Nikon D300s: Advanced shooting techniques – Iris control

Posted: October 20, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Okay, so I’ve had much more time to play around on my Nikon D300s and I’ve got more to share on how to operate this thing as a video camera for amazing HD news videos. Besides, I think the Canon 5D Mark II is stealing way too much attention. It was recently rated the Camera of the Year by Wired Magazine, and though I think it was well deserved, it’s time us Nikon D300s users stepped up to show our camera is no slouch either.


One of the most annoying problems I was initially having with the D300s was the auto exposure in movie mode. I kept seeing flickers throughout my footage as the auto exposure shifted every few seconds. No thanks to the user manual, I figured out that I could control exposure, even setting it to over expose or under expose with a few simple adjustments in my users menu.

Using AE-L and Exposure Compensation:

  1. Nils says:

    Good news, the above steps are also applicable to us D5000 users as well.

  2. Sleepy says:

    THX for this great Tip!

  3. John Hwang says:

    Thank you so much! Maybe you should write the Nikon manual.

  4. JD says:

    Thank you very much … that was great and worked instantly …

  5. Joe Kitahara says:

    Dude, you da man! I was so disappointed in the exposure flicker issue. I even called the Nikon tech support and the tech said there was nothing that could be done. When I watched the Robert Bosh video, flicker free snow, helicopter and para snowboard shots I knew there had to be a way. Or he used a real video HD camera. Thank you so much perseverance pays off. Kudo’s to you.

  6. oggi says:

    Great stuff…. Thanks!

  7. Bob says:

    So once you change the settings just leave it there? Do you need to change this back for pictures?

  8. jeffachen says:

    Bob, the exposure lock function is a preference for photographers, but here I’m suggesting it’s a must for videographers. You can change it back if you like, but for most photographers it shouldn’t cramp your shooting style or hinder everyday shooting.

    However, do make sure you reset the exposure compensation back to zero if you use that, otherwise you’ll find that your photos may be consistently over or under exposed.

  9. Bob says:

    One push locks it then next push unlocks it. Seems better even for taking pictures.

  10. aggie says:

    Thank you very much for your help! I also called Nikon support to no avail…

  11. Michal Pfeil says:

    I was looking for this fix right after I shot video with the 300s for the first time and was dissapointed until i found your post so thanks for sharing. But would you know how I can control the depth of field in video mode? Is it only work in tripod or handheld mode? thanks

  12. jeffachen says:

    Michal, you can control the depth of field by setting the camera in aperture priority mode (or manual mode) and using apertures below f/4. You are able to use this in either tripod or handheld mode. – Jeff

  13. Michal Pfeil says:

    But the key as I found out after is to set the aperture before you hit LiveView. As for someone who never used LV this seems completely un-intuitive for shooting stills or video but nonetheless Nikon should have done a much better job in detailing the things you talked about in there manuals. Wish Nikon was a little more dedicated to the video mode as is Canon.

  14. Captain_0bvious says:

    Thank you!!!

    I spent over an hour trying to figure this one out.

  15. Joel says:

    Thanks! I came across this a little while back but forgot how it was done. After shooting some footage on a recent trip I was quite disappointed to have a few shots ruined by the auto-exposure. I’ll be trying this out when I get home!

  16. Owen Thomas says:

    thanks for the tip!

    It’s not the “iris” shifting that makes the flicker though. I think it’s the ISO jumping up and down. It meters the average exposure of the scene and changes automatically…

    Does anyone know how to manually adjust the ISO in video mode? You can do it with the D3s, but have to do a fireware update…so I’ve read.

  17. Thank you so very much for this info! This is exactly the issue I was looking to resolve. Know of any way to correct some of the “wobble frames” inherent to the motion JPG video format?

    • Joel B says:

      It isn’t so much about the motion JPEG format as it is the “rolling shutter” – just how the camera reads off of the sensor. It starts reading at the top, and often by the time it gets to the bottom of the frame the thing in the frame has moved. The only real way to avoid this is to make sure things aren’t moving too much in the shot – i.e. no quick panning. There supposedly is a plugin (for AfterEffects, I think) that can correct this somewhat if the motion is linear, but I have no idea how well it works.

