D300 - My First Impressions


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Apr 11, 2007
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I moved from a D80 to a D300 this week.

I have never owned or used a D200 so I can't compare the D300 to it directly, but I can compare it to the D80 for what it is worth.

Here are a few quick observations:

Feel: As you would expect from a Nikon, it feels great in the hands. Button placement is good.

ISO: High ISO performance is MUCH better than on the D80. Ken Rockwell has stated that it is not better than his D40 at high ISO... he is smoking dope or something, there is absolutely no comparison between the two. I think it is because he was testing it by taking night shots or something... that is not how I compare high ISO... to me, what matters is the ability to take real pictures of real subjects in low lighting conditions where you cannot use a tripod, or where the subjects are moving. Taking pictures of lights in the neighborhood at night and comparing them is not nearly as useful to me as taking shots of a basketball game in a badly lighted high school gym. Heck, if I want to take pictures at night around the neighborhood, I will put the camera on a pod and turn the ISO DOWN, not up.

Anyway, the body focus motor is strong.

Battery life is good, and will be better when I stop playing around with the menus and chimping every shot.

I haven't shot with a D200 but I have looked at them a lot... the weather seals on the D300 seem to be more robust.

The sensor cleaner thingy is just a button in a menu. I pushed it, but the sensor was already clean so I have no idea what it did. There were no bells, whistles or vibrations. I guess we will see.

It comes with Capture NX for free, which is a HUGE plus for folks who don't own the program already. Capture NX, to me, is an absolutely irreplaceable part of my work... it replaces 95 percent of the masking work in Photoshop, and saves a TON of time to get as good (if not superior) results. It does not, however, replace Photoshop, I use both.

I haven't figured out the LiveView yet, but then again I haven't really tried either.

I haven't got a chance to use the camera much, but I will post more observations when I can. I plan to be going to the St. Louis Zoo Zoo this weekend just to shoot a familiar subject and learn what I am doing.

If anybody has specific questions, I will try to answer them as best I can.
Great machine! Happy Hunting... ;)
Ok, I now have played with the Live View thing...

I honestly have no idea how I would use it.. it doesn't work like I expected, not that it is bad or anything....

You turn it on, and press the shutter button completely. It pops the mirror out of the way and shows the picture live. You then half depress the button to focus (blacking the screen out) and once it is focused, you recompose and push the button.

Seems to me it is more of a sales feature than something that will actually be very useful.

I can't say I am disappointed in it, because I never considered it of value in the first place, so while it is clunky, I don't really care very much about it.

Simply wanted to bring it up since I know some were curious about it.

The metering seems to be dead on with both CPU and non-CPU lenses. It doesn't blowout light backgrounds behind black objects like the D80 does. It looks to me like you enter your lens data in the menus for Matrix metering the same way as with the D200, but I am not positive since I don't own one.

6FPS is FAST for somebody coming from a D80, I doubt the D200 crowd will care that much. I am going to get the external pack one of these days, so I will get 8FPS... very handy when I shoot bicycle races next summer.
Yes on the two non-AF-S lenses I have tried with it, the 50 1.8 and a Sigma 24-60 f/2.8 without HSM.

You can really see the improvement on the Sigma more than the 1.8 which was fast on the D80...

AF-S lenses? No different in speed on the 2 I have tried.

I am VERY interested in seeing if the 105 VR Macro hunts less with the D300 than the D80... it REALLY has a hunting problem with the D80.
Ok, a bit more testing on image quality, and I can tell you that the IQ of the D300 is SHOCKINGLY better than the D80.

When I get a chance I will do a controlled test I will post my results, but I went out and shot a couple of my standard subjects (the C-Store across the street from my office and my neighbor's porch) with my Sigma 24-60 f/2.8, and I was absolutely shocked to see the difference in IQ when viewed at 100 percent.

I can't compare the D300 to a D200 since I don't own one, but I was both very surprised and very pleased.

This camera will take better pictures than the D80 even at low ISOs, much better. I expected a small difference at best... not this.

VERY pleased...
LiveView is lovely for Landscape and Architecture photography... or Products... or other things that don't move.
I am going to try it doing my ebay stuff on the tripod...

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