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D300 settings questions

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by Terri French, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. Last Wednesday I purchased a D300 from a fellow cafe member which should arrive any time now. I've been doing a lot of reading and studying up on the camera while I wait. I've got through the settings thread at the top of this forum.

    Now that many of you have been using the camera for some time I would like some setup advice. I mostly take photos of my very active grandchildren. Occasionally I do landscape and flower photos, too. But my questions mostly relate to the photos I am taking of people.

    What focusing method do you suggest for both active children or more stationary older folks? Would the 51 point 3d tracking be good for the kids? If so, would that mostly be for full body shots, or would it work for closeups of their faces as well? If not that focusing mode, what would you suggest I try first?

    Also, do you shoot 14 bit or 12 bit and what difference advantage does the 14 bit rate give you?

    What about active D-lighting? Is this mostly for jpeg work or does it make a difference with RAW shooting. I always shoot RAW and have adjusted d-lighting or shadows and highlights in NX2. Would it be beneficial to me to activate the d-lighting and if so, would you only use it in outdoor harsh lighting situations?

    Final questions--do you use picture control modes in camera or do you choose them in post processing?

    Sorry, lots of questions......Hope you folks can help me---and hope my new camera gets here soon. A few weeks with no camera is a real bummer!! But, my D200 should be back soon as well.
     
  2. tintingkc

    tintingkc Guest

    I shoot 90% people and find that in good light 51 point works great. I have never used 3D tracking but I guess thats one of those things you have to play with to see if it works for you.
    In low light I will use spot if there are high contrast items around in some cases. The 51 point does well but I have found at times I need to keep an eye on what its focusing on. There have been times that watches or other types of jewelry has taking the focus away from faces. Not often and only in low light but it does happen.

    I used to shoot in 14bit but leave it in 12bit now and can't see a difference. I leave it in 12 for the 8fps. Its much easier that way instead of needing to go into the menu screen. Seems like a user preference and if your going to use the continuous shooting. If I never used continuous then it would stay at 14bit.

    I leave everything off in camera. I shoot in RAW only. Its easier to see and get the effect you need in NX. Sounds like you already do that so no need to change in my opinion.
     
  3. Terri,

    In raw files, active d-lighting will underexpose the image by around a half stop in contrasty brightly lit scenes. It is probably better to leave active d-lighting off for shooting raw and processing in CNX2. For raw I use 12 bit raw and set Raw compression to Compressed.

    For jpg, I like picture control neutral. If there are sharp shadows, I turn active d-lighting on to normal. Jpgs are processed in Lightroom 2. I set JPG compression to optimal quality in the shooting menu, that way you can shoot JPG normal and always get a high quality image.

    I usually leave auto-focus in auto area auto focus and single servo mode, metering in matrix, ISO Auto 200-1600 min shutter speed 1/2*focal length unless I have a specific task in mind.


    Enjoy your D300, it is a fantastic camera!

    Warm regards,
     
  4. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Missouri
    Hello Terri,

    Use the D300 51 pt 3D only when active sports shooting or tee ball or something like that outdoors when you put the AF point on the subjects face. you can also use the 51 3d on an eye ball and keep holding and recompose and the AF will stay on the eye as you reframe in camera, which is pretty cool too, but you need to be pretty close for this to work on eyeballs.

    With the new firmware update to the D300, I use primarily 51 pt non 3d, dynamic AF setting, all the time except for sports work where I want to track faces with lots of field and subject movement.

    I would stick with these settings for raw conversion in NX2

    neutral pic setting for people, standard +1 saturation for plants and animals, sharpening to 3-5 for preview on LCD and I also use this for the aliasing filter pre sharpening too.

    dynamic AF setting on the camera back with AF-Constant for movement, AF-S for everything else, aRGB, noise reduction normal because you can remove it if you want to in NX, lock on short for AF, what ever method you use to AF (AF button or shutter) keep using the same way,

    On really really busy subjects before I did the firmware update I used 21pt AF with good results.

    I also would use center weighted metering for all people, action, macro, spot for finding your exposure for manual work. I set up a function button for spot metering, great to see the range of exposure in the image area.etc. I only use matrix for landscapes. The EV does not work as well in matrix as the D200, but the center weighted metering works great with + and - EV. I never have to go more the .7 either direction even on white shirts outside and bright sun on faces. The center weighted is that good.

    On scapes, I do a matrix 0 EV then -1 EV and +1 Ev and that is my bracket and it will give a huge dynamic range.

    Avoid ISO 300-640 Jump from ISO 200 to 800, 800 is better than 400 on the D300.

    Only on really bright sunny outside shots would you may want to play around with the in camera active D lighting. It is great for details in shadows with hard sunlight around. I use it only once in a while. You can almost achieve the same results with NX2 after the fact with D lighting and you avoid the camera CPU limiting things.

