Using Live View – Non-GPU Mode

GPU Mode has better live view features and analysis tools than non-GPU mode.  You can change the mode in the Preferences screen, Live View tab.  Here is a summary of the differences:

  • Use the new GPU mode if you are using high resolution monitors like 3K, 4K to help keep up an acceptable live view frame rate. It offloads workload from the CPU and uses the GPU instead.
  • If you don’t have a compatible OpenGL 3.1 video card and video card memory (at least 128MB), you will see a white screen in live view. In that case, upgrade your graphics card drivers, or graphics card and try again or go back to using the old non-GPU mode.
  • ISO Pinning is now called Brightness and is located in the Image group in the Layers tab.
  • Noise Reduction is no longer available in non-GPU mode. It is available in GPU mode and is called ‘Jitter Reduction’ in the Image group in the Layers tab.
  • The layers tab for GPU mode is completely different than non-GPU mode. The toolbar at the top of the live view screen is the same though, and the method of using the toolbar buttons are the same.
  • The motion detection trigger requires the non-GPU mode.

The rest of this article discusses live view non-GPU mode.

You can view your composition and exposure using live view. This is normally displayed on the LCD screen on the camera body, but ControlMyNikon allows you to view it in a window.

Restrictions

Some camera functionality is limited during live view. This is a Nikon firmware limitation. For example, a D4 can change aperture during live view, but a D7000 can not.

The exposure and histogram functionality of the live view window are only valid for those bodies that can display live view with the actual exposure levels. All other bodies automatically adjust live view brightness so it isn’t too bright or too dark, irregardless of your exposure settings. This auto-brightness causes the live view histogram and exposure data to be incorrect. This is a Nikon firmware limitation.

You can enable/disable exposure preview by using the menu item under the tools menu. For D800/D800E/D810/D850 only.

Starting Live View

To start live view, click on the ‘Live View’ button.

Stopping Live View

To stop live view, click on the ‘Close’ button on the live view screen.

Embedding

Like the image browser window, the live view window is embedded in the main ControlMyNikon window. However, this can be changed. This allows you to detach the live view window and resize or put it on another monitor. To control this, go to the Tools menu and find the following items:

  • Live View – Attached – This is the default. If the live view window is detached, click on this to reattach it.
  • Live View – Detached – Click on this to detach the live view window. You can then resize and drag it.

Performance

Performance Slower computers will show a choppy/laggy live view display. This is because the computer needs to receive/decode and display 24 jpg’s per second. Slower computers may wind up only showing 10 frames per second. The CPU TYPE makes a difference! Intel cpu’s give better live view performance, so keep that in mind if you are shopping for a computer that will be displaying live view.

You can also live view GPU mode which utilizes the power of your graphics card.  See the Live View – GPU Mode article for more info.

Image Quality

Most Nikon bodies send twenty four 640×420 JPEG Basic Quality images to the computer per second. The D5 and D500 uses JPEG Fine Quality and have an option for 1024×768. You’ll need a fast computer and USB3.0 to stream JPEG Fine at 1024×768 due to there being up to 40 times more data per image transferred compared to the lower resolution modes.

Some bodies allow you to set the live view resolution. If your body allows this, you will find a Live View Image Quality menu item in the View menu. You can only set this while live view is not active. The setting can be stored in a profile.

Each streamed live view image is a reduction of the full normal image size, so you may notice image artifacts on the live view image. You can also enable the ‘Live View Noise Reduction’ feature in the Layers tab, Image section to get a slightly better quality preview image. The final captured image will be of a much higher quality and larger than the live view image.

Focusing

Focusing in live view requires that the camera body and lens autofocus to be enabled. Be sure to read the Preparing Your Camera help for more information on how to set your camera.

ISO Pinning

Some bodies have a very dark live view when used in manual mode such as when using strobes. This makes composition and focus adjustments through live view very difficult because the live view image is too dark. ISO Pinning (the Brightness control in GPU live view) allows you to lighten the images shown in the live view stream, but use your set exposure when capturing images. 

  1. Set up your strobes, aperture/shutter speed/iso.
  2. Set the camera to manual mode, then start live view.
  3. The live view image will be very dark. Put a checkmark in the ISO Pinning checkbox in the live view screen. The current ISO will be shown under the checkbox. This is your ‘Pinned ISO’.
  4. Move the slider to the right to make the live view image brighter. This is actually adjusting the ISO so that the image is brighter, even though the settings tab still shows the pinned ISO. Now adjust focus and composition.
  5. Capture the image by pressing the ‘Shoot’ button in ControlMyNikon. The capture will use the pinned ISO.

Monitor

Right-click on the live view image to get a popup menu with a single item in it called Open Monitor.  This  launches a secondary live view window. This window does not have any layers or features. It can be used on a separate monitor to show a preview of the next shot to clients, models etc while you have overlays enabled on the main live view window.

