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Nikon D300 Review

by Shun Cheung, January 2008 (updated February 2011)

photography by Shun Cheung and Hannah Thiem


The Nikon D300 is a digital single-lens reflex (SLR) camera designed for professional photographers and serious amateurs. The model number suggests that it is the successor to the Nikon D200, (compare prices) (review), which was introduced in 2005 with a metal chassis, weather sealing, a large viewfinder, and metering capability with all Nikon manual-focus lenses with auto indexing (AI) since 1977. The Nikon D300 retains all of those features plus a number of significant improvements such as Nikon's new auto focus (AF) system, 8 frames per second (fps) capture rate with the optional MB-D10 battery pack, live view, and automatic sensor cleaning.

Nikon introduced the D300 on August 23, 2007, along with the Nikon D3. The two cameras share a lot of features and some components. The main difference is that the D3 has a larger 23.9x36mm sensor, which is essentially the same size as a traditional 35mm film frame. Nikon now refers to that sensor size as the FX format.

If you are new to digital photography, start with two helpful photo.net references:

Where to Buy

Photo.net's partners have the Nikon D300 available. Their prices are fair and you help to support photo.net.

Operating Speed

The D300 is a highly responsive camera. Powering it up takes a mere 13ms, which is instantaneous for all practical purposes, and the shutter lag is 45ms (compared to the D200, which has a 15ms powerup and a 50ms shutter lag). By itself, the D300 can capture 6 fps. With the MB-D10 battery grip attached and proper batteries inside, it can capture at 8 fps. In that particular setting, if you quickly press on the shutter release, the D300 will frequently capture two consecutive frames instead of one; it is very sensitive.

Controls

The D300 has the very traditional Nikon AF-style controls since the introduction of the F5 in 1996. The shutter release button is on the top right side with the on/off switch around it. The main and sub-command dials are behind and in front of the shutter release button, respectively, for controlling the shutter speed and aperture as well as various menu selections. AF point selection is controlled by a multi-selection pad on the back.

There are four exposure modes: M (manual), A (aperture priority), S (shutter priority) and P (program). Metering options are matrix, center-weighted and spot. Shutter release modes are S (single), CL (continuous low), and CH (continuous high). Anyone who is familiar with Nikon AF SLRs from the last 10 years should be able to use those without any adjustment.

Beyond that is a complex Shooting, Playback, Setup and Custom Setting Menus with more options than the previous D2 family and D200 cameras. Both the Shooting and Custom Setting Menus have four different banks each so that the photographer can have different options, e.g. portrait, sports, flash photography, etc.

Nikon has made a drastic change to enlarge a review image on the back LCD. On previous DSLRs, you press on the "Enter" button to select an image and then while holding down the thumbnail button, you rotate the main command dial to enlarge or shrink the review image. On the D300, there are separate magnify and reduction buttons.

Auto Focus

The D300 comes with a new AF module, the Multi-CAM 3500, that is also used on the D3. The D300 has AF capability that can track moving subjects at 8 fps. My testing of two different D300 bodies indicates that it can track flying birds and moving surfers with ease. I would rate it slightly better than the auto-focus on the D2X that uses the last generation of Nikon's AF module, the Multi-CAM 2000.

For photographing still subjects, one can select any one of the 51 AF points from the Multi-Selector pad on the back of the camera and use that to directly cover the subject in the viewfinder. Since those 51 AF points are quite wide spread, there is almost no need to focus, lock and recompose any more. There is also no need to adjust the composition slightly in order to place an AF point on the subject, as I used to do with the 11 AF points on either the D2X or D200.

For photographing moving subjects, one can choose a cluster of 9, 21 or all 51 AF points to track the subject, with the center of the cluster in any one of the 51 AF points. The general rule of thumb is that the fewer AF points that are involved in deciding the focus, the faster AF will be. However, using only 9 AF points, it is rather easy for the D300 to lock onto the background when the subject briefly moves off the covered area, causing the usual "back focus" problem. My experience is that using 21 AF points seems to be a better compromise.

LCD Monitor

The back side of the Nikon D300 is dominated by a 3-inch, 922,000-pixel LCD screen. The large LCD is very convenient for reviewing images and magnified details. The display can be scrolled to review exposure information (time stamp, shutter speed, aperture, ISO sensitivity, white balance, etc.), histograms, and blinking highlights. However, unlike previous Nikon DSLRs, the D300 does not provide a large RGB histogram as one of the scroll options; it either shares the LCD screen with the three RGB, channel-specific histograms or with a small preview image and exposure data. In order to view a full-screen RGB histogram, you need to set Custom Setting f1, Playback Mode to View Histograms, and you can view a full-screen histogram by holding down the center of the multi-selection pad. While the D300's LCD comes with a cover, the LCD itself is protected by tempered glass that is scratch resistant.

One can duplicate the exposure and auto focus information on the top monochrome LCD onto the back LCD by pressing on the "info" button, which is also the "key lock" button on the back of the D300. Since the back LCD has much higher resolution, it can provide additional details such as which AF point is currently active and which group of AF points is used in Group Dynamic AF.

Viewfinder

The D300 has a very good viewfinder - bright and large for a DX-sensor (small frame sensor) DSLR. It has the on-demand gridline feature (Custom Setting d2) that adds horizontal and vertical lines in the viewfinder to help the photographer keep the composition level. This is also helpful for figuring out where an 8 x 10 image will land. Keep in mind that even though the camera may be switched off, Nikon cameras with the on-demand gridline feature require a trickle of battery power to keep the viewfinder transparent and bright. If you remove the battery from the D300, its viewfinder will become very dim and blurry. It should return to normal as soon as you insert a battery again.

Inside the viewfinder, below the image, is some essential camera setting information. This includes the in-focus indicator, metering mode, aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity, remaining frame count (capacity in the memory card), and flash-on indicator. If you press half-way on the shutter release button, the remaining frame count will change to a number with an "r" prefix. That indicates the remaining capacity in the image memory buffer. It is not an error code.

High ISO Performance in Low Light

Until the D3 and D300 were introduced in 2007, high-ISO performance was always a weakness in Nikon DSLRs. The D2X rated ISO is limited to 800, and for the more demanding photographers, it is best not to exceed ISO 400, one stop below the rated maximum. The D200 improves everything by one stop and the D300 is better by yet another stop. On the D300, the rated maximum ISO is now 3200. I would be comfortable to use ISO 1600 in essentially any dark conditions. As long as there are not a lot of deep shadow areas, ISO 3200 is also very usable. That means I can hand hold an f/2.8 zoom under fairly dark indoor conditions at 1/50 sec.

While the D300's rated ISO range is from 200 to 3200, it has an extended range on both ends from Low 1 to High 1, which is essentially ISO 100 and 6400, respectively, and should only be considered an option as a last resort. Using a DSLR in its extended high range typically introduces a lot of noise and a loss of details. On the other hand, the D300's minimum rated ISO is 200 because that is where the camera performs best. In some situations such as outdoor fill flash, it is better to have a lower sensitivity because of flash sync speed limitations. I have tested the D300 at Low 1 (ISO 100) and the loss of quality from ISO 200 is negligible.

In-Camera Editing

The D300 provides some rudimentary image editing capabilities on camera, such as D-Lighting adjustment (similar to the shadow/highlights adjustment in PhotoShop to brighten up shadow areas), cropping, and red-eye elimination. If one does any post-processing at all, it is much easier to edit on a computer with a much larger screen and a computer mouse.

Flash

The D300 has a built-in pop-up flash which has all the common disadvantages for pop-up flashes: lack of flash power, inability to bounce off any reflector, prone to red-eye, and the potential to be blocked by a big lens and/or lens hood.

