Nikon D3300 Experience - Douglas J. Klostermann Photography

Nikon D3300 Experience - Douglas J. Klostermann Photography
Nikon D3300 Experience
PREVIEW of
Nikon D3300 Experience
The Still Photography Guide to Operation and
Image Creation with the Nikon D3300
by
Douglas J. Klostermann
Full Stop. good writing for better photography
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Nikon D3300 Experience
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including but not limited to the use of any of the materials or methods described, the products,
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safety and handling precautions expressed in the manuals provided with your equipment and
software, and which take precedence over any content in this work.
All contents including cover design, text, and photographs, with the exception of products,
brands, logos, and contents of menus and screenshots, are copyright by the author. All
products, brands, logos, and contents of menus and screenshots are property of the respective
companies and websites. Terms which are trademarks or service marks in this e-book are used
in an editorial and educational manner, and should not be regarded as affecting the validity of
any trademark or service mark. Nikon and D3300 are trademarks of Nikon Inc. Adobe,
Photoshop, and Lightroom are trademarks of Adobe Systems Inc. Other trade names used in
this manual are the trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders. The author
and the contents of this book are not affiliated with or endorsed by Nikon.
Special thanks to Newtonville Camera of Newton, Mass.
http://www.nvcamera.com
Douglas Klostermann is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an
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mentioned in this guide.)
Copyright 2014 Douglas J. Klostermann / Full Stop Media, LLC - all rights reserved.
Cover design and photograph by the author.
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Nikon D3300 Experience
Nikon D3300 Experience - PREVIEW
The Still Photography Guide to Operation and Image Creation with the Nikon D3300
by: Douglas J. Klostermann
PDF Version 1.0b
May 2014
Author’s website: www.dojoklo.com
Author’s blog: http://blog.dojoklo.com/
Published by Full Stop Media. good writing for better photography
Arlington, MA 02474 USA
http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/
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Nikon D3300 Experience
CONTENTS
1. INTRODUCTION............................................................................................... 6
1.1 Take Control of Your Camera ................................................................................. 7
1.2 Using This Guide ..................................................................................................... 8
1.3 Getting Started ...................................................................................................... 14
2. CAMERA CONTROLS ................................................................................... 17
3. MENU SETTINGS........................................................................................... 29
3.1 Setting Up the D3300 ............................................................................................ 29
3.2 Playback Menu ...................................................................................................... 30
3.3 Shooting Menu ...................................................................................................... 37
3.4 Setup Menu ........................................................................................................... 48
3.5 Retouch Menu ....................................................................................................... 64
3.6 Recent Settings ..................................................................................................... 73
4. PLAYBACK, OPERATION, and IMAGE FILE FORMATS ............................ 74
4.1 Image Playback ..................................................................................................... 74
4.2 Information Display................................................................................................ 79
4.3 JPEG vs. NEF (RAW)............................................................................................ 85
4.4 File Sizes and Maximum Continuous Burst .......................................................... 87
5. AUTOFOCUSING ........................................................................................... 89
5.1 Using Autofocus .................................................................................................... 89
5.2 Autofocus Modes................................................................................................... 93
5.3 Autofocus AF-Area Modes .................................................................................. 100
5.4 Locking Focus ..................................................................................................... 106
5.5 Focus Points and Image Composition ................................................................ 109
5.6 Live View and Movie Focusing............................................................................ 111
6. RELEASE MODES ....................................................................................... 116
7. EXPOSURE Part 1 ....................................................................................... 119
7.1 Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO ....................................................................... 119
7.2 Aperture-Priority Auto Mode and Shutter-Priority Auto Mode ............................. 126
7.3 Full Stops............................................................................................................. 131
7.4 Manual Exposure Mode (M), Bulb and Time Settings ........................................ 134
7.5 Automatic Shooting Modes, Scene Modes, and Special Effects ........................ 138
7.6 Guide Mode ......................................................................................................... 149
8. METERING MODES ..................................................................................... 153
8.1 Matrix Metering .................................................................................................... 154
8.2 Center-Weighted Metering .................................................................................. 154
8.3 Spot Metering ...................................................................................................... 158
8.4 Manual Metering.................................................................................................. 160
8.5 Metering Modes and Exposure ........................................................................... 161
9. EXPOSURE Part 2 ....................................................................................... 164
