Nikon D300 In-depth Review
Conclusion - Pros
- Very good resolution and detail without looking over-processed, even up to ISO 1600
- Better balanced noise reduction than most; more chroma NR, less luminance NR
- High ISO 3200 perfectly usable (if slightly softer due to NR), ISO 6400 usable for small output
- Highly configurable Auto ISO function (can set maximum ISO and minimum shutter speed)
- Conservative approach to image processing (slightly lower sharpening) helps to avoid 'digital' artifacts
- Excellent dynamic range from ISO 200 - 800 (good highlight 'reach'), typical at ISO 1600
- Seldom mentioned built-in chromatic aberration reduction is very effective (JPEG, RAWs through NX)
- Compact, solid body design with environmental sealing
- Quality glass pentaprism viewfinder (bright, large view) with electronic grid lines
- Professional in-use performance (instant power-up, short shutter lag and short viewfinder black-out)
- Improved auto-focus module (Multi-CAM3500DX) delivers fast and accurate AF lock even in low light
- Auto-focus fine-tuning by body or per lens
- Nikon's excellent 1005 pixel RGB metering sensor
- Numerous 'hidden' designed-in features; AF tracking by color, scene recognition system
- High speed continuous shooting (6 fps) can be boosted to 8 fps with grip & battery
- 150,000 exposure shutter life
- Now Nikon standard range of image parameter presets, addition of brightness adjustment
- Superb large, high resolution LCD (delivers full-color VGA; 640xRGB x 480)
- Live view with up to 1:1 pixel view, contrast detect AF as well as passive (mirror flip) AF
- HDMI video output (up to 1080i)
- Compact Flash UDMA support, very fast throughput overall
- Menu system is a pleasure to use, attractive, logical and built-in help
- Easy to use playback with very logical delete system (press delete button twice)
- Highly configurable via custom functions (6 configurable hard buttons / dials)
- Sophisticated interval timer feature
- Unique in-camera features: Overlay, Multiple exposures
- GPS data recording feature (requires optional cable, NMEA compatible)
- Built-in AF assist lamp (white light)
- Probably the best battery information display in the business (% charge, shots, aging)
- Optional wireless WiFi transmitter (802.11 b/g)
Conclusion - Cons
- No timed mirror lock-up function (could be automatic with self-timer)
- Non-articulating LCD (increases the usefulness of Live View considerably)
- Average automatic white balance performance, still very poor under incandescent light
The D200 was a big step forward for Nikon, the 'baby D2X' certainly gave the competition a thing or two to think about. Its big problem was the fact that Canon was still a generation ahead in the noise stakes, managing to consistently deliver clean images despite megapixel jumps. With the advent of the D300 however Nikon has conclusively removed this disparity and if anything stepped ahead of Canon (mostly thanks to its chroma based noise reduction delivering more film-like grain rather than color blotches).
But that's just one aspect of the D300 story, almost everything else about this camera has been improved. Starting on the outside there's that stunning high resolution three inch LCD monitor, the usefulness of which shouldn't be underestimated (you'll find you get enough detail without magnifying as far), there's perhaps the best implementation of Live View to date with both contrast detect (like a compact camera, although not particularly fast) and passive auto-focus options, and there's HDMI output; a boon no doubt to studio photographers who can now provide live high resolution previews of a shot. And of course we can't talk about the D300 without giving Nikon credit for the superb build quality and robust 'go anywhere' feel the body has.
On the inside Nikon has worked hard to deliver both better image quality and better performance; you get usable images up to ISO 3200, extended image parameter control, improved dynamic range, automatic CA removal (which immediately improves the performance of all your lenses), six frames per second continuous shooting (eight with the grip / battery combo), a new AF sensor, AF tracking by color and scene recognition. There are also an almost infinite range of customization options available, everything from how many AF areas are used to the size of the center-weighted metering circle to what happens when you hold the FUNC button and turn the command dial.
My biggest problem writing this conclusion has been picking out the D300's weak points. The usefulness of Live View would certainly be improved with an articulating LCD monitor (although I'm sure Nikon would argue that this could compromise the integrity of the body), auto white-balance is poor in artificial light (although this isn't anything unique to the D300) and there's still no true mirror lock-up feature. But really, these few niggles are really the only things we could pick out as criticism.
