Nikon D300 Reviews and Resource Page

Finally, the Nikon D300 has been announced. This page will be ground zero for all the latest details on the Nikon D300 (e.g., reviews, sample images, availability, and more). For now, check out the preview below along with the official links from Nikon. Additionally, you can view the official press release here.

The Nikon D300 is available on Amazon.com, as well as other vendors mentioned later in this post. There are 3 different options available:

News

2/14/08: Nikon has released a firmware update for the D300. The new Version 1.02 adresses “[a]n issue that, in rare cases, caused vertical bands (lines) to appear in images captured at shutter speeds slower than 8s has been resolved.” You can download the firmware update via the following pages:

D300 Firmware update 1.02 – Windows

D300 Firmware update 1.02 – Macintosh

Reviews

Beyond Megapixels

This is an excellent camera. It was easy enough to pick up and go with, it was sturdy and worked with my existing lens collection so that’s a huge plus, I loved how the photo information and the amount of photo information provided with graphs.

Photoxels

You get superb handling, exceptional performance, a large, bright and clear optical viewfinder, a body sealed against dust and mositure, and excellent image quality with low noise and preserved detail up to ISO 800. Noise that is present at higher ISOs is Luminance noise and gives pictures a film-like grain appearance.

Steve’s Digicams

Nikon’s new D300 further raises the bar in the enthusiasts dSLR category. Offering a wealth of features, plenty of customization options, 12.3 megapixels of resolution, upgraded 51-point Autofocus System, a fast frame rate (when using a recommend 266x CF card) and excellent image quality, this model represents Nikon’s best effort so far in this market niche.

Digital Camera Info

The autofocus system is straight off the pro Nikon D3 and is amazing. It has 51 points and is the fastest we’ve seen. The Nikon D300 is well suited for sports shooting with its 6 to 8 fps Burst mode (depending on whether the battery grip is attached), and quick predictive autofocus tracking.

Let’s Go Digital

The new Nikon D300 is a beautiful work-horse and meets the requirements of the professional photographer. It is an ideal camera for those who find the D3 too big or just too expensive, but don’t want to make concessions regarding the quality. It is a superb DSLR camera and it won’t surprise me if people will start swapping brands and find their way to Nikon.

DP Review

There’s simply no better semi-professional digital SLR on the market.

Thom Hogan

Here’s a surprise (at least it was to me): the D300 has more dynamic range than the D200 and D2xs. Measurably more. Whereas most of the previous Nikon DSLRs all were in the 7 to 7.5 stop range of usable dynamic range, I’ll put the D300 squarely in the 8 stop usable range, perhaps even a bit more than that, especially if you’re shooting NEF (Imatest reports a full stop difference between a raw file converted in Lightroom and an in-camera JPEG, all else equal).

Shutterbug

This is a camera that you can program to deliver just the color (and contrast, etc.) you want for every subject and scene. Like most cameras you can choose some presets that reflect the opinion of the maker as to what constitutes Vivid, Standard, etc. And like other cameras you can insert your take on things by going into the Menu and creating nuances of sharpness, saturation, brightness, contrast, and even hue variations for the presets. But the D300 takes it all a bit further.

Trusted Reviews

It has class-leading build quality and ergonomic design, a mind-boggling array of features and options, blistering performance and superb image quality. In terms of what it has to offer the D300 is unquestionably one of the four or five best cameras currently on the market.

Pocket-Lint

Noise, even at higher ISO is pretty much non-existent up to ISO 2000, beyond here noise is in there but it’s very subtle and even at the boosted ISO 4000 and 6400 settings it’s very clean indeed, in fact the best noise (or lack of noise) performance I’ve seen in a DSLR. Quite simply it is superb.

Photo.net

The D300 is a strong successor to the D200. The D300 maintains all of the D200’s advantages as an excellent general-purpose, prosumer DSLR and improves on several key areas. For about $3000 less, the D300 offers Nikon’s current best AF module, which is also featured in their top professional model, the D3. With the Multi-CAM 3500 and the ability to capture 8 fps, the D300 also replaces the D2H and D2X as Nikon’s top DX-sensor DSLR suitable for action and sports photography.

Cnet

Visibly better photo quality and slightly improved performance make the Nikon D300 a significant upgrade over the D200 and an excellent all-around choice.

Imaging Resource

My favorite part about taking pictures with the Nikon D300 is knowing that with just a quick check of the settings and careful attention to composition, I’m going to get a great shot. If you’ve done your homework, this fine camera will deliver just what you’re looking for, and can prove it to you with its fine LCD screen right there on the spot. It’ll even surprise you with more than you thought possible.

Popular Photography

A major factor in the D300’s stellar image quality is the new Sony-made 12.3MP (effective) CMOS sensor that captures RAW data with up to 14 bits of color per red, green, and blue channels. Most other DSLRs in this class only provide 12 bits per channel. This gives the D300 an advantage in reproducing fine color gradations, shadow details, and wider dynamic range. But it also increases the file size of images recorded in the 14-bit mode (selectable over normal 12-bit RAW).

PhotographyBLOG

But overall, unless you are a professional photographer needing massive file sizes or even swifter image capture, the Nikon D300 could well be all the DSLR you’ll ever need.

PopPhoto Camera of the Year

If this is all beginning to sound like a pro-level camera, you’re right. Except the $1,800 body-only street price doesn’t support that assumption. Under-$2K is still advanced-amateur territory. By any bang-for-the-buck standard, this is one heck of a deal.

Luminous Landscape (Combined Essay on D3 and D300)

We now have a bit of a sea change happening. Nikon has flexed its considerable muscle and with the D3 produced a camera that sends a clear challenge to Canon’s nearly decade-long dominance of the digital arena. The D300, though in many ways simply a logical progression from the D200, is a much better camera than its predecessor, and along with its superior sensor offers the pro and advanced amateur a set of features and functionality that is unmatched at the moment in Canon’s line up.

Photography BLOG (Antarctica Field Test)

It is -20°C and the Nikon D300 is totally oblivious to the forces of nature. The camera also withstands the damp caused by the snow flurries without problem. Even though I have brought along several batteries, one battery is enough for an entire day’s photography in the cold. Incredible! The autofocus does its job more than satisfactorily; penguins might not walk very fast but even with the limitations caused by the contrast in the landscape the camera tracks its subject unerringly. Also, the flying albatrosses and Cape Doves are followed perfectly in the viewfinder.

Popular Photography

A major factor in the D300’s stellar image quality is the new Sony-made 12.3MP (effective) CMOS sensor that captures RAW data with up to 14 bits of color per red, green, and blue channels. Most other DSLRs in this class only provide 12 bits per channel. This gives the D300 an advantage in reproducing fine color gradations, shadow details, and wider dynamic range. But it also increases the file size of images recorded in the 14-bit mode (selectable over normal 12-bit RAW).

Camera Labs

So it’s a case of weighing up the D300’s features against its higher price. The D300 is undoubtedly a great camera to use, but are its features worth 40-50% more than the Canon EOS 40D or Sony A700? Only you can decide, but don’t go for the D300 over these models expecting significantly better image quality. The extra cash is buying you superior build, handling and features.

Andreas Manessinger (Multi-part User Report)

To my eyes, the look of the D300 images is very natural, and “Active D-Lighting” is probably the biggest contributing factor. The human eye has a much larger contrast range than any camera’s sensor, and shots made in bright sunlight frequently suffer. Mind, this is no magic, but it works reasonably well, can be switched off after the fact if need be, and it gives me images that simply look “right” to me.

DPReview.com has a hands-on preview of the D300. They’ve got some very interesting videos of the live view function in action:

Nikon’s live view implementation on the D300 is one of the most usable and comprehensive to date, the high resolution screen and addition of contrast detect auto focus, in addition to the now typical mirror down / mirror up passive auto focus system, mean that are more situations where live view becomes useful.

Some sample images at ISO 6400.

Check out a slideshow of the press release photos here.

Thom Hogan has some rather thorough First Impressions of the Nikon D3 and D300. He also has a great FAQ on the D300 and D3 to some of the questions that have been floating around the forums.

Gizmodo has an initial hands on impression of the Nikon D3 and D300 with a ton of images of the new cameras.

I did have a bit of trouble navigating the D3’s controls despite the emphatically touted Italian design and had to ask for some help, but I wasn’t overly familiar with its predecessor, which could be why I had some trouble. The D300 has a simpler layout, so I had an easier time.

Official Nikon Pages

Check out the Nikon D300 “Special Site” from Nikon Global.

The Nikon D300 product page via Nikon Global.

Here is the Official Nikon D300 brochure/spec sheet (.PDF).

D300 sample images from Nikon.

Where to Buy

If you’re buying online, I recommend sticking with Amazon, B&H Photo or Adorama. These three vendors are reliable, trustworthy and generally have the best (legitimate) prices.

Preview of Major Features

New DX-format CMOS image sensor with 12.3 effective megapixels

The D300 features a new 12.3 effective megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor. It not only produces fine details with sharp resolution, but also provides a broad light sensitivity range of ISO 200 to ISO 3200, (plus LO 1 for IS0 100 equivalent and HI 1 for IS0 6400 equivalent settings; Auto ISO control is also available). The CMOS sensor’s integrated A/D converter features the ability to select between 12-bit and 14-bit conversion, making it possible to shoot using high-quality 14-bit NEF (RAW) format. All internal processing is handled in full 16-bit color, color, benefiting from a fine balance between performance with outstanding speed that defies this level of precision and natural-looking images that benefit from faithful color and tone reproduction. Lateral chromatic aberration is also reduced.

EXPEED – Nikon’s image processing concept embodied

As Nikon’s new digital image-processing concept – featuring the core ideas of our image creation and processing – EXPEED incorporates the optimized knowhow and technologies we have accumulated throughout our long history while receiving users’ requirements. It realizes diversified functions to ensure high picture quality and high-speed image processing.

* For details, see “Nikon’s original digital image-processing concept EXPEED” on our News Release in Aug. 2007.

High-speed continuous shooting

The D300 is capable of shooting at a rapid 6 fps*1, and as fast as 8 fps*2 when using the Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D10, in continuous bursts of up to 100 shots*3 at full 12.3 megapixel resolution. The Nikon D300 is also the first digital SLR to support next-generation high-speed card UDMA, which enables high speed recording.

*1 When using one EN-EL3e battery installed in the camera

*2 When using batteries other than Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e

*3 NORMAL – LARGE image setting, using a SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash 1GB card

Immediate response

Near-instant power-up within 0.13 seconds, a shutter release time lag of a mere 0.045 seconds*, and viewfinder blackout time of approximately 0.1 seconds contribute to optimized all-around performance that lets photographers respond to any sudden shutter opportunities.

* When shooting in JPEG, TIFF, or 12-bit NEF (RAW) formats

Scene Recognition System

By improving the 1,005-pixel RGB sensor, which was first incorporated in the Nikon F5, information from the sensor can be utilized for auto exposure, auto white balance and autofocus. For example, 3D tracking in AF realized by using the Scene Recognition System tracks subject position, and automatically shifts AF points to be used according to the subject’s movement within the frame. This system also contributes to improved accuracy of auto exposure and auto white balance.

AF system employing high-density 51-point AF

Multi-CAM 3500DX autofocus sensor module featuring 51 AF points is incorporated. 15 cross-type sensors located in the center provide subject detection capability with lens apertures as small as f/5.6. 51 AF points can be utilized in various focus area modes selected according to subject condition. In many aspects, the functions of AF points are linked with the Scene Recognition System to offer superior subject detection and focus tracking performance. A single AF point can be selected from 51 or 11 focus points. Dynamic AF mode enables appropriate focusing by detecting subjects with a zone containing many AF points located densely. In this mode, the number of AF areas, including user selected AF points and backup points, can be selected from either 9, 21 or 51. In addition, newly employed “3D tracking” mode shifts the focus point automatically to respond to the subject’s movements. Auto-area AF mode gives greater priority to the subject’s position in selecting AF points.

Picture Control System

Picture Control System is a new function to enable selection and adjustment to create pictures easily according to skills of users from novices to professionals. When settings are the same, even with different cameras, you can get the same picture tone. Picture Control System offers four fundamental setting options – Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Monochrome – enabling image parameters (sharpening, tone compensation, brightness, tone and saturation) to be easily adjusted and customized.

Two Liveview modes available

Liveview function enables shooting while confirming subjects in the LCD monitor.

In Handheld mode, which allows recomposing of the frame prior to actual shooting, ordinary TTL phase-difference AF using all 51 AF points including 15 cross-type points is activated.

Tripod mode is designed for precise focus accuracy with still subjects and tripod stabilization. In this mode, focal-plane contrast AF on a desired point within a specific area is possible. Remote view, focusing and shooting are also made possible on a PC (wired or wirelessly).

Large, bright viewfinder that achieves 100% frame coverage

TThe D300’s new eye-level pentaprism viewfinder aids composition and adds assurance to focus operations by providing full 100% frame coverage and large 0.94x magnification, as well as an eyepoint of 19.5 mm (at -1.0 m-1) and built-in diopter adjustment range of -2 to +1 m-1.

Durability that will go the distance

Testing to 150,000 cycles stands as firm testament to the durability of the new shutter unit for the D300. Its magnesium alloy chassis combines light weight with solid durability, while the body features an enhanced sealing system that helps protect against moisture and dust.

Active D-Lighting

D-Lighting incorporated in the conventional digital SLRs enables editing after the image is taken. In addition to the D-Lighting, newly developed Active D-Lighting is employed in the Nikon D300.

Active D-Lighting lets users choose the intensity from among “High”, “Normal”, “Low” or “Unchanged” prior to shooting. The conventional method of simply expanding dynamic range is not employed in compensation. Instead, localized tone control technology is utilized to prevent images from looking flat with low contrast. As a result, “lost highlights” and “lost shadows” are well compensated while maintaining proper contrast.

Self-cleaning Sensor Unit for efficient dust reduction

The D300 is the first Nikon D-SLR camera to employ a Self-cleaning Sensor Unit. Four different resonance frequencies vibrate the optical low pass filter in front of the image sensor to shake particles free and reduce the presence of dust.

Exclusive Wireless Transmitter WT-4 (optional)

The WT-4 supports wired LAN (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX) and wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11b/g, 11a), and incorporates thumbnail mode as a new function.

It realizes wireless connection of cameras with a PC, enabling thumbnail display of images taken with up to five of them and downloading of images selected. Also, by using Camera Control Pro 2 (optional), wireless remote view/control shooting is made possible with the D300’s Liveview function.

Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D10 (optional)

The optional new Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D10 supports 3 types of batteries and features sequential power supply with auto-switching to the battery installed inside the camera body. When attached, it also enables high-speed continuous shooting at a rate of 8 fps*1 for up to 100 consecutive shots*2.

*1 When using batteries other than the Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e

*2 NORMAL – LARGE image setting, using a SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash 1GB card

Other Features

  • The large top control panel (46 x 20.8 mm) features an improved interface with lettering that can be switched to best match shooting conditions
  • HDMI Output supports HDTV display
  • Supports GPS devices via optional GPS Adapter Cord MC-35
  • Retouch Menu provides handy access to Filter Effects, Trimming, Red-eye correction, Image overlay and other in-camera editing functions
  • Software Suite CD-ROM included
 

Comments

  1. Tsuruhashi says

    No Sam, it IS Japanese. I live in Japan. This is not \"old style Chinese Script only used in Taiwan\". Japan uses 4 scripts – Romaji (English letters), Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji (Chinese characters). The Kanji would look more old style to you because Japan was not affected by China\'s simplying its characters.