However, the D300's pop-up flash can serve as the master to control remote flashes such as the SB-800 and the SB-600 in Nikon's Creative Lighting System (CLS). The pop-up flash can control all four channels (1 to 4) and groups A and B (but not C) in CLS.

For optional external flashes, the best ones are the Nikon SB-800 AF Speedlight, (compare prices) (review), and Nikon SB-600 Speedlight, (compare prices) (review). Both of them have swivel heads that can be tilted upward for bounce flash in both the horizontal (landscape) and vertical (portrait) orientations. The SB-800 has more power and can serve as the master in a CLS set up. It can accept an optional 5th AA battery and an external high-voltage power pack for faster recycle time.

Memory Cards

The D300 uses one Type I or II CF memory card or microdrive. The D300 is UDMA (Ultra Direct Memory Access) compatible such that it can take full advantage of the high write speed of some of the latest memory cards.

The D300 has a 17-frame RAW buffer, which is fairly generous except for action photography such as certain types of sports and wildlife work. Fortunately, the D300 can write approximately one uncompressed RAW file (about 20MB) per second onto fast memory cards such as SanDisk's Extreme IV and Lexar's 300x. Therefore, the RAW buffer frees up fairly quickly.

Batteries

Similar to the earlier D200 and D80, the D300 requires one EN-EL3e battery inside the camera. The EN-EL3e is a 7.4v, 1500mAh Lithium-ion battery and an improved version from the earlier EN-EL3 and EN-EL3a for the D100, D70/D70s and D50. While the new EN-EL3e can be used on all cameras mentioned in this paragraph, the old non-e model batteries cannot be used on the D300. With a fully charged EN-EL3e, Nikon lists the life of the battery at 2000 images. This number will vary, depending on your use of flash and/or image previewing on the LCD.

The D300 accepts an optional MB-D10 battery pack, which doubles as a vertical grip. With the battery pack on, the internal EN-EL3e battery may remain inside the D300 but is no longer mandatory. The MB-D10 battery pack can be powered by one of three ways:

  • Another EN-EL3e battery (once again, the earlier EN-EL3 and EN-EL3a are not compatible). The D300 remains at 6 fps with this power source.
  • Eight AA batteries with the MS-D10 battery module, included with the MB-D10. The frame rate increases to 8 fps.
  • One EN-EL4 or EN-EL4a battery originally for the D2 and D3 series DSLRs; it requires an optional BL-3 battery chamber cover. The frame rate increases to 8 fps.

When the MB-D10 is attached, the D300 user may select to use the power in the MB-D10 first or the internal EN-EL3e battery first (custom setting d11). However, batteries are required either inside the camera or inside the MB-D10. In other words, one can attach an MB-D10 with no battery. In that case the MB-D10 strictly serves as a vertical grip with its own set of shutter release, command dials, and multi-selection pad.

Mechanical Construction

Similar to the top-line and prosumer Nikon SLRs in recent years, the Nikon D300 has a metal chassis, a rubberized outer shell, and weather sealing on the button and switches. All control buttons, command dials and selection pads have a solid, durable feel. The weak parts of the similarly-constructed D200 are the pop-up flash and the battery compartment door. There have been complaints that in some D200 samples, the battery compartment door does not press hard enough on the EN-EL3e battery so that the battery is making poor electronic contacts; as a result, the camera may suddenly lose power. I have not experienced that on either my D200 or D300, but is something to watch out for.

The optional MB-D10 battery pack also has an all-metal outer shell and a rubberized grip area. That is a major improvement from the D200's MB-D200 battery pack, which is all plastic. The buttons and dials on the MB-D10 are also solid. However, because of the lack of space, its additional vertical multi-selector pad is small and difficult to use.

The MB-D10 is securely screwed onto the D300 via the tripod socket at the bottom.

Choosing a Lens

A popular lens for serious photographers using Nikon DX-format DSLRs is the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S DX, (compare prices). It covers a range from moderate wide-angle to short telephoto, and its fast f/2.8 maximum aperture makes it ideal for wedding and event photography as well as a general-purpose lens. A much less expensive alternative is the Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED IF AF-S DX, (compare prices), which covers a similar zoom range but has a smaller maximum aperture.

The Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR DX, (compare prices), is a "one size fits all" super zoom from moderate wide to long telephoto, and is included as a kit lens option with the D300. The optical quality is still quite good. It is an ideal lens for those who would rather not change lenses and is excellent for travel photography. The vibration reduction (VR) feature enhances the results from hand holding. However, at maximum aperture of f/5.6 at full zoom, it is quite limiting indoors.

The Nikon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX, (compare prices), is another kit lens option included with the D300, which has a wide zoom range from moderate wide to telephoto with a consumer-grade construction and plastic mount. It is on the slow side at 135mm maximum f/5.6 and lacks vibration reduction. Most D300 owners will probably prefer higher-quality lenses.

A good telephoto zoom is the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR, (compare prices).

For those who prefer a super-wide lens, Nikon has a Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED IF Autofocus DX, (compare prices) (review), which spans from super-wide to moderate wide. It is ideal for landscape photography and interiors of buildings. It has a relatively slow maximum aperture at f/4. For those who prefer an f/2.8 wide zoom, there is a new Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF-S, (compare prices), that can cover the full frame sensor (FX), but is a much bigger and heavier lens with a metal construction and a convex front element with no filter thread.

For those who would like a fisheye lens for wedding, architectural, and certain sports photography, Nikon makes a high-quality Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8G ED AF DX Fisheye, (compare prices), but that is not an AF-S lens. This is more like a special effect lens.

Compatibility with Older Lenses

Nikon has never changed the basic F mount since the original Nikon F from 1959. The D300 is fully compatible with almost all F mount lenses, both manual focus and auto focus, since Nikon introduced auto indexing (AI) in 1977, with a few rare exceptions (such as the two AF lenses specially designed for the F3, AF version). Pre-AI lenses from 1959 to 1977 must be AI converted before they can be mounted onto most modern DSLRs.

Similar to the D200, D2 and D3 family DSLRs, the D300 has the traditional mechanical aperture setting linkage so that it can meter with manual-focus lenses that have no built-in CPU, for both center weighted and spot metering. Additionally, the D300 has a mini lens database inside. If the information for manual-focus lenses is pre-programmed into the database so that the D300 body knows what the maximum aperture is, matrix metering is also available.

Compared to the D200, D2X and D3

Based on the camera model number, the D300 is apparently the direct successor to the D200. The D300 retains all of the D200's features plus much improved auto focus, improved high ISO performance by approximately one stop, a faster frame rate (8 fps with grip vs. 5 fps), a much better vertical grip, in addition to other improvements such as live view, sensor cleaning, and two more megapixels, etc. For those who photograph sports, action, and in low-light conditions, the D300 represents some fairly significant improvements. For more static subjects under lower ISOs, the differences are subtle.

Compared to the Nikon D2Xs, (compare prices) (review), the D300 has an improved high-ISO performance (by approximately 2 stops) and a considerably faster frame rate (8 fps with grip vs. 5 fps). Also, the D300 is less than half of the D2X's initial selling price. Many D2X owners are upgrading to the D300 as the D2X is a somewhat dated design and its main advantage over the D300 is higher build quality.

The more interesting comparison is against the Nikon D3, (compare prices) (review). The two cameras share the same AF module and many features. The D3 is Nikon's first full frame sensor (FX) camera, and also features superior low-light performance with ISO range 200-6400, and Nikon's professional-build quality. For those who specialize in indoor sports, news, and weddings, the D3 is the better choice. However, for wildlife and outdoor sports photographers who need the telephoto reach, the D300's smaller sensor and higher pixel density are advantages.

