Nikon has gone supernova with the new D300, producing a camera that incorporates all the things we enjoy from competitors’ cameras but making this model better than anything else on the market today
Nikon’s latest dSLR uses a CMOS sensor ” like Canon ” instead of the CCDs used in the past. This alone is a turning point for Nikon. But the company has gone further than the competition with the D300 including a 3-inch screen with VGA quality (920,000 pixels) that is light years ahead of anyone else.
The 51-point focus system is superior thanks to the EXPEED processing motor and advanced 3D Matrix Metering II system with scene recognition. This results in an advanced focusing system that will recognise a moving subject by colour and notice faces in a scene.
Nikon users who have relied on the matrix metering of the past will happily switch to the 3D function as it works so well. There is still the option to select for yourself if you want to choose the focus point.
Live and let Live
Nikon has taken the Live View function that step further, giving you the choice of ˜Handheld’ or ˜Tripod’ options. In ˜Handheld’ it suffers the same frustrations as every other camera with Live View in that it has to lower the mirror to focus, but use the ˜Tripod’ setting and suddenly Live View almost seems a viable option.
Here you can move the focus point to wherever you want it on the screen, and when you get the camera to focus it uses contrast like a compact to focus. However, to get the camera to focus you must press the AF-ON button. It’s not as frustrating as having the mirror lower but it is still slower than using the viewfinder and pressing the shutter release.
Know your place
Nikon introduced GPS support on the D2x and this has filtered down to the D300. Plug in your Garmin GPS and each time you take a picture the longitude and latitude information is added to the EXIF data the camera gathers.
It also has a built-in intervalometer so you can set the camera to take a picture every two minutes or two hours. Combine this with the WT-4 wireless transmitter and you can join a network and send images to any computer on that network or control the camera remotely. You’ll need an MB-D10 battery pack too, but this gives you the joy of a second battery (EN-EL3e).
The built-in flash is useful and with a little ISO fiddling you can happily extend its range (the D300 can go as high as ISO3200 and extend to 6400) but an SB-600 or ultimately a SB800 will offer better images at lower ISO. Balancing daylight and flash is automatic with Nikon’s 3D Matrix Metering II system.
The Nikon D300 is a tool any keen Nikon user will happily embrace but it also has wide appeal. Anyone passionate about photography will love the 3-inch VGA screen complete with protective cover and impressive battery life. The Live View function with handheld or tripod options as well as the ability to focus by contrast is amazing, although slower than just picking up the camera and shooting. It does come at a price but the D300 is a workhorse that will happily provide years of service.
- Manufacturer: Nikon
- Model: D300
- Effective Pixels: 12.3 million
- Lens: AF-S Nikkor 17-55mm f2.8G ED
- Viewfinder: SLR-type with fixed eye-level pentaprism, built-in diopter adjustment (-2.0 to +1.0 m-
- LCD Monitor: 3-inch, 920,000 pixels (VGA), 170-degree viewing angle, 100 per cent frame coverage
- Shutter: 1/8,000 to 30 sec in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV, bulb
- Aperture: Constant f2.8
- ISO: 200 to 3,200
- Exposure Metering: Matrix, center-weighted, spot
- Media: CompactFlash (Type I/II, compliant with UDMA); Microdrives
- File Format: NEF 12-bit or 14-bit, RAW, JPEG, TIFF
- Flash: TTL, built-in speedlight
- Interface: USB 2
- Batteries: Rechargeable Li-ion
- Dimensions: 147 x 114 x 74mm
- Weight: 825g
- Impressive 3-inch LCD screen (920,000 pixels, VGA quality)
- Added features include GPS compatibility and wireless control
- Live view with options
- Physically large
Image Quality 16
Value for money 15
This review is from D-Photo issue #023.