    Anyway, this ad was supposed to have been seen in Akihabara (Tokyo electronics district). I live in Osaka and have been to all the big camera stores in the past couple weeks and not noticed any similar signs here. I normally ignore advertising around me on subways etc anyway so that doesn\'t mean much. I hope that this news is true and there is a new Nikon announced soon. It would be nice to compare to the new Canon 40D that is supposed to be on the way.

  2. Tsuruhashi says

    No Sam, it IS Japanese. I live in Japan. This is not “old style Chinese Script only used in Taiwan”. Japan uses 4 scripts – Romaji (English letters), Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji (Chinese characters). The Kanji would look more old style to you because Japan was not affected by China’s simplying its characters.

    Anyway, this ad was supposed to have been seen in Akihabara (Tokyo electronics district). I live in Osaka and have been to all the big camera stores in the past couple weeks and not noticed any similar signs here. I normally ignore advertising around me on subways etc anyway so that doesn’t mean much. I hope that this news is true and there is a new Nikon announced soon. It would be nice to compare to the new Canon 40D that is supposed to be on the way.

  3. Y.W. Phang says

    guys, I\'m a Chinese, it is Japanese Kanji, confirmed, the combinations of these Kanji (Chinese characters) don\'t really make up proper sentence in Chinese, though, Japanese Kanji share similar meanings with Chinese words, therefore, the top sentence means D200 replacement, and the bottom sentence is mentioning about 2007 spring.

    I personally don\'t agree that it will be a totally new replacement of D200 anyway, I personally think it will not be this soon. Though, it is possible with a improved and follow up model which is like D200x that has been circulating some where. It seems not logic to me for a D300, too soon to be true just after about ayear of D200 life span. Further more, the top end D2 series has not got any new replacement, I assume the so called d300 will be available only 1 or 2 years after the launch of top end models such as D3

  4. Y.W. Phang says

    guys, I’m a Chinese, it is Japanese Kanji, confirmed, the combinations of these Kanji (Chinese characters) don’t really make up proper sentence in Chinese, though, Japanese Kanji share similar meanings with Chinese words, therefore, the top sentence means D200 replacement, and the bottom sentence is mentioning about 2007 spring.

    I personally don’t agree that it will be a totally new replacement of D200 anyway, I personally think it will not be this soon. Though, it is possible with a improved and follow up model which is like D200x that has been circulating some where. It seems not logic to me for a D300, too soon to be true just after about ayear of D200 life span. Further more, the top end D2 series has not got any new replacement, I assume the so called d300 will be available only 1 or 2 years after the launch of top end models such as D3

  5. Steve says

    I am quite entertained by all these speculations. A simple review of Nikon\'s history, and a Neanderthal will tell you that a D3x will come out first then a D300. As for fall 2007, the only logical replacement for the D200 will be a D200x.

  6. Steve says

    I am quite entertained by all these speculations. A simple review of Nikon’s history, and a Neanderthal will tell you that a D3x will come out first then a D300. As for fall 2007, the only logical replacement for the D200 will be a D200x.

  7. Josh B says

    Do you guys read the press. Of Course there won\'t be a D300. That would not suite Nikons plan of attack. If anything comes out by the end of the year, it will be a new D80, called the D85. This is what Nikon is spending all it\'s time on, not the D300. Check with Nikons press site, \"The D80 is due for a next step in digital photography.\"
    Can\'t wait.
    Fair light……J

  8. Josh B says

    Do you guys read the press. Of Course there won’t be a D300. That would not suite Nikons plan of attack. If anything comes out by the end of the year, it will be a new D80, called the D85. This is what Nikon is spending all it’s time on, not the D300. Check with Nikons press site, “The D80 is due for a next step in digital photography.”
    Can’t wait.
    Fair light……J

  9. Mel Penner says

    You neglected to mention that in 14-bit conversion the D300 is only capable of shooting at 2.5 fps

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