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|Nikon D300 Test Drive|
|Written by Nature Sniper|
|Saturday, 08 December 2007|
When Nikon D200 was announced, people think that it is a baby D2X. This time around, could the newly launched Nikon D300 be a baby D3? At the recommended retail price of USD $1800 (RM6120 approx.) the Nikon D300 is 2.7 times cheaper than the Nikon D3, retailed at USD $4999 (RM17,000).
VExterior Built - Handling
When I was given the D300, the body design is very similar with the D200. There is only slight difference of buttons at the back of the body. Handholding it is comfortable due to the large surface of rubber grip, it feels solid, there is no “plastic” feel at all.
The D300 power up almost instantly, one is virtually able to press the shutter once powering the machine. According to the specification, it powers up at approximately 0.13 second.
The buttons are nicely positioned, there aren’t many changes. What I do not favor so much is the navigation dials, it is a bit small to my liking, a slightly bigger size would be better especially when shooting on gloves. It would be much nicer if the navigation dials are something like a joystick type.
With its magnesium alloy built and almost fully rugged body, no doubt it will survive the splash proof test similar to the one performed on an Olympus E3 .
Exterior Built – LCD Screen
The 920,000 dot 3 inch VGA LCD monitor certainly looks good and performs as good too, photos playback can be view clearly by those between the D300 without hassle. One can easily recognize the D300 from a distance only by looking at the 3 inch LCD. The viewing angle of the LCD is 170 degree. The top control panel’s size is similar with Nikon D200 at measuring 1.8” x 0.8”.
Exterior Built – Battery Grip (MB-D10)
The D300’s battery grip is different from the D200 or any previous Nikon battery grip. The MB-D10’s base is flat instead of the usual L-shaped. The MB-D10 no longer requires the body’s battery door to be removed during the mount. Storing the D300’s battery grip is easier as less space is required, one can easily remove it from the body and put it in a lens case or pocket.
To connect the battery grip with D300, just remove the rubber protectors of the terminal and place it in the battery grip, Nikon has designed a compartment on the battery grip so that one can fit those rubber covers on it, and then mount the grip on the D300’s. This way u will not lose your terminal covers.
More about the battery grip operational later.
With the 100% viewfinder coverage, one can be sure that what you see is what you get; user will no longer be capturing some additional pixel that is not seen while composing. Nikon D300 is the first mid-range dSLR to come up with this feature.
One will see a row of display on the lower part of the viewfinder display. Nikon has changed the way the focus point appears in D300. In D200, there are 11-autofocus points permanently on the viewfinder while the D300’s viewfinder looks clean, the 51-autofocus points are not displayed permanently.
51-point autofocus with 3D Focus Tracking
With the same autofocus sensor module as Nikon D3, the Multi-CAM 3500 lock focus almost instantly in the conditions tested – bright and low light situation.
Only the working focus point will be displayed on the viewfinder as having the 51-autofucus points to be permanently on the viewfinder will be make it looks messy. I still personally prefer it to be permanently there, or at least have the 11-aufocus points displayed. One shall be able to get used to it after handling the D300 for a while, it shall not be a major issue. With 51-autodocus points, it shall make photographing macro work an easier task, on the autofocus section.
Nikon's exclusive Scene Recognition System (SRS)
With an improved 1,005-Pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering II, SRS provides even more intelligent auto exposure capabilities, along with smarter auto white balance detection and faster, more accurate AF performance. Nikon announces that the SRS feature will be implemented in to all future Nikon dSLR and Point and Shoot Cameras.
Dynamic Integrated Dust Reduction System
Nikon has finally introduced a camera with dust cleaning system, a technology pioneered by Olympus. Nikon calls their sensor cleaning system the Dynamic Integrated Dust Reduction System where ultrasonic sensor unit is implemented to minimize degradation of image quality due to dust particles. The system is similar to the one on Olympus E-system dSLR, according to Nikon.
Battery Grip Operation
With the battery grip, one can select focus point in portraits mode too as there is navigation buttons on it. Once installed, the battery inside the D300’s body will automatically serves as backup and will only be used once the battery in the grip is empty.
The most exciting feature of the battery grip is its ability to shoot at high continuous speed of 8-frame-per-second with 8 x AA alkaline batteries or the EN-EL4/ EN-EL4a used by the D3 or D2 series camera. It is not possible to achieve 8fps with an additional EN-EL3e.
Unlike D200’s battery grip, the MD-B10 can only be inserted with one EN-EL3e battery. With MS-D10 (included), 8 AA batteries can be used. With BL-3 Battery Chamber Cover (not included) the EN-EL4/EN-EL4a batteries can be used.
For those who are considering doing 8FPS with EN-EL4/ EN-EL4a, do keep in mind that if you do not have any Nikon D2 or D3, you will need to purchase the EN-EL4a and its charger MH-21 which cost approximately USD$250 (RM 850). In Malaysia, the EN-EL4a cost RM400 and MH-21 retails at RM450. In addition, the BL-3 battery chamber cover is needed too. Do remember to add this to your cost when planning on purchasing a battery grip.
The Nikon D300’s ISO performance is what potential buyers are concerned about. Ranging from ISO 200 to ISO 3200 at its default setting, it is better than what the Nikon D200 offers. ISO 100 and ISO 6400 are available too.
Two Nikon D300 were tested, one with the new 24-70 F2.8 and another with 14-24 F2.8. All images were shot in various ISO settings. Images were all taken handheld.
The current competitors of Nikon D300 (USD$1,800.00) are Canon EOS 40D (USD $1,346.23) and Olympus E3 (USD $1,699.99) . The Nikon D300 is not a replacement model for Nikon D200 (USD $1,299.00) , it will still be on shelf. Except Nikon D200, all the above mentioned cameras have sensor dust cleaning, live view and better LCD display.
At USD $1,800.00, is it worth to pay for Nikon D300’s extra 2 Megapixel, slightly better metering system, larger and crispier LCD display, Live-view, and 1-stop or 2 better ISO performances in comparison with Nikon D200?
If you photographs mostly landscape, you may be able to settle down with a Nikon D200 and use the additional USD $500.00 to fund your purchase of AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED (USD $929.00) or the new Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor Wide Angle Zoom Lens (USD $ $1,799.95)
If you do sport, most probably you will be satisfied with the Nikon D300 if only you buy the MB-D10 to achieve 8FPS. The Multi-CAM 3500 will not disappoint you.
If you shoot in low light condition and do not own an arsenal of Nikkor lens you may consider investing on the Canon EOS 40D, if you are not planning on getting a Nikon D3.
If you enjoy photographing macro, you may consider investing the Olympus E3, the swivel LCD live view display will surely helps. In addition, most of the Olympus mid range lens are weather sealed and does not cost a premium, something that I like about Olympus.
Thank you reading and please let me know your thoughts via the comment column. Do digg my post or rate it.
Credit: Nikon D300, Nikon D300 Manual and Nikon 24-70mm F2.8 courtesy of Nikon Malaysia & Nikon Imaging
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