D300s initial testings = positive

Started Aug 12, 2009 | Discussions
AmatureMike Regular Member • Posts: 342
D300s initial testings = positive

For those looking to upgrade to the new D300s, I have positive news. I have absolutely no affiliation with Nikon or Canon, or any company. Just plain ol' hands on.

First off, no images to post. Our west coast Nikon representative allowed us to sample the camera for a mere 1.5 hours (and there a few of us!), so with the limited time I had, I put the camera to its paces to see if SOME of the things advertised by Nikon were true. Some may say its in its BETA firmware, but I did not have time to check any of that.

Just so you know, I've been shooting and sold my D300 (D700 on the way) with over 60K clicks on it with the MB-D10. My lens collection consists of the 35mm 1.8G, 50mm 1.8, 85 1.8, 18-200mm VR, 70-200mm Sigma HSM 2.8, Tamron 17-50 (screw-drive), and the Tamron 28-75 (screw-drive). However, I have access to almost all Nikkor lenses here where I work and so I have a FEEL for how most lenses focus (in terms of speed). I also conduct some camera tests here in the store.

Before shooting with the D300 body, I've owned and shot with exclusively Canon: 20D, 30D, 1D, 1D mark 2n, and finally shot a few games with the 1D mark 3 (owned by the local newspaper agency). So I kinda have a feel for what good autofocus should be (maybe).

Anyways: I remember being extremely dissapointed with the D300's initial aquisition speeds (especially using the 18-200 VR) both in the single point AF selection and especially in the ALL POINTS SELECTED--auto point selection (white box), even with the latest firmware. So that was the first thing I tested using the same 18-200mm VR lens at work.

Conclusion;

1) using ALL POINTS SELECTED--auto point selection (white box) the D300s is extremely FAST. There is no more of the hesitation it used to have when you depressed the focus and waited for the AF points to light up and BEEP. The D300s focuses right up: "beep!". Much much improved initial aquisition speed in BOTH the AF-S and AF-C mode. This was one of the things that bugged me much when moving over to Nikon from Canon. The delay is no resolved: AF is IMPROVED.

2) using the 70-300mm VR lens at its 300mm range in AF-C, (LOCK-ON: off, center Single AF point selection only, and release priority), the D300s is FASTER than the D300! Remember how the D300 would "slide" into focus from subject to subject (with different distances)? The D300s SNAPS into focus. As a matter of fact, I pulled out the D700 to test this side by side, and I have to say its almost the same. The focusing "torque" of the AF-S moving from area to area when tracking is the same speed and snappiness. Very very nicely done here in the AF department: Nikon did not dissapoint.

3) using VIDEO: for those who THINK the video is the same as the D90: think again! Testing the 720p video on an SD card, I panned the D300s and there is very very little "jello effect". Although I'm not a big fan of video, I took it out to film outside (filming traffic) and panned smoothly from left to right: no jello effect. I was shocked! I couldn't believe how good the video is. I liked the fact you could manually select your apreture for shallow depth of field when shooting (quite intimate).

4) 7 fps without AA!!!! This was way too cool because using the cameras drive mode without the mb-d10 made the d300 feel so light and easy to walk around!

My overall impression is DANG! I had a blast using the D300s (and the D3000 also!!!). I've got to say, for those who say its the same thing: think twice--as I was also disspointed during the annoucement of the D300s. However now with first hand experience with the D300s, I'm simply gonna say what Phil said about the D300: "its simply the best APS-C camera out on the market."

OP AmatureMike Regular Member • Posts: 342
Re: D300s initial testings = positive

Also, the reason for using the 18-200mm VR lens is because it is a much slower focusing lens due to its smaller apretures. On the D300, it was very slow to focus, so I felt testing this slow focusing lens on the D300s would reveal the improvments (if any) using the different Dynamic AF modes.

Also, I forgot to conclude that if seemed like Nikon redid the AF algorithms for the new body. The AF feels much more responsive when tracking and initially focus locking. That was noticeable right away in use.

jsam Regular Member • Posts: 232
Re: D300s initial testings = positive

Here's hoping the AF speed is a firmware issue and a new version comes out for those of us "stuck" with the D300.

