How to set up Nikon D750

If you want complete control of your Nikon D750 you should really skim the whole manual and figure out for yourself what all the choices are. As a career engineer doing this is fun for me. If you take some time to do it I think you’ll have more creative choice when taking pictures and you’ll enjoy yourself more. If going through a camera manual is not an option for you feel free to use my choices as a starting point.

The settings below were made for my shooting style. I used these setting while employed as a photojournalist for about 12 months and published 157 images in various newspapers. This is part of a shooting technique that uses Manual Mode and metering mode Spot for exposure. It also uses back button focus. The techniques for exposure are explained poorly under the Learning Photography sections. I’d love to help you figure it out one-on-one. Message me here and we can set up a paid tutoring session.


Image taken by author of this article with Nikon 750 and is property of the US Navy. Published April 14 2016.

Playback Menu

Playback display options

My choice here is to minimize playback screens to only 2 to minimize time needed switch between seeing histogram, camera settings and the image in full screen.

  • Focus Point (unselected)
  • None (unselected) the default playback shows the image almost fullscreen
  • Highlights (unselected) beginners should select this to see highlights being “blown out” or “clipped”
  • RGB Histogram (unselected) Overview show the combined RGB
  • Shooting Data (unselected) Overview shows the only info you need
  • Overview (selected) be sure to scroll down to see this one

Image Review

ON: Once a picture is taken the image will show automatically on the view screen.

After delete

Show next: It just makes sense.

Rotate Tall

OFF: Use all the pixels of the viewfinder to see vertically shot images. It’s hard showing clients an image on the viewfinder when the camera rotates the image.

DPOF print order

Note: This is missing from the manual on page 308.

Photo Shooting Menu

File Naming

left as DSC

Role played by card in Slot 2

Backup: This is because when I either shooting RAW only or jpeg only and having the images backed up is important to me.

Image Quality

NEF RAW : Depends on what the images are for.

Image Size

Large: Again, it depends on what you’re doing with these images.

Auto DX Crop

ON: This is missing from the Table of Contents for this menu and is found on page 111.

JPEG compression

Size priority: When I shoot jpeg it’s because I need smaller file sizes.

NEF (RAW) recording

When I shoot RAW image quality is vastly more important then file size.

  • Type Lossless compression
  • NEF (RAW) bit depth : 14 bit

White balance

K or PRE based on speed of the session. For beginners I recommend switching between cloudy and tungsten during the photography session. I wouldn’t recommend AWB on my worse enemy.

Set Picture Control

Flat: This allows jpegs to come out of the camera without editing choices already made for you.

Color space

AdobeRGB: This only applies to jpeg captures. AdobeRGB captures a wider spectrum of colors.

Active D-lighting

Low: Based on reading how the feature works on page 175 and what I shoot. Kept at low should have some benefit in the shadows while minimizing noticeable noise.

Vignette control

Low: Based on reading how the feature works on page 315 a low should have some benefit in minimizing the distortion of lens vignetting while minimizing noticeable noise from the feature.

Auto distortion control

OFF: Recommended if you editing workflow removes these distortions. If it does not, and you don’t mind the camera possibly cropping your image, select ON.

Long exposure NR

ON: Based on being able to wait extra time for the camera to reduce noise on images taken with shutter speeds 1 second or slower.


Low: Based on my workflow to reduce noise and not wanting the camera to overly edit images.

Iso sensitivity settings

  • Iso sensitivity: set dynamically during image capture to control exposure
  • Auto ISO sensitivity control – OFF: Based on wanting to control the exposure myself with information from the camera.

Remote control mode (ML-L3)

OFF: I don’t own a ML-L3

Multiple Exposure

  • Multiple exposure mode: OFF (turned on only when needed for harsh contrast)
  • Number of shots: 3
  • Auto gain: OFF

Interval timer shooting

OFF: turn ON to use the internal intervalometer

Movie Shooting Menu

I am primarily a still photographer. Movie shooting is not in a frequently used workflow.