The D3 also has dual CF memory card slots so that each image captured can be recorded onto both cards, essentially eliminating all memory card failure concerns. While memory card failures are rare, this feature provides the extra peace of mind for wedding and news photographers who frequently have no second chances.

Key D300 Features

  • 12MP sensor, 4288 x 2848 pixels
  • 23.6 x 15.8mm CMOS sensor, Nikon DX format
  • 12-bit and 14-bit capture options
  • New Multi-CAM 3500 DX AF module with 51 AF points, 15 of them cross-type
  • 6 fps native, 8 fps with optional MB-D10 battery pack/vertical grip and appropriate batteries
  • Built-in pop-up flash, which doubles as master for Nikon Creative Lighting (Flash) System (CLS)
  • Sensor sensitivity from ISO 200 to 3200, with an extended range from ISO 100 to 6400
  • 100% viewfinder coverage
  • 3.0-inch LCD monitor with 922,000 pixels
  • Compact flash (CF) memory card storage
  • USB 2.0 interface, HDMI high-definition video output
  • Live view option
  • Automatic sensor cleaning

Conclusion

The D300 is a strong successor to the D200. The D300 maintains all of the D200's advantages as an excellent general-purpose, prosumer DSLR and improves on several key areas. For about $3000 less, the D300 offers Nikon's current best AF module, which is also featured in their top professional model, the D3. With the Multi-CAM 3500 and the ability to capture 8 fps, the D300 also replaces the D2H and D2X as Nikon's top DX-sensor DSLR suitable for action and sports photography.

The D300 is a complex camera with numerous options and custom setting possibilities. The behaviors for various settings and AF modes will also take some time to fully master. Therefore, the D300 is not a camera for casual photographers who prefer a few simple beginner scene modes rather than the need to customize a complex camera. For those consumers, the user-friendly Nikon D80, (compare prices) (review), and Nikon D40x, (compare prices) (review), DSLRs are more appropriate.

On the other end of the spectrum, for those photographers who demand the absolute highest build quality, reliability, and low-light performance, the Nikon D3 is the best choice in the Nikon line. However, for less than $2000, the D300 provides professional features and quality.

Where to Buy

Photo.net's partners have the Nikon D300 available. Their prices are fair and you help to support photo.net. Also check out some of the more current models in the Nikon line.

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Example Photographs

Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S DX, set at 55mm (same angle of view as 82mm on an FX sensor), aperture-priority mode at f/2.8, 1/500s, ISO 200. Bright, sunny, snowy day, perfect for tubing at a sledding hill. Almost no post-processing was done, as the camera processed the blues and highlights in the snowy background correctly.

Nikon 300mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S (review), (same angle of view as 450mm on an FX sensor), f/4, 1/1600s. Bird-in-flight images are always a challenge for auto focus systems. I set my D300 to Dynamic AF with 21 AF points, thus assuring a good coverage of the subject. This is my favorite lens for flight images. The rule of thumb for faster AF is to get fewer AF points involved. However, if I used the 9-AF-point option, since those 9 are tightly clustered together, with a moving subject, it would be easy to have the AF points focusing on the background instead.

Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S DX, set at 20mm (same angle of view as 30mm on an FX sensor), f/3.2, 1/40s, ISO 3200. On Christmas night 2007, we were waiting in line to have dinner at this new restaurant that was open that evening. I noticed this interesting alley next to the new building. Even though I was only taking casual images that evening and didn't have a tripod, I managed to set ISO to 3200 and capture this image comfortably hand-holding the camera.

Nikon 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED AF-S VR II, set at 400mm (same angle of view as 600mm on an FX sensor). This is my favorite lens for photographing large animals. It has the flexibility from covering the environment to a tight image of the subjects. When there is animal action, the 8 fps capability on the D300 provides a series of slightly different images so that I can pick my favorites.


Text ©2008 Shun Cheung. Photos ©2008 Shun Cheung and Hannah Thiem, except as otherwise indicated.

Article revised February 2011.

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



Ray Martin , January 18, 2008; 03:10 A.M.

Thanks for taking the time and effort to create this review Shun, it's much appreciated.

I have a question regarding Autofocus and specifically AF-C priority selection (Release, Release/Focus, Focus). What were your findings on optimum settings when tracking fast moving subjects like birds. I assume you chose 21 pt dynamic area and focus/release?

Also, other than the fact that 14 bit mode kills continuous focus speed what other settings should be changed to optimize continuous focus speed.

Cheers,

Ray

Michael Meneklis , January 18, 2008; 06:37 A.M.

Thanks for this review Shun. I own my new D300 just 2 days ago together with my D200 and D80. My sense is that this is the most fair review I have read till now with no big words and very objective. I hope you come back with more details and tips for the owners. Regards Michael.

Richard Armstrong , January 18, 2008; 08:03 A.M.

Very nice review and sample photos. I just started using mine this week and have been very impressed with this camera's low light performance. Beautiful images even at iso > 1600. Thanks for the information.

Shun Cheung , January 18, 2008; 08:16 A.M.

As I have been saying for a while in the Nikon Forum, the D300 is a complex camera, and it takes a while to learn the options. There are some areas I haven't thoroughly explored; the 14-bit mode is one of them. My initial tests show that the difference between 12 and 14 bits is subtle. Since I photograph a lot of action (animals, birds in flight, surfing ...), the fact that the fps drops to 2.5 in the 14-bit mode rules it out in a lot of situations for me.

For AF-C settings, I have been using Release + Focus for Custom Setting a1. More importantly, for a4, Focus tracking with lock-on, I am using normal (or maybe long). I have had sufficient images where I am focusing on a surfer and suddenly a flying bird enters the frame, or I am concentrating on one bird in flight and a second one comes in from apparently nowhere. Obviously that particular frame is ruined anyway, but you don't want AF to shift to the (new) bird and lose track of your main subject in subsequent frames.

For birds in flight, I have settled in using 21 AF points for Dynamic AF. Again, the objective is to get fewer AF points involved because the more AF points you have, the more calculation the camera has to perform, and that tends to slow things down. However, if you use too few, when the subject moves away a bit, you can easily lock onto the background. If you are photographing a large subject that doesn't move sideways, e.g., if you are standing next to a railroad track (from a safe distance) and aiming at an approaching train, using 9 or perhaps even 1 AF point in AF-C mode may work very well.

I am coming from a D2X background. In Group Dynamic AF, the D2X (and D200) uses only 5 AF points, but since there are only 11 on the D2X, those 5 are quite far apart and the scene is well covered. The D300 has 51 AF points and in the 9 point mode, all 9 are very close together covering a small area.

Erwin Slembrouck , January 18, 2008; 08:49 A.M.

Hi Shun, thank you for your time reviewing the D300. On the site of Ken Rockwell I read that it is not easy to program manual focus lenses. Also, each setting of a zoomlens takes 1 memory. There are only 9 memories. Do you agree on this ? Is there a big difference with the D200 ?

Shun Cheung , January 18, 2008; 09:10 A.M.

Even though I have been using Nikon since 1977, I switched over to AF a long time ago and currently only have two manual-focus lenses left, including the 43-86mm/f3.5 zoom I bought back in 1977 (the very first Nikon lens I bought). You can indeed only program 9 MF lenses into the D300. It can be a problem if you have a lot of those like Bjorn Rorslett. For most people, 9 is sufficient and you can always just use center weighted metering.

Michael Meneklis , January 20, 2008; 06:11 A.M.