    I will tell you this, Active D lighting in camera does not work well with High ISO shots. So most will say, it is best to leave off unless you are in a highly lit area with deep shadows and turn it on just for that shot.

    hope this helps and good luck.
     
  5. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Missouri
    further answers to your questions, and please note, theses are only my experiences and methods, others get good results doing things differently.

    I use the pic controls in camera in case I want to fast convert in JPGS, and once in a while I might do JPGs right out of the camera,

    Also, the time in post is reduced if you have it done already in camera.

    I also shoot 12 bit compressed Raw all the time and I really cannot tell a difference between 14 bit uncompressed vs 12 bit compressed for the shooting I do, even scapes, although if things seem special with the light, I still may switch to 14 bit because I am a fool. But I have never seen a diff on screen.

    figure on around 10 MB per file for compressed 12 bit files, so a 4 GB card will yield a touch under 400 images, etc. etc.
     
  6. avyoung

    avyoung

    Dec 17, 2007
    Canada
    What focusing method do you suggest for both active children or more stationary older folks? Would the 51 point 3d tracking be good for the kids? If so, would that mostly be for full body shots, or would it work for closeups of their faces as well? If not that focusing mode, what would you suggest I try first?

    I use the AF-ON button only. Usually AF-C, Dynamic, 51-3D. It will allow you to track the children, but recompose and still have focus lock on. I turned off the focus lock and switched to shutter release. If you use focus only not only will you find the camera takes forever to lock on (and you miss your shot, but you will not be able to take your finger off the AF-On button when you want...and still be able to fire the shutter.

    When the action gets fast (running/biking/sports), I switch to 9 or 21 pts (keep all the other AF settings the same as above).

    Sometimes I will switch to 11pt focus points. This way you can move the initial focus reticle around quickly for fast moving kids, but the camera still uses all 51pts to track.

    Finally, I use wrap around AF pts. It will let you move the AF reticle selections around faster...esp useful in 51pt mode.


    Also, do you shoot 14 bit or 12 bit and what difference advantage does the 14 bit rate give you?

    Thom Hogan says 14bit advantages are really hard to see. I say stick to 12 bit. I have looked at the 14bit D300 samples from others...very little difference. 14bit increases shutter lag and slows FPS (bigger files too). Too much disadvantage for small gain.

    What about active D-lighting? Is this mostly for jpeg work or does it make a difference with RAW shooting. I always shoot RAW and have adjusted d-lighting or shadows and highlights in NX2. Would it be beneficial to me to activate the d-lighting and if so, would you only use it in outdoor harsh lighting situations?

    For camera jpeg only, active D-lighting can be useful. But if you are doing PP with the computer I would turn it off, as it can look fake. Low is very mild; normal is useful if you are not planning on PP. Since active D-lighting reduces exposure upto 2/3 stop (in normal or high--low does not change exposure), it tends to preserve your highlights better with expense to slightly noisier shadow areas. I used to leave the active D-lighting on Normal all the time, but I found that when taking a test shot to expose for the background, I ended up underexposing since everything looks brighter when using Active D-lighting (I record RAW and JPEG). Thus now, I turn it off or use the low setting.

    Final questions--do you use picture control modes in camera or do you choose them in post processing?

    I like the DXI for people. Standard is too orange for skin. Neutral looks drab too me. The new portrait picture control is useful sometimes, but I find the skin tones to yellow; DXI has more contrast, still warms the skintones, but not as much. Now that Adobe Raw supports the different picture controls, I have not been using Capture NX. Raw is so fast switching back and forth between the picture control settings--capture NX is much slower on my older laptap. Adobe Raw addition of the picture contols is a big step forward, but not quite the same as Nikon's version...but very close.


    I hope this is helpful! Enjoy your new camera!


    Sorry, lots of questions......Hope you folks can help me---and hope my new camera gets here soon. A few weeks with no camera is a real bummer!! But, my D200 should be back soon as well.[/QUOTE]
     
  7. Terri,
    In addition to all the excellent answers above, I use this as a quick reference and quide. Some of the settings I use, some I don't. I printed it out, laminated and put into my camera bag. Now, if I can't remember where a particular setting is, I pull out the guide.

    http://www.outthereimages.com/images/D300_Setup_Guide.pdf



    Other camera setting guides are also avaliable on the page as well.

    http://www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html

    Scroll down to the middle of the page.


    This is not plug for this site but I do use the guide as a general reference.


    MikeT
     
  8. I appreciate your suggestions. My camera is here so I can experiement with the 51 point focusing. So far I am impressed with the camera.
     
