Much has been written concerning the D-300 from the highly technical to the basics. A simple internet search will turn up a mountain of information. Unfortunately; one has to do one’s homework to reveal the full capabilities of this incredible camera. Nikon’s manual while adequate, lacks in shooting “tips & hints” about this camera.
What I add here is from a users point of view; mine. I have shot professionally for 30 years or so, from weddings to commercial stock.
After reading many reviews, I am forced to agree with the consensus; this is by far the best DX digital format currently on the market. For years Canon ruled the roost, especially in the arena of noise reduction. Now there’s a new kid on the block, and his name is the “Nikon D-300.”
When Nikon entered the digital world for photographers, it’s evolutionary steps were small; until the D-300 was unveiled. This camera jumped out in front of the competition and has not looked back.
My opinions of this camera are well justified by the technical tests conducted by people far more skilled in science and math than am I.
What we all want to know is how good is it from a photographers point of view.
I’ll cover what I consider the high points as well as what has impressed me.
Here we go.
Metering: The on board meter totally negates the need for a hand held meter. Rarely have I seen the meter fooled by odd lighting situations. Matrix, center weight & spot are right on the money 99% of the time. My post look at the histograms bare this out.
Focus: I have the Nikon D2xs. It has now been replaced with the D-300. Low light focusing is impressive. Continuous focus has little trouble once you understand (how) it works. There are no less than 51 active points to choose from, although if speed in focusing is paramount, I suggest you use 21. The “auto 3D” mode is a miracle as it essentially is able to pick out a person from the background and focus on them! This does away with the old way of shooting “Focus and recompose.” Dynamic tracking is faster than my D2xs thanks to a totally revamped cam focus system.
Color Accuracy: Bang on! Be it JPEG or RAW shooting, the software does it’s job well.
The tech specs show this to be oh so true.
Dynamic Range: In a word; WOW! I’ve read the tech specs but never tested it myself; that is beyond me. The end result though is nothing short of amazing for a digital. Shadow rendering with it’s noise suppression is fantastic. If that’s not enough, Nikon had a little ace up it’s sleeve. “D-Lighting” or “active dynamic range” No less than four settings , off-low, normal and high. Essentially it is used in high contrast situations. It allows for more headroom so whites are not easily blown out and dark areas are rendered readable. D-Lighting has been around for a while as a post process, The D-300 now adds this as a “in camera” process. It works. Nikon does not spell it out at all in the manual, there is more to it than just turning it on if you really want to see it strut it;'s stuff.
Picture Control: I can now custom tailor so many image parameters it staggers the mind. Color saturation, contrast, sharpening, hue, white balance. If that’s not enough, one can dial in any amount of change.
Color filters can be used in camera, including a wide array of B&W options with filters for red, blue, green, cyanotype, all fully adjustable in amount applied.
Summary: It shoots fast with the included battery, 6 FPS; 8 with the optional batter pack.
It’s durable and well sealed against moisture & dust. Feels great in the hand. I can shoot all day with little hand fatigue.
No more fumbling around for the controls I use most often, they are right there at my finger tips.
The “sensor” is new and improved with excellent noise suppression. I can now shoot at ISO 1,600 with no real concerns about noise. The only camera in this arena with better noise suppression would be the D-3, but at more than twice the cost, the choice was an easy one for me.
Write speeds to a good card are blistering fast.
Some call the D-300 a semi-pro camera. I disagree. Two years ago this would have earned the title of a pro camera all the way.
One small warning; the manual is over 400 pages! Read it all! Following that, get online to read about what Nikon didn’t tell us.