Though I own D300 just a few days ago, my overall feeling is that you are very right. I use PS CS3 and testing NX 1.3 I feel that noise reduction and auto levels of NX is a bit better. In the other hand it's very very slow and you need too much time, even though to open camera settings. When I need to zoom 100% I need toooooooo much time. I would like to hear some advise from you.

Paul Lavender , January 23, 2008; 07:43 P.M.

You mention RAW performance, but do not say if your images and tests are in the RAW mode.

After a brief tutorial in RAW at Macworld 2008, I intend to shoot in RAW on whichever camera I buy and do the processing on the computer. Please comment further on the RAW performance, as well as JPEG.

Edward Nevels , January 23, 2008; 08:29 P.M.

I enjoyed the review very much. It gave a great deal of information and didn't have the reviewer's prejudices front and center. Thank you very much. I got my D300 in early December and I am still muddling through the menu options. My D-70 has been my primary camera and I should confess that I was drawn to the D300 initially for the 12.3 MP and the information about it's enhanced autofocus and ISO sensitivity were attractions as well. I have been very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the images that I get with my old D70 Kit lense 18-70mm and I have not actually figured out much of the custom settings on the D300. I keep looking for the little "wheel" with it's pre-set modes and it's not there! That I've been able to get some very nice images despite this is a tribute to the Nikon engineers who did the final arrangements of the settings. As compared to the D70 sensor, the D300 is virtually noise-free, so I am very pleased with the low-light results. I haven't had the occasion to use my Nikkor 70-300 lense yet but look forward to that experience with a sense of optimism.

Monte Stinnett , January 23, 2008; 09:53 P.M.

I have the D3, which I think is pretty similar. What do u think of the 51 pt. 3d and auto modes. Specifically for birds in flight.

Chris Tirpak , January 23, 2008; 11:05 P.M.

@Paul Lavender

I am shooting in RAW almost exclusively these days and do a fair amount of sports photography. 14 bit RAW drops the frame rate to 2.5 fps on the D300. 12 bit RAW lets it go as high as rated but the buffer can only handle about 17 frames - or ~2.5 seconds. I am using San Disk Extreme III cards and there is definitely a delay while it writes out to the cards. I am not sure if a UDMA card will allow the buffer to clear fast enough to keep up with 6 or 7 fps - I've read conflicting information and the only way to be sure will be to try myself or read someone's real world (or even better see it) experiences. There are occasions when I've slammed into the buffer capacity in RAW mode, skiing last week for example - and i wasn't running into it all at once - I was bursting and re-bursting if that makes sense - and ran out of buffer. So, I just switch to JPEG and make sure I fiddle with white balance (read: I chimp a few times) and exposure as best I can and then go for it. Then, I really can't hit the limits of the camera. You do have to turn off Active D-Lighting and high ISO noise reduction to get the fps rate/buffer combo as high as advertise - but it is definitely doable (especially with the custom settings menus) and lets you crank out a ton of great shots.

As far as high ISO goes, this puppy is amazing. I was a the outdoor skating rink in Keystone, Colorado last weekend at dusk and dark and was able to get some very workable shots at ISO 3200. Shots at 1600 were, IMO, amazing quality. ISO 6400 gets you the shot but there is definite noise - not sure if any of the PS noise filters can fix or not - have not tried yet.

All in all, this is an amazing camera. I am still working hard to master the controls and do it justice. I would love the versatility of the D3 as far as lens selection etc, etc, etc goes but I like the size of the D300 without the battery pack. I just toss it in my backpack with my laptop every day and keep it handy. I get more shots more often that way - I don't think I'd have the D3 with me. For me as an amateur its just to bulky to drag around. I'll get a battery grip for the D300 but it will only be for certain sports situations.

Hope that helps.

Charles Heckel , January 24, 2008; 01:05 P.M.

In regard to image quality, the D300 is a modest step up from the D200 in regards to megapixels, but the increase from 12-bit to 14-bit capture is significant. You'd think the dynamic range would be two stops greater, but in fact it's about a third of a stop more, with more tonalities compressed into that slightly larger range. The more finely divided tonal range doesn't give a corresponding increase in information as it is dividing both signal and noise, but it does reduce rounding errors in noise-reduction algorithms to produce significantly improved high-ISO images as noted above. Most people won't notice the difference in tonality, but they will find that it's easier to pull detail from blocked shadows and burned highlights, shadows are less noisy, and skin tones are creamier. Definitely an upgrade.

Kristen Memmolo , January 24, 2008; 10:26 P.M.

"There have been complaints that in some D200 samples, the battery compartment door does not press hard enough on the EN-EL3e battery so that the battery is making poor electronic contacts; as a result, the camera may suddenly lose power. I have not experienced that on either my D200 or D300, but is something to watch out for."

- I was wondering what was happening with my camera (D200), on a full charge it would randomly stop working! I guess this is a common issue?!

John Crosley , January 25, 2008; 06:09 A.M.

Three comments with thanks:

1. Thank you for pointing out why my fps rate dropped to what I now know is 2.5 fps (when I upped the bit rate to 14, thinking wrongly there would be no adverse consequences and not relating the drop in fps rate, subsequently discovered, to the prior bit rate adjustment, since it was one of many adjustments made at once. That solved my mystery -- one Nikon Service in El Segundo could not help me with earlier this month (I did a two-button reset each time to restore full fps rate).

2. With regard to the commenter who pointed out the difference between 14 and 12-bits, much thanks. I think the choice for me will be to choose 14 bit when I am shooting single frames, especialy where shot quality is paramount, such as in landscapes, studio or portrait setting where there is no 'action' and otherwise to choose a 12-bit setting.

3. Thanks immensely for probably solving another 'intermittent' problem that has 'baffled' Nikon service with my two D200s.

With my D200s (with a total of ten batteries) I several times have experienced sudden power loss, that appeared unrelated to power loss from the battery since when tested on another camera the battery tested 'full' or nearly so.

I went to Nikon Service in El Segundo and they one time could not replicate the problem, and another time they could replicate the problem and said maybe it was the battery (or all the batteries in a batch since I bought eight of them at once), and finally when I brought one of the cameras in a subsaequent time, they said 'oh, it's intermittent and we can't explain it; until you can reproduce it, we can't fix it.'

I do not think they were being disingenuous, as I have a relationship with these people that is a good relationship -- and it is somewhat personal now after many trips there -- so I think that they still are treating that 'sudden power drop' possibly as a software problem or possibly a pinched wire or cracked circuit board problem when it now is completely apparent to me that it is the battery door tightness.

It had been very frustrating to have a camera out on the street in Ukraine and then suddenly it would have minimal power - not enough to light up the screen, and sometimes not enough to take a frame, then the next minute it would have full power according to the power meter and would function normally for a few minutes or a month.

Nikon service had suggested to me that even though the EN-EL3e batteries (in any case the 1500 ma new ones) have no 'significant memory effect' that perhaps if I were to leave my battery on the charger for a long time any possible minor 'memory effect' might go away by a very long charge.

So, I left one battery in for a week on charge (I had thought the charge auto stopped when a full charge had been attained, but perhaps not). In any case, it did not stop the problem which was still very intermittent.

I am going to suggest to them that perhaps a shim is in order between the battery door and the battery -- or just make my own, for when such circumstances arise -- to cause extra pressure of the battery against the contacts.

Oh, yes, they noted some small amount of barely visible oxidation (color turning only) on battery contacts (which is quite normal for all batteries and I hace never had problems with power from similar color-burned contacts in other Nikon cameras such as the D70), and so they suggested I clean each contact, one by one, with a pencil eraser (the preferred method for cleaning such contacts because erasers have just the right amount of abrasive).

