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Nikon D300 DSLR Review
|Review Date: May
Advanced Amateur - Prosumer
Photoxels Editor's Choice 2008 - Advanced DSLR
The Nikon D300 DSLR has 12.3 megapixel resolution on a newly-developed APS-sized
(23.6 x 15.8mm) CMOS image sensor. Light sensitivity ranges from ISO 200 to ISO 3200. Sensitivity can be further adjusted to Lo 1 for ISO 100 equivalent and Hi 1 for IS0 6400 equivalent. Advanced noise reduction function operates at ISO 800 and higher settings to minimize chroma noise.
The Nikon D300 has excellent image quality (including
excellent low-light performance) up to ISO 800
with plenty of details preserved.
(27mm, 35mm equivalent)
(300mm, 35mm equivalent)
One of the advantage of a DSLR is the ability
to use interchangeable lenses suited for specific
jobs. We used the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S
VR DX Zoom-Nikkor lens for this review (27-300mm,
|200mm, Programmed Auto, Multi-Pattern,
1/160 sec., F6.3, ISO Auto (200)
Sharpened in Photoshop Elements
The actual macro capability is a function of
the lens you use, and the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens
we used allows us to focus only as close as 50
cm (20 in.). This does not provide coverage of
a small enough area for what we generally call
"macro." I find that I obtain best
results using "tele macro."
If you are into macro photography, check out
the 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor lens
which features a silent wave motor and Vibration
Reduction technology that Nikon claims allows
photographers to shoot hand-held at up to 4 shutter
speeds slower than otherwise possible.
|ISO H03 [ISO 3200 +0.3EV = ISO 4000]
||ISO H07 [ISO 3200 +0.7EV = ISO 5000]
|ISO H10 [ISO 3200 +1.0EV = ISO 6400]
||ISO L03 [ISO 200 -0.3EV = ISO 160]
|ISO L07 [ISO 200 -0.7EV = ISO 125]
||ISO L10 [ISO 200 -1.0EV = ISO 100]
The Nikon D300 has 13 ISO settings going from
ISO 200 to ISO 3200. You can "boost"
to 3 more higher ISO settings dubbed "HI
+ 0.3," "HI + 0.7," and "HI
+ 1.0," corresponding to ISO 4000-6400. You can also step down to ISO settings of "LO - 0.3," "LO - 0.7," and "LO - 1.0," corresponding to ISO 160, 125 and 100, useful when it is too bright and you need to use a smaller ISO than 200. The 100%
crops above (area delimited by the white square)
demonstrate the noise at the available ISO Speeds.
At ISO 200 to 400, noise is under control and
detail is preserved. Noise is also low up to ISO
800 with good detail preservation. Noise starts to show from ISO 1600 upward. The boosted ISOs are very
noisy with detail loss. ISO 100-160 are also very good but Nikon warns that contrast is lower.
The D300 has automatic lateral CA reduction built into its firmware. It reduces it if you are using JPEG and save the correction analysis in metadata if you are using RAW. However, as the above JPEG picture shows, you can still find purple fringing in extremely
high-contrast shots. The corner delimited by the red square
at centre, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom
right, shows some purple fringing.
|18mm, Manual, Multi-Pattern,
30 sec., F6.3, ISO 200
Manual WB, Self-timer 10 sec., Tripod Used
Long Exposure NR ON
Active D-Lighting OFF
using the VR 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6 G lens
The Nikon D300 allows the use of a long shutter
speed of up to 30 sec. in Manual and Shutter-Priority
modes (plus Bulb in Manual mode), therefore allowing
night photography. Generally, with image sensors,
noise usually becomes more prominent at slow shutter
speeds. When you set Noise Reduction to ON in
the menu (Shooting Menu - Long Exp. NR - ON and
Shooting Menu - High ISO NR - ON), the Nikon D300 has special noise reduction
algorithm that automatically kicks in at shutter
speeds at 1/2 sec. and longer and you'll notice
a longer processing time (approx. twice as long)
before the next picture can be taken.
To test this noise reduction algorithm, I decide
to take a low-light indoors shot. To obtain a
long exposure, I turn off all the lights in the room and turn on a light in a facing room. With the subject lighted only by a sliver of this incident light, the camera needs an exposure of 30 sec. at F6.3. Even at
this long shutter speed, the Nikon D300's noise
reduction works great.
The AF is very responsive and images
snap quickly into focus. There is a dedicated
AF Illuminator to aid in focusing. The pop-up
flash is quite powerful, and a hot shoe accepts
The Nikon D300 does not incorporate a live histogram.
In Playback mode, press the Multi-Selector up/down
and you can view a Histogram as well as RGB Histograms.
The decision to reduce mostly chroma noise, while preserving as much luminance detail as possible, yields high quality high ISO images. Where noise is present, it has a film-like appearance which is more acceptable to photographers than if fine detail were smudged. The image quality of
the Nikon D300 up to ISO 800 is simply excellent
with details preserved in both shadows and highlights.
The pictures in the Nikon D300 Photo Gallery
page provide a good sample of what the camera
is capable of. I have provided unprocessed samples
at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100
in Photoshop Elements) as well as the 4,288 x
2,848 pixels original size (click on the image
for the original version). Any of the 800x600
image that is adjusted for levels and/or sharpened
in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended
to the file name. Original images are never adjusted.
You can safely assume that most macro shots and
slow shutter speed shots required the use of a
I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels.
For those who have their monitor resolution set
to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit
and you should not have to scroll to see the whole
image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels
resolution, start the slide show and then scroll
to the right to position the image within your
screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using
Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode,
and the image should fill your screen nicely.
Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor
display back to normal mode.
To return to this page from the Photo Gallery,
click on the animated graphics of the camera.
Please open and download the original size version
only if you need to and only once
to your hard drive -- and save me some precious