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Command Dial

Unlike the D70 and D100 the D50 has only one command dial. It is located on the rear of the camera 'under your thumb' and is used in combination with settings buttons to change settings.

Top of camera controls (left)

On the top of the camera to the left of the viewfinder is the mode dial, it's almost identical to that found on the D70 with the exception of the removal of night landscape and the addition of child scene modes.

Exposure Mode Dial

Icon Mode
AUTO Automatic Exposure

The D50's fully automatic exposure mode configures the camera to make most of the decisions for you, for example you can't set exposure compensation, flash compensation, white balance, ISO (default to Auto), metering mode or image parameters. However you do still have control over some camera functions:

 • Flash mode (Auto, Auto with Red-Eye reduction, Flash cancel)
 • Continuous mode (Single, Continuous)
 • Self-timer mode (Off, Self-Timer, Remote + Self-Timer, Remote)
 • Image quality (all options)
P Programmed Auto (Flexible)

In this mode the camera automatically selects aperture and shutter speed based on the current metered exposure value, exposure compensation and selected ISO sensitivity. The Program AE on the D50 is flexible, which means that you can select one of a variety of equal exposures by turning the main command dial. Example:

 • 1/50 F5.6 (turn left a click) P*
 • 1/60 F5 (turn left a click) P*
 • 1/80 F4.5 (metered) P
 • 1/100 F4 (turn right a click) P*
 • 1/125 F3.5 (turn right a click) P*
S Shutter Priority Auto

In this mode you select the shutter speed and the camera will calculate the correct aperture for the exposure (based on the reading of the current metering mode). Shutter speed is displayed on the viewfinder status bar and on the top LCD, turn the command dial to select different shutter speeds. Available shutter speeds (1/3 EV steps):

1/4000, 1/3200, 1/2500, 1/2000, 1/1600, 1/1250, 1/1000, 1/800, 1/640, 1/500, 1/400, 1/320, 1/250, 1/200, 1/160, 1/125, 1/100, 1/80, 1/60, 1/50, 1/40, 1/30, 1/25, 1/20, 1/15, 1/13, 1/10, 1/8, 1/6, 1/5, 1/4, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.8, 1, 1.3, 1.6, 2, 2.5, 3.2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 20, 25, 30 sec
A

Aperture Priority Auto

In this mode you select the aperture and the camera will calculate the correct shutter speed depending on metered exposure, exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity. Aperture is displayed on the viewfinder status bar and on the top LCD, turn the command dial to select different apertures. The exact range of apertures depends on the lens used.

M Full Manual Exposure

In this mode you select the aperture and the shutter speed from any combination of the above (plus BULB for shutter speed, apertures limited by the lens used). Command dial alone selects shutter speed, hold the exposure compensation button and turn the dial to select aperture. The meter on the viewfinder status bar immediately reflect the exposure level compared to the calculated ideal exposure, if it's outside of +/- 2EV the indicator bar will add an arrow '<' or '>' on the end of the meter.
Vari-program: Portrait

Use for portraits. Camera selects focus area containing subject closest to camera; this subject stands out clearly while background details are softened, lending composition sense of depth. Colors are processed for soft, natural-looking skin tones.
 • Degree of softening depends on amount of light available. Increase distance between subject and background or use telephoto lens for best results.
Vari-program: Landscape

Use for vivid landscape shots that enhance outlines, colors, and contrast in such subjects as
skyscapes and forests.
 • Camera selects focus area containing subject closest to camera.
 • Built-in fl ash and AF-assist illuminator turn off automatically.
Vari-program: Child

Use for snapshots of children. Clothing and background details are vividly rendered while
skin tones remain soft and natural.
 • Camera selects focus area containing subject closest to camera.
Vari-program: Sports

High shutter speeds freeze motion for dynamic sports shots in which main subject stands out clearly.
 • Camera focuses continuously on subject in center focus area while shutter-release button
is pressed halfway. Beep does not sound when camera focuses.
 • Built-in fl ash and AF-assist illuminator turn off automatically.
Vari-program: Close up

Use for close-up shots of flowers, insects, and other small objects.
 • Camera focuses on subject in center focus area.
 • Tripod recommended to prevent blurring at slow shutter speeds.
Vari-program: Night Portrait

Provides natural balance between main subject and background in portraits taken under low
light.
 • Camera selects focus area containing subject closest to camera.
 • Tripod recommended to prevent blurring at slow shutter speeds.

* Text description of Digital Vari-program modes taken from the Nikon D50 user manual with permission.

Top of camera controls (right)

The top right of the camera has changed slightly compared to the D70, the most noticeable difference is that the metering mode selection button has now changed to the self-timer mode button (continuous and self-timer have been separated to two buttons on the D50). Apart from this you've got the standard on/off button, shutter release and the single command dial (rear). Note the D50 has no backlight for its status panel. If you hold the self-timer and continuous buttons for about four seconds the camera will reset all settings to factory default (indicated by the small green dot).

Buttons

Button

Self-timer / Remote mode

Press this button to toggle through each self-timer / remote mode, you can also hold the button and turn the command dial with the same effect:

 • Off
 • Self-timer
 • Self-timer with remote
 • Remote

Exposure Compensation / Aperture

Hold this button and turn the command dial to select exposure compensation (all modes except M), hold this button and turn the command dial to select aperture (mode M).

 • +/- 5.0 EV
 • 1/3EV or 1/2EV steps

I have to admit that I was both surprised and a little concerned that the self-timer button changes self-timer mode with just a single press, all other controls on the camera require you to hold the button and turn the command dial. Its location means that it could be quite easy to accidentally press and put the camera into self-timer mode without meaning to.

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