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How-to's Camera Reviews

The user settings U1 & U2 on Nikon D600 & D7000 series

Darrell Young (DigitalDarrell)

Keywords: nikon, d7000, camera, bodies, d600

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The User Settings U1 and U2 are memory locations that semi-permanently save your camera’s configuration, in two separate ways. Let’s discuss how U1 and U2 works in a Nikon D600 or D7000 series DSLR.


Figure 1.0 –  Nikon D7100 U1 and U2 user settings

If you configure your camera’s internal settings in a particular way and want to save that setup, simply go to the Setup Menu and select Save user settings > Save to U1 (or U2) > Save settings to save your configuration for that specific style of shooting. This is optional, in case you don’t want to use U1 and U2 on the Mode dial. However, it is a very convenient way to configure your camera for specific shooting situations so you can change to them quickly.

For instance, with my D7100, I set user setting U1 as my high-quality setting. I shoot in Aperture priority auto (A) exposure mode, NEF (RAW) Image quality with NEF (RAW) recording settings of Lossless compressed  and 14-bit color depth, Adobe RGB Color space, ISO 100, and Neutral Picture Control.

U2 is my party setting. I use Programmed auto (P) exposure mode, JPEG fine Image quality with Size priority in JPEG compression, sRGB Color space, ISO 400 with Auto ISO sensitivity control set to On and Maximum sensitivity set to 1600, and SD Picture Control.

Please notice that, not only am I saving camera menu settings in U1 or U2, but I am also saving an exposure mode (P, S, A, M). A brief examination of the steps used to save a particular camera configuration to one of the User settings (U1 or U2) follows (any of the following steps is optional):

  1. Select an Exposure mode (e.g., P, S, A, or M). Notice that you do not set the camera to U1 or U2 when you save the configuration. If you did that, you would be unable to save an Exposure mode. Instead, you choose whatever Exposure mode you want to use and leave the Mode dial set to that Exposure mode setting when you use Setup Menu > Save user settings > Save to U1 [or U2] > Save settings to save one of the settings.
  2. Configure all the camera’s Shooting Menu settings
  3. Configure all the camera’s Custom Setting Menu settings
  4. Choose a Flash mode
  5. Configure any Exposure compensation settings
  6. Select the metering mode (e.g., Matrix, Center-weighted, or Spot)
  7. Select an AF-area mode (e.g., Single-point AF, Dynamic-area AF, Auto-area AF)
  8. Configure any bracketing settings
  9. As mentioned in step 1, to save the User setting go to the Setup Menu and choose Save user settings > Save to U1 [or U2] > Save settings

You have saved a user setting and have one more to go. Configure the camera in a completely different way and save it to the other User setting.

The two user settings on the Mode dial allow you to store a lot more than just Shooting Menu items. They can also store a specific configuration for many other settings, such as the Custom settings in the Custom Setting Menu, exposure modes, flash, compensation, metering, AF-area modes, bracketing, and more.

You can make changes to the camera’s settings at any time outside of the U1 and U2 Mode dial positions with no effect on the two user settings. When you select U1 or U2 on the Mode dial, those settings outside of U1 or U2 will be overridden—but not overwritten—by your chosen user setting. In other words, if your camera is configured in a certain way for general use outside of the two user settings, and then you select U1 or U2, the user settings do not overwrite the current configuration. Instead they toggle the settings you’ve saved in U1 or U2. When you exit U1 or U2, the camera reverts to however it was previously configured outside of the user setting.



(27 Votes )
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Originally written on April 26, 2013

Last updated on January 20, 2021


Bo Stahlbrandt (bgs) on October 12, 2023

One of the two c-founders, expert in several areas Awarded for his valuable Nikon product reviews at the Resources

If you have questions about how the U1 & U2 functions work, please post your question in the corresponding camera forum, which you find here:

Lou Aiello (lraiello) on September 23, 2023

Not sure if anyone is still watching this page, so here goes nothing! It says above (and I’ve found nothing to the contrary) that you can save viewfinder/Live view modes to U1/U2. I can’t seem to make this happen. I put the camera in desired mode (e.g. “A), enable LiveView mode, Press Menu, save user settings , etc. But the Live view is not retained in U1. Any thoughts? I’m not sure how it SHOULD Work in the first place, since most things with non-Menu options aren’t saved to user settings, but as noted - it says here it SHOULD. Help?