9.1 Exposure Lock..................................................................................................... 164
9.2 Back-Button Focusing ......................................................................................... 169
9.3 Histograms........................................................................................................... 174
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Nikon D3300 Experience
9.4 Exposure Compensation ..................................................................................... 177
9.5 Manual Exposure Bracketing .............................................................................. 181
9.6 Active D-Lighting ................................................................................................. 183
10. ADDITIONAL CAMERA FUNCTIONS ....................................................... 185
10.1 White Balance ................................................................................................... 185
10.2 Picture Controls ................................................................................................. 191
10.3 Flash .................................................................................................................. 195
10.4 Sensor Cleaning ................................................................................................ 200
10.5 Putting It All Into Practice .................................................................................. 201
11. THE IMAGE TAKING PROCESS ............................................................... 202
11.1 Still Subjects ...................................................................................................... 202
11.2 Moving Subjects ................................................................................................ 203
12. VIDEO - AN INTRODUCTION .................................................................... 206
13. COMPOSITION........................................................................................... 216
14. PHOTOGRAPHY ACCESSORIES ............................................................. 226
14.1 Nikon D3300 Accessories ................................................................................. 226
14.2 Digital SLR Photography Accessories .............................................................. 228
14.3 Digital Photography Books ................................................................................ 232
15. CONCLUSION ............................................................................................ 233
Purchase Nikon D3300 Experience at:.......................................................... 234
About the Author........................................................................................................ 235
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Nikon D3300 Experience
1. INTRODUCTION
The introduction of the Nikon D3300 provides a notable upgrade to its predecessor, the
popular D3200. Its 24.1 megapixel sensor is capable of capturing high quality, low noise
images in a wide variety of shooting situations, and is the same sensor used in the more
expensive D5300 and D7100 models. And with the inclusion of the more powerful
Expeed 4 processor, the D3300 can capture continuous images up to 5 frames per
second (fps) and HD video at 1080/60p resolution (50p in PAL video format regions).
Plus the ISO range has been increased which will assist you when shooting in
challenging low-light situations, and the battery life has been improved to 700 shots.
The 11 point autofocus system of the D3300 coupled with the autofocus mode options
will help you capture sharp images of still and moving subjects. When shooting video,
the D3300 offers full-time autofocus, plus a built-in mono microphone for recording
audio. The camera can even provide wireless capabilities for image sharing and camera
control, through a smart phone or tablet, with the use of the optional WU-1a Wireless
Mobile Adapter.
Figure 1 - Detail of the Nikon D3300 digital SLR.
The D3300 offers the capabilities and features required for enthusiast photographers
who wish to take more control over their camera and grow in their digital photography.
This dSLR provides the potential to capture sharp, clean, and well-exposed images in
most any situation you wish to use it. But the D3300 is merely a tool. It is up to you to
make use of its features and capabilities to create the images you envision. While the
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Nikon D3300 Experience
camera’s manual can tell you about all of the settings and controls, how to change
them, and their intended functions, this guide will build upon that and tell you when and
why you want to use them. Every button, function, and menu item of the D3300 is there
for a reason: to help you capture the images you want. Some of them are more useful to
different types of photographers and shooting situations and you don’t necessarily need
to learn and use them all immediately, but this guide should help to give you the
knowledge to confidently use the ones that turn your Nikon D3300 into an image
capturing tool that works best for you.
Figure 2 - Flowers, Cambridge, MA - Autofocus modes, exposure metering mode,
aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance all considered even in creating this
simple image. Shutter speed 1/500, Aperture f/4.5, ISO 100.
1.1 Take Control of Your Camera
Since the D3300 is a tool to take the images you want to take, you obviously can’t
always allow the camera to make decisions for you. You have to take control of the
camera to ensure that you capture exactly the images you envision - by autofocusing
precisely where you intend, setting the aperture or shutter speed that you want, and
obtaining the exposure you desire. While the D3300 is an intelligent camera, it cannot
read your mind and your intentions and does not know that you wish to focus on, and
properly expose, the yellow flower near the center of the frame, while making the other
flowers and the background appear out of focus, and the fluttering petals and waving
stems to be caught still and not be blurred from the motion of the wind, on this bright,
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Nikon D3300 Experience
sunny day (see Figure 2). You have to tell the camera to do all of this, through the
various controls and settings, such as the Autofocus Mode and AF-Area Mode (lock
focus on the center flower), the exposure metering mode (properly expose the petals),
the aperture setting (the out-of-focus background), the shutter speed (freezing the
motion of the flowers from the wind), the ISO setting (bright day) and the white balance
(sunny day). Taking control of all of these functions and settings will enable you to
consistently create the dramatic and compelling images you envision.
