Nikon D750. How to set-up for Wildlife and Nature Photography. Recommended settings and tips.
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Nikon D750. How to set-up for Wildlife and Nature Photography. Recommended settings and tips.

February 26, 2020


Hi! It’s Danielle, and today I’m coming to
you from the Pangolin Chobe Hotel in Kasane. Today I will be talking about how
to set up a Nikon D750 for wildlife photography. Before I continue…please remember to
subscribe to our channel, and hit the bell icon at the bottom, to make sure you receive notifications about our next video. Today we have the Nikon D750 with
a NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8 ED VR II⁠ fixed lens. I will start with the lens. Firstly, make sure that on your lens, you’re shooting on autofocus. There should be a switch on the lens if you’re shooting on autofocus. Then on the camera as well – on the side
of the of the D750 – is a little toggle… …autofocus and manual focus. Make sure it’s pointing towards AF. 99.9% of the time we shoot on autofocus. Then, when we get to the camera dial, I shoot… …personally I shoot in manual on auto ISO – for most of the time – depending on what we’re shooting. But mostly I put it onto manual. Also on that same dial you’ll see – between continuous and single
shooting – I shoot on continuous high. Meaning the fastest frame rate possible.
Then, if we go to the menu… …if you look at the back of my screen, you’ll see that I am in manual. I have chosen my shutter speed. I have chosen my f-stop. I always shoot in
full frame mode. You can put it on DX as well, but I prefer to shoot in full frame – with a full frame camera. Then that’s my frame rate. Then I shoot on auto white balance. I shoot on RAW, so that’s why I choose
my white balance to be automatic, and to fix it afterwards in Lightroom. As I
mentioned I shoot in RAW – most of the time – when I shoot wildlife. On the side of the D750 you’ll see a little button saying ‘quality’… …and that’s where you can
change your quality to go from RAW to JPEG, if you want to. I leave it on RAW. You’ve got all the options for JPEG, RAW and JPEG… …but in the end, I leave it on the RAW. Then I shoot on continuous autofocus.
REALLY IMPORTANT. If you press that little – where the dial was on the left-hand side – where I toggled from manual to auto focus. In the middle of that toggle, there’s a there’s a button that you press… …and when you press it in, that menu comes up. If you use your back dial, you will see it changing between continuous autofocus, auto and single autofocus. I leave it on continuous. I don’t shoot wildlife on AF-S. I don’t want the camera to focus once-off, and then my subject moves towards me and the camera loses focus. If it’s on continuous autofocus, it means that it’ll continuously pick up the subject – as long as I hold my focus point on the subject – it’ll keep focusing and the
subject will stay sharp, where it is moving across the screen or towards me. It’s also nice to know that you can use AF-C for stationary subjects as well. It doubles-up. Because if the subject isn’t going anywhere – and you hold your focus down – then it’ll still focus. As soon as the subject starts moving, then it will still focus on the subject. So, it can be used for stationary as well as
moving subjects, which is why I leave it on AF-C for most of the time. Then, when I press that switch again – and
instead of turning the back command dial – I turn the front dial. You will see the AF
area mode changing. This is personal preference what you shoot on. Personally. I am mostly shoot on that one, which is group. You will see four little
squares together. Group or single point focus, that’s my preferred two. I know a lot of people prefer shooting on the dynamic ones: the 9 point, the 21 point or the 51 point. It’s really up to you. What I like about the
group focus, which is that one, is that it activates five focus points at the same time, including the center focus point… and it gives equal weighting to all five,
as well as to the closest subject, so it hardly ever allows you to pick up the
background instead of the subject. So, for fast moving subjects – to track the
subjects – I like to use group autofocus points or autofocus area mode, because your chances of getting the subject sharp are much better. The other one is AF-area where the camera picks up what it wants to pick up, so
it’ll choose an area for you, which I never shoot on, because I don’t like the camera choosing for me. Your single point is really effective for
bigger birds, that you can pick up easily, and hold your point on. Because
remember, it is only one point, so you have to be very specific on your focus. ..and then your dynamic area. Your 9, 21 and 51 points Basically that means that the camera picks up the subject. You have to pick up the subject with your center focus point first – and all the surrounding points will then
act – when the subject moves off of that focus point – then it’ll kick in on those points. But it’s important to remember that you have to pick up the subject
first, and lock focus with your center.. …the focus point in the middle. Your strongest focus point. Then, if the subject moves off of
that point, it’ll use one of the either 9, 21 or 51 other points to focus. That’s why I like group, because it gives equal weighting to all five points instead of giving weighting to the middle point, and then using the surrounding points. 3D is the other option that you have on AF-C, and that means that your focus point will actually move around. So, you don’t have to move and keep the focus point on the subject. So, for birds in flight for example, it works well. You will see that when you look through your viewfinder, and it’s on 3D, and you focus, that your point will move around. As long as it stays in that autofocus area. – as long as it doesn’t go too far off to the side – it’ll pick up the bird. I find it to be effective. I know it’s a it’s a love-hate relationship that some people have with that area mode. 3D tracking works well for me when there is nothing else in the scene…moving. So, basically when you’ve got a bird against the sky, it works really well. But, when the bird flies across some reeds – that are blowing in the wind – or you have a moving background, then 3D tracking sometimes picks up the reeds that are swaying in the wind, or the water, the
waves, or something like that. So, I like 3D tracking, when it’s one subject, on a very clear (uncluttered) background. Then it works really well. So, those are all
the the area modes in AF-C. I wouldn’t suggest shooting on AF-S, because your subjects and wildlife mostly move, and you don’t know when they’re going to
move. So, stick it on AF-C. Leave it on AF-C. Test out all the modes. My favourite at the moment – I find a group to be really effective…or single point. One of those two. When you are in AF-C – it’s also important to go into your menu – and make sure under your custom setting menu, which is your pencil on the left-hand side. If you go into autofocus. You will see a1. It says AF-C priority
selection. That basically means… does the camera take the shot
when it’s focused, or when you press the button? I like to leave it on release. I don’t like the camera to only shoot once it’s focused, because it is a hit-and-miss sometimes in wildlife, and you want the hit. You want the camera to release, even if it’s not focused, because the next shot, which is straight afterwards,
it might pick it up and be in focus. I just find my keeper rate to be a little bit higher when I set it to release, and not to focus. Then, what I also do, is that I use back button focus, personally. I know that’s also a topic of
discussion, so you’re welcome to comment below which is your favourite? Do you use your shutter release button, or if you use your back button, as your focus button? I use my back button to focus. This button you can set up as your focus button, and then I use my shutter release only for shooting. So I
track and follow, as long as you hold it on AF-C, it keeps following your
subject. It tracks your subject under your focus point… …and then you shoot continuously with your shutter button. To set-up back button focus – this button as your back button, if you don’t want to use your shutter release button. Go into your menu. To custom settings. Under your pencil icon. Then you go to controls. Your ‘f’ menu. Go to f4. You will see it says assign AE-L/AF-L button, and that’s this one over here. Then you if you press it, it gives you a lot of options. It
says, you can use it as an exposure lock. You can use it as an exposure lock if
you hold it only. You can use it as a focus lock. I set it to AF on, and that means that every time I press or hold, my AE-L/AE-F button, it’s going to be used as the focus button, and I can shoot with my shutter button… …my shutter release button, as a shooting only. Focus and shooting. Then metering mode is really important
as well. I stick to my matrix metering for most of the time .I don’t use my spot
and my center-weighted metering too much. Except if there’s a high contrast
situation, then I do, but for general purposes I stick to matrix metering.
It’s called evaluative metering on Canon. Each brand has their own name
for it, but on Nikon it’s called matrix metering… …and that’s my chosen metering system. Please do leave me comments below. If you do have a D750 and you have any other suggestions, or comments on your set-up for wildlife photography. I would love to hear them, and chat to you about them. Until next time. Have a good day. Bye-bye!

