Let’s Talk Cheese

Yes, Thom’s favorite topic is up next for discussion: who moved the cheese?

Not only was a lot of cheese moved in the D4 to D5 transition, the arbitrariness of some of Nikon’s decisions just continues to boggle my mind. Clearly, they don’t use two of their cameras together. Ever. I do. Often. The “moving cheese problem” has continued for decades now, so clearly Nikon doesn’t fully get how it impacts their customers. 

Let’s start with one that will highly argued about, both pro and con: the ISO button. Personally, I thought Nikon had solved this problem by making the Record Video button (the red one) programmable. That seemed like a reasonable compromise to me. 

Now, on the D5 we have an ISO button in place of the third button that usually lives just behind the shutter release (Mode button). Yes, I know a lot of you are liking that. But think about it for a minute, and note how the button positions moved. The good news is that if you scroll far enough on CSM #F1 you find that you can program the red button to Mode ;~). Unfortunately, your memory of where that button would be as you’re looking through the viewfinder is now wrong, as Nikon went from an inverted V layout to an arch layout that places the red button far forward of where the third button has traditionally lived.

Personally, I can tell you that I use Mode a hell of a lot more than “start video.” Indeed, since if I’m recording video with a Nikon DSLR I’m doing it with an Atomos external recorder, I now start that video recording from the recorder. So thanks for nothing, Nikon. I have two cameras (D4/D810) where I program the red button to ISO and one where I program the red button to Mode. Things weren't broken. Indeed, all Nikon needed to do is change the default on the red button to ISO and label the button ISO ;~). Let the few videographers using the camera for its secondary purpose do the re-programming of buttons! 

So much "make work" in model generations, changing things that don't need changing.

Okay, one demerit for Nikon. Let’s give them one credit, even if it’s partial.

We used to have a dedicated button for voice annotation. Not everyone uses that, so I like the change to essentially make that an Fn3 button and let the user select voice annotation as the function if that’s what they want. But for a programmable button, only three choices? (Voice memo, Rating, and Connect to Network.) Really? Run out of ideas, Nikon? 

I suppose they thought of that button as “related to playback.” But even there I can think of two things that should be added: histogram and zoom to 100%. Why? Because I have to choose only one of those for the center button on the Direction pad for Playback, that’s why. Why can’t I choose the other with the Fn3 button?

So only partial credit for Fn3.

Two other very arbitrary things I note in cheese moving are Auto Image Rotation and Slot Empty Release Lock. 

Auto Image Rotation used to be on the SETUP menu, while its companion, Rotate Tall, was on the PLAYBACK menu. Now they’re both on the second page of the PLAYBACK menu (and what happened to DPOF?). 

Meanwhile, Slot Empty Release Lock used to be a Custom Setting (in the F group). Now it’s suddenly on the SETUP menu. Ditto Beep (used to be in the B group), which also moved to the SETUP menu. But here’s the kicker: Nikon completely missed what I’ve been warning people about forever on the pro models: File Number Sequence is still in the Custom Setting menus, where we have banks. That sometimes leads to situations where you accidentally (or intentionally) change this setting in one bank but not the others, which is a bad thing if you don’t catch it. If anything should have moved to the SETUP menu because it’s a camera-wide choice, it’s File Number Sequence. 

So yes, cheese is moving all over the place, yet some cheese seems locked in place. 

The thing that makes this worse is that Nikon doesn’t typically update firmware on other bodies to match their latest thinking about where to put cheese. So it’s likely that my D4 and D810 will continue to mismatch my D5. Whoopee. That’ll be fun. 

Buttons move. Menu options move. If you look inside the camera, connectors move. Heck, on the outside of the camera, small changes in angle can be found, too. And here’s a really tiny change: the FORMAT icon stenciled next to the Delete button went from below to above the button.  (Okay, that last was probably a good change, as it makes the label more visible from the top of the camera, which you have to look at to see if the FOR message has come up yet.) Still, I’m surprised the shutter release hasn’t moved to the left.

But probably the funniest cheese change is the G “group” in Custom Settings. Oops. Nikon changed their mind about how button assignment works in terms of Custom Settings (programmable buttons tend to be all in one Custom Setting now, something that’s probably a good move, and one that mimics what I started doing with my books a few years ago when I batched multiple programmable button functions together into one section). 

Still, G group [sic] consists of only one Custom Setting now! ;~)  Moreover, it’s basically the same as in the F section (though with a few different video options). So why not truly collapse the programmable buttons into a single function: choose still or video, then program away using the new UI? 

I’m reminded of something my English professor (and copy editor wife) kept telling me: you can’t have bullet points with only one bullet. Well, Nikon, you can’t have a Custom Function “group” with only one function. Indeed, Nikon’s lack of creativity with the video group (G) shows that they don’t entirely understand video use of their product. 

Remember, Custom Settings are in banks. What if I wanted to have a video bank? Well, much of what I need to change is in the MOVIE SHOOTING menu, which isn’t banked, and HDMI menu option, which is in the unbanked SETUP menu. So I can’t easily set one of my Custom Settings banks to all the video things I need set simultaneously. Sometimes cheese should be moved (and improved). But again, some cheese seems inappropriately locked in place.

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