Learning to use and get the most out of a dSLR camera like the D3300 takes time,
practice, patience, mistakes, and experimentation. If you have upgraded from an older
dSLR to the D3300, its improved features and capabilities should more easily help you
to capture high quality images that you may have been limited in consistently attaining
before, such as in action and low-light situations. If you are new to dSLR photography,
you may find that using the D3300 can be initially challenging but ultimately more
rewarding by offering you more responsiveness and greater control over your shooting
and your results. If you are not yet familiar with all the controls of a dSLR and the
exposure concepts of digital photography, don’t expect to just pick it all up at once, in
one or two readings of a single book. (In fact, you wouldn’t want to, as the never ending
journey of learning and mastering photography is a big part of what it’s all about!)
Taking control of the 11 point autofocus system and its Autofocus Modes and AF-Area
Modes may be especially challenging at first. Try not to become frustrated when you
don’t quite understand something or aren’t yet getting the results you desire. Instead
learn the controls, functions, settings, and concepts little by little, try them out in real life
shooting situations, and return to this guide, the manual, and other photography books
to address questions and problems you encounter. Continue to learn and to photograph
often and it should all begin to come together, sometimes slowly and sometimes in rapid
spurts of discovery and understanding. With practice and experience you will soon be
shooting with confidence and can then begin to take advantage of the camera’s more
advanced functions.
1.2 Using This Guide
There are many different ways to use a dSLR camera and its controls to capture
images, and many diverse situations in which photographers work. I’m going to
concentrate on the techniques that I believe are the most practical, useful, and effective
for the majority of enthusiast photographers using the D3300. The settings and
techniques I discuss can apply to various types of photography including general
photography, action, portrait, landscape, and travel photography. Once you have a firm
grasp of the controls, settings, and basic techniques you will have the tools and
knowledge to address different issues, specialized situations, and challenging scenes. I
encourage you to then experiment and continue to learn, and to find the techniques that
work best and are most comfortable or intuitive for you.
Since this guide is intended to help you get the most out of your D3300, I will not go into
great detail about all of the automatic features or Auto, Scene, and Guide Modes
(though I will introduce and illustrate them). The D3300 is a capable tool that deserves
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Nikon D3300 Experience
to be used to its full potential, and that involves taking control of the camera and its
functions, which means taking it off automatic settings such as Auto, Scene, or Guide
shooting modes and automatically selected autofocus points (when not needed). While
this may be more challenging at first, these are the techniques that are necessary to
take full advantage of the capabilities of any dSLR including the D3300, and will lead
you to having more control and consistency over your image making. Hopefully this will
inevitably lead to better images!
Figure 3 - Detail of the Nikon D3300.
This guide is intended to be used with the camera in your hands. That is the best way to
directly follow and understand the controls, functions, and settings as they are being
explained. It is also intended to be used in conjunction with the camera’s manual, so I
will sometimes refer to the Nikon D3300 Reference Manual rather than repeat its
information about certain lesser-used features or processes that are clearly explained
there. Among the official manual’s often brief descriptions and sometimes frustratingly
incomplete and disjointed explanations, there is some very valuable information, as well
as the basics for buttons, controls, menu screens, and how to access and change all
the settings.
As you have probably discovered by now, the camera’s D3300 User’s Manual that
comes with the camera is brief and basic. The more detailed D3300 Reference Manual
can be obtained from the Nikon website at either of the links below. Throughout this
guide I will be referring to page numbers in the larger Reference Manual. If you have an
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Nikon D3300 Experience
iPad or tablet you will find that it is helpful to download the manual onto your device for
reading and reference (along with this e-book).
http://nikonimglib.com/manual/dslr/d3300/index_en.html
https://support.nikonusa.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/18824
As you can see, there is a lot to make sense of regarding terminology and controls, so I
recommend that you familiarize yourself with the controls and displays of the camera
body, as explained in the Camera Controls chapter below and shown on pages 1-3 of
the D3300 Reference Manual, as well as read through the manual at some point and
attempt to understand or absorb as much as possible. Yes, much of it may be
complicated and confusing at first, but this guide will explain and clarify the numerous
buttons, controls, menus, and settings and explain when and why you will want to use
them in your photography.
