Nikon D300 SLR Review

Nikon D300 Professional

Review posted 5/1/2008

Click to take a QuickTime tour of the D300

Nikon has introduced their most advanced DX-format digital SLR camera to date, the D300. Engineered with pro- level features and performance, the 12.3 effective megapixel D300 combines brand new technologies with advanced features inherited from Nikon's newly announced D3 professional digital SLR to offer serious photographers remarkable performance combined with agility. The D300 also employs a new 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 appearance of dust.

Similar to the D3, the D300 features Nikon's exclusive EXPEED Image Processing System that is central to driving the speed and processing power needed for many of the camera's new features. The D300 features a new 51-point auto focus system with Nikon's 3D Focus Tracking feature and two new LiveView shooting modes that allow users to frame a photograph using the camera's high-resolution LCD monitor.

This new model incorporates a range of innovative technologies and features that will significantly improve the accuracy, control and performance photographers can get from their equipment. Its new Scene Recognition System (which it shares with the D3) advances the use of Nikon's acclaimed 1,005-segment sensor to recognize colors and light patterns that help the camera determine the subject and the type of scene being photographed, before a picture is taken. This information is used to improve the accuracy of auto focus, auto exposure and auto white balance functions in the D300. For example, the camera can track moving subjects better and by identifying them, it can also automatically select focus points faster and with greater accuracy. It can also analyze highlights and more accurately determine exposure, as well as infer light sources to deliver more accurate white balance detection.

The D300 also features Nikon's new Multi-CAM 3500DX auto focus module that features an intelligent array of 15 cross-type sensors and 36 horizontal sensors. These sensors can either be used individually or in groups, with the option for Single area AF mode and Dynamic AF modes using groups of either nine, 21 or all 51 focus points. The system also features 3D tracking with automatic focus point switching that takes advantage of all 51 AF points as it uses color and light information to accurately track the subject. Nikon's new Scene Recognition System and improved focus algorithms also contribute to the impressive performance of the new 51- point AF system.

There's a new Active D-Lighting mode that, when enabled, provides remarkable real-time highlight and shadow correction with optimized image contrast. Active D-Lighting produces broader tone reproduction in both shadows and highlights by controlling highlights and exposure compensation while applying localized tone control technology to achieve a more pleasing level of contrast across the entire image. And because the advantages of Active D-Lighting are applied as images are captured, image editing time can be shortened.

The D300's LiveView feature offers two modes for confirming subjects and composition on the new 920,000-dot, high-resolution 3-inch LCD monitor while shooting. The Tripod mode is designed for precise focus and accuracy when the camera is on a stable platform and the subject is not moving. In this mode, the camera focuses on the subject using focal-plane contrast and any point on the LCD screen can be selected as the focus point for the picture. The second mode, called Handheld mode, allows photographers to use the camera's conventional TTL focusing system, with all 51-points and 15 cross-type points available. When using this mode, the camera activates focusing immediately when the shutter button is pressed, to ensure accurate focus.

D300 Major Features:

  • 12.3-Megapixel effective DX format CMOS image sensor
  • New EXPEED Image Processing System
  • Continuous capture @ 6fps up to 37 JPEG/22 NEF
  • Accepts Nikon F-mount lenses (with 1.5x FOV multiplier)
  • Compressed RAW, JPEG and TIFF file formats
  • Program AE, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority and Manual exposure modes
  • Scene Recognition System recognizes colors and light patterns to determine the subject and the type of scene being photographed
  • Advanced 3D-Color Matrix Metering II prevents highlight blowouts and loss of detail in shadow areas
  • 1,005-segment (pixel) metering sensor also helps improve the accuracy of AF, AE and Auto White Balance functions
  • Active D-Lighting mode helps produce broader tone reproduction in both low and high contrast areas
  • Shutter speeds from 1/8,000 to 30 seconds, flash sync up to 1/250
  • 51 area AF with 15 cross-type sensors, dynamic tracking, single or continuous servo modes
  • 3.0-inch color LCD with 170-degree viewing angle and 920,000 pixels
  • Two "Live View" modes (tripod or handheld)
  • Onscreen menu for Playback, Shooting, Custom functions and Setup
  • ISO sensitivity from 200 to 3200 in 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV steps with additional settings up to 1 EV (100 - 6400)
  • Noise Reduction for long exposures, High ISO Noise Reduction for ISO 400 and above
  • i-TTL with the SB-800 and SB-600 Speedlights for Nikon's Creative Lighting System compatibility
  • CompactFlash Type I or II storage (UDMA Compliant), Micro drive compatible
  • Selectable video output with NTSC or PAL format
  • USB 2.0 hi-speed data and control interface
  • HDMI High Definition output (choose 480p - 1080i output)
  • High-capacity Li-ion battery for up to 1000 shots per charge (3000 using Nikon standards)
  • Support for the new Wireless Transmitter WT-4