Still, no cigar.

I am quite sure now it's a battery pressure issue since they inspected the camera contacts inside for evidence of corrosion and found none and have on different occasions had each of my D200s apart and found no evidence of anything wrong with each. This issue is highly intermittent.

(Also, thanks for spelling out the differences between the D200 and thge D2X and D2Xs in high-iso shooting situations. It is a helpful reminder, and one I have found useful; as I learned to take only my D200s out on night trips and on rainy, snowy nights to get those super captures no one else gets because they're so busy protecting their cameras from the elements. (I place any camera and/or lens combination separately after such shooting and a good drying off with a thirsty towel, into a freezer bag with a commercial dessicant cannister overnight or longer to ensure all the moisture that might have got past barriers is adsorbed. Dessicant cannisters can be renewed in an oven turned to a specified heat - watch manuf's instructions. And notice, I said cannisters -- porous containers about 4 x 2 inches x 1/3 inch, not those little shippping dessicant bags, which I wouldn't trust.)

John (Crosley)

jon monaghan , January 26, 2008; 08:30 P.M.


good honest 2 the point review. just got d300 to replace d200 that was nicked & i`m very happy with it. AF much improved & low light too. Quality of the mb-d10 is impressive, but it`s expensive 270pound sterling! happy with results with 18-200. joni @ m&M photos

Shun Cheung , January 30, 2008; 11:08 A.M.

Sorry, I hadn't visited this page for several days. Here is a quick summary answer to some of the questions.

  • I shoot RAW almost exclusively.
  • The AF capability with the Multi-CAM 3500 on the D300 is excellent, but the Multi-CAM 2000 on the D2X (or, in general, the entire D2 family DSLRs) is also excellent. As far as AF goes, the D300 is probably a slight improvement from the D2X for moving targets. Keep in mind that I use the D300 at 8 frames/second, but it is only 5 frames/sec on the D2X (and I don't like the D2X's high-speed crop mode, which can give you 8 frames/sec). However, having 51 instead of 11 AF points is a plus as far as selecting a specific AF point to put it over a static subject goes.
  • Here is a thread from the Nikon Forum about problems with the D200's (not D300) battery compartment door and a low-tech (temporary) solution. Since the D300 has a similar door design, I thought I might as well mention it.

    If you have further questions, pleaes feel free to send me e-mail. Just click on my name, and you can get my e-mail address from there.

  • Fabian Gonzales , January 31, 2008; 03:03 P.M.

    "I have tested the D300 at Low 1 (ISO 100) and the loss of quality from ISO 200 is negligible."

    Did you notice any loss in quality at all, or is that just a presumption?

    I have tested the D300 at ISO 100, and the noise performance and dynamic range at ISO 100 is dramatically better than at ISO 200.

    Shun Cheung , January 31, 2008; 09:36 P.M.

    The main concern with using Low 1 (ISO 100) is that the highlights may be clipped. Therefore, unless you have a lot of very bright areas in your image and it is a high-contrast one, it is unlikely that you'll see any degradation from base ISO 200. I have taken a number of test shots and other than the one-stop exposure difference, I see no difference in image quality, but then, I don't have any blown or nearly blown highights in those images.

    Shun Cheung , February 02, 2008; 12:54 P.M.

    There is now a Nikon D200 & D300 comparison by Georg Nikolaus Nyman from Austria: www.gnyman.com/NikonD300vsD200.htm

    umashankar pandey , February 03, 2008; 09:48 A.M.

    Thanks Shun for the reference to Nyman's page. It's quite informative and also has some beautiful shots taken with a D300. D300 clearly is the way to go.

    Tony Hadley , February 03, 2008; 11:32 P.M.

    thanks to everyone for all of the info - I would like to move from the D70 to the d300 when I can afford it.

    Monte Stinnett , February 10, 2008; 09:36 P.M.

    I shoot a lot of birds in flight and I can't tell any difference in using 21 points or 51 points as far as the 21 points being faster. As far as that goes, I can't tell that the 9 points is any faster either.

    Sky Blue , February 19, 2008; 10:23 A.M.

    So far and anticpating no change, much happier w/ D300 over D200. Especially with AF.

    David Garth , March 03, 2008; 11:40 A.M.

    Shun,

    How would you compare the low iso (iso 200) image quality of the D300 to the D2x at iso 100?

    Shun Cheung , March 04, 2008; 02:01 P.M.

    At low ISOs, they all look great to me, so I haven't compred them that carefully. It is the high ISOs that separate the D2X, D200, D300, and D3 aparat. The D3 is probably aournd 1.5 stops better than the D300 and gives me very good 3200 results.

    Sean Leslie , March 06, 2008; 01:01 P.M.

    Thanks for the review. Concise and well written. Helps with the decision making.

    Cheers,

    Karl Feltig , March 11, 2008; 08:28 A.M.

    A bargain for what it costs!

    From my experience with this camera, I found it to be an all around camera, rather than a specialty camera. What this means is it does a little bit of sport/event, a little bit of landscape and a little bit of studio/portait. The focus system and shutter speed are definitely for sport/event shooting, but the high iso noise cripples it. The vivid color and active D lighting are designed for landscape, but the iso200 noise(very slight though) takes some fun out of it. Finally, for studio/portait it is very good, but you don't need the fast shutter rate for that and you kind of wish it has more sharpness (thinking D2x or Canon 5D).

    With all these said, I found the image quality to be great, if not perfect (but nothing is). It is as sharp as the D200, if not slightly sharper. It is definitely colorful. Active D lighting works miracles for highlights. And it just works, instead of getting in the way. No its resolution isn't as good as the 3 year-old D2x although the pixel numbers are the same. (The D3's resolution is not as good as the D2x either!). For absolute sharpness, go buy a used D2x for now!. For anything else, get the D300.

    I found the JPEGs as sharp as RAWs! And the CAs are already corrected!!This is great! No time spent on RAWs anymore! For serious events, I shoot RAW+JPEG and only mess with RAWs for those bad exposures (rare for D300)! Major time saved!

    Some people found D300's focus reluctant to lock on in low light and thus miss shots. I found this too!. Then I discovered: D300' focusing system isn't any inferior to D200's. It is just more strict, in the S mode. Switch to the C mode for all events shoots. Basically whenever the focusing indicator starts to flick, (usually this takes very little time), it is good enough to press the shutter. Use the S mode only for studio/landscape shoots, where the camera guarantees you a good, instead of a quick, focus. I found the 51 points to be amazing! I wanted something like this long ago! Now however I compose I always get to focus on the eye!! Why some people complain about 51 points over 11?!

    The reason I gave 'ease of use' 4.5 is that I found the new menu system to be good, but still takes some guesswork where to find things. To be fair, it is hard for Nikon to organize all these settings.

    Overall, versatile, colorful, all-around workhorse.

    For some extra infos check this video reviews:Nikon D300 videos

    Steve Thompson , April 05, 2008; 09:21 A.M.

    I live far from store that stocks the D 300 otherwise I'd check myself, but can anyone tell me if the depth of field preview works on non CPU lenses? Nikon web site only says "Depth-of-field Control"

    The Digiguide Winter 2008 published by Nikon that says depth of field preview is functional with CPU equipped lenses in P,S,A, and M modes.

    I'd like to have as much info before I decide to buy. I am primarily concerned about my old manual focus 200 f/4 micro.

    TIA

    Shun Cheung , April 06, 2008; 09:13 A.M.