  9. So each time you go out to shoot you set your minimum shutter speed to a different amount depending on the focal length you are using? Thanks so much for your information
     
  10. Wade, your information is always so helpful. You are a great asset to the cafe. Thanks so much.
     
  11. [/QUOTE]

    I think I have most of these settings added to my camera now. It came on Saturday. I'm planning on doing some shooting today so I will see how it works with the grandkids. Thanks especially for Thom Hoggans take on the 14 bit. I've got it set to 12 now after several have suggested it. No need to take up any more space on my computer and CF cards than necessary. Thanks so much for all the time you took to help me. It was very nice of you.
     
  12. Mike,
    What a great resource. I'll be sure to print it out and put it in my camera bag.
     
  13. Terri,
    In addition to all previous helpful suggestions, I'd recommend you to download the D2X modes. You'll find soon that the more "natural" colour skin is achieved with NX2 mode 1, whilst you'll love the mode 3 for your always wonderful landscapes.

    Another thing - set auto ISO on, limited to 1600 and you'll find a big difference from the D200, btw 800 and 1600!
    Enjoy your new camera!
    Rui

    ________________________________________________
    D300, D200, MB-D10 and MB-200
    Primes: 10,5 2.8 fisheye, 50D 1.4, Tokina 100 AT-X
    Zoom : 12-24 (Nikkor),17-55 2.8, 18-200VR and 70-200VR
    SB-800, TC Kenko Pro300 1.4, Manfrotto 190MF4+804RC Head

    www.pbase.com/ruilopes
     
  14. Eyaldar

    Eyaldar

    135
    Dec 21, 2007
    Israel
    about the 12bit vs 14bit, you might find this observation intresting:

    http://www.earthboundlight.com/phototips/nikon-d300-d3-14-bit-versus-12-bit.html

    since when Adobe Raw supports Picture Control settings? and what version?
     
  15. avyoung

    avyoung

    Dec 17, 2007
    Canada
    Camera Profiles for Raw 4.5

    Hi Eyaldar,

    It is still in the development phase and found under their beta program.
    Go to this page: http://labs.adobe.com/wiki/index.php/DNG_Profiles
    Here is a quote from the page:

    Camera Profiles and DNG Profile EditorThis page is maintained by the Camera Raw engineering team.

    Last updated: August 4, 2008


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Overview
    We have been actively working on improving color rendering for digital raw photographs. Our new color rendering package contains the following components:

    the DNG 1.2 specification, which expands and formalizes the concept of a color profile for raw (i.e., scene-referred) image data captured by digital sensors,
    Adobe Standard camera profiles that significantly improve color rendering, especially in reds, yellows, and oranges,
    Camera Matching profiles that match the camera manufacturers' color appearance,
    DNG Profile Editor, a free software utility for editing camera profiles, and
    this web page, designed to help photographers get the most out of the new camera profiles and the DNG Profile Editor.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Public Beta
    The new camera profiles and DNG Profile Editor are being initially distributed online in public beta form. This public beta gives photographers the opportunity to try these new tools and provide feedback before we finalize them.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Requirements
    The new Adobe Standard and Camera Matching camera profiles require Camera Raw 4.5 / Lightroom 2.0 or later. In general, they can be used in any raw converter that supports DNG 1.2.

    These camera profiles will NOT work correctly with earlier versions of Camera Raw (i.e., 4.4.1 and earlier) and Lightroom (i.e., LR 2 public beta, 1.4.1 and earlier). These earlier versions do not support DNG 1.2. In particular, please note that the new profiles will NOT work correctly with the public beta of Lightroom 2. Only the release version of Lightroom 2 will load and process the new profiles properly.

    The DNG Profile Editor's basic system requirements (i.e., CPU, operating system, and memory) are the same as Lightroom's requirements, described here.




     
  16. Eyaldar

    Eyaldar

    135
    Dec 21, 2007
    Israel
    oh, well... I would wait for the final version then, thank you for mentioning it's existence!

     
  17. Ron H

    Ron H

    300
    Jul 5, 2005
    Phoenix
     
  18. mathjak107

    mathjak107

    Mar 20, 2007
    nyc
    i like vivid with a little extra sharpening for my landscapes
     
  19. Kemnik

    Kemnik

    Aug 21, 2007
    San Jose, CA
    Terri, congratulations on the camera; it is great!!! I'm sure you are loving it. Do you have the battery grip?
     
  20. Thanks Rui. I've already noticed a big difference in the higher ISO shots. Being able to use auto ISO is really nice. I've put the D2X modes on the camera!!

    Thanks so much for the link. So much to learn with this new camera....

    Thanks. I'll try it!!

    Kurt. I'm sure I'll love it. I think it will meet my needs perfectly. I don't have the grip and probably won't purchase it. The camera is already large enough....
     
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