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Garden shooting

edited January 2015 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
I am using a Nikon 55-300m lens to shoot birds in my small back garden. Being it is winter in England, the light is sometimes not great but can be full sun. What settings should I be using for the lens and D3200?


  • For birding, I would recommend the following...

    - Enable Shutter Priority (rotate mode dial to S)
    - Set the Shutter Speed to 1/1500 (rotate the command dial)
    - Enable Auto ISO (Menu ISO Sensitivity Settings Auto ISO ON)
    - Set the Metering to Matrix
    - On the lens, turn VR ON and switch A/M to A
    - Set the Focus Mode to AF-C & the AF-Area Mode to Auto-Area AF
    - Set the Release Mode to Continuous

    1) Half-press the shutter button to continuously focus on the bird as it moves through the frame.

    2) When ready, fully press the shutter and hold it down to re o a burst of images. This will increase your odds of capturing a keeper.

    3) If you have trouble focusing, switch the AF-Area Mode to 3D-tracking AF and select the center focus point. Aim the center focus point at the bird, half-press the shutter button to continuously focus and fully press to shoot.

    4) If you notice subject blur, then increase the shutter speed to 1/2000.

    For more settings like this, you should check out my cheat sheets for the Nikon D3200 and 55-300mm lens. It will walk you through the exact settings I would use for many different situations. Happy shooting!
  • edited January 2015
    I have only had the camera for three days and the new lens for one day! I am working through your D3200 sheets, but learning to walk before I learn to run!
    Thanks for the great advice. I am spent up on camera, lens and cheat sheet for this month but will make a purchase soon.
  • edited January 2015
    Presumably using a tripod, would I turn VR off?
  • @AndyMuch - Yep, anytime you use a tripod, turn VR off to prevent blur. All the best!
  • edited January 2015
    Supposedly the 55-300mm has a tripod sensor, but it's better to turn VR off anyway, especially on fast shutter speeds. The suggested speed is nice and fast. If your birds are animated, you can probably do pretty well handheld with VR on if you practice panning.

    Matrix metering with active D-lighting on will usually work all right, and if you shoot in Raw mode you can adjust exposure a bit after. If your backgrounds are very bright, such as snow or light sky, you might try spot metering. The spot meters only a small area at your focus point and ignores all the rest. It can be tricky, especially if you're panning, but it's worth a try.

    I have had better luck with single point and auto-area AF than with 3-D tracking, although the latter is supposed to be smarter. 3D uses color information, and in a complex scene it can switch to the wrong subject. It may work better if your bird is conspicuously different in color from everything else.

    I add my usual warning here on the D3200: depending on how you hold it, it is very easy to accidentally move the focus point and not notice. Keep an eye on it, and hit the "OK" button from time to time to recenter it.
  • edited January 2015
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