    Steve, yes, depth-of-field preview still works on the D300 if you mount a manual-focus AI/AI-S lens without CPU onto the camera. I still own the 43-86mm/f3.5 AI zoom I bought new back in 1977, and depth-of-field preview works on my D300 when I mounted that lens on.

    However, if you one of those AI/AI-S lenses on the D300 (or D200, D2 family or D3), the P and S exposure modes will not work. You are restricted to aperture priority (A) or M, and you control the aperture from the aperture ring instead of the sub-command dial.

    David Carpenter-Warren , April 06, 2008; 02:12 P.M.

    Thanks for this great review Shun.

    I am at a bit of a loss to understand a few of Karl Feltigs slightly negative comments about the D300 above though.

    Quote - " The focus system and shutter speed are definitely for sport/event shooting, but the high iso noise cripples it. The vivid color and active D lighting are designed for landscape, but the iso200 noise(very slight though) takes some fun out of it. Finally, for studio/portait it is very good, but you don't need the fast shutter rate for that and you kind of wish it has more sharpness (thinking D2x or Canon 5D). "

    Reply - High ISO noise is as good as my Canon 5D and sharpness is pretty close. That is why I am happy ditching the poor ergonomics and handling of my 5D and have replaced it with the D300/D3.

    Noise at 200 ISO? It is as noise free as any other camera out there and is better than most.

    Quote - " No its resolution isn't as good as the 3 year-old D2x although the pixel numbers are the same. (The D3's resolution is not as good as the D2x either!). For absolute sharpness, go buy a used D2x for now! ".

    Reply - If you own this camera, you may need to check your camera settings and technique, as the D300 is at least as good as my old D2X whilst the D3 happily stomps all over it.

    Please don't let unwarranted concerns about sharpness or iso noise put you off this excellent camera. When used with good glass and exposed correctly it will give you images as sharp and as noise free as you could wish for. Combine that with its excellent handling and you have the camera I wanted to buy last year instead of the Canon 5D.

    If anyone is still doubtfull have a look at this guys site.

    www.4fr.de

    Happy shooting.

    Mark Blum , April 13, 2008; 09:13 P.M.

    Hi all,

    I am contemplating using the D300 for underwater macro use in a special application setting. I am having a hard time determining from reviews if I can effectively use the Tripod Mode Live View in manual focus mode while handholding the camera underwater? My focus points are going to be fixed (the explanation is a long one, but the lenses will not have focus adjustment). I plan on moving the camera housing back and forth to critically focus the mmacro subject while viewing it on the LCD (There will be no viewfinder function for this special application use). Does anyone have any experience that indicates if this is feasible?

    Thank you

    David Czereszka , April 22, 2008; 06:02 P.M.

    Lower reliability

    The D300 has very awkward controls and their menus are a pain to figure out. Why did Nikon ever go with a non-standard dial on top of the camera. I can never turn it as easily as the normal dial. Their button and dial approach to changing between P, M, A is just awkward. I do not want to look at the LCD just to change my mode. Their hand grip is also off. I have no place to put my thumb. The grip on the Canon 40D is much better, a nice solid grip and feel.

    The Canon 40D also seems much easier to use. The 40D has a normal dial on top, all the menus are only 1 deep and you never need to navigate a complex menu structure. Very nice and quick to use. All the buttons are easy to memorize. I rarely have to take my eye away from the viewfinder. Plus I save $700 for basically the same image quality and dynamic range.

    The 40D even has a lower noise rating between ISO 100-400. Which is important to me. But it was surprising to learn that since the Nikon cost $700 more and the Nikon has lower noise ratings above that ISO range. I guess they had to skimp on the lower ISOs to reach 6400. This is according to popphoto.

    Here are some more surprising finds. When the D300 is in 14-bit capture mode the shutter speed reduces to a max of 2.5 fps. The 40D remains fast at 6.5 fps in 14-bit mode. And the usable dynamic range of the D300 at ISO 100 is only 8.5 EV. The 40D has a better usaable range of 9.1 EV at ISO 100. Which will be useful for photos requiring high dynamic range.

    I also found out Nikon has the worst reliability among DSLR cameras, according to consumer reports. Almost twice the problems compared to top rated Canon. Thats all I need, spend $1800 today for a Ford (Nikon) that may have problems a few years from now. Looks like quality has suffered in their desperate attempt to beat out Canon.

    RELIABILITY RATINGS FOR DSLR BRANDS: The smaller the number, the fewer the problems. This data includes 2007 cameras. Pulled from consumer reports. The numbers are correct. Consumer reports sure has been dead on for past cars I have owned.

    4...Canon

    4...Olympus

    5...Fujifilm

    7...Nikon

    Note: For those interested, the reliability ratings for point and shoot digital cameras were closer. But I am a little more worried about cameras over $500.

    5..Canon

    5..Sony

    5..Olympus

    5..Kodak

    6..Fujifilm

    6..Casio

    6..Nikon

    7..Pentax

    (Data are based on over 221,000 responses about digital cameras to our Annual Product Reliability Survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Data have been adjusted to eliminate differences solely linked to age and usage. )

    Needless to say I ended up purchasing the Canon 40D. It was not even a contest. I love its look and feel. It has a steel interior and a magnesium alloy exterior. When I compare it to the Nikon and the Sony's, it just feels better built and looks like a Pro camera. I'm loving it. Just in time for spring/summer travels.

    So far the only downside to the Canon 40D is I now enjoy taking photos so much that I quickly fill up my 8GB card. But I'm trying to reduce the number of pictures I take. I dont really need 130+ photos of a tulip farm in L+RAW. I think about 30-40 should be enough to capture the beauty. I guess I was having a little to much fun.

    Dont let the positive reviews for the Nikon D300 fool you. Buy the 40D and spend the $700 in savings on better lenses. The 40D is a better camera.

    Ike Kamaruddin , April 26, 2008; 11:06 A.M.

    The poster above me is talking trash, he doesn't know what he's talking about!..

    Shun Cheung , April 27, 2008; 08:18 A.M.

    To David Czereszka: such a misleading post.

    I just checked page 41 of the November, 2007 Consumer Reports. They indeed have a chart on digital camera repair history; that is for all digital cameras, including point-and-shoot digicams, not just DSLRs.

    Consumer Reports' data show that Panasonic has a 3% repair rate, Sony, Olympus, Kodak and Canon all have a 5% rate. Samsung, Fuji, HP, Nikon and Casio are 6%. Pentax and Vivtar are 7%. In particular, Consumer Reports points out that "Differences of less than 3 points are not meaningful."

    In other words, there is little difference among the repair history for all major brands of digital cameras, which are dominated by digicams (point and shoot). Such statistics have little to do with DSLRs such as the D300, which is what is discussed in this review.

    Lex Jenkins , April 29, 2008; 10:39 A.M.

    Did David Czereszka edit or modify his comments after the responses from Ike and Shun? It doesn't appear to be his original post, as I recall from a few days ago. If so, he is deliberately spreading disinformation or creating discord rather than engaging in frank and open discussion in a constructive and honest way.

    Paul Gresham , May 18, 2008; 02:27 A.M.

    Advanced features get overlooked

    Shun, Thanks for the review. I own a D300 but rarely use the higher ISO's,will certainly explore them,

    The recent spin on high ISO on the D3/D300 whilst great features for capturing the moment, have taken away slightly from the more advanced features of these cameras. One really important thing to note with is in how efficient these camera's are in every aspect. Fast start, focus, making adjustments whilst in the viewfinder etc. Once you know your way around, they are just awesome.

    There four custom shoot banks x four custom settings (16 combinations) which you can push onto a custom menu for quick selection. These are real workhorses, practical in every way.