Also be sure to read and follow all the official use, safety, and handling instructions and
precautions explained in the manuals provided with the camera and software, including
those starting on page “x” of the preface to the Nikon D3300 Reference Manual, and the
Live View and Movie Shooting precautions on pages 152 and 157. These and additional
cautions throughout the Nikon manuals are important to read because they explain
things such as the high internal temperature that the camera can reach due to
prolonged Live View / Movie use, and how using a non-compatible external flash can
cause your camera to malfunction.
As will be explained throughout this guide, the majority of the camera’s shooting
settings can be viewed and/ or changed using the Info Button and the i Button plus the
Information Display (see Figure 4). Press the i Button once and you can immediately
navigate through the settings along the bottom of the Information Display and then
change those settings. Press the i Button a second time to “deactivate” the settings area
along the bottom and simply view the Information Display screen. Or you can press the
Info Button to first view the Information Display then press the i Button to navigate and
change the settings along the bottom of the screen. Navigate the settings using the
Multi Selector thumb pad, and press the OK Button to access the options for the
selected setting. However, some settings of the Nikon D3300 can be controlled in
multiple ways including using the buttons and controls on the camera body while
reading the settings on the rear Monitor or in the Viewfinder, or by accessing the
settings in the Menus after pressing the Menu Button, as will be noted for various
functions throughout this guide. Explore the options and find the ways that work most
quickly and intuitively for you.
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Nikon D3300 Experience
Figure 4 - Information Display, i Button, and Menu Button, on the rear of the D3300.
Any time I capitalize something in the text it is a proper term that can be looked up in
the Nikon D3300 Reference Manual. I will capitalize the names of actual buttons,
controls, camera parts, and menu items, such as Exposure Compensation Button,
Command Dial, Monitor, and Format Memory Card. Again, please review the camera
body, the Camera Controls chapter of this guide, and display diagrams in your D3300
Reference Manual to familiarize yourself with the names of various parts, controls, and
displays, as I will use these proper names in this text. Words that are capitalized and
bold refer to chapters and sections within this guide, such as Menu Settings. Turn on
the bookmarks or contents navigation panel in your PDF viewer, or access the Table of
Contents of your e-book reader or reading app to quickly navigate to these different
sections.
Many of the functions and controls of a dSLR such as the D3300 are closely interrelated, such as the shooting mode, exposure settings, and the metering mode. As a
result of this I must sometimes refer to previous or upcoming sections of the text for
further explanation of a related function. It is best to read through the entire text, in the
order it is organized, before returning to specific sections for further study. It may take
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Nikon D3300 Experience
multiple readings followed by experimentation to fully understand both the individual
functions and the relationships between functions.
Figure 5 - Whipple Hill, Lexington, Mass. - Shutter speed 1/1250, Aperture f/5.6, ISO
400.
Example Images
In the captions to the example photos throughout the text I include the camera settings
that were used (see Figure 5). With digital photography there is no “correct” setting or
“best” setting for any given situation. A dSLR gives you quick access to the basic and
essential settings because they often need to be changed to adapt to the subject, the
scene, the lighting, and perhaps most importantly your creative intentions. There is no
“correct” aperture setting for any given image or scene, no “proper” shutter speed
setting, and no “ideal” histogram. The choices you (or the camera) make depend on a
number of variables and relationships as well as the photographer’s desires. Because
the settings used for the sample images are based on many variables including the
lighting and time of day, the motion of the subject, the lens and focal length used, as
well as the overall situation being photographed with a combination of moving subjects,
still subjects, and changing lighting, these settings should not be viewed as “proper” or
“best” settings. In truth, they often more accurately reflect the reality of photography and
adjusting (or failing to adjust) to fluid situations. For example, a slower shutter speed
and a lower ISO setting (less potential digital noise) could have been used for the image
in Figure 5, but because the sun was appearing and disappearing behind clouds the
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Nikon D3300 Experience
2. CAMERA CONTROLS
Before setting up the Menu options and then starting to use the camera, it is helpful to
become familiar with the names and functions of the controls of the D3300. Have a look
at your camera and the images in this chapter, and I’ll go over the controls on your
camera that you will be learning about and using throughout this guide. Customizing the
various buttons and controls will be further discussed in the Menu Settings chapter.
These controls will also be discussed in more detail throughout this text, in conjunction
with the functions they perform and control.