Laslo Varadi
Laslo Varadi Veteran Member • Posts: 5,663
Re: D300s initial testings = positive

Mike,

Thank you for your feedback on the early test. I will need to see some more real life results before I can draw any conclusions on which if any body to invest in next. I have the D300 and usually no problem with the focus speed or acquisition. I use AF-C and focus priority and sometimes do notice a bit of hesitation Release priority that you tested has always been rapid fire so I am not sure what you are reporting is a real improvement. We will have to wait and see. My experience is based on shooting equestrian sports mostly I have a D200 and D300 and will eventually replace the D200 but not sure with the D300s or D700.
--
Laslo
http://www.digitalexpressionsphotography.com

 Laslo Varadi's gear list:Laslo Varadi's gear list
Sony a1 Sony 1.4x Teleconverter Sony FE 28mm F2 Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 +5 more
Frank C. Veteran Member • Posts: 6,667
Re: D300s initial testings = positive

I believe such a significant increase in AF speed may be well beyond a simple firmware upgrade, Nikon must've tweaked something on the pcb

jeminijoseph Veteran Member • Posts: 6,616
18-200??

Thanks for the short review..

I thought 18-200 is slow on D700 and even on D3. I was under the impression that the AF speed for the AF-S lens is mainly depends on the lens. D300 is lightling fast with my 500/4 AF-S, fast with 300/4 AF-S (slower than 500/4 AF-S)
and slooooooow with 18-200.

How would that be improved? If it's faster with 18-200 then how fast it will be with 500/4? Do you think it's same or better than D3? Or even Canon AF system? From my experience Canon 10D+400/5.6 was faster than D300+300/4 lens. I thought it was something to do with the lens rather than the camera.

Any comment compared to Canon 1D?

AmatureMike wrote:

Also, the reason for using the 18-200mm VR lens is because it is a much slower focusing lens due to its smaller apretures. On the D300, it was very slow to focus, so I felt testing this slow focusing lens on the D300s would reveal the improvments (if any) using the different Dynamic AF modes.

Also, I forgot to conclude that if seemed like Nikon redid the AF algorithms for the new body. The AF feels much more responsive when tracking and initially focus locking. That was noticeable right away in use.

-- hide signature --

Thanks
Jemini Joseph

http://www.wildbirdimages.com

 jeminijoseph's gear list:jeminijoseph's gear list
Nikon D500
bimmerman Senior Member • Posts: 2,409
51 AF points question...

Thank you for sharing your initial impressions with us. I have a question. When using the 51 point auto AF point selection the old D300 seemed to mostly select the wrong subjects while the D700 and D3 seemed to be able to pick out faces. Did you notice any improvement on the D300s?

OP AmatureMike Regular Member • Posts: 342
Re: 51 AF points question...

Sorry I have not tested the scene recognition on my co-workers using the all auto points selection to test head and shoulder detection accuracy. When testing, it tended to lock the points quickly onto contrasty areas within the scene (as it did before). My primary focus was on the focus aquisition and tracking speeds.

Compared to the 1D and 1D mark 2n, I cannot comment upon as I have not tested the D300s model with fast and long glass. All I can say is it FEELS much faster at initial aquisition and kept my co-worker screaming in awe (he owns a D700).

During my testing out in the field with my D300 and MB-D10 combo (along with a co-workers 70-200mm nikkor and the 1D mark 2n body w the 70-200mm 2.8 -- both stablizers off), I discovered very interesting differences in how both companies behaved when tracking and locking on.

When I was shooting with Canon (the 1D mark 2n: my favorite Canon ever), the AF system felt very fast and reactive when moving the central focus point from subject to subject (like in soccer). The sweet spot for the 1D mark 2n's "servo sensitivity" was on medium (or default). It gave the best of both worlds for responsivness and stability when you needed it to stick onto your subject during tracking. However with the D300, I spend a lot of time tweaking the focus system to give the same feel the 1D mark 2n when tracking. If you left the LOCK-ON even to short, it made the AF system in AF-C mode slightly less responsive when moving from subject to subject (with the AF point set to single central AF point only)

In the end, I found that nine-point dynamic expansion with LOCK-ON off was the best, as single-point with lock-on off was much too responsive. One important thing to comment also is that with low-light, low-contrast subjects, the D300 is faster and continues to track when the 1D mark 2n starts to bog down.