Pleasant Lindsey III (LindseyP3) on September 18, 2013

I'm Johnny-come-lately on this, your explanation is better than the manual's. Now I can exploit it. Thanks for sharing.

User on July 27, 2013

Hi Darrell I purchased your book on the D7000 yesterday and I am enjoying reading through it and trying out the different settings in all the menus..A great book (kindle Version) in my camera bag everywhere I go now for reference and assistance..Pete

Diana Trachtman (dtrac) on July 13, 2013

I was very happy to discover your "how to" on U1 and U2. It's very useful and certainly makes things simpler for amateur me. i also thank you for your book. It has been a big help.

User on May 28, 2013

Darrell, Nice article, very informative. I know you loose the U1 U2 settings you save when formatting the SD cards. What is your recommendations for saving and restoring the file.

Darrell Young (DigitalDarrell) on May 13, 2013

Founding Member of the Nikonians writer Guild. Author of most of the NikoniansPress books. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Darrell offers expert advice as the author of several Nikonians Press Books.

Be sure to select and set all the settings you want to save because it is difficult to modify a user setting after the fact. You can reload and modify the currently saved user setting by positioning the mode dial at U1 or U2, making the changes, and the resaving the setting with Setup Menu | Save user setting. However, you will lose the previously set exposure mode in the process. You cannot turn the mode dial away from U1 or U2 to select a new exposure mode setting without the camera exiting the current user setting (loading different values); therefore, you cannot easily reselect and resave an exposure mode after modification. Exposure mode modification can be done after the fact, but it requires saving and reloading settings to and from the memory card with Setup Menu | Save/load settings while using U1 or U2. Quite a hassle! Therefore, I simply recommend that you take the necessary time to map out exactly what you want each setting to do and only then save the settings to U1 or U2.

User on May 10, 2013

Nice explanation - much more clear than the manual. I like the "toggle" visualization for what happens when going between a PASM setting and U1/U2. Having what is and isn't set in U1/U2 is a great help as well. Thanks for laying all this out.

User on May 10, 2013

Darrell, I enjoyed your article. I have used U1 for my wildlife shooting settings and U2 for Party Shooting settings. This makes it easy for me to set-up for either occasion.

Pravin Mirchandani (Techrod) on May 6, 2013

My experience has been that it is easiest to set up all your basic and common settings and save them to both U1 and U2. These could be image quality, RAW and/or basic, control functions for fn and preview buttons, copyright, display magnification (medium in my case) for OK button, centre-weighted area, etc. These are all common to my use and preferences and not specific to a type of photography. Then do the specific settings for each of U1 and U2. For instance for sports (my U2 setting) I have set up auto-ISO to max out at 3200 maximum sensitivity and with a minimum shutter speed setting of 1/500 since I normally use a 70-300 in DX crop mode. This is fiddly to set up and undo so perfect for these user settings. My landscape setting (U1) has ISO 100. One gotcha I've discovered is that the remote control setting appears to be a camera-wide one and not specific to a user setting. Not too much of an issue as I can set with the i button. I don't use JPG files so ignore the picture control settings but if you are a JPG person there's a lot to be set in picture control to get the type of image you want and these would be ideal for U1 and U2.

User on May 4, 2013

Fantastic tip! I now have used one of my U's on the D600 for HDR shooting (since I shoot RAW & JPEG, and do not want to use the menu's to be able to change a shooting mode)

Tom Feazel (tfeazel) on May 2, 2013

Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014

I use U1 an U2 alot. I seldom use the other Mode Dial positions. I some times want to change a single setting or two on one of the U positions. Here's how: -Set to the U position you want to change. This makes all your settings active. -Make the change to your setting(s.) -Be sure you set the Mode dial to the setting you want before saving. -Before you do ANYTHING else, save to the U setting. Check that you made the change by going to the U setting. I try to limit the changes to 1 or 2 settings at a time, or else I go through the whole set-up. A couple of times through it will get you familiar with your settings, and you'll find it easier. Writing them down will help.

Gary Curtis (Bravozulu) on May 1, 2013

Here's another oddity I encountered saving preferences to a User setting. I repeatedly failed using the menu system to encode Shooting settings for the 2 cards. I wanted Card 1-Raw and Card 2 Jpeg Fine. It was the last day to photograph a painting my wife did of an Apache medicine man who is my friend. No matter what I did with the menu system, I ended up with two Jpeg files. The painting was shipped by FedEx to Arizona, so I couldn't reshoot. I wanted that RAW file so as to pull up the dark shadow areas. After I discovered the sad reality, I easily made the right settings using the QUAL button and turning the Main Command dial. I read the User Manual. I read your Mastering book. Have you ever run into this anomaly about setting the SD Card preferences? Have you

User on May 1, 2013

Best of all, this marvellous tutorial is included in the annual Nikonians subscription. Many, many thanks Darrell. Dave.

Gary Curtis (Bravozulu) on May 1, 2013

It worked. There were two changes I needed to make, both revolving around the built-in flash. I was it set to TTL in U1. And in U2 I set the built in to Commander to fire remote speedlights. That first setting requires that metering be in Matrix. And the 2nd requires Spot for metering. This is something I've wondered about since the day I got the camera a year ago. Thanks for your continued effort.

Darrell Young (DigitalDarrell) on May 1, 2013

Founding Member of the Nikonians writer Guild. Author of most of the NikoniansPress books. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Darrell offers expert advice as the author of several Nikonians Press Books.

Gary asked: "How do I plug that one alteration into the laundry list of things already memorized in U2?" ======== Darrell answers: "Gary, unfortunately, when you have saved a User Setting, it doesn't appear that you can add only one setting into the mix. It's all or none! I suggest preparing a list of settings carefully and then (and only then) saving your setup. You can only overwrite, not modify an existing User setting. When you switch out of U1 or U2, the non-User settings take over."

Gary Curtis (Bravozulu) on May 1, 2013

Darrell, I bought your D7000 book last summer and learned a lot from it. Here's a question about this recent posting: didn't know not to have the Shooting Mode in U1/U2 when saving those settings. Wow. But what happens if, once set, you forgot one or a few additional special setups? For instance, in my U2 setting, I always want Spot Metering when I'm shooting with a flash. I want to always be in TTl exposure, not TTl-BL and that requires metering set in Spot or Center. How do I plug that one alteration into the laundry list of things already memorized in U2?

User on April 30, 2013

Darrell, thank you for beeing my guru in using Nikon D7000.

Layne Moore (laynemoore1) on April 30, 2013

Darrell, You have helped me so much to get the most from my D7000. Thanks

User on April 30, 2013

Thanks for this - I'm thinking that since I primarily shoot in RAW it might be handy to use one of the U settings for in camera HDR (which I haven't done too much of yet since I need to dive into the menu and change to .jpg). Would make that process a whole lot less painful!

Darrell Young (DigitalDarrell) on April 30, 2013

Founding Member of the Nikonians writer Guild. Author of most of the NikoniansPress books. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Darrell offers expert advice as the author of several Nikonians Press Books.

Charles, You can change any of the settings at any time. The changes will not overwrite the settings saved in U1 or U2. The only way to do that is to resave U1 or U2. If, after modifying a setting while in U1 or U2, you change the mode dial to something else and then back to a particular user setting, the camera will then reload the user setting with no changes.

Gregory Wagner (gdavidwagner) on April 29, 2013

Thank you Darrell! I was thinking this weekend that I needed to learn how to utilize the U1/U2 and now you've explained it perfectly.

Graham Martin (Nikon32250) on April 29, 2013

This is very helpful especially when I am switching settings back and forth as I will be this weekend when I will be shooting First Communion photos, and will be changing from flash to non-flash at a moments notice.

Charles Jannace (sbynyc) on April 29, 2013

Before I decide to use U1and U2, I'd like to know something not covered by your article. Lets say I've configured U1 exactly as you suggest for High Quality but when I decide to grab the camera and use it on U1, I suddenly want to change from Aperture to Manual or Shutter mode or perhaps a higher ISO. Will I be able to make those changes while still on U1 or do I have to get out of U1 and go straight to another mode? Thanks for your time.

Delmar Mineard Jr (GeneralNikon) on April 28, 2013

Nicely done. Thanks for sharing.

Mick Klass (mklass) on April 27, 2013

As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Ribbon awarded for his most generous donation in 2017 Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the 2017-2018 fundraising campaign

Handy, very handy and concise. However, you might want to delete the reference to not being able to save FX or DX image size. While technically true...

Ken L (Chomper) on April 26, 2013

Thanks for this! I was just thinking this morning, I need to figure out how to best use and setup the U1 and U2 settings. Read my mind!

User on April 26, 2013

Excellent Darrell, thank you and it will be enormously helpful to many new to the U1/U2 setup. Richard

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