Only registered users can comment.

  1. What are your default settings for wildlife photography…f-stop, shutter speed, metering, white balance, etc? What is your primary lens and body combo for wildlife photography? We would love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below…

  2. good explanation! Quistion why don't you use single point. If you use that and make sure it is always focused on the eyes, the picture is always sharp, isn't it? Or am I wrong.

  3. Good explanation Danielle! I use a Sony A9 with Sony 200-600mm. f/8 1/800 minimum, iso auto, white balance auto, spotmetering, AF-C high

  4. Thanks for the video. I have a D750 and was in Botswana in October. I think I had about 80% of the settings you recommended, if only you had made the video sooner… Saving these tips for the next wildlife trip. One idea I thought to do was to set U2 for the wildlife settings. Cheers

  5. Thankyou Danielle, great video, I learnt a lot. The Matrix metering you mention is that in the pencil in metering/exposure? Thankyou for the details. Im going shooting and hope to meet you soon

  6. Thanks Danielle! Your settings are pretty much as I have been using, though I will definitely be trying out the group focus option sometime. I was also still using a combination of back-button focus and shutter button, have changed that to back-button alone, thanks for the advice.
    Shutter speeds on the Chobe seem to be much faster than I can generally get in the light conditions I mostly shoot in at home, or early mornings/late afternoons in game parks, the reflection of light off the water seems to add so much more light….. Thanks for a very informative video!

  7. Great video with lots of information so important to many of us. We buy cameras , we buy lenses , and we are trying to apply different settings just to get the best shots. Many of us struggles with such settings. The one written in the manual are just so basic. Here with this video , we can simply listen carefully to you and follow the rest. Of course , each camera is different, but most settings are pretty much the same .It doesn't matter if you are a Canon , or Nikon, or Sony shooter.After few years in the field I learned that everything depends on light. I can memorize "perfect"settings in my head , but they will be useless if there will be not enough light. So we need to learn how to be flexible and how to adjust things. I am a Nikon girl, from the day one,usually shoot wildlife at F/8, 2000-2500 sec , ISO 100-1600, M mode, spot/matrix /group/metering.Thank you Danielle for this very useful presentation.

  8. Hi Danielle,
    This video pretty much was a review of the settings that we learned with you and Janine on our recent trip. What I enjoyed about it in particular was the explanations for each of your choices. Very informative. thanks again.
    Ron Stagnari

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