Cameras

Nikon D300

Nikon D300

Nikon’s latest semi-professional DSLR, the D300, is available now. The new D300, which was announced in August 2007, replaces the popular D200, which was released less than two years earlier. This is in stark contrast to the three-and-a-half-year lag between the D100 and D200, and it demonstrates that Nikon has finally grasped the importance of understanding what it takes to compete aggressively in the current market.

Despite the fact that the period between models has been cut in half, Nikon has not compromised on the capabilities of the D300.

The camera is equipped with a new 12.3 Megapixel CMOS sensor, 6 frames per second continuous shooting, a new 51 point autofocus system, a 3in screen with VGA resolution, 100 percent viewfinder coverage, and Live View capabilities, as well as the option of 14-bit RAW file recording as well as anti-dust capabilities and an HDMI port for direct connection to high-definition televisions.

It is a fantastic camera not only for high-end hobbyists but also as a backup body for professional photographers, thanks to the combination of its rugged construction and superb ergonomics.


Live View capabilities of the D300 include a choice of focusing systems: either the classic phase-change method, in which the mirror is momentarily lowered to take a reading, or a contrast-based approach, which operates similarly to a compact camera without interfering with the viewing experience.

Although it is equipped with a variety of high-tech features, the D300 is fundamentally a semi-professional workhorse with excellent ergonomics and handling. An extensive range of extra attachments is available, including a battery grip that may increase continuous shooting speeds to 8 frames per second, a cable for connecting directly to GPS systems, and a Wifi transmitter.

In the wake of years of pressuring DSLR customers to purchase its Capture NX RAW processing software, Nikon has now bowed to public pressure and included it free of charge with the D300 — although for a limited time only. Other alternative software includes Capture Pro II, which allows you to manage the camera from a PC while simultaneously seeing a live feed on a computer monitor.

A strong specification, but one that will have to contend with stiff competition. For a few hundred dollars less, you could get the E-3, the flagship Olympus professional camera, which boasts the world’s quickest autofocus (when used with the appropriate lens), and a flip-out screen. For a few hundred dollars more, you could upgrade to Canon’s EOS 5D full-frame camera.

Then there are the Canon EOS 40D and Sony Alpha A700, which are expected to be their two most significant competitors. Both versions have numerous features in common with the D300, as well as some significant advantages, the most notable of which is that they have a body price that is around 50% cheaper than the D300. Finally, there’s the D200, which is the D200’s predecessor and is available for a significantly lower price.

In our Nikon D300 review, we’ll see how it compares to these models in terms of features, handling, and usability, and we’ll also look at how the image quality compares to that of key competitors as well. With little question, Nikon has produced yet another outstanding digital camera, but has the company’s policy of giving a step-up at a higher price been taken to the extreme this time? Read on to find out more, and as always, you can watch a video tour of the Nikon D300 to witness a demonstration of its essential features.

Notes on the testing

We put a Nikon D300 in the final production model and tested it with Firmware versions A 1.01 and B 1.00. To test cameras, we follow our standard procedure of using the default factory and best quality JPEG settings unless otherwise stated.

For this test, the D300 was set to its best quality Large Fine JPEG mode (optimized for quality) with Auto White Balance and the default Standard Picture Control, Normal High ISO NR, and Active D-Lighting settings turned off. Other High ISO NR and Active D-Lighting options are demonstrated throughout the review with screenshots.

Nikon D300 Specs

Price
Body typeMid-size SLR
Max resolution4288 x 2848
Other resolutions3216 x 2136, 2144 x 1424
Image ratio w:h3:2
Effective pixels12 megapixels
Sensor photodetectors13 megapixels
Sensor sizeAPS-C (23.6 x 15.8 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorExpeed
ISO200 – 3200 in 1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps (100 – 6400 with boost)
Boosted ISO (minimum)100
Boosted ISO (maximum)6400
White balance presets12
Custom white balanceYes (4)
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatRAW + TIFF
JPEG quality levelsFine, Normal, Basic
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaSelective single-pointSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive View
Digital zoomNo
Manual focusYes
Number of focus points51
Lens mountNikon F
Focal length multiplier1.5×
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3″
Screen dots922,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeSuper Density TFT color LCD with wide-viewing angle
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeOptical (pentaprism)
Viewfinder coverage100%
Viewfinder magnification0.94× (0.63× 35mm Equiv.)
Minimum shutter speed30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/8000 sec
Aperture priorityYes
Shutter priorityYes
Manual exposure modeYes
Subject/scene modesNo
Built-in flashYes (Pop-up)
Flash range12.00 m (at ISO 100)
External flashYes (Hot-shoe, Wireless plus sync connector)
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear-curtain
Continuous drive6.0 fps
Self-timerYes (2 to 20 sec)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weighted average
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
AE Bracketing(2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
WB BracketingYes (2 to 9 frames in 10,20,30 steps in either blue/amber or magenta/green axis))
MicrophoneNone
SpeakerNone
Storage typesCompact Flash (Type I or II)
Storage includedNone
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (Mini Type C)
Remote controlYes (Optional)
Environmentally sealedYes (Water and dust resistant)
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion EN-EL3e rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)1000
Weight (inc. batteries)925 g (2.04 lb / 32.63 oz)
Dimensions147 x 114 x 74 mm (5.79 x 4.49 x 2.91″)
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingYes
GPSOptional
GPS notesGP-1

Nikon D300 Price

$999.00
in stock
3 new from $999.00
35 used from $119.99
as of October 5, 2022 11:25 am
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Corey
About Author

Corey

Freelance journalist Corey has been writing about digital photography since 2006, first as a deputy editor and then as the editor of a variety of photographic journals. Featuring expert product reviews and in-depth features

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