  • File naming: DSC
  • Destination: Card 1
  • Frame size/frame rate: 1080 / 24
  • Movie quality: NORM
  • Microphone sensitivity: Auto
  • Frequency Response: Wide
  • Wind Noise Reduction: ON
  • Image area: Auto DX crop ON
  • White balance: K
  • Set picture Control: Flat
  • High ISO NR : NORM
  • Movie ISO sensitivity settings: Auto ISO control OFF
  • Time-Lapse photography: OFF

Custom Settings Menu


a1 AF-C priority selection

Release: camera will take a picture when in AF-C when I press the shutter even if it’s not in focus.

a2 AF-S priority selection

Release: camera will take a picture when in AF-S when I press the shutter even if it’s not in focus.

a3 Focus tracking with lock-on


a4 Focus Point Illumination

  • Manual focus mode: ON When in AF-M the AF point is displayed.
  • Dynamic-area AF display ON: If in dynamic AF modes I’d see many AF points around an AF point being used with a dot in the middle. I don’t use dynamic AF modes.
  • Group-area AF illumination (dots) In Group area AF the group shows up as dots. (Not applicable to my shooting method.)

a5 AF point illumination

Auto: Based on brightness of the scene the AF will be red or black.

a6 Focus point wrap-around

OFF: I select my own AF 99% of the time. So if I’m in a hurry and hit right on the multi selector too many times I don’t want it to select a left AF point.

a7 Number of Focus Points

AF51: the more available the more selective I can be when picking a AF point

a8 Store points by orientation

Yes: if composing a shot horizontally the AF is stored if I rotate the camera vertically

a9 Built-in AF-assist illuminator

OFF: It’s more important to my subject that they remain candid so a light flashing from my camera would deter from my photography. Choose ON if you photography non-living subjects or the attention from the light would not deter the type of photography you practice.

At this point it’s worth noting that I put my camera in Single AF mode by ensuring the AF Mode button (the one on the front of the camera below and to the left of the lens as the lens faces away from you) is in AF and then pressing the AF Mode button while simultaneously toggling the Sub-command dial. This is explained on page 125.


b1 Iso sensitivity step value

1/3: gives the most control in Manual

b2 EV steps for exposure control

1/3: gives the most control in Manual (It’s very important that b1 and b2 are set to the same value for equivalent exposures metering.)

b3 Easy exposure compensation

OFF: Not applicable to my exposure technique. Read page 334 to determine the best setting for you.

b4 Matrix metering

ON: Not applicable to my exposure technique. I always shot in spot metering.

b5 Center-weighted area

8mm: the smaller the more accurate the exposure value for my technique

b6 Fine-tune optimal exposure

Left alone: If the spot meter reads +1 it will tell me +1.

Timers/AE Lock

c1 Shutter-Release Button AE-L

ON: I shoot sole in Manual so this setting does not affect me.

c2 Standby timer

c3 Self-Timer

  • Self-timer delay: 10 s
  • Number of shots: 1
  • Interval between shots

c4 Monitor off Delay

c5 Remote on Duration (ML-L3)

I don’t own a ML-L3 so I didn’t read about this.


d1 Beep

d2 Continuous Low-Speed

d3 Max. Continuous Release

d4 Exposure Delay Mode

1s: When I lock up my mirror I’m typically on a tripod.

d5 Flash Warning

ON: Left on for situational awareness.

d6 File Number Sequence

XX: I rename files on import through Lightroom for all my work so this setting does not affect me.

d7 Viewfinder Grid Display

OFF: This is a great setting to leave on for the first few years of shooting photos.

d8 Easy ISO

OFF: I shoot sole in Manual so this setting does not affect me.

d9 Information Display

AUTO: It makes sense to let the color of the lettering change.

d10 LCD Illumination

ON: Battery life is not an issue with my battery workflow.

d11 MB-D16 Battery Type

LR6: Not applicable since I only use the EN-EL 15.

(If you’ve gotten this far then you’ve just realized this article was never finished. I left off bracketing flash, Controls and Movie)

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