Menu Cheese Mostly Unmoved

I'm sure you're all waiting for the cheese-moving comments. 

Okay, so let's walk through the D850 menu system a bit and see what we find that's worth commenting on. The current "standard" for Nikon cheese is the D5 and D500, and to a lesser degree the D7500. 

PLAYBACK menu: no changes. Yes.

PHOTO SHOOTING menu: the masking selection for crop display has been moved into the Image Area section of this menu, a better choice than the older and odd bolted-onto-an-obscure-Custom-Setting way it was done in the past. Yes. The Flash Control option still only works with SB-300, SB-400, SB-500, or SB-5000 Speedlights. No. We've got some new White Balance and Picture Control options, but those just are additions into the usual menu choices. The big change that's long overdue is actually a potential workflow saver: you can designate things like Interval Timing or Focus Shift Shooting [sic] to place their images in a new and distinct folder. Yes, sort of. The problem here is whether or not your image ingesting system/process recognizes and preserves these additional folders, or just grabs everything from all folders when you ingest. We need programs like Lightroom to stack/group the images from these special folders, and Photo Mechanic to preserve the folders.

MOVIE SHOOTING menu: much the same as PHOTO SHOOTING in terms of the few changes.

CUSTOM SETTINGS menu: we get new options to change peaking color and the highlight (zebra) level, virtual VR switch necessary for AF-P lenses is present (wrong spot, Nikon), and there are some minor additions/changes to some of the settings. Fn2 and the video Fn button assignments still have very limited choices, showing that Nikon hasn't really heard their users here.

SETUP menu: say what? IPTC data has been removed. No. Bad Nikon. The networking options (SnapBridge and WT-7) are still a warren of messy and confusing menu items. 

RETOUCH menu: Edit Movie is now Trim Movie. We get a new Side-by-Side Comparison option.

Overall, the menus are relatively unscathed and not re-ordered, so cheese-moving is minimal.

I get the impression though that Nikon is struggling with firmware size. It seems that if anything gets added to menus these days, something else tends to disappear. I have to wonder whether or not Nikon is trying to fit firmware into a particular size constraint rather than letting it grow organically. This has implications on what they can do in firmware fixes in the future, obviously, and may explain why we don't get a lot of them, particularly additions. 

In passing I'll note that the manuals have a lot of the usual missing, incorrect, or poor wording that you tend to find in rushed-to-market products. 

One thing I did note in the manual that I didn't expect and now have to test is this: the power source you use impacts your buffer size. Surprisingly, the EN-EL18b 9 fps buffer sizes are considerably lower than the EN-EL15a 7 fps buffer sizes, more so than the difference of 2 fps would suggest.

For instance, the way you'd typically shoot speed (12-bit Lossless Compressed*) you get 170 shots at 7 fps and 54 shots at 9 fps. So twenty-four seconds of shooting at 7 fps versus six seconds of shooting at 9 fps. That 4:1 differential doesn't seem right. The implication is that the amount of data being generated at 9 fps is over the optimal handling limit of EXPEED and thus results in a more restrictive buffer. (For DX shooters it's 200 and 91, or 28 seconds and 10 seconds, which shouldn't be limiting.)

Of course six seconds at 9 fps is still more than enough for most shooters. Still, if you're shooting series of bursts in rapid sequence, as you might with some sports shooting, there's a chance you're going to slowly move towards buffer limitations during that sequence. This is obviously something I'll have to test in practice. Indeed, I'll be doing that next weekend at a college football game.

*Okay, I knew you were going to ask. 14-bit on the D850 looks like it is only useful at the lowest ISO values. Beyond about ISO 200 you don't get any real benefit in the data from the extra bits. Given that 14-bit Lossless Compressed is a 51 shot buffer instead of 170, yeah, you're not going to use 14-bit for speed work (e.g. sports and wildlife). You're better off saving the file space and gaining the buffer space. 

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