Nikon D750: Live View Photography Mode

To enter Live view photography mode you will flip the Live view selector lever to its top position (image 1) and press the Lv button. To exit Live view photography mode, simply press the Lv button again. Figure 12.1A, image 2, shows the Live view screen you’ll see first. Normally, this screen would show the subject you are about to photograph, but I left the lens cap on to provide maximum contrast for all the controls we will discuss.

Image 1 – Entering and exiting Live view mode

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Opening Notes on Using Live View Photography Mode

As discussed in the previous chapter, Live view photography mode uses contrast-detection autofocus, which is activated by the Shutter-release button if you are using Single-servo AF (AF-S) Autofocus mode, or automatically if you selected Full-time servo AF (AF-F) Autofocus mode.

You can move the red focus square (figure 12.1A, image 2) to any location on the screen to select off-center subjects. When you have good focus, the red square turns green. You are not limited to the central 51-point AF area as you are when you’re looking through the Viewfinder.

Screen Blackout During Exposure

The screen doesn’t black out while autofocus is active because the camera focuses by de­tecting contrast changes on the imaging sensor. When you fire the shutter, the Monitor will black out briefly while the picture is taken. The blackout is necessary to allow the cam­era to fire the shutter, which blocks light to the imaging sensor briefly. The reflex mirror does not drop when you are taking a picture in Live view photography mode, therefore the blackout period is brief.

Extreme Focusing Accuracy

Use Live view photography mode when you need extreme autofocus accuracy. Contrast-detection AF is slower than phase-detection AF but very accurate. You can zoom in to pixel-peeping levels with the Playback zoom in (QUAL) button before starting autofocus. This is great for macro shooting because you can select very specific sections of the sub­ject for focusing (figure 2). 

Figure 2 – Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) captured in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a mid-70s AI Nikkor 200mm f/4 on a bellows for macro, from about six feet (two meters) away.

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Taking Pictures in Live View Photography Mode

Hold the Shutter-release button down all the way and wait a moment for the camera to take the picture. It’s usually slower than taking a picture with the Viewfinder because au­tofocus takes more time. When you take a picture in Live view photography mode, it ap­pears on the Monitor. To return to Live view photography to take more pictures, just press the Shutter-release button halfway down.

According to Nikon, one important consideration in Live view photography mode is to cover the eyepiece when using Live view. Very bright external light coming in the eyepiece of the Viewfinder may influence the exposure detrimentally.

However, I experimented with this by shining an extremely bright LED flashlight directly into the Viewfinder eyepiece while I was metering the subject with Live view and saw abso­lutely no change in exposure. I then switched to standard Viewfinder-based photography mode and found that shining the flashlight in the Viewfinder eyepiece had an immediate and large effect on exposure.

You may want to test this for yourself and see if your D750 reacts to light through the Viewfinder during Live view photography. Or, you can play it safe and close the eyepiece shutter. 

Settings Recommendation: You can use Live view photography mode on or off your tri­pod. I normally use Live view for macro images (figure 12.1B), for which I especially need the extra accuracy and focus positioning capability. With older Nikons, I was not all that interested in Live view photography because it didn’t feel mature or complete. However, the Nikon D750 has a very refined Live view photography mode. It can be used in almost any situation where standard Viewfinder-based photography will work.

One exception is action shooting. Live view photography is not as good for many types of action shots because the autofocus method is slower and the shutter lag seems lon­ger. If the camera is prefocused in Live view, maybe you could capture some action, but I wouldn’t try it for action shots that require rapid autofocus.

Live view photography mode is for when you have the time and inclination to stand back from your camera and take excellent photos in a more contemplative manner. To my way of thinking, it is like using a small view camera instead of an HD-SLR. If you’ve not been in the habit of using Live view, I would suggest you give it a try. The D750 makes it a lot easier and more effective to use.

These tips were taken from Mastering Your Nikon D750 by Darrell Young. View the full camera guide here.

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