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I've been struggling to find any reference to this in the manual for the D5500. Presumably once I know what it's even called it will be easier to research.

On the right in the viewfinder, and also in Camera Control Pro 2 (easier to screenshot) is a bracketed 'r' with a number, e.g. [r 2], highlighted in red below:

enter image description here

Could someone please tell me what it does, or at least what it's called, so I can look it up?

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It's the number of shots remaining (hence the "r") that you can take and store on your card.

When you half-press the shutter button, the number changes to the number of shots remaining in your memory buffer (pictures stored in memory that haven't been written to the storage card yet). This lets you know how many more shots you can take in "CH" (continuous high-speed) shooting mode.

If your card is large enough to hold over 999 images (such as shooting only in JPEG mode, especially at smaller image size), the "r" will disappear because the remaining count needs 4 digits to display.

  • Is it the capacity remaining in the card? Or the capacity remaining in the buffer? With EOS cameras the number on the same location is the buffer capacity remaining. The card capacity is displayed on the top of camera LCD. – Michael C Dec 15 '16 at 14:23
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    @MichaelClark On Nikons, at least as of last year's models, it's modal. The brackets show the remaining card capacity, until you half-press the shutter, in which case it shows the remaining buffer capacity. – scottbb Dec 15 '16 at 14:35
  • @MichaelClark in viewfinder mode looking through the viewfinder, it's as I described. It's the same on the top LCD as well, if brackets are shown. On my D800E, I have that location set to show ISO on the top LCD, but when I half-press the shutter, that section changes to show buffer remaining. – scottbb Dec 15 '16 at 14:40
  • @MichaelClark in live view, the brackets are as I described, showing shots remaining on the card by default, and remaining in buffer with the shutter half-pressed. – scottbb Dec 15 '16 at 14:41
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    @Tetsujin =) I found that I learned my camera best by just going through the user manual front to back, without skipping anything, camera in hand, while on a cross-country flight. I did this a few times when I was traveling heavy for work, and learned a lot about how to operate my camera and set it up how I like it. – scottbb Dec 16 '16 at 6:13
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Could someone please tell me what it does, or at least what it's called, so I can look it up?

Scottbb's answer is correct and you should accept it, but I wanted to follow up with a little more information about how to find the answer in case you have others like it.

There's a diagram on page 6 of the Nikon D5500 user manual (PDF) that describes the different parts of the viewfinder display, including this detail:

Nikon viewfinder data display

This is a detail that shows every segment of the display all at once, so I can see how you might not immediately notice that it includes the [r 2] part that you're asking about. But if you look in the place in this detail where the [r 2] message appears in your camera, you'll see [88.8] called out as item 13, and that item is described in the text below:

Number of exposures remaining.......................................31
Number of shots remaining before memory buffer fills.............37
White balance recording indicator Exposure compensation value....72 
Flash compensation value ..........12
ISO sensitivity.................................12
Capture mode indicator

So this part of the display actually serves six different purposes. They're not described in all that much detail on their respective pages, but I think it's enough. Page 31 again shows the corresponding part of the rear display (which also uses the bracket notation) and calls it "number of exposures remaining," including the helpful detail that a K is displayed as a 1000's multiplier if you have more than 1000 exposures left. Page 37 shows the viewfinder display that you see when you half-press the shutter release button, and labels the bracket area (this time including the 'r') as "buffer capacity."

The D5500 reference manual (PDF) contains similar diagrams with page references, and has a more detailed description of the buffer size indicator on page 73:

Buffer Size: The approximate number of images that can be stored in the memory buffer at current settings is shown in the viewfinder exposure-count display while the shutter-release button is pressed.

So the information you need is in the manual, it's just a little hard to recognize in that initial diagram.

  • Except instead of the User manual, the D5500 Reference manual is much more complete. Free at downloadcenter.nikonimglib.com/en/products/196/D5500.html – WayneF Dec 15 '16 at 18:08
  • @WayneF That's usually how it goes with user manuals and reference manuals -- the former for people who want to know what they need to know, the latter for cases where you want to know everything. That's why I linked to both. – Caleb Dec 15 '16 at 18:20
  • Thank you. I had actually seen that in the manual [I already have both versions] but couldn't equate it to what I was trying to find. I'd been skimming to find some actual picture of 'r something' & didn't equate it with the 88.8 – Tetsujin Dec 16 '16 at 6:08

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