Nikon D300: Live View

On the sly

With the introduction of Nikon’s lastest cameras, the D300 and the D3, they have added Live View capability. Live view allows you view your scene through the image sensor. You can even have a look to see what it will look like with different white balance settings. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a professional reviewer and I certainly don’t get paid for it. These are just my impressions after having used it for a short time. I will continue to add my impressions to this article as I form new, or different impressions. Additional commentary may be added with a date indicating when it was added.

As I’ve not used Live View on the tripod, yet, I’ll speak only to the hand held mode.

LV takes a bit of getting used to, but after you get used to it, it can be quite useful. Focusing is accomplished in one of two ways:

  • Place your focusing rectangle where you wish to focus. Depress the shutter release button 1/2 way, the camera will focus. However, nothing appears in the LCD on the back. You must push the button down completely in order for the mirror to flip up out of the way and show you the live view image. Your viewfinder will now be blocked.
  • Depress the shutter button fully, the mirror will pop up and show you your image, which most likely will be out of focus. You will no longer be able to see through your viewfinder. To gain focus, you must place your focus rectangle where you wish to focus, then you must press the shutter button 1/2 way. The mirror will close and the camera will attempt to focus on whatever you are pointing at. To go back to live view mode, simply release the shutter button. Your image should now be in focus

When you wish to take the picture, you simply press the shutter release button all the way down and hold it for a second or so. You’ll hear 2 mirror slaps. One as the mirror closes, then reopens again to take the picture. Changing the mode dial away from LV will cancel LV mode, as will pressing the Menu button on the back.

In the field
Down low

I wrote a post about getting low to the ground to take pictures from a different perspective. Here, LV excels. Nearly all of the pictures that I took, if I had to use the viewfinder would have had my right eye nearly at dirt level if shooting vertically, or having my chin buried in the sand, if shooting horizontally. By engaging live view, I was able to get the shot without so much neck strain. I was still low to the ground, but could comfortably compose and take the shot.

At first, it seems a little quirky to use, but after a few shots, you get the hang of it. The screen is large, bright, and very useful, almost like using a medium format camera.

What’s missing
What would make live view nearly indispensable is a tilt/swivel option for the LCD. However, since the LCD is in a fixed position, getting low, or high, means that you have to sometimes tilt the camera to see what you are doing. It’s still workable, but for ultimate convenience, they should have provided the tilt.

Up high
I think that Nikon added a worthwhile feature to their new cameras. I found that it is extremely useful for low shots as well as high and it is good for candid photos as well. Without having your picture up to the eye piece, it’s easier to get a candid shot. It would be easier still if it had the LCD that swiveled out away from the camera body and allowed a +/- 90 degree tilt. This would make it easy to compose above your head, or while on the ground.

Overall, it’s fun to use and extremely useful.