    Another great feature is that you can go as far as creating settings with extreme curves, sharpening, saturation etc. I have a high contrast curve loaded into the camera, along with settings for Velvia replication (great for high-key). My workflow is now completely around fixing mistakes/bad choices or just basic cropping&straightening. Active-D is wonderful too. With a young family, all of this means I can spend more time taking photos as I know later on I'll not have to spend hours on a mac sorting things out. For full time pro's time is money!

    Capture NX is also an incredible tool that comes bundled, learn to use it!! I hardly touch PS nowadays as you can process raw images at full 14 bit in CaptureNX (yes it's a bit slow going from 256 tones per pixel to 16384), in ways that PS is yet to achieve. 14 bit + Capture NX can achieve pretty much what advocates of HDR folks do and certainly takes you closer to an Ansel Adams type of range on a small sensor. Remember though that dynamic range of the sensor is fixed - you have roughly the same range in 8 or 14 bits, its the number of steps that changes, a smoother graduated sky. Probably the only time I turn to PS is for some local dodging/burning.

    Apart from cost, the Wireless flash mode controlled from the onboard strobe is probably what keeps me with the D300 vs the D3. Having the option to remove the battery pack, take a 50mm prime and two small flash units allows instantly setting up a scene just about anywhere. Everything controlled on camera and fits in a small bag.

    jay bm , May 26, 2008; 03:53 P.M.


    Second day with D300: Lensbaby 3G, ISO 200, F2.8, 1/2000s, no processing

    Well, I just upgraded and switched brands, moving from a Digital Rebel XT to the D300. My first thought was to get a 40D, but I will have access to my Dad's lens collection with the move to Nikon. I spent a bit of time with both cameras. There were a couple of things that clinched it for me: 1. The viewfinder in the D300 is a bit larger...not much, but that last critical bit where I feel like I can really manually focus in a little bit of light. 2. The viewfinder is a bit brighter, too. Nothing like the old F3, but also a little better than the Canon.

    There are a few downsides. I wish I could go through the AF points with a jog wheel instead of the darned joystick. Too slow. It's a more complex machine than the Canon. Time will tell whether this is better for me, but right now I feel like the 40D just gets out of your way and let's you make images easier. It might be that I appreciate the control as I learn the D300 and progress as a photographer. I m goin to be shooting a lot of sports (bicycle racing) and for that reason I wish the D300 didn't lose the frame rate when shooting in 14 bit...the Canon doesn't.

    Right now I am still at the point where I am learning my way around the D300. Still, I used it for very basic shots during a real shoot (dangerous, I know as I only had a day's experience it) in conjunction with my Canon. The shots were great from both cameras. I used the Nikon 16-85 stopped down for casual shots of a cycling team (e.g. posed with a bicycle) and the photos pop off the monitor and require very little post. Maybe it is just me, but I feel like the Nikon color rendition out of the camera is incredibly accurate and requires less post processing. The D300 base settings are a little too saturated for me, but that is something I can change.

    So far I really like the camera, and will update with a more informed view to see if my initial very positive impressions remain true.

    Shun Cheung , June 03, 2008; 10:58 A.M.

    Jay, if you find selecting the AF points too slow, there are a couple of tricks I'd like to point out.

    First of all, Custom Setting a8 lets you choose between all 51 or only 11 AF points. If you limit it to 11, your selection will be faster but obviously you are excluding the other 40 AF points. Custom Setting a7 lets you select the AF points in a "wrap around" fashion that I prefer.

    Additionally, if you press on the center of the multi-selection pad on the back, it resets to the center AF point. Therefore, you can always go straight back to the center point first and then move to the exact point you want.

    Greg Kinney , June 04, 2008; 04:46 P.M.

    Camera owners are so weird sometimes. David Czereszka's review is identical to one posted at Amazon.com (from "Louis" in California). I assume its the same person (a Canon owner who bought a 40D and wishes he waited?). Hard to say but needless to say it's just odd.

    Salem Thannoon , June 08, 2008; 07:14 P.M.

    I was wondering if the Nikon D200 has a LoveView option. Trying to convince my self to go for the D300!

    Thank you,

    Bob Clothier , June 10, 2008; 05:10 A.M.

    Thanks for such a detailed review Shun. I've just signed up to phot.net after reading the review as I am just about to replace my D1X and Fuji S3pro with the D300. However, I could not see any reference to the sensor cleaning feature. Can you comment on the effectiveness as this is the only reason I want to upgrade? Thanks, Bob

    Shun Cheung , June 13, 2008; 07:03 A.M.

    I have had my D300 for over half a year now (since November, 2007), but I have never used the sensor auto cleaning feature. I just clean it once in a while with a blower.

    So far, among Nikon DLSRs, only the D3 and D300 have live view; the D200 does not. But I would imagine that live view will be a standard feature on future DSLRs.

    Thomas Salway , June 14, 2008; 07:07 A.M.

    I've been using my D300 for 3 months or so now, mostly with the 18-200mm 3.5-5.6 VR lens. I'm still finding that alot of my pictures dont seem to be pinsharp to me, i've noticed that the picture control setting has a sharpness set of 3, is it better to turn this off altogether and use sharpening tools in Photoshop or Capture NX?

    Alessandro Contadini , June 16, 2008; 09:09 A.M.

    Here http://picasaweb.google.it/alessandro.contadini/IS/photo#5212383130129920018 you can see this picture taken with a D300, a Nikkor 80-200 AF-S, ISO 320, Jpeg fine quality. It's not underexposed. It's not postprocessed. This is a 100% crop

    Still the noise levels are unacceptable. Not good enough for contribution to stock photography sites anyway.

    John Lai , June 19, 2008; 03:23 P.M.

    Okay... Then you need a D3?

    Nicholas Eskey , June 21, 2008; 02:43 A.M.

    I've also noticed that my pictures aren't as sharp as I want them to be too. I focus all with autofocus because I don't have time to focus manually in a portrait shoot. And I use a wide range of lenses. So I dunno what i may be doing, or if its the camera's doing.

    Mike Zawadzki , June 27, 2008; 12:27 A.M.

    David sorry your hands are too tiny for the D300, maybe you should try it without the grip? Or just a point and shoot, seems better fitted to your tastes anyway...

    "I dont really need 130+ photos of a tulip farm in L+RAW. I think about 30-40 should be enough to capture the beauty. "

    Richard Selby , July 27, 2008; 05:22 A.M.

    Why would you shoot a .jpeg @ iso 320 in terrible light like that and then complain about noise? Stock photography with .jpegs, really? If it's as bad as you claim, spend the big bucks and get a D3. The only problems I've found with this body is the guy releasing the shutter, but that's just me.

    Kevin Harris , July 28, 2008; 03:50 A.M.

    Thanks Shun et al. This has been very informative. I wish I would have found this thread earlier then I would not have taken so long to buy my D300.

    What sold me on this camera is its ability to produce amazing colors. I've never seen anything like it in a DSLR, only on films like Fuji Velvia. I love it. Also, the fact that it has the same feel as my favorite camera of all time, the F100 makes it hard to put down. Of course, the high ISO features are a huge bonus. Since I am an amateur astronomer I cannot wait to try it out on some star fields and hook it up to my telescope. Noisy astronomy photos are not a big deal. ISO 6400 should be extremely useful at rendering huge amounts of data during long exposures, another bonus.

    Regards,

    Kevin

    Jake Smith , August 01, 2008; 03:52 A.M.

    DO NOT ORDER FROM US1PHOTO.COM They had the D300 for the lowest advertised price, but they turned out to be scammers.

