How to… Use Picture Controls

How to…
Use Picture Controls

By Becky Danese

A feature that has often been promoted by Nikon is the ability for their range of DSLRs and the Nikon 1 system to process images in-camera while the shot is taken. This is ideal for shooting the vivid hues of Autumn leaves, or toning down harsh contrasts when wanting a natural portrait. Much of what one does in post-processing can actually be done from within the camera itself, and Nikon have offered an entire menu of options for several years now.

Both minor and major adjustments can be made to the colour, saturation, contrast and even overall tone of the photograph. Much like changing your roll of film in the days of 35mm from Black & White to the rich colours of Kodachrome, one can set a digital camera to do the same and even make minor adjustments to these pre-sets if desired.

It is worth noting that Picture Controls applied to RAW files will not affect a resulting photograph when the image is eventually converted unless you use Nikon software to do so. Using other software such as Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Aperture or Capture One reverts the RAW file back to its original form when converted. Only Nikon’s own software such as View NX/2, Capture NX/2 and NX-D will maintain these picture controls when converting RAW files. If you use software other than Nikon’s post-process it is worth using the Nikon RAW converter first and then importing your files into Lightroom etc. to keep these adjustments.

If you tend to shoot in JPEG or TIFF all Picture Control settings and in-camera enhancements will be applied to the final photo and will not be able to be ‘removed’ in processing with a click of a button. This is one of the many reasons it is worth shooting in RAW or a combination of RAW + JPEG (a subject covered in Nikon Owner Issue XLIX).

To set the Picture Controls on your camera I would recommend the following steps:

– Access the ‘Set Picture Controls’ menu option via the Shooting Menu on the camera. (fig. 1) For some newer cameras this can also be accessed using a shortcut button the back of the camera.

– Although the range of Picture Controls has increased over the years from a few basic adjustments to a variety, with the Nikon D810 and onwards incorporating a number of entirely new controls previously unavailable, the principles are the same. From this you will be able to select usually one or all of the following options (fig. 3):


Standard processing for a balanced effect, usually suitable for most situations.


Minimal processing for a natural effect. Colours tend to be less saturated and lower-contrast. Best chosen for photographs that will later be extensively retouched or processed.


Pictures are enhanced for a vivid photoprint effect. Colours tend to be more saturated, brighter and slightly warmer. Pictures are also slightly sharpened. Best chosen for photographs that emphasize primary colours.


Convert pictures to Black & White and add filter effects or toning such as Sepia or Cyan. Filter effects can also be added (as in the days of using filters with Black & White film) – YELLOW to optimize contrast for brighter skin tones, ORANGE for stronger contrast in landscapes featuring blue sky, RED for strong contrast with sunny backgrounds, GREEN for brighter greenery and for more restrained tones In skin and lips.


Create portraits with soft, natural skin tones.


Use for vibrant shots of landscapes and city scapes.

Flat (D810 bodies + onwards)

Ideal for High Dynamic Range shots, this setting evens out colours for maximum dynamic range.

Within each of these Picture Controls one can tweak certain elements in order to get the exact final product you are looking for, and save these as ‘profiles’ in your camera.

To make your own custom Picture Control profile in-camera, access the Manage Picture Control item from the Shooting Menu (fig. 1). Access the Save/edit option (fig. 4) and choose from one of the above Picture Controls to use as your ‘template’. You will then be able to adjust the following settings:






Clarity (newly employed for the D810 and newer models, the clearness of your photo can be adjusted)

When you make adjustments to any of these settings, a small underscore will highlight the point you have moved from in case you would like to revert back to the original settings.

Once you are happy with your adjustments you can save this profile by pressing OK and then giving it an appropriate title (fig. 5 & 3).

Nikon’s Picture Control Utility 2 also allows you to create your own Picture Control profiles and import these into your camera or automatically apply this to your RAW files when uploaded. Both the Nikon D810 and Picture Control Utility 2 allow you to adjust in smaller increments (0.25 in all cases except Brightness), which will no doubt be prevalent in later cameras and versions of the software. Most current and earlier cameras move in increments of a fairly arbitrary 1.00, which assumes that future bodies and software will allow for more minute adjustments.

These settings allow one to produce a completely unique look and feel to photographs, putting creative control into the hands of the photographer throughout the shooting process by making adjustments to suit your photographic situation, rather than leaving the creativity to editing done in front of a computer after the shot has been taken.

Fig. 1: 'Set Picture Control' and below it 'Manage Picture Control' can be found in the shooting menu.

Fig. 1: ‘Set Picture Control’ and below it ‘Manage Picture Control’ can be found in the shooting menu.


Fig. 3: When you have made changes to a pre-set Picture Control an asterisk (*) will appear next to the title.

Fig. 3: When you have made changes to a pre-set Picture Control an asterisk (*) will appear next to the title.