Toolbar Buttons

From left to right

  • Close – Ends the live view session.
  • Time Remaining – Shows the time remaining before the body will close live view. This is to prevent heat (and noise) buildup on the sensor during prolonged live view sessions. Newer bodies don’t seem to have much of a problem with this. You can set live view to automatically restart after a set duration in the preferences screen.
  • Autofocus – will try to autofocus on the current focus box location. The body will adjust the focus and look for as much high contrast as possible. Once it has found it, it considers it to be focused, whether it looks focused to the user or not. – Good lighting and contrast is essential to the autofocusing working well. Clicking on the screen will move the focus box. Double-clicking on the screen also causes an autofocus.
  • Adjust Focus Near – Coarse – this moves the focus closer to you by an amount set as the coarse step in the Layers tab.
  • Adjust Focus Near – Fine – this moves the focus closer to you by an amount set as the fine step in the Layers tab.
  • Adjust Focus Far – Fine – this moves the focus away from you by an amount set as the fine step in the Layers tab.
  • Adjust Focus Far – Coarse – this moves the focus away from you by an amount set as the coarse step in the Layers tab.
  • Shoot – Captures an image. Same function as the capture button on the main window.
  • Zoom Level 1 – Zooms all the way out.
  • Zoom Level 2 – Zooms in one level.
  • Zoom Level 3 – Zooms in two levels.
  • Zoom Level 4 – Zooms in three levels.
  • Histogram – Shows the histogram based on the live view image data. Be sure to read the Limitations section above about this.
  • Record Movie – Starts recording.

Layers Tab

You can adjust how the live view image is displayed as well as overlay guides and information on top of it. To access these settings, go to the View menu and select ‘Layers’.

Image

  • Visible – Shows or hides the image. Great for seeing image data, such as exposure overlays.
  • Grayscale – Turns the live view image to grayscale. This doesn’t affect the captured image. Great for seeing image data, such as exposure overlays.
  • Save on capture – This saves a copy of the live view image (640×426) in your image folder with a .lvbmp extension when you capture an image.
  • Copystand – rotates and mirrors the live view image so that composing is easier when the body is attached to a camera stand.
  • Angle – Displays the degrees of the body pitch and roll. Only supported by some bodies, and you may need to enable this in the body lcd menu as well (usually referred as a virtual horizon).
  • Negative – displays the current live view image as a photographic negative. Useful when scanning negatives.
  • Noise Reduction – Uses a per-color-channel median to reduce noise in the live view image. This can reduce the ‘sparkles’ that you see in live view images. This noise reduction is not applied to the captured full-size image.
  • Background – click on the button to toggle the background color and select the color in the color picker.
  • Opacity – Makes the live view image more see-through-ish. Great for seeing image data, such as exposure overlays.  Affects the live view image only.
  • Rotation – Use Auto to keep the orientation as detected by the body. Use the other settings to override it. Affects the live view image only.
  • Crop – Crops the live view image only to simulate post-processing cropping and movie views. Affects the live view image only.

Focus – Box

  • Visible – Shows or hides the focus box.
  • Opacity – Make the focus box more opaque or transparent.
  • Focus – Step
  • Use this to adjust the number of focus steps that a focus adjustment (not autofocus) will cause. Smaller numbers mean smaller focus movements.

Focus – Peaking

Visible – Shows which areas of the image have the highest contrast, which are the most in focus.

Grid

  • Visible – Shows or hides the grid.
  • Opacity – Make the grid more opaque or transparent.
  • Horiz – Adjusts the number of horizontal grid lines.
  • Vert – Adjusts the number of horizontal grid lines.

Exposure – Inner

  • Overlays markers on areas of the live view image that are within a histogram range.
  • Visible – Shows or hides the markers.
  • Color Bar – Click on it to set the color of the markers.
  • Minimum – Histogram values greater than this will be displayed.
  • Maximum – Histogram values less than this will be displayed.
  • Opacity – Make the markers more opaque or transparent.
  • Channel – Select which histogram data is used.

Exposure – Outer

Overlays markers on areas of the live view image that less than or greater than a histogram range.

  • Visible – Shows or hides the markers.
  • Color Bar – Click on it to set the color of the markers.
  • Minimum – Histogram values less than this will be displayed.
  • Maximum – Histogram values greater than this will be displayed.
  • Opacity – Make the markers more opaque or transparent.
  • Channel – Select which histogram data is used.

Labels


Sometimes text messages are overlayed on top of the live view image.

  • Color Bar – Click on it to set the text color.
  • Opacity – Make the text background more opaque or transparent.

ISO Pinning

  • D800/D800E/D4/D4S only
  • Enable – Turn pinning on or off.
  • Live View Brightness – Increases or decreases the brightness of the live view image. Does not affect the captured image.

Overlay

  • You can overlay a jpg or .nef image of any size on top of the live view image.
  • Opacity – Make the overlaid image more opaque or transparent.
  • Browser – selects the image from a folder.