Nikon D300s For Dummies®

Table of Contents


A Quick Look at What’s Ahead

Part I: Fast Track to Super Snaps

Part II: Taking Creative Control

Part III: Working with Picture Files

Part IV: The Part of Tens

Icons and Other Stuff to Note

Practice, Be Patient, and Have Fun!

Part I: Fast Track to Super Snaps

1: Getting the Lay of the Land

Looking at Lenses

Checking lens compatibility

Factoring in the crop factor

Getting shake-free shots with vibration reduction (VR) lenses

Attaching and removing lenses

Setting the focus mode (auto or manual)

Adjusting the Viewfinder Focus

Ordering from Camera Menus

Decoding the Displays

Working with Memory Cards

Using two cards at the same time

Formatting cards

Exploring External Camera Controls

Topside controls

Back-of-the-body controls

Front-left controls

Front-right controls

Hidden connections

Asking Your Camera for Help

Reviewing Basic Setup Options

Cruising the Setup menu

Browsing the Custom Setting menu

2: Fast and Easy: (Almost) Automatic Photography with the D300s

Preparing for Automatic Shooting

Taking the Shot: The Basic Recipe

Tweaking the Recipe: Easy Adjustments for Better Results

Adding flash

Changing the shutter-release mode

Adding some creative flavor with flexible programmed auto

3: Controlling Picture Quality and Size

Diagnosing Quality Problems

Considering Resolution (Image Size)

Pixels and print quality

Pixels and screen display size

Pixels and file size

Resolution recommendations

Understanding the Image Quality Options

JPEG: The imaging (and Web) standard

NEF (RAW): The purist’s choice

TIFF: A mixed bag

Summing up: My take on which format to use when

4: Monitor Matters: Picture Playback, Live View, and Movie Recording

Customizing Basic Playback Options

Adjusting playback timing

Enabling automatic picture rotation

Customizing the Multi Selector’s role during playback

Viewing Images in Playback Mode

Viewing multiple images at a time

Zooming in for a closer view

Viewing Picture Data

Enabling hidden data-display options

File Information mode

Highlights display mode

RGB Histogram mode

Shooting Data display mode

GPS Data mode

Overview Data mode

Deleting Photos

Deleting images one at a time

Deleting all photos

Deleting a batch of selected photos

Hiding Photos during Playback

Protecting Photos

Exploring Live View Shooting

Choosing your Live View shooting mode

Customizing the Live View display

Taking still pictures in Tripod mode

Taking pictures in Handheld mode

Recording movies

Part II: Taking Creative Control

5: Getting Creative with Exposure and Lighting

Introducing the Exposure Trio: Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO

Understanding exposure-setting side effects

Doing the exposure balancing act

Meet the Exposure Modes: P, S, A, and M

Reading (And Adjusting) the Meter

Setting ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed

Adjusting aperture and shutter speed

Controlling ISO

Choosing an Exposure Metering Mode

Applying Exposure Compensation

Using Autoexposure Lock

Expanding Tonal Range with Active D-Lighting

Exploring Flash Photography with the D300s

Setting the flash mode

Adjusting flash output

Locking flash exposure on your subject

Exploring a few additional flash options

Bracketing Exposures

Bracketing exposure and flash

Bracketing Active-D Lighting

6: Manipulating Focus and Color

Understanding Focusing Basics

Choosing a Focus mode: M, S, or C?

Choosing an AF-area mode: One focus point or many?

