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How to Take Great Photos with Nikon D5300

How to Take Great Photos with Nikon D5300

The Nikon D5300 is part of an exciting generation of digital cameras (including the D3100) that provides an unprecedented level of connectivity, with built-in Wi-Fi for instant photo sharing and remote camera control with built-in GPS. If you are new to the Nikon D5300, you may be wondering how you can use it to take great photos.

To help guide you through this process, I have compiled a list of six helpful tips that can help you get started snapping quality photos with your Nikon D5300. Although there may be some more advanced techniques to explore as you gain experience, the following breakdown provides crucial information for those looking to get started on the right foot. 

Choose a Standard to Short Telephoto Lens

The first step in capturing stunning images is to select the appropriate lens. As the Nikon D5300 has over 166 lenses from which to choose, this may seem a bit daunting for the inexperienced photographer.

However, for taking great portraits, we have found that the best telephoto lenses fall on the short side of standard, ideally between 50mm and 200mm. Some other key features to look for include:

  • Zooms between 70mm and 200mm
  • Telephoto ends between 24mm and 120mm
  • Narrower lenses, ideally below 17mm

While longer lenses have their utility, they require a little more skill on the part of the photographer to keep the subject looking natural. This NIKKOR 60mm lens would be a great option to start with.

Select Aperture Priority for Sharper Images

When starting out, you will want as much help from your Nikon D5300 in regulating light exposure to help create sharp images. Therefore, be sure that the camera mode is set to dial A (aperture priority auto-exposure).

Once set to aperture priority, ISO sensitivity and aperture size will dictate the sharpness of the image. A couple of tips for these settings include:

  • Set the ISO to 400. If there is not enough light at this shutter speed, try increasing it to 800.
  • Keep the f-value low. This allows more light to enter the camera and shortens the depth of field. A value below f/5.6 is an excellent place to start.

Set the White Balance to Match the Available Light

It is important to set the white balance to match the availability of ambient light. For example:

  • When shooting indoors, set the white balance on the Nikon D5300 to incandescent, denoted by the small lightbulb icon.
  • When relying on light from a speedlight, set the white balance to flash, denoted by the lightning bolt.
  • When using a combination of ambient light and flash, you will need to create a custom preset for the white balance.

Check that the Photo is Properly Metered

Your Nikon D5300 uses a metering sensor to test the brightness of a subject when exposed to light. I recommend using matrix metering for beginning photographers, as it will automatically ensure a balance between the dark and bright areas of the photo.

Another option would be to use center-weighted metering. To test the brightness of the subject using this setting, take the following steps:

  1. Situate the subject in the center of the frame.
  2. Press the shutter button halfway to allow your camera to focus.
  3. Press the AE lock to meter the photo.
  4. Reposition the subject until you are happy with the composition.
  5. Fully depress the shutter button when happy with the image and are ready to take the photo.

Ensure Sharp Focus Area with Single Area AF

One of the best tricks we have found to shoot great photos with our Nikon D5300 is to focus on the subject’s eyes. To help you focus on the eyes, set the camera to single area AF for the sharpest result.

If your image is of a non-human subject, or the eyes are deliberately not the focus of the photo, consider the following tips:

  • Set the focus point at the farthest end of the focus grouping, ensuring that all relevant focal points are captured.
  • Use the AF-lock button to help you focus on a single area of the image.
  • Turn on the audible beep to help you know when your image is in focus.
  • Utilize the focus assist lamp when shooting in low-light areas.

Use a Speedlight for Insufficient Light in the Scene

Finally, when shooting in areas of insufficient light, a Nikon speedlight will be a necessary accessory. There are many different ways to use a flash in photography, so make sure you set the scene and test the lighting first before adding any subjects to the image, as getting the lighting right can take a little time.


The Nikon D5300 is one of the first digital cameras that incorporated Wi-Fi for instant image sharing as well as geotracking stamps to document adventures. If you are new to this innovative camera, consider the six helpful hints listed above that I have discovered for taking great photos with the Nikon D5300.