Tutorials |How to set-up the Nikon D850

HOW TO... set-up the Nikon D850

How to set-up Nikon D850 for the first time

The Nikon D850 is a fabulous DSLR that has won lots of fans thanks to its advanced feature set and high-quality images. However, that extensive collection of features means it’s also pretty complex, which can be a little daunting when you first open the box. To help you get out shooting with it quickly we’ll take you through the key stages of setting it up for the first time.

How to set-up Nikon D850 for the first time: Firmware

1. Update the Firmware

After you’ve charged the battery, the first thing you should do is ensure that you have the latest firmware installed. To check the version on your camera, turn it on, press the Menu button and navigate to the Setup Menu (the one with the spanner icon).

On the last page, you’ll find ‘Firmware Version’. When that is selected, press the right navigation button to see the camera and lens firmware. Follow this link to check and download the latest version Nikon D850 firmware. There are also instructions on how to install the firmware on your camera.

2. Set the Time Zone

On the first page of the Setup Menu is an option called ‘Time zone and date’, select this and then tap the right navigation key to access the options. Tackle these in turn, setting the time zone, date and time. This will ensure that your images’ Exif data is accurate and can help you find images at later date.

How to set-up Nikon D850 for the first time: JPEG Image Quality

3. Set the Image Quality

By default, the D850 is set to record Normal Quality Jpegs and compressed raw files. To get the very best results, set the Image Quality in the Photo Shooting Menu to JPEG Fine and NEF (RAW) recording to Uncompressed or Lossless compressed and 14-bit. Using Lossless compressed will preserve the image quality while taking up less space on your memory card.

How to set-up Nikon D850 for the first time: Raw quality

4. Set the Colour Space

Straight from the box, the D850 is set to the sRGB colour space. This is fine if you want to share Jpegs or order prints from them without editing, but the Adobe RGB colour space has a wider colour gamut. That means that you’ll capture a wider range of tones.

How to set-up Nikon D850 for the first time: Colour Space

If you’re only concerned with shooting raw files, it doesn’t matter which colour space you select as you’ll capture the full range of data available.

How to set-up Nikon D850 for the first time: Mode button

5. Set the Exposure Mode

As it’s an advanced camera the D850 doesn’t have a fully automatic mode or scene modes. You can pick between program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual exposure. To set the one you want, hold down the Mode button on the top-plate while rotating the rear thumb dial.

How to set-up Nikon D850 for the first time: Auto ISO

6. Set the Sensitivity (ISO)

Although you can specify an ISO setting, it’s often helpful to use the Auto setting as this sets the camera to adjust the value when light levels change. To do this, navigate down to ‘ISO sensitivity settings’ on the second page of the Photo Shooting Menu, then tab right and set ‘Auto ISO sensitivity control’ to ‘On’.

Once this is done you’re able to set the maximum ISO value that you want the camera to use as well as the minimum shutter speed. You can leave the latter to ‘Auto’ but if you find the shutter speed going a bit too low before the ISO level goes up, you can set a figure that you’re more comfortable with. 

How to set-up Nikon D850 for the first time: AF point

7. Autofocus Points

The Nikon D850 has 153 AF points, 55 of which are available for selection. If you think you’ll find that a little overwhelming, then you might like to drop it down to 15 via Custom Menu a6. This will mean you’ll spend less time selecting the AF point before you shoot, but you may need to use the ‘focus-and-recompose’ technique.

8. Drive Mode

Without the optional MB-D18 Multi-Power Battery Pack, the D850 can shoot at up to 7fps in FX (full-frame) mode when the mechanical shutter is in use. The drive mode is changed by rotating the dial under the Quality, Metering, White Balance and Exposure mode button cluster on the top-left of the camera. Rotating to CH (Continuous High) will give the fastest shooting rate.

There’s also a CL (Continuous Low) option that allows you to shoot continuously at a more moderate speed. This can be a useful option for general photography as it allows you to shoot a sequence of images without lifting your finger from the shutter release, but it avoids blasting off a huge sequence.

It’s possible to set the CL shooting rate to 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1fps (frame per second) via Custom Setting Menu d1. A low value such as 1, 2 or 3fps is a good general setting.

How to set-up Nikon D850 for the first time: Video Resolution

9. Video Settings

The D850 is 4K-enabled but is set to record Full-HD video by default. Press the menu button and navigate to the Movie Shooting Menu and locate ‘Frame size/frame rate’ to set the resolution you wish to shoot at. If you’re in the UK, a good general option is 3840×2160; 25p and if you’re in the US opt for 3840×2160; 30p.

How to set-up Nikon D850 for the first time: Video Picture Control

10. Picture Control

The Picture Control setting specifies the look of the jpeg and movie footage. The stills Picture Control is set via the Photo Shooting Menu while it’s set for video via the option on the second page of the Movie Shooting Menu. The ‘Standard’ setting is a good all-rounder for stills and movies, but if you want more control over your videos in the editing stage, set the ‘Flat’ picture control.

How to set-up the Nikon D850
Article Name
How to set-up the Nikon D850
We take you through the key stages to setting-up the Nikon D850 for use the first time so you can get out shooting quickly.
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Camera Jabber
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