In response to the 18-200mm VR initial aquisition speeds being slow on all bodies: D300, D700, and D3-- yes that is true. However the D300 is the slowest out of the bunch in side by side tests I've done. This delay has been addressed with the D300s (when tested side by side with our D700 body w the latest firmware).

Also, even with 'release" priority in af-c, you should wait til the camera initially aquires focus first and trace along you subject before you press the shutter button. Release priority (I THINK) is suppose to fire continuously at the full 8fps when tracking, regardless if the subject is in focus or not: you could however press the shutter fully and fire even before the camera's AF initially locks and begins to track too tho.

Over, its faster and that's all I have to say about it. I enjoyed the video mode @ f1.4

1ne Regular Member • Posts: 166
So is it worth getting if I don't have a D300 yet?

So would you recommend getting this over the D300? I am trying to decide between the two.

I am on a budget and I don't have the 18-200 lens anyway, I primarily shoot with a Tamron 17-50 2.8. Would the D300s have a major advantage to the D300 with this lens?

bimmerman Senior Member • Posts: 2,409
Re: 51 AF points question...

The next time you get your hands on a 300s it would be interesting to note what it does in 51 point scenen recognition mode. I've tried the D3 and it favoured people and faces most of the time but with my D300 it was mostly table cloth, flower pot and other stuff. Seldom humans

azguy
azguy Veteran Member • Posts: 7,599
Re: D300s initial testings = positive

jsam wrote:

Here's hoping the AF speed is a firmware issue and a new version comes out for those of us "stuck" with the D300.

I wouldn't hold your breath. I don't expect a firmware upgrade to make the D300 a near D300s.
--
JohnE
I have enjoyed taking these images: http://www.pbase.com/jpower

Below, Phoenix City Hall with Nikkor 10.5mm on D200

OP AmatureMike Regular Member • Posts: 342
D300 Initial tests

The next time I get my hands on the body will be likely the day it hits the shelves and be available for sale and demo'd in it's production and final firmware stage: let's hope it doesn't get de-tuned! (LOL). I remember reading a report from Imaging Resource indicating they had a pre-production D700 body that was faster at focusing than the final-production body.

I think the D300 with FAST glass was always fast, especially with firmware 1.01A/B. 2.8 lenses with silent wave motors and fast screw-driven primes zipped to focus w/o hesitation. However with slower lenses like the 18-200mm VR and the 70-300mm VR it is a different story: the Tamron w built-in motor was a snail and was slower to focus on the D300 than the D50 in single AF point selected: especially in low-light. This was a area I wasn't happy with my D300 (calibrated by Nikon in El Segundo CA).

A good trick I used on the D300 was to change FOCUS to RELEASE priority in AF-S (single servo) when shooting stationary subjects. This way I didn't have to wait for the D300 to actually slew and "micro" focus the lens many times and then BEEP (if you had it on) to allow you to take the pictures. Canon cameras don't have this irritating micro-focus. It however makes sure your focus is dead spot on if you allowed it to confirm and beep: its just dead slow with slower focusing lenses.

I used the D300 with release priority in AF-S mode for over a year and was very successful with shooting stationary subjects by moving the focus points to their eyes: images were nice and sharp all the time. I continued to share this concept with D300 shooters and most say it made the D300 much faster.

jeminijoseph Veteran Member • Posts: 6,616
That case D300s would be the best birding camera ever

even better than D3 because the AF points cover more area in the frame (due to smaller sensor)

I have no plan to upgrade D300. But if the AF difference is black and white I will think about it next year as second body...

AmatureMike wrote:

Sorry I have not tested the scene recognition on my co-workers using the all auto points selection to test head and shoulder detection accuracy. When testing, it tended to lock the points quickly onto contrasty areas within the scene (as it did before). My primary focus was on the focus aquisition and tracking speeds.

