and the feel of your photographs. So things like color space, and picture control, and noise reduction, the look, the colors, the saturation, that happens here in the shooting menu. Well the custom settings menu, the one below it, these things impact things like focus, and button control. So in both of these banks though, you can configure them to have groups of settings. So like what I show here on the back of this camera are four different banks. One bank is dedicated to nature and landscape, or in this case, I think I have it set for landscape and travel. In general, I like my focus and my overall operation of the camera to respond about the same way for landscape and travel photography. Same thing goes with portrait, I like my portrait and wedding bank to all have generally the same autofocus settings, and the same color settings, and all this other stuff. Same thing for sports and action, I have a different group of settings for sports and action. You know, maybe here I want AFC, and I want dynamic 21, and then for point and shoot, there's another bank that I have. And I use the point and shoot bank any time I hand my camera to someone else who's not a Nikon shooter. My wife, she loves photography, but she's not really into all the stuff that I'm into in terms of the camera system. So a lot of times I will actually set the camera for point and shoot mode. Whenever my kids use it, whenever my wife uses it, whenever a friend or a neighbor uses it. That way they don't even have to think about it. That bank, by the way, is almost automatic everything, automatic area, automatic exposure, automatic you name it. So the banks allow you to configure the camera in the way that works best for you in that scenario, and then have it remember that setting group. So once you choose bank D, all the settings in the camera, all the button assignments, they all change to whatever you had programmed in D, or C, or B, or A. So the higher end cameras from Nikon, you get four banks to choose from, and as the slide here shows in our presentation, the other prosumer cameras usually have a U1, or a U2. U1 is user one, U2 is user two, and how that works is you might think of the U1 group like sports and action, and maybe the U2 group like landscapes, but your mileage may vary. You may actually do something entirely different, you may only be a macro photographer and a portrait photographer. Great, use U1 for macro, and U2 for portraiture, whatever you want. The concept is the same whether or not you have two user controls, or whether you have four menu banks in your camera. Use those to kind of organize your life and organize your overall approach to your photography.

Class Description

The best photo moments often present themselves to us when we least expect it. Every photographer knows the feeling of lining up what they believe will be the perfect shot, only to realize after the fact that their focus was off. Nikon cameras have a built-in autofocus system for these situations. 

Join Mike Hagan, Nikonians Academy Director, to learn how to make the most of this often-overlooked function of your digital SLR. In this class, you’ll learn:

  • How to set your focus within the menu settings and overall various camera settings
  • How to use autofocus patterns and area modes
  • How to use servo modes and lens configurations
Mike will help you configure the autofocus system for portraits, sports, wildlife, and landscapes. Relying on autofocus will also let you concentrate on lighting and composition, and help you take advantage of those fleeting moments.



Good course! I am a beginner and this course helped me a lot. I agree with some students that a better work could have been done in preparing the presentations. It seems to me that Mike is great in having informal live workshops. However, for recorded classes like the ones we buy in Creative Live, the teaching technique should be adjusted. Overall I am glad I bought this course.

Catherine Lucas

After having my camera D800 for 5 or 6 years and never really got the focussing down I can finally do it. This video should be included with every Nikon sold. I am so happy that I am finally get the fullest out of this great camera, I am more of a visual person. Reading the manual is not the same as actually see it done... Thanks Mike, you rock! I have watched the sequences over and over and learned so much. Thanks. And always welcome when you pass in New Mexico...

Janie Anderson

Thanks, Mike! I will go on tomorrow's shoot with my new Nikon D500, using autofocus with much more confidence thanks to this excellent class. I especially want to master birds in flight, so that module was of particular interest, as was the detailed review of back-button focus.