Fig. 4: An underscore ( _ ) will appear when you modify a pre-set to show where you have moved it from.

Fig. 4: An underscore ( _ ) will appear when you modify a pre-set to show where you have moved it from.

Fig. 5: In 'Manage Picture Controls' you can create your own custom Picture Controls to suit your needs.

Fig. 6: Most DSLRs will let you save up to 9 different custom Picture Controls.

Fig. 6: Most DSLRs will let you save up to 9 different custom Picture Controls.


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Joe McNally to speak at the Grays of Westminster Christmas Event

Internationally Acclaimed Photographer Joe McNally to be the Guest Speaker at Grays of Westminster and Nikon Owner Magazine’s
Grand Christmas Event
The Institute of Directors, Pall Mall, London
Friday, 2nd December
6.30 p.m. – 10.30 p.m.
Champagne Reception: 6.30 p.m.

Early Announcement Due to Anticipated High Demand

Grays of Westminster and Nikon Owner magazine would like to invite you to their grand Christmas Event in the magnificent Regency Restaurant at the Institute of Directors (IoD), 116 Pall Mall, London. The champagne reception and superb Christmas dinner will be followed this year by a unique presentation by internationally acclaimed photographer and Nikon USA Ambassador Joe McNally.


Joe McNally was recently named as one of the “Top 5 Most Socially Influential Photographers”, as well as the 2015 Photographer of the Year by PMDA*. He bought his first Nikon camera in 1973 and for forty years, from the deserts of Africa to the snows of Siberia, he has seen the world through his Nikon cameras and lenses.

His expansive career has included assignments in over 60 countries. He is an ongoing contributor to the National Geographic, shooting numerous cover stories and highly complex, technical features for the past 25 years, a contract photographer for Sports Illustrated, the last staff photographer in the history of LIFE, and he has photographed cover stories for TIME, Newsweek, Fortune, New York, and The New York Times Sunday Magazine. His client list includes FedEx, Nikon, Epson, Sony, General Electric, MetLife and Adidas and he has held numerous lectures and workshops at distinguished institutions such as the National Geographic Society, Smithsonian Institution, the Disney Institute and the U.S. Department of Defense.


The Institute of Directors is a grand Grade I listed Regency building and its sweeping marble staircase and vast walls covered in 18th and 19th century canvases provides a spectacular backdrop for the evening; the period restaurant at the IoD is a most fitting venue for this elegant celebration.

Venue: Institute of Directors (IoD), 116 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5ED

Date: Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Champagne Reception: 6.30 p.m. Introduction and Welcome

Dinner: 7.15 p.m.

Traditional Christmas Dinner or a Vegetarian Option

Joe McNally’s Presentation in the Morning Room: 9.15 p.m.

Cost of the evening: £155 per ticket, £95 for current Nikon Owner subscribers*


To book a place at the Christmas event, please reply to me, Gillian Greenwood, on gillian.greenwood@nikonownermagazine.com with your full name, Nikon Owner user-name / subscription number if available, postal address & postcode, daytime mobile and landline, your menu choice (traditional or vegetarian) and the name of any guest or guests you would like to bring with you.

Please note: We are unfortunately unable to take telephone messages with regard to your booking. As there are limited places available, may we also ask you to reply as soon as possible.

*If you are not a current Nikon Owner subscriber, you are welcome to join or rejoin Nikon Owner when we call you to receive the benefit of booking the Christmas Event at the lower price.

Grays of Westminster

Grays of Westminster, the multi-award winning, exclusively Nikon dealer based in central London, services the photographic needs of over 47,000 clients, including A-list movie stars, rock stars and royalty as well as people from all walks of life and professions. It is the first camera shop in the world to be granted a Coat of Arms by Her Majesty’s College of Arms.

About Nikon Owner


Standard Annual subscription – normal price: £69; special price: £59 when you make your booking

  • 1-year subscription to Nikon Owner + 3-year warranty on all new Nikon products from Grays of Westminster
  • Nikon Owner magazine, a superb, glossy full-colour 60-page magazine that is 100% Nikon. Each issue delivers benchmark technical reviews of the very latest Nikon equipment, thought-provoking interviews and articles with world-class images
  • All back issues are now available on line as PDFs
  • Private user-name and password to subscribers-only website
  • Simon Stafford’s Technical Helpline
  • 18-month warranty on second-hand Nikon from Grays of Westminster
  • 10% off Think Tank bags purchased at Grays of Westminster
  • Special trips and events
  • Discounts on events and training sessions

