How To Save & Backup Your Camera Settings

How To Save & Backup Your Camera Settings

Backing up your particular set of camera settings may seem trivial and kind of unnecessary…..until it dawns on you how much you are actually dependent on the camera settings you use.

The way that I see it, the camera should be an extension of your eyes. Only acting as a tool to record your vision. No more, no less.

But to truly act as an extension of our eyes, you need to be in sync with your camera as closely as possible.

This means being able to change critical settings on the fly, knowing which button does what and using it when needed. Basically, you need to make full use of the vast array of customization all digital cameras offer today.

The Unicorn In The Room

Okay, this may be just me but I have a knack for reconfiguring all the buttons on my camera which allows for any customization at all.

Do I overdo it sometimes?


But I have to also mention here that I have had a pretty consistent set of settings for the last couple of years and have rarely changed any major settings.

If you have been following my posts for some time, you may already know that I use the Back Button Focus Method to focus.

So the AE-L/AF-L button at the back of my camera has now been repurposed as the new focusing button. The shutter button’s only job now is to initiate the shutter, its namesake.

I also have a dedicated button to switch to spot metering, I can turn on and off Auto ISO at a moment’s notice and also playback the last image without using my left hand.

My objectives are simple.

  1. Change critical camera settings such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO, metering modes without having to remove my eye from the viewfinder.
  2. Do as much as possible with my right hand, which is already holding the camera.

The last one is purely to cut back on precious milliseconds when the pressure is on to get the shot.

After a LOT of trial and error, going back and forth on decisions, and debates with myself going late into the night, I have finally managed to get a set of in-camera settings and button placements which work for me.

I have finally been able to make the camera mine.

It’s very hard to convey the benefits of “personalizing” in the way that I mean it in words but it is impossible to ignore the difference it makes.

It’s like driving your own car or listening to your playlist.

You sure can drive some other car or search and find the music before you play it but you will not have the same level of comfort as with the stuff that you made yours.

Doing The Deed

Now that I have finally managed to make the perfect blend of the settings which fit me the best, what I need to do is find a way to protect it.

So do you for that matter.

And this is how you do it!

I have a Nikon camera and so I will explain how you can save and backup your settings when using a Nikon body.

For Canon and Sony cameras, you can follow the video tutorials at the end of this post. The basic process is the same just the placement of the menus are a little different across manufacturers.

First and foremost you need to find the smallest SD card you have at your disposal. The file which saves the settings is merely a few KBs, so there is no need to use a high capacity card here.

I have a 1GB card that I got free with a camera long back, so I will use that one.

Insert the SD card into the first slot (if you have dual card slots remove the card from the second slot).

Navigate to your Setup menu which is the spanner icon and then keep scrolling down till you find the Save/load settings option.

Setup Menu In Nikon Camera bodies

Save settings file on to SD card in a Nikon camera

Click on it and then click again on save settings.


That is all there is to it.

Nearly all your settings are now saved on to the card and your precious set of settings are secure.

Note:  I said ‘nearly’ all your settings and not all, since some of the settings currently in use on the camera such as the Autofocus Mode, Light Metering Mode, and Exposure Mode are not saved. In addition to the above list, Autofocus Fine Tune settings are also omitted.

What Can You Do with It Now?

Now that you are the master of your camera again, you can use the backup file of your camera settings in two primary ways:

  1. Restore your camera: You send off your camera to have it cleaned or repair and it comes back reset to factory defaults. Now you do not have to panic and go through all of the million menus. All you have to do is pop in the SD on which you saved the backup settings file and then navigate back to the same Setup menu.
    Load settings on a Nikon Camera from SD card
    Select the Save/load settings and this time click on the load settings dialog. In an instant, your camera will be set according to the file and you will have all your old settings back.
  2. Sync settings on multiple cameras: If you have more than one camera, you can now use the same settings backup file to synchronize settings on all of them. The only two conditions you need to fulfill here are: a) Both the camera bodies are exactly the same   b) They have the same firmware version. Depending on the make and model of your camera you may get away with the firmware criteria. Even with different firmware versions, the cameras may still sync in perfectly but it is not a very advisable thing to do.

In case of Nikon, the settings saving and loading option is only available for pro and mid-range bodies. This means that the Nikon D3xxx and the D5xxx series cameras do not have the option available.

Oh! Before I forget here are the video tutorials for Sony and Canon bodies:

Sony Manufactured Bodies

Canon Manufactured Bodies

Lastly and this may come in handy, if you have multiple cameras from different manufacturers, you can still use the same card to save your settings file. You do not have to worry about the file a particular camera is going to choose when you ask it to load settings from the card.

Just make sure you do NOT rename the file names that the camera generates when creating the backup file.

This way you can have all the settings file on a single card and can load settings from it if you ever need to. Just DON’T format the card accidentally.

I guess I saved you a lot of time. So, go out there and use this time to get some great images.

Keep shooting beautiful.

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