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After a long gap between the D100 and the D200, Nikon surprised a few folk with the announcement in August �07 of the D300. Now, less than two years after Ian Andrews tested its predecessor, he brings us his verdict on the D300
The eagerly awaited Nikon D300 has finally been announced and Matt Grayson tootled down to trendy London to get his hands on it.
I upgraded from the Nikon D80 to D300 (and have subsequently moved to the D700). If im been completely honest I found the transition quite a steep learning curve. Once you get to understand the camera its a great camera capable of some stunning results. What I did like when I moved to the D700 was I felt instantly at home as the D700 shares much of the same features as the D300
The D300 Good bits:
1. Capable of extremely good resolution due to the 12mp crop sensor
2. 100% viewfinder
3. Menu system - particularly where you can have several custum settings (wildlife / landscape etc etc) However as I nearly always work in manual, be carefull as ant adjustments overide standard settings.
4. Very well built.
5. Review screen, at the time of the launch it was ahead of the competition
5. For a crop sensor superb noise free images at high ISO (tho there is a compromise at native ISO see below). - for me the D300 enabled me to use ISO changes more in my creative workflow.
6. Maintains Nikon tradition of using the famous F mount lenses, so you can use lenses dating back to the 50's.
7. Dynamic range, a big increase from the D80 (tho not upto that seen in the D3/D700)
The bits I'm not too keen on.
There were a couple of things that I didn't like with the D300.
1. Noise in the sky at native ISO (200) and yes it is very noticable - it did improve at low -0.3ev (ISO160). It was far, far worse than the Nikon D80 and yes it is noticable. Here I will add a caviat - if you use Capture NX2 to convert RAWS its OK - but the appearance in captureone and lightroom gave a mottled appearance with skies of a limited pallett (ie cloud free). I had 2 D300's (long story - one was damaged in sea water) - both had the problem. In print its not too bad but I knew it was there.
2. Defraction - Thats a lens problem I hear you cry, well yes and no. With landscapes on the D80 I was quite happy at F16. On the D300 the images were way too soft for my liking. Only when you got down to F11 was the image pin sharp, although F13/14 was OK. What I think you are seeing is a pixel density (i.e the photo sites are so small) that is so tight that any lens defraction "bleeds" into the neighbouring photo sites. I don't think this is unique to the D300, but all crop sensors over 12mp see the effect to some degree. The Sigma 10-20 was particularly bad in this respect. Once you know to limit the aperture to F11, its not too much of a problem.
3. The out of camera RAWS to me appear completely differently to other Nikon RAWs (D700 & D80) and I used Captureone4, Lightroom 2 & 3 and Capture NX2. The bias appeared to be more for the highlights and as a result they were / are a lot brighter than those from the D80 / D700. When I changed cameras I always do a side by side comparison (unfortunately I've deleted them or I would have posted the images). It may have been engineered this way to try to get the most out of Nikon's active D lighting (only of use to NX2 users). I could rectify this easily with NX2 - although in captureone I never did get the images to my satisfaction - for colour landscapes - and was one of the main reasons I moved to Lightroom.
Overall I was very happy with the D300, I had some excellent results from the D300.
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