Figure 8 - View of the top of the Nikon D3300.
Focal Plane Mark - The symbol of the circle with the line through it, impressed in the
surface on the left side of the top of the camera, indicates the focal plane (location of
the sensor) from which the focus distance begins (see Figure 8). This can be used to
measure focus distance in very precise macro or scientific photography.
On the right side of the top of the camera (see Figures 8 and 9) you will find, starting on
the upper right of the body:
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Nikon D3300 Experience
Power Switch - Located surrounding the Shutter Button, this switch is used to turn the
camera on and off.
Shutter-Release Button - Located inside the Power Switch, this is what you press to
take a photo or series of photos. Tapping it half-way will do a few things like wake up
the camera from Standby if it hasn’t been used in a few minutes or start the exposure
metering. Pressing and holding it half-way will also perform functions like locking focus
or starting focus tracking (depending on your Autofocus Mode and Menu Settings). I will
often refer to this simply as the Shutter Button in the text.
Movie-Record Button - This small button with the central red dot will start and end
movie recording when working in Live View, which is enabled by pressing the Live View
(LV) Button on the rear of the camera.
Info Button - This button is pressed to turn on the Information Display on the rear
Monitor, so that you can view the various camera settings. Press the rear i Button to
then “activate” the screen which will enable changing many of these settings with the
use of the Multi Selector and OK Button. Or press this Info Button again to turn off the
display on the Monitor.
Figure 9 - Detail of the top controls of the Nikon D3300.
Exposure Compensation Button - Pressing this button indicated by (+/-) and turning
the Command Dial will adjust Exposure Compensation, which will be discussed in the
Exposure Part 2 chapter. When working in Manual (M) shooting mode, this button is
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Nikon D3300 Experience
3.3 Shooting Menu
Figure 29 - Shooting Menu.
Reset Shooting Menu
No! Don’t touch! This restores all these Shooting Menu options to their default. Do not
select this once you have set up all these options as desired! However, if you find that
your camera controls are suddenly acting oddly or in a new, unexpected manner or you
simply wish to start over, you might resort to this option and reset these menu items.
Image Quality
You are putting a lot of effort into taking your images. You should make sure the files
are saved in the best possible quality (see Figure 30 - left). I will discuss this in more
detail, including JPEG vs. NEF (RAW) file formats, in the JPEG vs. NEF (RAW) section
of the next chapter. Set to either the NEF (RAW) setting if you “shoot RAW” (capture
images in the RAW file format) and plan to post-process all your images, or set for the
highest quality JPEG setting (JPEG Fine) if you shoot JPEG, or select both combined if
you need both types of files. NEF is the file extension used by Nikon for images in the
RAW file format. I will sometimes use just the term “RAW” when discussing the “NEF
(RAW)” format. The D3300 records a 12-bit RAW file. Remember that this Image
Quality setting can also be quickly changed using the i Button and Information Display
on the rear Monitor.
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Nikon D3300 Experience
Figure 30 - Image Quality (left) and Image Size (right) menus to determine image file
settings. Note that Image Size only applies to the JPEG file format.
Image Size
This setting applies to JPEG files only, not NEF (RAW) files. Again, you are putting a lot
of effort into taking your images, so set this to Large or L (see Figure 30 - right) - unless
you have a specific reason to capture smaller-sized files (both in pixel dimension/ print
size and image file size). For example, if you know you will only be using the images to
upload to a social media site. But if you temporarily change this setting, please be sure
to remember to set it back on Large for your subsequent images! The menu shows the
pixel size and number of megapixels (M) of the resulting images. You can see the
approximate print sizes for the L, M, and S settings on page 87 of the D3300 Reference
Manual, and the approximate file size (MB) on page 362. This Image Size setting can
also be changed using the Information Display on the rear Monitor.
When the camera is set on the Easy Panorama Special Effects mode, this menu item is
then used to set the panorama image size. The Normal Panorama Setting will allow you
to pan the camera for about 15 seconds, creating a 4800x1080-pixel size image (or
1632x4800 if panning vertically). The Wide Panorama setting will enable you to pan for
about 30 seconds, and will create a 9600x1800-pixel size panorama (or 1632x9600 if
panning vertically). As with Image Size for regular shooting, note that you can more
quickly access and change this setting by pressing the i Button and accessing the
Information Display (see Figure 31).