There is price, but sometimes the best products demand a premium and the D300 is no exception. Nikon's biggest problem now will be bettering the D300; it raises the bar to a new high, and represents the state of the art despite strong competition from the likes of Canon, Sony and Olympus. There's simply no better semi-professional digital SLR on the market.
Rating (out of 10)
|Ergonomics & handling||8.5|
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Holding down the top position is none other than the Nikon D850 – by a landslide.
It's been twenty years since Jeff Keller founded the Digital Camera Resource Page, one of the first websites dedicated to digital photography. Jeff, who has been at DPReview for nearly five years, looks back at the rise and fall of consumer digital cameras and his website.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At #2 we have another staff favorite – the Sony Alpha a9.
Rotolight has released the Anova Pro 2 circular LED for stills and video, boasting a 70% increase in brightness and what the company describes as "unrivaled battery performance."
Designer Vinicius Araújo has imagined what he believes the perfect Adobe software keyboard might look like. From customizable touch pads, to a scroll wheel, to a little display that shows the tool in use, his design is pretty compelling.
Peak Design has teamed up with Leica to release a limited-edition backpack made special for fans of the Red Dot.
A portrait of an android woman has beaten over 5,700 pictures of humans to take third place in this year’s prestigious Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. The judges were not told the subject was an 'android' until after the winning images were chosen.
Hauling around C-Stands just got a whole lot less annoying thanks to these new Matthews shoulder and roller bags, which can hold two or three C-stand (respectively) plus accessories.
Neal Preston has shot timeless photos of everyone from Led Zeppelin, to Whitney Houston, to Michael Jackson. In this interview, he offers insights into his craft to up-and-comer Elijah Dominique.
Future prosumer Canon DSLRs might feature light-up buttons, if this newly published patent is any indication of the camera company's plans.
Sony's a7R Mark III shoots 42.4MP files at 10fps and incorporates a robust video feature set, large battery, refined ergonomics and more. It certainly looks impressive, but what is it like to use, and how does it stack up against the rest of the market? Find out in our full review.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017 – the Fujifilm X100F takes the bronze and the #3 spot.
There's never been a better time to shop for a new camera, but the number of options available can be overwhelming. In this series of buying guides we've provided customized recommendations for several use cases, from shooting landscapes to buying a first camera for a student photographer.
Shopping for a camera with a set budget? No problem! We've rounded up our favorite cameras, broken them into price brackets and picked the best of the bunch.
Looking for a lightweight compact camera that's easy to bring with you anywhere? Or maybe you're smartphone-shopping and want the one that takes the best picture. And what if you want to shoot from above? In these buyers guides we have recommendations for the best compact cameras, smartphones and drones.
Despite reports to the contrary, analysis of DPReview images by our friend Jim Kasson confirms a disappointing fact: Sony a7R III is still a Star Eater. But there may be some improvements.
As the saying goes: A photo is worth a thousand words. And if you're sending that photo through Facebook Messenger, your thousand words now look twice as nice after today's update to 4K resolution.
Get to know the new Leica CL in short order by giving our 90 second 'First look' video a watch.
Leica has just released the CL, the forth in its series of APS-C L-mount cameras. Despite sharing a name with a camera released in the mid-70s, the new CL is a thoroughly modern ILC, with a 24MP sensor and built-in electronic viewfinder.
The Leica CL is a 24MP rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, which sits alongside the TL2 in the company's APS-C lineup. We've been using one for a few days – check out our gallery of images.
While it shares a name with one of Leica's most popular and affordable cameras of the 1970s, the new CL is separated from its namesake by more than just years. We've been using one for a few days - click through for a detailed first-impressions report.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #4 ranking goes to the Leica M10.
Sigma is discounting 13 different high-performance 'Art' series lenses from today until November 30th. The company is calling it an 'unprecedented' sale.
See DJI's 'AeroScope' drone-tracking technology in action. This is the system that DJI says can help law enforcement and airport (among others) track and identify rogue drones.
iPhone X owners can already accessorize their new phone with high-quality smartphone photography lenses courtesy of Moment's new lineup.
Considering buying Sigma's exciting new 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for crop-sensor E-Mount and M43? Check out these official full-res samples first!
Vimeo has just added support for 8K HDR 10-bit content, making it possible to show up to 75% of the colors the human eye can perceive vs the usual 35%. Take THAT YouTube.
The holidays are coming, but your gear isn't cutting it? It's time to treat yourself!
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and sitting pretty at #5 is the Fujifilm X-T20.
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.