Selecting (and locking) a focus point

Autofocusing with still subjects: Single Point+Single-servo AF

Focusing on moving subjects: Dynamic Area+continuous-servo AF

Basic autofocus with Auto Area+Single Point AF

Putting the AF-ON button to work

Exploring a few last autofocus tweaks

Manipulating Depth of Field

Controlling Color

Correcting colors with white balance

Changing the White Balance setting

Fine-tuning White Balance settings

Creating White Balance presets

Bracketing white balance

Choosing a Color Space: sRGB versus Adobe RGB

Taking a Quick Look at Picture Controls

7: Putting It All Together

Recapping Basic Picture Settings

Setting Up for Specific Scenes

Shooting still portraits

Capturing action

Capturing scenic vistas

Capturing dynamic close-ups

Part III: Working with Picture Files

8: Downloading, Organizing, and Archiving Your Picture Files

Sending Pictures to the Computer

Connecting the camera and computer

Starting the transfer process

Downloading and Organizing Photos with the Nikon Software

Downloading with Nikon Transfer

Browsing images in Nikon ViewNX

Viewing picture metadata

Organizing pictures

Processing RAW (NEF) Files

Processing RAW images in the camera

Processing RAW files in ViewNX

Copying Pictures Between Memory Cards

9: Printing and Sharing Your Pictures

Preventing Potential Printing Problems

Match resolution to print size

Allow for different print proportions

Get print and monitor colors in synch

Preparing Pictures for E-Mail

Creating small copies using the camera

Downsizing images in Nikon ViewNX

Creating a Digital Slide Show

Viewing Your Photos and Movies on a Television

Part IV: The Part of Tens

10: Ten More Ways to Customize Your Camera

Creating Custom Menu Banks

Creating Your Own Menu

Adding Text Comments to Your Files

Embedding a Copyright Notice

Choosing Your Own File and Folder Names

Customizing a Trio of Buttons

Locking Exposure with the Shutter Button

Changing the Behavior of the Command Dials

Customizing the Multi Selector Center Button

Uncoupling the Buttons and Command Dials

11: Ten Features to Explore on a Rainy Day

Applying the Retouch Menu Filters

Removing Red-Eye

Shadow Recovery with D-Lighting

Two Ways to Tweak Color

Creating Monochrome Photos

Cropping Your Photo

Two Roads to a Multi-Image Exposure

Exploring Automated Time-Lapse Photography

Nikon® D300s For Dummies®

by Julie Adair King


About the Author

Julie Adair King is the author of many books about digital photography and imaging, including the best-selling Digital Photography For Dummies. Her most recent titles include a series of For Dummies guides to popular digital SLR cameras, including the Nikon D5000, D3000, D90, D60, and D40/D40x. Other works include Digital Photography Before & After Makeovers, Digital Photo Projects For Dummies, Julie King’s Everyday Photoshop For Photographers, Julie King’s Everyday Photoshop Elements, and Shoot Like a Pro!: Digital Photography Techniques. When not writing, King teaches digital photography at such locations as the Palm Beach Photographic Center. A graduate of Purdue University, she resides in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Author’s Acknowledgments

Any author knows that the support and skill of a good editor is invaluable. I’ve had the phenomenal good fortune to work with not just one awesome editor, but three: project editor Kim Darosett, copy editor Heidi Unger, and technical editor Dave Hall. Guys, there’s just no way for me to ever thank you enough for everything you do. Without your talents, knowledge, and dedication, this book simply would not have been possible.

I’m also grateful to everyone else on the For Dummies team, including Katherine Crocker in the production department and Steve Hayes, Mary Bednarek, and Andy Cummings in editorial.

Finally, thanks to all my family and friends for helping through the tough times and for making the good times even better.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editor: Kim Darosett

Executive Editor: Steven Hayes

Copy Editor: Heidi Unger

Technical Editor: David Hall

Editorial Manager: Leah Cameron

Editorial Assistant: Amanda Graham

Sr. Editorial Assistant: Cherie Case

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Katherine Crocker

Layout and Graphics: Samantha K. Cherolis

Proofreader: Joni Heredia

Indexer: BIM Indexing & Proofreading Services

Publishing and Editorial for Technology Dummies

Richard Swadley, Vice President and Executive Group Publisher

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher

Mary Bednarek, Executive Acquisitions Director

Mary C. Corder, Editorial Director

Publishing for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


Nikon. The name has been associated with top-flight photography equipment for generations. And the introduction of the D300s has only enriched Nikon’s well-deserved reputation, offering all the control a photographer could want — and then some. In fact, this camera offers so many features that sorting them all out can be more than a little confusing, especially if you’re new to digital photography, SLR photography, or both.

Therein lies the point of Nikon D300s For Dummies: Through this book, you can discover not just what each bell and whistle on your camera does, but also when, where, why, and how to put it to best use. And unlike many photography books, this one doesn’t require any previous knowledge of photography or digital imaging to make sense of things. In classic For Dummies style, everything is explained in easy-to-understand language, with lots of illustrations to help clear up any confusion.

In short, what you have in your hands is the paperback version of an in-depth photography workshop tailored specifically to your Nikon picture-taking powerhouse.

A Quick Look at What’s Ahead

This book is organized into four parts, each devoted to a different aspect of using your camera. Although chapters flow in a sequence that’s designed to take you from absolute beginner to experienced user, I’ve also tried to make each chapter as self-standing as possible so that you can explore the topics that interest you in any order you please.

The following sections offer brief previews of each part. If you’re eager to find details on a specific topic, the index shows you exactly where to look.

Part I: Fast Track to Super Snaps

Part I contains four chapters that help you get up and running.

Chapter 1, “Getting the Lay of the Land,” offers a tour of the external controls on your camera, shows you how to navigate camera menus to access internal options, and walks you through initial camera setup and customization steps.

Chapter 2, “Fast and Easy: (Almost) Automatic Photography with the D300s,” explains how to enjoy something close to point-and-shoot simplicity by using the programmed autoexposure mode. It also covers such basics as selecting the Release mode and enabling flash.

Chapter 3, “Controlling Picture Quality and Size,” introduces you to two critical camera settings: Image Size and Image Quality, which control resolution (pixel count), file format, file size, and picture quality.

Chapter 4, “Monitor Matters: Picture Playback, Live View, and Movie Recording” offers just what its title implies. Look here to find out how to review and erase photos, take pictures in Live View mode, and record and edit HD movies.

Part II: Taking Creative Control

The chapters in this part help you unleash the full creative power of your camera.

Chapter 5, “Getting Creative with Exposure and Lighting,” covers the all-important topic of exposure, starting with a review of the basics and then detailing every exposure option from metering modes to flash modes.