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Nikon D3300 Experience
Figure 31 - Panorama Image Size - As with Image Size for regular shooting, you can
quickly access and change this setting by pressing the i Button and accessing the
Image Size item on the Information Display. This item is visible and accessible only
when using the “Easy Panorama” Special Effects Mode.
White Balance
White Balance is for ensuring that white objects are reproduced as white by the camera,
under any lighting. You can typically leave the camera set on Auto White Balance and
the D3300 does an excellent job of choosing the proper white balance settings, or you
can instead select one of the settings that match the scene you are shooting. While the
White Balance setting can be quickly selected via the i Button and Information Display
on the rear Monitor, advanced users can do a little more white balance fine tuning
through this menu. And you will need to access this menu to select a specific
Fluorescent white balance such as Warm-White or Cool-White (see Figure 32), or to set
a Preset Manual white balance, as will be explained in the White Balance section of this
text.
Figure 32 - White Balance menu (left), and Fluorescent White Balance sub-menu (right)
for selecting a specific fluorescent white balance setting.
From this menu you can also fine-tune your selected setting (such as Incandescent or
Flash) along the green-magenta axis and/ or blue-amber axis. Fine-tuning a white
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Nikon D3300 Experience
balance preset is accessed by selecting the desired White Balance setting then
pressing right on the Multi Selector. This is an advanced feature that is not commonly
needed, but can be used if you are working in very precise lighting situations and wish
to eliminate color casts. It will also be explained in the White Balance section.
Set Picture Control
Picture Controls are used to apply your desired settings of Sharpening, Contrast,
Brightness, Saturation, and Hue to JPEG image files as they are captured, processed,
and saved in the camera. You can choose one of the presets such as Standard, Vivid,
Landscape, and even black and white Monochrome. Or modify one of the presets to
your desired settings to create your own custom Picture Control (see Figure 33). The
Picture Control setting should be set or customized to the user’s preference for those
capturing JPEGs and who do not wish to post-process their images - so that your
images appear as you wish, straight from the camera. These Picture Control settings
and customization options will be fully explained in the Picture Control section of this
text.
Figure 33 - Picture Control menu (left), and modifying the Standard Picture Control to
increase the amount of Saturation (right).
Picture Control settings are not necessarily needed if you “shoot in RAW” (capture
images in the NEF (RAW) file format), because the selected Picture Control applies to
JPEG files only. The Picture Control settings will be associated with the RAW file as
metadata and may be “applied” as you view the image in processing software such as
Nikon Capture or ViewNX 2, but the settings will not permanently affect the RAW file
and (unlike with a JPEG image) they can be changed during processing without
affecting the quality of the image.
Although please note that the Picture Control that you set affects the playback images
and their Histograms that you see on the rear Monitor - even if you are shooting in only
RAW. So, for example, if you were to set a Picture Control with high contrast, the
captured images shown on the Monitor during playback will incorporate this setting (and
their Histograms will reflect this setting) and thus will not look the same as the
“unprocessed” exposures captured in the RAW files that you will later view on your
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5. AUTOFOCUSING
5.1 Using Autofocus
One of the essential steps in taking a successful and sharp photo is controlling where
the camera autofocuses. If you allow the camera to autofocus by automatically choosing
its own Focus Point(s), such as in Auto shooting mode or when using Auto-Area AF
autofocus area mode, it typically focuses on the closest object or person. This may or
may not be what you wish to focus on, so you should select or at least narrow down
where the camera focuses by controlling the autofocus Focus Points. By doing so you
are telling the camera exactly where to autofocus or where to look to find a moving
subject to track. For example, you often want to focus on a subject’s eyes, but if you
allow the camera to choose the autofocus point by itself, it may select another part of
the face, or somewhere else on the body, or even a raised hand that is nearer to the
camera than the face, to focus most sharply on. If you are capturing an image of a bird
in a tree the camera has no idea you want the autofocus system to zero-in on the bird
so that it is in sharp focus, and not on the branches or leaves near it or perhaps even
the leaves closer to you.
Figure 100 - Autofocus controls and other controls of the Nikon D3300.
