Cheat Cards for Nikon D300

I have a Nikon D300 and I don't see that camera listed as an option. Would any of other Nikon cameras be similar enough? The thing I seem to have the most trouble with is the AF-Area mode, the metering mode, and the focus mode. I use to be able to take clear pictures, but seem to have the wrong combination now. Help!


  • edited May 2018
    I think the basic ideas at least are common to most Nikons although the placement of controls and exact numbers of things may be different.

    Here's the quick and dirty.....

    Focus Mode: Single servo focus will focus once on a subject, and as long as the shutter button is partway down, it will stay on that even if you move the camera or the subject moves. Continuous servo focus will track a moving subject, and focus will continue to operate until you shoot the picture. Use S mode for still subjects, and when you need to focus first and then recompose. Use C mode for moving subjects, wildlife etc.

    AF Area mode: there are basically three different area settings. The first is auto area (solid block on the switch). The camera decides what to focus on. You don't. The second is single area (single box on the switch). You choose an area, and the camera uses that alone. The third is dynamic area (box and dots on the switch). You choose a starting area, and if your subject strays into one of the other areas the focus will try to follow. In the menu you can select how many adjacent focus points the subject can stray into. The more you have, the likelier you are not to lose focus, but the likelier you also are for the focus to go to the wrong thing or the wrong part of a subject. Most wildlife shooters prefer a small dynamic area like D9 if possible, and only use the larger areas if they can't hold focus on a fast moving object.

    3D focusing is similar to dynamic area, but the focus point will move a little differently. It uses the processor to try to figure out what the subject is, and will jump around looking for it if it leaves the center spot. It's generally best when a single subject is differentiated from the background by color. In other situations it can tend to jump to the wrong subject if the first is lost. Most wildlife photographers skip this in older cameras such as the D300, but it can work and may be worth a try if you're having trouble keeping on a subject.

    When you're in single servo mode, only single point and Auto area modes are available.

    Priorities: in the menu you can choose whether the camera will fire without first achieving focus. It's customary to choose "focus priority" for S mode, so that the camera will not fire until focus is found, and "release priority" for C mode, so that when following a moving subject the camera might fire before focus is finished, and continue firing if it's temporarily lost.

    Metering mode: There are basically three ways to meter, and each has its virtues. The default is matrix metering. The camera uses its processor to analyze a scene, and choose the metering. It works very well most of the time, but can be fooled by specular highlights and very difficult lighting. Center weighted averaging metering does much the same thing in a more primitive form. The whole scene is evaluated, but a center area is given more weight. It's often very good for portraits where a fairly large subject is seen against a contrasting background. Spot metering meters only the small area it's aimed at (more or less corresponding to the focus point). It completely ignores all else. Useful for a highly differentiated subject, such as a bird in the sky, or a subject on a snow field. The meter spot will follow the focus point and can be moved.

    I think there is a facility for resetting the camera, and if you've gone quite astray, you might consider that.

    Also make sure that the focus point has not strayed out of the center. This will affect not only focus but also spot metering.

    My guess is that the D300 will be most like the D7100 or its family.
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