Compared to the 1D and 1D mark 2n, I cannot comment upon as I have not tested the D300s model with fast and long glass. All I can say is it FEELS much faster at initial aquisition and kept my co-worker screaming in awe (he owns a D700).

During my testing out in the field with my D300 and MB-D10 combo (along with a co-workers 70-200mm nikkor and the 1D mark 2n body w the 70-200mm 2.8 -- both stablizers off), I discovered very interesting differences in how both companies behaved when tracking and locking on.

When I was shooting with Canon (the 1D mark 2n: my favorite Canon ever), the AF system felt very fast and reactive when moving the central focus point from subject to subject (like in soccer). The sweet spot for the 1D mark 2n's "servo sensitivity" was on medium (or default). It gave the best of both worlds for responsivness and stability when you needed it to stick onto your subject during tracking. However with the D300, I spend a lot of time tweaking the focus system to give the same feel the 1D mark 2n when tracking. If you left the LOCK-ON even to short, it made the AF system in AF-C mode slightly less responsive when moving from subject to subject (with the AF point set to single central AF point only)

In the end, I found that nine-point dynamic expansion with LOCK-ON off was the best, as single-point with lock-on off was much too responsive. One important thing to comment also is that with low-light, low-contrast subjects, the D300 is faster and continues to track when the 1D mark 2n starts to bog down.

In response to the 18-200mm VR initial aquisition speeds being slow on all bodies: D300, D700, and D3-- yes that is true. However the D300 is the slowest out of the bunch in side by side tests I've done. This delay has been addressed with the D300s (when tested side by side with our D700 body w the latest firmware).

Also, even with 'release" priority in af-c, you should wait til the camera initially aquires focus first and trace along you subject before you press the shutter button. Release priority (I THINK) is suppose to fire continuously at the full 8fps when tracking, regardless if the subject is in focus or not: you could however press the shutter fully and fire even before the camera's AF initially locks and begins to track too tho.

Over, its faster and that's all I have to say about it. I enjoyed the video mode @ f1.4

-- hide signature --

Thanks
Jemini Joseph

http://www.wildbirdimages.com

 jeminijoseph's gear list:jeminijoseph's gear list
Nikon D500
Jola013
Jola013 Senior Member • Posts: 1,851
Re: That case D300s would be the best birding camera ever

jeminijoseph wrote:

even better than D3 because the AF points cover more area in the frame (due to smaller sensor)

I agree.

I have sold my D300 and am hoping to get D300s in next few weeks.

Am optimistic - but we will see !!!

Zimvg Regular Member • Posts: 457
Re: D300s initial testings = positive

I hope you are right about the jello effect. I want to upgrade form my D70s and the D200 but I really want to video. Is there any kind of manual controls in the video?

dpjanmi Forum Member • Posts: 55
Re: D300s initial testings = positive

Can you use any kind of af-mode when shooting video?
Did you test the video-mode with the af on or off?

aroundomaha
aroundomaha Senior Member • Posts: 2,275
Thanks Mike

Thank you for sharing your observations. I find them quite hopeful and while I was teetering on jumping totally to Olympus while testing the PEN E-P1 will hold out and may jump to the 300s. The video is actually pretty important to me and this new release may be just what I've been waiting for.

Wish they've match what we're seeing from the new E-P1 and Pansonic GH-1. The Panasonic in particular has had stellar reviews on video while the photo side is probably a notch or two lower than the D300/D300s.

AmatureMike wrote:

For those looking to upgrade to the new D300s, I have positive news. I have absolutely no affiliation with Nikon or Canon, or any company. Just plain ol' hands on.

First off, no images to post. Our west coast Nikon representative allowed us to sample the camera for a mere 1.5 hours (and there a few of us!), so with the limited time I had, I put the camera to its paces to see if SOME of the things advertised by Nikon were true. Some may say its in its BETA firmware, but I did not have time to check any of that.

Just so you know, I've been shooting and sold my D300 (D700 on the way) with over 60K clicks on it with the MB-D10. My lens collection consists of the 35mm 1.8G, 50mm 1.8, 85 1.8, 18-200mm VR, 70-200mm Sigma HSM 2.8, Tamron 17-50 (screw-drive), and the Tamron 28-75 (screw-drive). However, I have access to almost all Nikkor lenses here where I work and so I have a FEEL for how most lenses focus (in terms of speed). I also conduct some camera tests here in the store.