The versatile autofocus system of the D3300 is an important part of what makes it a
powerful camera. When working in one of the non-Auto shooting modes you can - and
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should - take control of the autofocus system. The autofocus system is comprised of the
autofocus related controls (see Figure 100), the Autofocus Modes (such as Single-servo
AF, called AF-S), the autofocus Focus Points, and the AF-Area Modes (such as
Dynamic-Area AF). You will select an Autofocus Mode generally based on whether the
subject is still or moving (see Figure 101), and select an AF-Area Mode based on how
large of an area you want the camera to look at to find or track your intended subject ranging from a single point, to a wider Dynamic-Area, to all the available 11 AF points.
You can set the Autofocus Modes and AF-Area Modes in a variety of combinations
based on what and how you are shooting.
Figure 101 - Selecting the Autofocus Mode using the i Button and Information Display.
The autofocus “AF-Area Mode” is selected in a similar manner, using the icon just to the
right of the “AF-S” icon that is currently highlighted in yellow on the image at left.
Autofocus works in part by looking for contrast so try to focus (locate your Focus Point
as you view it in the Viewfinder) on a texture or a detail with a pronounced line or some
amount of contrast between light and dark (see Figure 102). It may not be able to focus
on a large area of consistent color - such as a white wall or clear blue sky, or even a
uniformly colored and illuminated shirt - or on a subject or scene that is too dark. It can
be disrupted by regular patterns and fine detail, or confused when looking through close
objects to objects farther away, such as looking through a fence. And it sometimes fails
to work well in highly contrasting or dim light, though the built in AF-Assist Illuminator
lamp (which is enabled in the Shooting Menu) can assist in this situation. Note that the
central AF point is a more accurate cross-type point which looks for contrast in both the
horizontal and vertical direction, and thus you may wish to make use of this point in low
light or other challenging autofocus situations. When photographing people, generally
try to focus somewhere on the face, ideally on the eyes or eyebrows (or the nearest eye
of an angled face), then recompose the framing of your image if necessary.
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Figure 102 - Gull in front of Motif No. 1, Rockport, Mass - Because autofocus works by
looking for contrast, here I have selected a single AF Point and located it at the gull’s
eye (upper-right AF Point shown here in red). The actual area of the AF Point also
covers the strong line of the bird’s head against the darker background, to assist with
quick, accurate autofocus. The area that the camera looks at to find autofocus will be
approximately the size of the surrounding brackets seen in the Viewfinder. Shutter
speed 1/320, Aperture f/8.0, ISO 100, Focal length 200mm.
I will use the term “recompose” a few times throughout the text. By this I mean moving
the camera after you have locked the focus and/ or exposure such as with a half-press
of the Shutter Button or use of the AE-L/AF-L Button, but before you fully press the
Shutter Button and take the picture (as will be further explained). This means that what
you see in the Viewfinder changes from when you do those first actions to when you
take the picture; you have re-composed the view you see in the Viewfinder (see Figure
103).
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Figure 103 - Recomposing the Framing of an Image - After autofocusing and locking
focus on the woman’s face (left), I quickly move the camera to recompose the framing
of the image to include the entire window, and then capture the image (right). Antigua,
Guatemala - Shutter speed 1/160, Aperture f/5.6, ISO 400.
Before getting into the autofocus system, I’ll briefly explain how autofocus point
selection works. You will manually select your desired autofocus point (also called
Focus Point or AF point) using the Multi Selector as you look through the Viewfinder.
You can use the center OK Button to select the center AF point. Make sure the focus
mode switch on your lens is set for autofocus (A or M/A). If it ever seems that your
camera or lens is not autofocusing, be sure to check this switch on the lens. Set the
Mode Dial to A (Aperture Priority), and use the i Button and Information Display screen
to access and change the Focus Mode to AF-S (Single-servo AF) and the AF-Area
Mode to Single-point AF (see Figure 104).
Figure 104 - Selecting the Focus Mode (shown as AF-S) and the AF-Area Mode (shown
as the Single-point AF icon) on the Information Display Screen. These two settings are
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indicated by a superimposed yellow rectangle here. Press the i Button to “activate” the
screen and then select these settings and choose the desired options.
1. Tap the Shutter Button with a half-press to wake up the camera and start the
exposure metering.
2. Looking through the Viewfinder, use the Multi Selector to select the Focus
Point that is nearest to where you want to focus.
3. Place that point over your intended subject.
4. Press and hold the Shutter Button halfway down and see that point blink red.
The Focus Indicator dot should light up in your Viewfinder. You have locked the
focus.
5. Keeping the Shutter Button pressed halfway, recompose if necessary and take
the shot by fully pressing the Shutter Button.