The D300 is bundled with the EN-EL3e Rechargeable Li-ion Battery, MH-18a Quick Charger, UC-E4 USB Cable, EG-D100 Video Cable, AN-D300 Strap, BM-8 LCD monitor cover, Body cap, DK-5 Eyepiece Cap, DK-23 Rubber Eyecup, Software Suite CD-ROM. It is available now with an MSRP of $1,799.95.

The Nikon D300 is available now.

Physical Views

Nikon D300 SLR

Nikon D300 SLR

Nikon D300 SLR

Nikon D300 SLR

Nikon D300 SLR

Nikon D300 SLR

Nikon D300 Specifications
Type of CameraSingle-lens reflex digital camera
Image SensorDX format, CMOS, 23.6 x 15.8 mm; total pixels: 13.1 million
Effective pixels12.3 million
Image size (pixels)4,288 x 2,848 [L], 3,216 x 2,136 [M], 2,144 x 1,424 [S]
Sensitivity200 to 3200 in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV with additional settings up to 1 EV (100 - 6400)
Storage MediaCompactFlash™ (CF) Card (Type I and II), UDMA Compliant, and Microdrive™
Storage SystemNEF (RAW): 12 or 14-bit compression, lossless compressed, compressed or un compressed
JPEG: JPEG baseline-compliant with fine (approx. 1:4), normal (approx. 1:8), or basic (approx 1:16)
File SystemExif 2,21, DCF 2.0, DPOF, and PictBridge compliant
White Balance
Auto (TTL white balance with main image sensor and 1,005-pixel RGB sensor), seven manual modes with fine-tuning, color temperature setting, white balance bracketing possible (2 to 9 frames in increments of 1, 2 or 3)
LCD Monitor3.0-in., 920,000-dot, low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD with 170° viewing angle, 100% frame coverage, and brightness adjustment
Playback FunctionFull-frame and thumbnail (4 or 9 images) playback with zoom playback, slide show, histogram display, auto image rotate, and image comment (up to 36 characters)
Video OutputNTSC or PAL
InterfaceUSB 2.0(Hi-speed)
Text InputUp to 36 characters of alphanumeric text input available with LCD monitor and multi selector; stored in Exif header
Compatible LensesNikon F mount: DX AF Nikkor (All functions supported)
Type G or D AF Nikkor (All functions supported; PC Micro-Nikkor does not support some functions). IX Nikkor not supported
Other AF Nikkor: All functions supported except 3D color matrix metering II. Lenses for F3AF not supported.
AI-P Nikkor: All functions except 3D color matrix metering II.
Non-CPU: Can be used in exposure modes A and M; electronic range finder can be used if maximum aperture is f/5.6 or faster; color matrix metering and aperture value display supported if user provides lens data (AI lenses only.
Picture AngleEquivalent in 35 mm format is approx. 1.5 times lens focal length
ViewfinderFixed eye-level pentaprism; built-in diopter adjustment (-2.0 to +1.0m-1)
Eyepoint19.5 mm (-1.0 m-1)
Focusing ScreenShips with Type B BriteView Clear Matte screen Mark II with superimposed focus brackets and on-demand grid lines
Viewfinder Frame CoverageApprox. 100% (vertical & horizontal)
Viewfinder Magnification Approx. 0.94x with 50mm f/1.4 lens at infinity; -1.0 m-1
AutofocusNikon Multi-CAM 3500DX autofocus module with TTL phase detection, fine-tuning, 51 focus points (including 15 cross-type sensors), and AF-assist illuminator (approx. 0.5m to 3.0m/1 ft. 8 in. - 9ft. 10 in.)
Detection range: -1 to +19 (ISO 100, 20 °C/68 °F
Lens ServoAutofocus: Single-servo AF (S); continuous-servo AF (C); predictive focus tracking automatically activated according to subject status
Manual (M): Electronic range finding supported
Focus PointCan be selected from 51 or 11 points
AF Area ModeSingle Area AF, Dynamic Area AF, Automatic Area AF
Focus LockFocus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (single-servo AF) or by pressing AE-L/AF-L button
Exposure Metering SystemTTL exposure metering using 1,005-segment RGB sensor
1) 3D Color Matrix Metering II (type G and D lenses); color matrix metering II (other CPU lenses); color matrix metering available with non-CPU lenses if user provides lens data
2) Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 6, 8, 10, or 13mm dia. circle in center of frame
3) Spot: Meters 3mm dia. circle (about 2.0% of frame) centered on active focus area (on center focus area when non-CPU lens is used)
Exposure Metering Range (ISO 100, f/1.4 lens, 20°C/68°F)1) EV 0 to 20 (3D Color Matrix or center-weighted metering)
2) EV 2 to 20 (spot metering)
Exposure Meter CouplingCombined CPU and AI
Exposure ModeProgrammed Auto [P] with flexible program; Shutter-Priority Auto [S]; Aperture Priority Auto [A]; Manual [M]
Exposure Compensation±5 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV
Auto Exposure LockLuminosity locked at detected value with AE-L/AF-L button
Auto Exposure Bracketing2 to 9 exposures in increments of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, or 1 EV
Active D-LightingCan be selected from High, Normal, or Low
Shooting Modes1) Single frame shooting mode
2) Continuous low speed (CL) shooting mode: up to 5 frames per second
3) Continuous high-speed (CH) shooting mode: up to 6 frames per second
4) Live View mode
5) Self-timer shooting mode
6) Mirror-up mode
ShutterElectronically-controlled vertical-travel focal plane shutter, 30 to 1/8000 sec. in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV, bulb, X250
Sync ContactX=1/250 sec. (synchronizes with shutter at 1/320 sec. or slower; note: flash range drops at speeds between 1/250 and 1/320 sec.)
Flash Control1) TTL:i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL flash for digital SLR using 1,005 segment RGB sensor are available with built-in flash and SB-800, SB-600, or SD-400
2) Auto aperture: Available with SB-800 with CPU lens
3) Non-TTL Auto: Available with Speedlights such as SB-800, 28, 27, and 22s
4) Range-priority manual; available with SB-800 4) Distance-priority manual available with SB-800
Flash Sync ModeFront curtain sync, slow sync, rear-curtain sync, red-eye reduction, red-eye reduction with slow sync
Built-in SpeedlightManual pop-up with button release Guide number of 17/56 (m/ft, ISO 200 , 20°C/68°F; GN at ISO 100 is 12/39) or 18/59 in manual mode (m/ft, ISO 200, 20°C/68°F; GN at ISO 100 is 13/43)
Flash compensation-3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV
Accessory ShoeStandard ISO 518 hot-shoe contact with safety lock provided
Sync TerminalISO 519 standard terminal
Self-timerElectronically controlled timer with duration of 2, 5, 10 or 20 seconds
Depth of Field PreviewWhen CPU lens is attached, lens aperture can be stopped down to value selected by user (A and M modes) or value selected by camera (P and S modes)
Remote ControlVia 10-pin Remote Cord MC-35 (optional) or Wireless Remote Control WT-4 (optional)
GPSNMEA 0183 (Ver. 2.01 or 3.01) interface standard supported with optional MC-35 adapter cord and 9-pin D-sub cable (optional)
Power SourceBattery: One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e
Battery pack: Optional MB-D10 multi-power battery pack with one rechargeable Nikon EN-EL3e, EN-EL4a or EN-EL4 Li-ion battery or eight AA alkaline, NiMH, lithium, or nickel-manganese batteries; EN-EL4a/EN-EL4 and AA batteries available separately; A BL-3 battery chamber cover is required when using EN-EL4a or EN-EL4 batteries
Tripod Socket1/4 In. (ISO1222)
Dimensions (W x H x D)Approx. 147 x 114 x 74mm (5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in.)
WeightApprox. 825g (1.82 lb) without battery, memory card, body cap, or monitor cover
Supplied Accessories*EN-EL3e Rechargeable Li-ion Battery, MH-18a Quick Charger, UC-E4 USB Cable, EG-D100 Video Cable, AN-D300 Strap, BM-8 LCD monitor cover, Body cap, DK-5 Eyepiece Cap, DK-23 Rubber Eyecup, Software Suite CD-ROM. Supplied accessories may differ depending on country or area.
Optional AccessoriesMB-D10 Multi-Power Battery Pack, WT-4a Wireless Transmitter, DK-21M Magnifying Eyepiece, EH-5a AC Adapter, Capture NX Software, Camera Control Pro 2

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