      Sadly enough, Canons seem to be a bit better at this than Nikon, as I think they are reading off the sensor faster (i.e. they can read at 60 fps, not just 24). Your best bet is to be careful with your shots.

      • Thank you, that makes since. So it is an scan issue. Do you recall the name of that AE plug-in?
        Also, I’ve been using my D300s to shoot Time-Lapse JPG sequences and find that there is an inconsistency in exposure resulting in a flicker. Most research on the subject tends to blame the digitally controlled iris, however I have run into this issue even using old manual aperture F mount lens. Got any thoughts on that?

  18. Joel B says:

    Eric James Swearingen :
    Thank you, that makes since. So it is an scan issue. Do you recall the name of that AE plug-in?
    Also, I’ve been using my D300s to shoot Time-Lapse JPG sequences and find that there is an inconsistency in exposure resulting in a flicker. Most research on the subject tends to blame the digitally controlled iris, however I have run into this issue even using old manual aperture F mount lens. Got any thoughts on that?

    Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the plugin.

    For timelapse I’d be shooting full manual mode – no auto anything (i.e. auto-iso is a big no-no). Also manual focus. That should definitely help. I’ve only done it once or twice, so I’m definitely no expert on it.

  19. We just got the D300s at work and are now doing more video. This exposure problem has been a real frustration for me. Thank you for working this out and for sharing the info with others. I’ll be surfing around your site looking for more cool tips. Best wishes, Bren

    • Mikey Leung says:

      Does the Canon 5D suffer from this auto exposure issue? I’ve worked it out but unfortunately have also lost some footage to the adjustment. Where’s the documentation on this iris deal?

      I also have some real problems with recording decent sound into the camera. I just purchased a Rode VMP and the sound comes in really hot — not terribly usable in my opinion. That’s even with the gain settings way down in camera!

      I really wish they would do a firmware update allowing me to control the levels manually.

      Have you worked with sound in your blog Jeff? I’m going to look around now..

  20. Mat Lucas says:

    This article has saved me from failure this week. Thanks alot for writing this up, my lecturers didn’t have a slightest clue as to what was causing this after we tried tugnsten lighting rather that flourescent lighting.

    I was at my wits end.

    Thanks again!


  21. Chris says:

    Thank you!!! You made my day!
    This works perfectly fine on my D5000 aswell!

  22. jorn says:

    I have also a D300s and I am using the wide angle lens 14-24mm F2.8 for shooting fireworks. But I still have some grain on the movie. How can I help this?
    I am shooting in manual mode, shutter speed 50, aperture 2.8 and ISO 200.
    (tripod mode)
    Focus was set on infinity.

    I hope that somebody can help me.

  23. Raymond says:

    Thanks a lot for this. It made my day. I was about to sell my d300s.

    • jeffachen says:

      No problem Raymond. I am still using my D300s as one of my primary HD video cameras and love it.

      • Raymond says:

        Is there any 3rd party software like magic lantern for the d300s. I need more controls in video mode.

      • jeffachen says:

        Unfortunately no. Nikon hasn’t gotten any kind of support around its video HDSLRs the way Canon has. But, I’ve found many work arounds. I use a H4n Zoom for recording and live monitoring of audio. I bought a DSLR rig and follow focus system for cleaner video. And, I use exposure lock to manage the auto ISO and exposure. I think mine is one of the few blogs dedicated to shooting techniques with the D300s. I just need to do a better job of updating it! : )

    • Caden says:

      Phoeamnnel breakdown of the topic, you should write for me too!

  24. Thank you so much for this! I tried it. I still get the flicker sometimes. So what I do is I switch off n switch on my camera again. Its ok. I’m still testing. But thank you for your article!! It has helped me so much! I tried changing my light to tungsten to record video but it didn’t stop the flicker.

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