    Impossible to reach customer service after a purchase, but if you call to order something, then no problem. Big surprise. Still trying to cancel the order after a week. These guys are terrible.

    I called to find out why my order is saying "Ready to ship" for 3 days and had yet to ship. But on my 3 calls and selecting service, I kept put in the queue and disconnected after 15 minutes each time. So I select sales on the next call and got a sales person in under a minute. I told him I kept getting disconnected trying to get to service and he immediately put me back in the Service Queue. I called back again and got a sales person, I asked him not to transfer me to the service and that I was trying to find out the status of my order, Still trying to get this straitened out after a week and they have just shipped it 2 days after I emailed all of their email addresses indicating to cancel the order.

    Larry Lofland , August 01, 2008; 07:56 P.M.

    I always recommend either B & H or Ritz At Ritz you get your items over 100 dollars, Tax free, and No shipping. And when your talking an item like a D300, thats alot of saving.

    Larry

    dean williams , January 23, 2009; 10:22 P.M.

    I have had my D300 for almost a year now and has worked well, but all of a sudden the AF stopped working. Turning it to LiveView gets it working again, but then it stops again. Might just be mine camera or a hint of more wide spread problem.

    joe s , February 04, 2009; 05:49 A.M.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I got my D300 last week. I am trying to learn and maximize what the camera can do. Can you recommend any sites or reading material?

    The memory banks seem interesting. I want to maximize all 4. I think it would be good to have each of the following. One for NIGHT MODE One for ONE FOR SPEED OR ACTION MODE One for SCENERY One for SHOOTING STILL PEOPLE

    This way I dont have to mess around with the camera to much when its time to shoot.

    Any other suggestions for the memory banks, maybe one i havent thought of ??

    Since I am so new to the camera can someone recommend good setting I should set for the following modes.??? One for NIGHT MODE One for ONE FOR SPEED OR ACTION MODE One for SCENERY One for SHOOTING STILL PEOPLE

    thanks for all your help

    joe s

    William Kazak , February 12, 2009; 12:06 A.M.

    Nice review and comments. I have a pair of D300's coming from a pair of D70s bodies and an F6 (coming from a pair of F3's). Battery life is great, size is good and the results are great. I use mine with the SB800's. Flash works very well with the D300 as compared to the D70s bodies which the SB800 had a hard time with. Someone taught me to use AA mode on the SB800 instead of TTL and that works for me so make your own tests.

    joe s , February 24, 2009; 11:51 A.M.

    Nikon/Canon lens design sensor coverage question joe s , Feb 23, 2009; 06:15 a.m.

    Nikon system DX Lenses are used for all cameras that are not full sensor. D300 and below. If they are used for FX bodies like D700 and D3 what happens? (my research shows DX lenses should not be used with FX cameras due to quality degradation) Should one still use DX lenses for FX cameras? what are the pluses and minuses?

    Canon System: 50d and below (not full sensor)Use EF mount lenses. 5D and higher(full sensor) can also use the EF mount lenses. if this is correct. then why the Canon system can use EF lenses for their normal cameras (50 d etc) and for full sensor (5D)....and all is good? but Nikon cameras this cant work, you have to use FX lenses for full sensor and DX lenses for not full sensor cameras? (this is according to all the information I have found on internet searches)

    Can anyone assist with these quesitons??

    JOE S

    Answers Ralph Berrett , Feb 23, 2009; 07:08 a.m.

    Response to LENS QUESTION NIKON VS CANON On Nikon FX cameras can use DX lenses. The camera will gray out the unavailable part of the frame. Your megapixel count also goes done. It should be pointed out that FX lenses can also be used on DX cameras.

    Rainer T , Feb 23, 2009; 07:47 a.m.

    Response to LENS QUESTION NIKON VS CANON Canon has "EFS" lenses that are designed for exclusive use on crop-bodies. So far, this is similar to Nikons "DX" lenses. Unlike Nikon, Canon EFS lenses can NOT be mounted on a fullframe body (like the 5D).

    Canon "EF" lenses are designed to cover fullframe. They can therefore be used on fullframe as well as on crop. The same applies for Nikons FX lenses ... those that do not have a DX in their name.

    D.B. Cooper , Feb 23, 2009; 12:02 p.m.

    DX lenses were introduced as a design consideration for the smaller DX sensor. DX lenses allow certain optical performance ability with reduced size, weight, and cost compared to FX lenses. You can use FX lenses on DX cameras, but not the other way around.

    DX lenses are designed with the smaller sensor in mind, and will project an image circle that will cover the DX sensor, but will not fully cover an FX sensor. If a DX lens is used on an FX camera, the effect will be as if parts of the (outer) image portions are masked off or missing. There is generally no advantage in using a DX lens on an FX camera.

    There is no harm in using FX lenses on a DX camera. There may be an optical advantage in doing so, as 'weaknesses' in a lens (chromatic aberration, edge softness, etc.) tend to present themselves nearer the edges of the image circle, which would be off the DX sensor due to its smaller size.

    joe s , Feb 24, 2009; 11:47 a.m. (edit )

    Looking at what has been said on this. I own a D300 right now, before this camera I had the canon 20D For the long term it makes sense to own a Canon SLR Camera with EF lenses, as these lenses can be used in the future when the NOT FULL sensor goes away and the FULL SENSOR becomes the standard. For those with NIKON Cameras it makes sense to buy all FX Glass this way we can use it for both the NOT FULL SENSOR and the FULL SENSOR in the future when all cameras go FULL SENSOR. And also if you have both type of cameras FX and DX then you can use FX glass on both.

    I got the D300 with 18-200mm dx lense. In my case I guess this lense will not be good for the future, so I should go to FX lenses as soon as possible. Is this correct way of thinking or is there something I am missing.?/ Are my statements above correct???

    Can any one comment on this on this form. Seems you guys are really on top of things here.

    sana f , April 02, 2009; 01:37 P.M.

    I bought D300 and I shoot some photographs with 55-200mm Lens Nikon Lens but I see alot of Noise.does anyone know why I see alot of noise? is this normal for everyone? I fixed it with photoshop but if I don't fix it still appears.( I changed the ISO to 400 rather than Higher ISO and I still see the noise)? any idea?

    Thanks

    Carlo Olmi , September 23, 2009; 06:47 A.M.

    Hi, I found this interesting instant coupon code from CouponsHouse.com for Echen: $2.00 Off Nikon DSLR Control Shutter Release Cord. It will expire on 10/02/2009. Enjoy.

    Jay Levin , March 16, 2011; 01:14 P.M.

    Hi Shun.   You made the following statement in your review: "For photographing still subjects, one can select any one of the 51 AF points from the Multi-Selector pad on the back of the camera and use that to directly cover the subject in the viewfinder. Since those 51 AF points are quite wide spread, there is almost no need to focus, lock and recompose any more. There is also no need to adjust the composition slightly in order to place an AF point on the subject, as I used to do with the 11 AF points on either the D2X or D200."

    John and Barbara Gerlach take the opposite view in their Digital Landscape Photography book (pp. 90-93).  Since the center focus point is often intrinsically more accurate than some of the outlying focus points, they deactivate the other points (on the D300 one can do this by locking the multi-selector).  Then they apply back-button focusing using the center point.  The procedure is fast, efficient, and precisely accurate and superior to using the other AF points.

    Kitster Yuen , June 08, 2012; 02:52 P.M.

    Thanks Shun for your work! I've been using the D300 and love the ergonomics especially coming from a Canon 40D. I could never get use to the Canon controls. Just ordered the D300s to get the updates and video capability. I hope they don't come out with the D400 anytime soon!


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