Gold subscription £231 – special price: £155 when you make your booking

  • 2-year subscription to Nikon Owner
  • 5-year warranty on all new Nikon products from Grays of Westminster
  • 2-year warranty on second-hand Nikon from Grays of Westminster
  • Gold Priority waiting list for all new Nikon releases (top of the waiting list)
  • A half-hour tutorial on the phone or face to face, by appointment
  • A signed copy of one of Heather Angel’s books while stocks last or a camera guide by Jon Sparks
  • Nikon Owner magazine as above
  • Private user-name and password to the subscribers-only website which includes a forum, message board, technical equipment reviews, events page and use of a photo gallery
  • Simon Stafford’s Technical Helpline
  • 15% off Think Tank bags purchased at Grays of Westminster
  • Special trips and events
  • Substantial discounts on a number of training sessions, workshops, seminars and safaris. These include Simon Stafford’s safaris & photographic tours (which he arranges in addition to his Flash, Portraiture, Macro and kit-related workshops), Michael Eleftheriades’ Lightroom, Panoramic and Colour-Calibration seminars as well as his London Walks, Graham Eaton’s wildlife workshops and Chris Weston’s and Simon Weir’s safaris and events.

Cancellation policy:

Please kindly note that a cancellation policy applies to this event and that unfortunately a refund can only be provided when you give us 10 days’ prior notice of cancelling your place(s).

DISCLAIMER: With regard to workshops, seminars, safaris, meetings, events or photo-outings, both Grays of Westminster and Nikon Owner magazine and their staff are only taking the initiative of arranging and facilitating any of these on the strict understanding that they are solely acting in an introductory capacity and anyone planning to come will be deemed to have agreed that they fully understand this as a condition of enrolling and that no liability whatsoever is accepted either by any of the organisers, Grays of Westminster or Nikon Owner magazine in this regard.
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Limited stocks of the new AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED Nikkor Lens

We have limited stocks of the new supreme:
AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED Nikkor Lens


We have just received a small delivery of the new AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED which adds another jewel to its line-up of fast FX-format f/1.4 prime lenses. As the only 105 mm autofocus lens on the market with an f/1.4 maximum aperture, this is an exciting addition to the NIKKOR range. Professionals who want to reach new levels of artistry in portraiture and fashion will be able to enjoy exceptional aesthetic control.

AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED

The AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED is a worthy successor to Nikon’s famed NIKKOR 105mm f/2.5 lens. Whether photographers are working with available light or in the studio, the all-new optical construction delivers unrivalled edge-to-edge sharpness and exquisite bokeh. The 105 mm focal length and 1m shortest focusing distance allow for frame-filling head-shots without the need to crop. Wide-open performance is unbeatable, and subjects are rendered with perfect clarity even when shooting at the widest aperture.

AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED

Key features include:

Nine rounded aperture blades decrease diffraction, delivering faithful reproduction of a scene’s elements.

An electromagnetic aperture mechanism enables exceptionally stable auto-exposure control—even during a high-speed burst. Autofocus is smooth, quiet, and swift as a result of Nikon’s SWM (Silent Wave Motor).

Legendary NIKKOR optics – Nano Crystal Coat reduces ghost and flare. Three extra-low-dispersion (ED) glass elements minimise axial chromatic aberration. Nikon’s fluorine coat protects the front and rear lens elements, and makes them easier to clean.


The lens cost £2,049.00 inc. VAT. Order today by telephone on 020 7828 4925.

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D5 bodies now in stock

The Nikon D5 now in stock


We now have the new Nikon D5 bodies in stock. If you would like to place an order for Nikon’s latest flagship camera please contact us on 0207 828 4925. The body is priced at £5199.00 including VAT in the XQD version. CF versions are available on special order.

D500 + AF-S 16-80mm f/2.8-4E VR DX Kits
Now available to order


The much-anticipated Nikon D500 with the recommended AF-S 16-80mm f/2.8-4E DX VR lens kit is now available to order at Grays of Westminster. Priced at £2470.00 including VAT plus P&P if applicable. Please place your order today to avoid disappointment.

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Grays of Westminster August Bank Holiday Opening Times


An Extensive Selection of
Second Hand Cameras and Lenses


We have replenished our stocks of second hand cameras and lenses and now have an exciting range of digital and film SLR bodies and AF and manual lenses in our showroom.

Digital bodies in our current selection include:

D4S, D4, D3X, D3S, D810, D800, Df, D700, D610,
D500, D7200, D300S, D5500, D90.

Film SLR bodies in our stocks now include:

F6, F5, F4, F3/HP, FM3A, FM2N, F2 and Nikon F bodies.

Plus a huge range of second hand lenses, battery grips and speedlights. To see the full listings please visit:


AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED
Taking Pre-Orders Now


We are now taking pre-orders for the imminent arrival of the AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED. This top-quality professional portrait lens is expected to be available next week. To avoid disappointment please contact us to place your order today.

Sales and Technical Support can be reached on 0207 828 4925, or alternatively emailed at info@graysofwestminster.co.uk.

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