Late to the party (seems like I’ve been wrong)

Started Dec 5, 2009 | Discussions thread
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Lasse Eisele
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Late to the party (seems like I’ve been wrong)
Dec 5, 2009

I never thought I’d buy a D300. Not enough of an upgrade over my D200, I thought. Besides, I didn't like the "cheap" D300 colours (going by the samples I’ve seen on the web).

And I never thought I’d ever use a normal prime for landscapes. I’m an extremist, after all. I like super wides and teles but not the boring in betweens.

I’ve been waiting a loooong time for the D700x that never seems to materialise. On the other hand, I’ve come to appreciate handheld shooting more and more. And, to be honest, my beloved D200 doesn't quite cut it at high ISO. Not only that (I could possibly live with it), but the shadow noise can be really annoying already at ISO 250. Push the shadows and you’ll find ugly black dots.

To make a long story a little shorter, I purchased a used D300 with 16,000 actuations a month ago. I got it with a 35/1.8 for half the price of a new D300s with the same lens. I thought I could sell it again with little or no loss if I didn't like it.

Well here I am after a month of testing. The weather has been really dreary. I tell you, you don't know what dreary means until you've spent a November in Scandinavia – and this November was even unusually dull. Dark, dark, dark and grey. Grey, grey, grey and dark. In other words, good conditions for testing the handholding capabilities of your camera and yourself. And I'm fortunate enough to live close to a forest – just a very average Swedish forest but still a forest. So that's where I've spent most of my spare time the last month. Picking mushrooms for the freeser and shooting handheld with the D300 and the new lens (the camera arrived with the lens on and I haven't removed it even once!). And then, of course, I've spent considerable time at my Mac, trying to find the best way to process the D300 files.

Let me say, it has been great fun. The camera proved to be a lot better than I ever expected. The lens is very good too and you can do a lot more with just a normal prime than I thought would be possible.

So, here are a few of my test shots, all of them taken handheld with the D300 and 35/1.8 within walking distance from my home. Most of them were converted with RPP, some of them with View NX. All of them were post processed as if they were keepers.

1) From the very first outing. The weather was actually decent that day and I could shoot at ISO 400.

2) These stones on the top of a hill were part of a sea shore several thousand years ago. Just a test shot, of course, but I actually like these wall-paper style images without a main subject. You can start looking anywhere and let your eyes wander around as they like.

3) Water Mannagrass in a ditch. ISO 800. A little noise in the dark water, but nothing that bothers me.

So far, so good. But, of course, I had to see how far I could go.

4) This image was taken at 1/15 s, f/2.2, ISO 3200 and I even pushed the shadows in the raw converter. It was very dark and I could just barely see what I was shooting but the camera was able to focus with very little hesitation. Not a great shot but I’m impressed by the quality under the circumstances.

5) Ferns on a boulder (common polypody). Another ISO 3200 shot. A bit more noise than I'd like and I had to struggle with the colours. ISO 3200 seems to be a bit too much.

6) Remember you can always shoot handheld. If you can't beat the blur, join it.

7) A foggy day. This is my favourite test shot so far. ISO 560.

8) Here's the shot that really got me sold on the D300. The image itself is nothing special but I find the technical quality fabulous, considering it was taken handheld at ISO 2200 and 1/30 s, f/5.6. Sorry, but I have to post a rather large version to show what I mean.

I realise this is old news for most of you but I believe there are still some D200 shooters out there that might be interested. If you want to upgrade and your budget is tight, consider a used D300.

Regards
Lasse

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