If the In-Focus Indicator dot in the Viewfinder does not light up and the camera does not
take the photo, the camera may not be finding something to focus on, may not be
finding enough contrast to lock-in on, or you may be too close to your subject for the
lens to focus.
There are reasons to select among all the Focus Points and not just the center one all
the time, which will be discussed. It may sound difficult to manually select a specific
Focus Point each time, but it is actually very quickly done and will become instinctive.
You may even start to choose your AF point as you approach a scene before even
bringing your camera to your eye, by tapping the Shutter Button then using your thumb
on the Multi Selector. For example, you can press the OK Button to select the center AF
Point, then click right on the Multi Selector a few times so that when you bring the
camera to your eye, the AF Point on the right side of the frame is already selected. But
if you wish, until you get the hang of using the AF Points, you can start by always using
the center point and recomposing before taking the shot.
5.2 Autofocus Modes
The D3300 has three different Focus Modes to choose from, typically depending on if
your subject is still, or if it is moving and you wish to track its movement and remain
continuously focused on it. It also has four different autofocus AF-Area Modes
(discussed in the next section) to specify how many of the Focus Points are active and
how they follow or track a moving object. You can set these two functions in various
combinations. I will first go over the Focus Modes. Select the Focus Mode using the i
Button to access the Information Display screen, navigate to the desired setting, and
press the OK button to view and select the desired option (see Figure 105). (Note that
the following Focus Modes and AF-Area Modes apply to Viewfinder shooting and will
differ for Live View and Movie shooting. Live View and Movie Focusing will be
explained later in this chapter.)
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Single-Servo AF (AF-S)
Use this mode when your subject is stationary, or is still and not going to move, or if
your subject is not going to move very much or very quickly, or if the distance between
you and the subject is not going to change between the time you lock focus,
recompose, and take the shot. Lock focus on the subject by locating the selected AF
Point over the subject then half-pressing the Shutter Button, and then recomposing if
necessary. This mode can even be used for moving people or subjects if you quickly
take the shot after establishing or locking focus. When using AF-S, you can select from
two AF-Area Modes (to be described in the next section), either Single-Point AF where
you select the Focus Point, or Auto-Area AF, where the camera selects the AF point(s)
for you. I suggest you nearly always select your own desired Focus Point so that the
camera autofocuses exactly where you want it to.
Figure 105 - Single-Servo AF Focus Mode - Select the Focus Mode icon on the
Information Display screen (left), then select Single-Servo AF (AF-S) (right).
As noted above, lock focus on your subject by pressing the Shutter Button halfway. The
active AF point will illuminate (blink), and the Focus Indicator light at the lower left in the
Viewfinder will illuminate as well. Continue to press the Shutter Button all the way to
take the shot. If you half-press the Shutter Button to lock focus on your subject, the
camera will remain focused at that distance as long as you keep half-pressing the
Shutter Button. You can recompose the shot as you wish and then fully press the
Shutter Button to take the photo. Again, if the Focus Indicator light does not light up and
the camera does not take the photo, the camera may not be finding enough contrast to
focus on, you may be too close to your subject for the lens to focus, or the lighting may
be too dim for the AF system to work well, though the AF-Assist Illuminator can help in
low-light situations.
However, if you are photographing a subject that is approaching or receding from view
at a relatively constant rate, or photographing fast or erratic or unpredictably moving
subjects, or photographing sports, action, or wildlife you will usually want to use
Continuous-Servo AF (AF-C) Autofocus Mode.
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This manual is a clearly written, concise and useful explanation of the rationale for
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Purchase Nikon D3300 Experience at:
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Nikon D3300 Experience
About the Author
Douglas Klostermann is a travel, culture, and humanitarian photographer, as well as
the author and publisher of Full Stop e-book camera guides including the best-selling
Nikon D7100 Experience and Nikon D5300 Experience. He has photographed for
numerous organizations in the United States and in Latin America, been recognized by
the United Nations Development Programme for his humanitarian photography, and
been published in magazines and books including Conde Nast Traveler, Sherman's
Travel, South American Explorer, and Viva Travel Guides. He also lectures and gives
individual instruction on digital photography. Doug is a member of the National Press
Photographers Association (NPPA).
Learn more about photography techniques and equipment on his blog Picturing Change
at http://blog.dojoklo.com/, view his photography and e-books at www.dojoklo.com, and
follow him on Twitter at @dojoklo.
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