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D300 JPEG -- What settings do YOU use?

E Bergman , Sep 14, 2008; 01:43 a.m.

I'm shooting my recently purchased D300 with JPEG + RAW so I hope this question will NOT launch another string of postings about the relative merits of each. That's not my question or intent -- I already see value in both (thus JPEG + RAW). If a JPEG doesn't work I can fiddle with RAW, but I'd prefer not to bother for family photos of my kids, for example.

My question is -- for candid photography, casual 'portraits' in my case often shot with a Tamron 17-50mm -- I'm wondering what sharpness/contrast/brightness/hue etc settings will get the best JPEG results. Of course I can experiment until I get the desired result -- and yes, a big part of it is personal taste. I anticipate posts pointing out both of these things.

However, I figure I'll get to my destination faster by hearing from folks who've already made this journey. E.g, start by exploring settings that have worked for others with similar tastes. My ideal responses would provide example photos with info on the settings and why they work for you. For purposes of this question I'm not interested in the AF and metering settings (although I appreciate how that can ultimately impact the result) -- I'm more interested in the settings that are around how the JPEG is processed in camera.

As far as lighting goes -- it could be anything, but it is worth noting I'm doing a lot of relatively high ISO indoor shooting with natural light coming in through the windows of our very tree shaded neighborhood (so there is natural light but it is muted and indirect). Even when outdoors I'm often under trees in shade. Hmmm...well, OK I already anticipate some fuzziness around well, what about WB or filters, etc...

By way of a sign-post up ahead -- I'm not really a fan of the Ken Rockwell overly vivid look, so if you aren't either you're more likely to have found something that works for me as well...

Responses

Graham Marsden , Sep 14, 2008; 03:11 a.m.

Hi. I speak as a D80 person (still saving up for the D300). Purists will be horrified, but don't forget the Auto setting for grab shots. It surprises me what great decisions the camera can make. .

Elliot Bernstein , Sep 14, 2008; 05:09 a.m.

I would suggest the Standard Picture Control setting for outdoor use and the Neutral setting for indoor use with natural light or with flash. Shoot with ADR and Auto ISO on. Set Sharpness more or less depending on your preferences. You many find you need to set is slightly higher from the camera's default setting.

aRGB may give you more natural skin tones over sRGB.

Set WB manually when you can. Auto WB works well.

Enjoy your new camera.

Joe A , Sep 14, 2008; 09:05 a.m.

You really need to try a bunch of different settings and see how YOU like them. One man's vibrant colors is another's over-the-top saturation. Elliot's suggestions are good starting points and should work most of the time.

Auto WB works very well in most cases, but another thing is to learn to use the WB fine tuning. Read up on choosing a WB with the Command Dial, then dialing in a little warmer- or cooler-compensation with the Sub-Command Dial. Page 18 in your manual.

Graham.... The D300 does not have scene modes or an Auto setting.

Rick Larkin , Sep 14, 2008; 01:01 p.m.

With my D300, I shoot RAW (Lossless compressed) format most of the time. When shooting sports or very active kids however, I prefer JPEG. I too have a Tamron 17-50mm (XR-Di II) and it's a nice lens. When shooting JPEGs, I prefer image size set at Large with compression at Optimal Quality. This particular adjustment is one I rarely, if ever change.

In most circumstances (RAW & JPEG) I keep my picture control set at Neutral (NL). And those individual NL settings have not been adjusted to any degree. As far as lighting goes, I have been using the Active D Lighting set to normal more frequently of late in back-lit or high contrast situations. In general however, I prefer it off. With indoor portrait shooting using available light, I might consider using the Active D set at Low or Normal; especially if outside windows were adding back light. But I'd probably take a few shots and chimp the histograms first. When taking family pictures inside my house, I nearly always shoot RAW and set a custom WB with an Expodisc.

One of my D300s shooting banks is set up for action shooting. My kids play sports and right now that's soccer. Yesterday, their games were in sunny mid-day conditions. I got some decent results using an 18-200mm lens and camera settings at ISO 400, f/8 and shutter speeds at 1/500 and above.

If you have not already set up one of the banks based on your most frequent shooting situations, I highly recommend doing so. I also have the My Menu customized as well. That way I can quickly activate features like Active D Lighting, ISO auto control, shooting and custom menu banks as well as other frequently changed settings. This will also enable you to experiment with camera features and adjustments without fear of loosing those settings you want to keep unchanged. Hope this helped.


3rd Grade Boys Soccer

Bill Mellen , Sep 15, 2008; 08:59 p.m.

After a lot of trial and error, here are my starting settings:

WB - Daylight - (Outdoors or Flast, otherwise Auto indoors available light) Picture Control - Portrait (no adjustments) ISO - Auto 200 - 3200 Noise Reduction - Low Active D-LIghting - Normal if there are sharp shadows, otherwise off

From those settings I can usually get what I want in Lightroom by adding a little contrast and sharpening.

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