Before shooting with the D300 body, I've owned and shot with exclusively Canon: 20D, 30D, 1D, 1D mark 2n, and finally shot a few games with the 1D mark 3 (owned by the local newspaper agency). So I kinda have a feel for what good autofocus should be (maybe).

Anyways: I remember being extremely dissapointed with the D300's initial aquisition speeds (especially using the 18-200 VR) both in the single point AF selection and especially in the ALL POINTS SELECTED--auto point selection (white box), even with the latest firmware. So that was the first thing I tested using the same 18-200mm VR lens at work.

Conclusion;

1) using ALL POINTS SELECTED--auto point selection (white box) the D300s is extremely FAST. There is no more of the hesitation it used to have when you depressed the focus and waited for the AF points to light up and BEEP. The D300s focuses right up: "beep!". Much much improved initial aquisition speed in BOTH the AF-S and AF-C mode. This was one of the things that bugged me much when moving over to Nikon from Canon. The delay is no resolved: AF is IMPROVED.

2) using the 70-300mm VR lens at its 300mm range in AF-C, (LOCK-ON: off, center Single AF point selection only, and release priority), the D300s is FASTER than the D300! Remember how the D300 would "slide" into focus from subject to subject (with different distances)? The D300s SNAPS into focus. As a matter of fact, I pulled out the D700 to test this side by side, and I have to say its almost the same. The focusing "torque" of the AF-S moving from area to area when tracking is the same speed and snappiness. Very very nicely done here in the AF department: Nikon did not dissapoint.

3) using VIDEO: for those who THINK the video is the same as the D90: think again! Testing the 720p video on an SD card, I panned the D300s and there is very very little "jello effect". Although I'm not a big fan of video, I took it out to film outside (filming traffic) and panned smoothly from left to right: no jello effect. I was shocked! I couldn't believe how good the video is. I liked the fact you could manually select your apreture for shallow depth of field when shooting (quite intimate).

4) 7 fps without AA!!!! This was way too cool because using the cameras drive mode without the mb-d10 made the d300 feel so light and easy to walk around!

My overall impression is DANG! I had a blast using the D300s (and the D3000 also!!!). I've got to say, for those who say its the same thing: think twice--as I was also disspointed during the annoucement of the D300s. However now with first hand experience with the D300s, I'm simply gonna say what Phil said about the D300: "its simply the best APS-C camera out on the market."

 aroundomaha's gear list:aroundomaha's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 O.I.S Panasonic Lumix G 25mm F1.7 ASPH +2 more
the pugelt Forum Member • Posts: 63
D300 AF is slow??

I'm really surprised to read comments about the D300 AF being slow. I owned both the 1DmarkIII & the D300 and ended up selling canon's flagship camera in favor of the D300 (and now D700). Canon's AF just plain sucked in comparison.

I shoot fast, erratically moving subjects and have been 100% happy w/the D300's AF performance. In my experience, when used with the 24-70 or 70-200 all you have to do is THINK about focusing on something.

Maybe it's the 18-200 that's slowing down the AF? I rented that lens to try it out and decided not to buy it - though I can't remember why. Maybe it was the pokey AF??

Jola013
Jola013 Senior Member • Posts: 1,851
Re: D300 AF is slow??

the pugelt wrote:

I'm really surprised to read comments about the D300 AF being slow.

I don't think that people are saying that the D300 AF is slow in general, it's just that the initial acquisition is sometimes a bit slow. But it is slower than the D3.

The point WRT the D300s, is that some of the reports are saying that the AF of that camera is the same as that of the D3, ie fast initial acquisition and fast tracking.

The D300 has pretty good AF compared to most cameras in the market.

John Senior Member • Posts: 1,299
Re: 18-200??

Boring waste of money with a ton of who cares minor features---sell a few more of an aging camera. The only impressive thing Nikon released this time around is the new 70-200 VR which didn't have to be much to wax the old one especially at FF but it indeed much improved for a big price..

Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads