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.
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):
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.
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