Nikon D300 Tips, Tricks and Camera Settings

First published on: Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Last update (Aug 16, 2009): Camera settings for faster AF (autofocus) on the D300.

This is a compilation of Nikon D300 tips, tricks, techniques and recommended camera settings, and is based on various discussions in forums and other D300 sites.

Recent updates

AmatureMike shares some camera settings for faster AF (autofocus) on the D300:

A good trick I used on the D300 was to change FOCUS to RELEASE priority in AF-S (single servo) when shooting stationary subjects. This way I didn’t have to wait for the D300 to actually slew and “micro” focus the lens many times and then BEEP (if you had it on) to allow you to take the pictures. Canon cameras don’t have this irritating micro-focus. It however makes sure your focus is dead spot on if you allowed it to confirm and beep: its just dead slow with slower focusing lenses.

I used the D300 with release priority in AF-S mode for over a year and was very successful with shooting stationary subjects by moving the focus points to their eyes: images were nice and sharp all the time. I continued to share this concept with D300 shooters and most say it made the D300 much faster.

Marianne Oelund gets technical with the D300’s built-in flash

If you’re interested to know more about timings pertaining to the light pulses emitted by the pop-up flash on the D300, read Marianne’s 4-part explanation:

  1. D300 built-in flash, Part 1: Blinding speed.

  2. Part 2: Flash with High Shutter Speeds — and shutter curtains.

  3. Part 3: TTL range, and Shutter Cycle Timings.

  4. Part 4: Commander Mode Timings.

Shoot the Nikon D300 at 8 fps without a battery grip

You can trick your D300 into shooting at 8 fps (frames per second) without having to purchase an additional Nikon MB-D10 battery grip.

There are a couple of settings you’ll need to change.

You must then put the D300 into bracketing mode, and hold down the FN (function) button while firing off the shots.

The shooting mode can be left in Single. I’ve tried it, and it works brilliantly.

Jason Odell says that it works for the Nikon D700 too.

A tip for shooting birds in flight

If you’re shooting bird-in-flight (BIF) photos, the D300 acquires focus quicker if you switch to 21-point AF rather than the 51-point mode.

Daniella says:

well it is in deed slower with 51 points. We switched to 21 and it was much better, at least for doing fast moving birds in flight.

Maximize the D300’s 3D autofocus capabilities

Suntan offers some good advice on how to get higher keeper rates with the 3D AF tracking capability of the D300.

Suggested D300 settings?

Here are my own preferred Nikon D300 settings.

You can’t use the ML-L3 remote to release the D300’s shutter

What are the alternative to the low-cost Nikon ML-L3 infrared remote which doesn’t work on a D300?

How to calculate the equivalent ISO

On the D300, ISO values above 3200 are represented in the EXIF as a specific number of stops above ISO3200. The formula to use in calculating the equivalent ISO for say, 0.3 over 3200 is given by the formula 3200 * 2^0.3 = 3939.66212 (thanks to Andrew DB’s post), which is approximately ISO 4000.

You can always use Google Calculator to help you with the calculation — to find out what the equivalent ISO for 1 EV above 3200 is, just enter 3200*2^1= in the Google search box, like this, and the answer is ISO 6400.

Want to know whether your old Nikon / Nikkor lens is compatible with the D300?

This post by LilKnytt has a link that points to a Nikon Lens Serial Numbers site where you can determine the year of manufacture and type of your lens by serial number, and other lens construction details and features.

Basically, if your lens is an AI Nikkor lens or a lens type manufactured after the AI series, you can use it on your D300 (but check your manual first).

AI Nikkor lenses (see this Nikon Camera and Lens Compatibility Chart for details) were manufactured in 1977 to mid 80’s.

In conclusion, it’s reasonably safe to assume that any lens manufactured by Nikon on (as long as it’s an AI lens — designated as Type Ai lens at the Nikon Lens Serial Numbers site) or after 1977 is compatible with your D300.

Of course, this summary is still subject to speculation, because if you look carefully at the Compatibility Chart, you’ll notice that pre-AI lenses CAN be mounted on the D40 / D40x, so who knows?

Nikon D300 Camera Settings Spreadsheet

Because the Nikon D300 is such a complex camera to setup, DWM at has created a spreadsheet that lists all the available settings. You can record the value that you’ve specified for each setting for future reference.

UDMA CF Cards?

The Nikon D300 is able to take advantage of the blazingly fast write speeds of UDMA CompactFlash cards such as the SanDisk Extreme IV which utilizes Mode 3 to achieve I/O speed of 40 MB/s.

Pradipta shares a link to a a site explaining the specs behind UDMA cards.

If you’re using Windows, you can find out how many shutter activations (shutter count) your D300 has gone through.

On the Mac, just use Preview to view the image and look for the information in the EXIF pane.

Extreme measures for getting the maximum possible resolution from your D300?

Why remove the AA filter, of course.

Implementing GPS functionality (say, for geo-tagging images) on your D300

Read Terry White’s article on using the D300 with N2 di-GPS.

There is a long discussion at Flickr on GPS solutions for the D300.

View a photo example with Foolography’s Unleashed GPS solution.

The following video clip shows how to rig up a GPS system for the D300. Interestingly, a jack on the adapter allows you to continue using a remote trigger (say, if you had the Cleon wireless remote) even with the GPS receiver plugged into the camera’s remote port.

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