Greg Benz's Suggestions for the D850

I don't usually do this, but my friend Greg Benz has posted some good starting suggestions for using the D850, and I thought I'd cross comment on them. Greg's choices are quite good and very defendable, but I have a few points to make you might want to also consider.

  • In RGB Histogram image review, remember that you need to then set the highlights display via the thumbnail button+pad. Greg's right, you only need this one view to tell you what's going on with your pixels, but the default is to only display the histogram; you have to add the highlights review.
  • If I have any real questions about Greg's settings, it has to do with Auto WB, Flat Picture Control, and AdobeRGB Color Space. What he's trying to do here is get a better histogram that more closely reflects the raw data. Sorry, but that's not a magic combo. I'm not sure that there is a truly magic combo you can set in camera, but the problem is that the raws are underexposed to the JPEGs (especially with the usual Picture Controls), and the WB twist to the red and blue channels can be a second gotcha. Realistically, you need UniWB with this camera (yeah, working on it). 
  • AF limiting: for landscape shooting, these are rarely useful, as Greg implies. What is useful? Single Point and Group. Single Point gives you pinpoint focus control, Group gives you Closest Focus Priority across a small area. 
  • Greg doesn't mention that CSM #D6 appears to also apply to Quiet Mode shooting. That can be useful if you're not on a tripod.
  • I'm not yet sure about his recommendation of 3 for the focus shift. Thing is, Nikon has embedded a CoC calculation into their steps. The actual steps vary with focal length and aperture based upon that CoC. I think I agree with him that 5—which everyone else is suggesting—probably isn't the right starting value to try for landscapes, it's something lower. That's because Nikon appears to be using a not very good CoC value (probably the same 0.033 as they mark the lenses, not 0.025 as the Zeiss calculations would suggest it should be, or 0.016 as some photo site calculations would suggest). Thus, when you step you have to be wary of slight DOF softness at the front/aft of the focal plane. Step too much and you'll get bad data in the merge. Step too little and it'll take you far too long to stitch the focus in post. Nikon hasn't helped us find the right middle ground, and I believe it to be different for macro work than for large landscape work.
  • As I've noted in my work on AF Fine Tune, don't average the results, select the median. 
  • Yes, ISO 64 is where you want to be. Up to ISO 200 is okay, and with those ISO values set 14-bit Lossless Compressed. At ISO 400 and above, set 12-bit Lossless Compressed.
  • I can't quite agree with his loss-of-resolution off tripod comments. Pixel smear happens over time, thus a 1 pixel smear isn't actually a halving of total resolution. True, smear is not a good thing to have in your pixels, but at low levels I wouldn't worry about it, and deconvolution sharpening can help you recover from very low levels of that type of handling error.
  • Which aperture to use is still something I'm trying to come to grips with. Greg suggests f/8 to f/13. But f/8 is already diffraction limited on a D850. f/13 results are absolutely impacted by diffraction. The tradeoff here is acuity versus depth of field: you can't have both past f/5.6 on the D850. This is why focus shift (ugh, Nikon, what were you thinking using a derogatory term already used in optical evaluation?) becomes very important. Technically, to preserve everything the lens and camera can capture, you want to be at f/4 or f/5.6 and focus stacking to get your depth of field. And as noted above, Nikon didn't make it easy to figure out what the optimal settings to do that would be.
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