D300 - French Mag tests & comparisons

Started Nov 19, 2007 | Discussions thread
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arrecgros Junior Member • Posts: 44
D300 - French Mag tests & comparisons

Further to a promise I made in another thread, I will post hereunder a translation of the tests made by French mags relating to the D300.

The two French magazines I will refer to are the two major photo gear magazines in France. They have a very good reputation and serve as reference when it comes to their extensive, meticulous and thorough tests.

This should in no way be interpreted as a complete and accurate translation of the articles. I have neither the time nor the skills to perform such task.

I will only translate here the few points which I consider giving a genuine overview of the overal authors' opinion and reflecting their judgement.

Sadly, I don't have any scanning system. Otherwise I would post scans of the many test graphics, charts, etc... which precede the conclusions I will post.

I really thought this could be useful due to the controversies regarding the D300's contemplated IQ, especially in comparison to the 40D and the Alpha 700. Everybody understood why the D300 costs $500 more than his Canon and Sony competitors by reading the spec sheet. The D300 offers more features. But the main question was: what about in terms of IQ? The below tests are amongst the first serious and accurate tests which I ran into and which offer an answer to this particular question. Hence why I wanted to share it with you.

I would be surprised however if similar tests were not available everywhere either now or very soon.

First Article : Chasseur d'Images n°299

Chasseur d'Images is the older mag of the two. It is considered as "the" photo gear mag reference in France.

In their test, they highlighted 3 key points.

First key point is the viewfinder. They claim that according to their calculations, the D300's viewfinder is close to 100% coverage with an excellent 98% [0.94/1.5 by 0.63] which is less than the 99,7% of the D3.

They further explain that overall the D300's viewfinder is slightly less luminous than the D3's (despite the excellent micro-engraved viewfinder glass, light is reduced by the LCD layer which allows for the grid to show up and by the bigger magnification).

Also, the prism is not, according to their explanation, proportionate to the near to 100% coverage, unlike for the D3. Which means that, with glasses, you will need to stick your eye to the hole to be able to read the LCD screen at the base of the viewfinder. The D3 therefore offers a higher comfort to those who wear glasses.

Second key point is anti-dust system. Works well. If you use your camera normally, no dust will bother you. But they claim the "anti-static effect on the front face of the closing blade" (litteral translation here, not sure what they are referring to) is more efficient with Canon.

Third key point: Ergonomics. They blame the rubber pieces covering the plugs/connections, not convenient and the lack of selecting button in the center of the multi selector pad (unlike with the D3). For the rest, typical nikon good ergonomics.

Now, about Image Quality.

They claim that the D300 constitutes an exploit regarding high ISO performance. They claim the "grain" is very natural and thin in high ISO, with ISO 3200 totally usable and astonishing results with ISO 1600. They claim JPEG grain is very compact, natural and "silver film" stylish. No artifacts, no colored mass.

It is overall, as they claim, the best (ahead of the 40D and Alpha 700) thanks to (i) chromatic smoothing (ii) desaturation of shadows (iii) exceptional aglorithms which preserve sharpness of details at a level never reached before. Top noise handling performance.

They claim this is also true at ISO 200 with landscapes where the D300 performs slightly better than the Alpha 700 (firmware 2.0) and is almost as good as the D3, and impossible to distinguish from 5D and 1DsMkII !

The claim exposition is perfectly set and difficult to trick (they claim D3 is set at +0.5 by default).

Superb color rendering.

Autofocus reactive, accurate, quick and efficient with no flaw.

Second Article : Réponses Photo n°189

Younger Mag comparing to Chasseur d'Images, also very much appreciated by the photography community in France. They also provide reliable tests of photo gear. They tend to be less "technical" than Chasseur d'Images, maybe more accessible for beginners, but also very serious and accurate.

This Article is overall much more enthousiastic than the previous one. Chasseur d'Images was only focusing on what wasn't perfect (they already covered the good points in a previous article when they had a D300 with pre-production firmware), while this article also covers the "good" points. They both agree on what could be improved.

For example, they agree that viewfinder is less comfortable for those who wear glasses than the D3, however, Réponses Photo will also highlight the increased quality of rubbers, ergonomics, etc... comparing to D200.

Let's go to IQ issues, since they are very enthousiastic regarding the other features.

They claim that pics are noise-clean up to 800 ISO, and that noise starts being noticeable at ISO 1600, but that ISO 3200 shots are still usable/exploitable. They explain that only with ISO 6400 you start making compromises, even though color alterations remain under control and that the noise is very regular and easily corrigible.

They claim that D300 handles exposition better than D200, preserving highlighted areas better. Pics have more contrast and are hotter and more saturated by default.

In terms of High ISO capabilities, their is a big advantage for the D300 over the other cameras, and that you need to go to full frame if you want better results in this respect.

This is all. I hope I am understandable. Not the easiest litterature to translate. I will gladly provide any clarification.

Sorry for my poor English.

Hope you found it interesting.

K-nov@

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