Chapter 6, “Manipulating Focus and Color,” provides help with controlling those aspects of your pictures. Head here for information about your camera’s many autofocusing options, for tips on how to manipulate depth of field, and for details about color controls such as white balance.

Chapter 7, “Putting It All Together,” summarizes all the techniques explained in earlier chapters, providing a quick-reference guide to the camera settings and shooting strategies that produce the best results for specific types of pictures: portraits, action shots, landscape scenes, and close-ups.

Part III: Working with Picture Files

This part of the book, as its title implies, discusses the often-confusing aspect of moving your pictures from camera to computer and beyond.

Chapter 8, “Downloading, Organizing, and Archiving Your Picture Files,” guides you through the process of transferring pictures from your camera memory card to your computer. Look here, too, for details about using the camera’s built-in tool for processing files that you shoot in the Nikon RAW format (NEF).

Chapter 9, “Printing and Sharing Your Pictures,” helps you turn your digital files into “hard copies” that look as good as those you see on the camera monitor. This chapter also explains how to prepare your pictures for online sharing, create digital slide shows, and, for times when you have the neighbors over, display your pictures and movies on a television screen.

Part IV: The Part of Tens

In famous For Dummies tradition, the book concludes with two “top ten” lists containing additional bits of information and advice.

Chapter 10, “Ten More Ways to Customize Your Camera,” details options that let you tweak the behavior of certain camera buttons and dials, set up custom filenaming, and otherwise make the camera bow to your personal preferences.

Chapter 11, “Ten Features to Explore on a Rainy Day,” presents information about some camera features that, while not found on most “Top Ten Reasons I Bought My D300s” lists, are nonetheless interesting, useful on occasion, or a bit of both.

Icons and Other Stuff to Note

If this isn’t your first For Dummies book, you may be familiar with the large, round icons that decorate its margins. If not, here’s your very own icon-decoder ring:

tip_4c.eps A Tip icon flags information that will save you time, effort, money, or some other valuable resource, including your sanity. Tips also point out techniques that help you get the best results from specific camera features.

warning_4c.eps When you see this icon, look alive. It indicates a potential danger zone that can result in much wailing and teeth-gnashing if ignored. In other words, this is stuff that you really don’t want to learn the hard way.

technicalstuff_4c.eps Lots of information in this book is of a technical nature — digital photography is a technical animal, after all. But if I present a detail that is useful mainly for impressing your technology-geek friends, I mark it with this icon.

remember_4c.eps I apply this icon either to introduce information that is especially worth storing in your brain’s long-term memory or to remind you of a fact that may have been displaced from that memory by some other pressing fact.

Additionally, I need to point out other details that will help you use this book:

Other margin art: Replicas of some of your camera’s buttons and on-screen symbols also appear in the margins of some paragraphs. I include these to provide a quick reminder of the appearance of the feature being discussed.

Software used in this book: Providing specific instructions for performing photo organizing and editing tasks requires that I feature specific software. In sections that cover file downloading, printing, and e-mail sharing, I selected Nikon ViewNX and Nikon Transfer, both of which ship free with your camera and work on both the Windows and Mac operating systems. Rest assured, though, that the tools used in ViewNX and Nikon Transfer work very similarly in other programs, so you should be able to adapt the steps to whatever software you use. (I recommend that you read your software manual for details, of course.)

Software menu commands: In sections that cover software, a series of words connected by an arrow indicates commands that you choose from the program menus. For example, if a step tells you to “Choose FileConvert Files,” click the File menu to unfurl it and then click the Convert Files command on the menu.

Practice, Be Patient, and Have Fun!

To wrap up this preamble, I want to stress that if you initially think that digital photography is too confusing or too technical for you, you’re in very good company. Everyone finds this stuff a little mind-boggling at first. So take it slowly, experimenting with just one or two new camera settings or techniques at first. Then, each time you go on a photo outing, make it a point to add one or two more shooting skills to your repertoire.

I know that it’s hard to believe when you’re just starting out, but it really won’t be long before everything starts to come together. With some time, patience, and practice, you’ll soon wield your camera like a pro, dialing in the necessary settings to capture your creative vision almost instinctively.

So without further ado, I invite you to grab your camera, a cup of whatever it is you prefer to sip while you read, and start exploring the rest of this book. Your D300s is the perfect partner for your photographic journey, and I thank you for allowing me, through this book, to serve as your tour guide.

Part I

Fast Track to Super Snaps


In this part . . .

Making sense of all the controls on your D300s isn’t something you can do in an afternoon — heck, in a week, or maybe even a month. But with the help of the chapters in this part, you can start taking great pictures right away.

Chapter 1 addresses some basic setup steps, such as adjusting the viewfinder to your eyesight and getting familiar with the camera menus, buttons, and dials. Chapter 2 helps you set up your camera for the easiest possible operation and take your first shots, and Chapter 3 explains how you can control picture quality and file size. Wrapping up this part, Chapter 4 shows you how to use your camera’s picture-playback, Live View, and movie-recording features.