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Your "Default" Settings on Nikon D300 for Optimum Quality & Future Format Compatibilty?

Andre Noble , Oct 07, 2008; 09:52 p.m.


Sooner than expected, I just ordered a Nikon D300 body today, with grip. It is my first Digital SLR, being a stout devotee of film. Nevertheless, shooting sports and events cried out for digital, so I got what I felt will be the best bang for buck Nikon digital body as of Oct 2008, the Nikon D300.


I have a lot of learning and reading to do about the capture formats. Nevertheless, I would be appreciative if you can give me the best default camera settings in general.

My primary concerns are:

1) Optimum image quality capture setting?

2) Optimum universal format setting (I guess that will be Raw, convert later in Photoshop to TIFF)?

3) Best action-tracking autofocus setting?

4) Best setting to get best white balance under various light conditions, ie incandescent and fluorescent?

Thanks for any and all input, however small.


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Rene' Villela , Oct 07, 2008; 10:16 p.m.

1) Different settings for different occasions. I would say ISO AUTO, picture mode STD, D-Lighting OFF, Noise reduction OFF (you should do that on your computer).

2) To start maybe RAW + JPG. You should try Nikon Capture NX2, it will come with your camera (60 days trial). Work on your shots with NX and then save what you need in JPGS otherwise the TIFF files are really large and will eat up your hard disk. As you get better working with your software maybe just RAW will do.

3) Sorry! I don't shoot action.

4) White Balance AUTO. It works really well on a D300. You can just tickle it a bit on NX if you are not happy with the results.

Good luck! and enjoy it!

Andy Aungthwin , Oct 08, 2008; 01:39 a.m.

Andre, the D300 is a lot of camera.

I know the D70 very well and I have now only started to scratch the capabilities of the D300, which I've had for a few months.

Since you are coming from film I suggest you take it real slow.

It will be a while before you get to "best" and "optimum".

However, I agree with Rene' except that I have NR on as I do a bit of long exposures.

Chris Almerini , Oct 08, 2008; 09:07 a.m.

Buy the Thom Hogan D300 guide and read it rather than your manual. Shoot in RAW and forget about the Jpeg file add on. This is so redundant and eats memory on your CF cards. Battery life is excellant and an upgrade. I have had very little trouble from auto WB setting- much improved over previous cameras but not up to D3. This should not be an issue. I keep my EV value at -.67 for most situations. Good luck!

Richard Armstrong , Oct 08, 2008; 12:17 p.m.

I bought my D300 as my first DSLR in January. There are many options and Chris is correct about Thom Hogan's guide. I have mine set to auto white balance and rarely have to correct it in post. I have the noise reduction set to normal and the active D lighting on, which seems to have been helpful in some slightly back-lit situations. I have rarely used auto-iso but have been experimenting with it lately. I like to shoot in Aperture priority to control my DOF. It is a wonderful camera...congratulations!

Andy Aungthwin , Oct 08, 2008; 01:34 p.m.

"Shoot in RAW and forget about the Jpeg file add on. This is so redundant and eats memory on your CF cards"

This is not good advice.

I assure you that shooting Jpeg is anything but redundant. For scenes where the dynamic range is not that wide, Jpeg straight out of the camera give excellent results.

That's not to say that Jpeg is better than RAW. I shoot RAW and Jpeg Normal M. The amount of memory you save shooting just RAW is not worth worrying about.

The image below is 4 Jpegs stitched. Perhaps it's a tad over sharpened but it's a very good starting point for me to work to when I eventually use the RAW files.

D300, AF 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 - 4 Jpeg files

Richard Armstrong , Oct 08, 2008; 01:55 p.m.

I should add that I shoot in RAW and don't mind taking time in post processing as I'm not worried with the work flow issues of a professional. But, usually there is very little adjustment necessary(I use Aperture 2.1 on an iMac), and occasionally adjust contrast and exposure. Still, just as with film, it is always best to get it right in the camera, but I'm sure you are aware of that.

Richard Armstrong , Oct 08, 2008; 02:03 p.m.

Another point as I read your questions again. For action, the 51-point autofocus with 3-D tracking works great for flying birds with a bland background. But, when shooting with a confusing background like trees behind a bird or a jumble of players in a game, I use the thumb switch to move to a single point autofocus and keep it on my subject. The following are examples...first one with 51-point focus..

D300, AF VR Nikkor 80-400mm f4.5-5.6

Richard Armstrong , Oct 08, 2008; 02:05 p.m.

Second one with single point focus...

Richard Armstrong , Oct 08, 2008; 02:21 p.m.

Sorry about that, here is the second one with single point focus on the runner...

D300, AF VR Nikkor 80-400mm f4.5-5.6

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