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Nikon D300 Digital SLR Camera – Picture Control Settings


Nikon recently released three picture control settings (D2XMODE1, D2XMODE2, D2XMODE3) for emulating Nikon D2X’s Color Mode settings I, II, and II.

  • D2XMODE1 is configured to reproduce skin tones and gradations naturally with rich reproduction of tones.
  • D2XMODE2 is configured to reproduce images that will be extensively processed or retouched.
  • D2XMODE3 is configured for nature or landscape shots, where greens and blues are vividly reproduced.

These optional settings merely emulate, not guaranteed to reproduce, Nikon D2X’s Color Mode settings I, II, and III.

The optional D2X settings are loaded using the Load/Save feature in the Manage Picture Control window (Shooting Menu) rather than through a firmware revision. A complete instruction installing the optional D2X settings is found here for Mac or here for Windows. It is quite simple as downloading the three files, uploading to the memory card, and loading the file directly into D300.

You might be asking why bother with the D2X settings? Do these optional settings provide superior pictures? You be the judge if you can. Below are unedited cropped pictures taken with each of the native settings (Standard, Neutral, and Vivid) of D300 and of the optional D2X emulation, all taken with Nikkor AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED, with the following settings: WB Auto, Active-D Lighting Normal, shutter speed 1/60, f5, at 30mm (45mm equivalent), with fill flash using Nikon SB-800.

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D300 Neutral D300 Standard D300 Vivid
Neutral Standard Vivid
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Reading the actual color values of the sample photos in the areas of red, green, blue, and yellow using Photoshop CS3 indicates subtle color differences between these photos. The color values of the photos taken with the D2X-III setting and the D300-Vivid setting are substantially similar. Based on the picture control map (see the photo below), the D300-Vivid setting should provide a more vibrant color. But the observed color values do not necessarily indicate this to be the case, as the photo taken with the D2X-III setting had a tad higher red, green, and blue values (roughly by about +5) than the photo taken with the D300-Vivid setting.


Only time will tell, after shooting many photos, which one of these two color-rich settings I would prefer. You can also crank the D300-Vivid setting (as well as D2X-III setting) to +3, if you like saturated colors. See photos taken by Ken Rockwell at that setting.

What’s your favorite picture control setting?

Lyle Kimms
Contributing Editor

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