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Nikon D300 First Impression and ISO Tests (versus D200)

I went to a local electronic shop in Japan today – DeoDeo. Main purpose is to try out the Nikon D300 system but I have found another surprised of Olympus E-3 professional DSLR. 🙂

Thanks to my wife, she helped me to take care of Megumi for nearly an hour, so I have the time to try out the D300 and pull out my D200 and insert my memory card into the D300 to test and get the photos I want.

(I find the photo below kinda cool…D300 is considered as a little brother to Nikon D3, sharing many similarities.)

nikon-d300-d3.jpg

Before I go to the ISO comparison shots, let’s share a bit of how I feel about the D300.

For the first time I viewed through the D300 viewfinder, I felt that the screen is extremely bright and clean! Yes, clean. Unlike Nikon previous DSLR, you don’t see all the AF point in the viewfinder. Instead, only the focus point that is currently being used is shown. On Nikon D200, you can see 11 focus points in the viewfinder, but on the D300 – which has 51 focus points, you only see the one that is in focus.

nikon_d300_af_pointsb.jpg
(image from http://www.digitalreview.ca/content/Nikon-D300-Digital-SLR-Camera-Pg2.shtml)

The AF tracking and locking in Nikon D300 is really interesting (not sure if it is accurate or not, as there are user reports of faulty AF system in D300)! Once you lock focus on a subject, move your DSLR around with the subject changing position in your frame, D300 will smartly continue to lock focus on the subject by changing the focus point. Yes, you can actually see the focus point moving while you move the camera around. This is a great improvement over current AF system in my opinion, as new way of tracking focus and making sure that your subject is always keep in focus. Another innovative technology and design from Nikon, definitely surprising me. 🙂

Another great improvement on the D300 is what I have always dislike about Nikon DSLR, the buttons at the back of the DSLR. It is really a stupid and un-user-friendly design in Nikon D200 when you want to view a photo and zoom in and out. On Nikon D200, you have to press Enter button once to go to zoom mode (zoomed in slightly), then use the thumbnail button + scroll wheel to zoom in and out. This design is really pain to use. Now Nikon has finally realized that and in cooperate zoom in and zoom out buttons directly on the D300. Yeah, much easier to use and no need to go fancy with the wheel scroll and give us just the two zoom buttons!

D300 – Back

nikon-d300-back.jpg

D200 – Back

nikon-d200-back.jpg

People have been praising and huh-hahing a lot about how good the D300 LCD is. Now my huh-hah…yes, it is indeed a GREAT LCD! It is bright and crisper sharp in details! Not only that, I found zooming and shifting/viewing pictures on the LCD to be very responsive and fast. This could be due to the new EXPEED processor used in the D300. I am sure Nikon has been using great and fast processor in their previous DSLR, but they do not market it well like the Canon (DIGIC I, II and now III), which has become a symbol of high speed image processing and great image quality! So, Nikon has now branded their processor as EXPEED, though late but definitely not too late. However, it takes time for people to remember the processor name and Nikon still have a long way to brand the processor. They should also consider putting the EXPEED processor in their consumer P&S, just like what Canon did. 🙂

Ok, enough talking of the D300 above…here’s the comparison shots of Nikon D300 and D200 in different ISO setting:

Notes:

  • Nikon D300 + AFS 18-200VR with VR OFF
  • Nikon D200 + Tamron SP 17-50mm F2.8
  • Both cameras use Manual exposure with same settings. Exif are intact in the photos.

Here’s the full view of the test shot (I use Olympus E-3 as my test subject, as it is black and dark, which is perfect in showing noise):

dsc_0009.jpg

All the shots below are 100% crop from the similar angle of view like the above. No processing or editing of image other than just cropping (1000 x 664 px)

D200 @ ISO800

d200-iso800.jpg

D300 @ ISO800

d300-iso800.jpg

D200 @ ISO1600

d200-iso1600.jpg

D300 @ ISO1600

d300-iso1600.jpg

D200 @ ISO3200

d200-iso3200.jpg

D300 @ ISO3200

d300-iso3200.jpg

Finally, before I end this small / short article, here’s some photos taken by the D300 at high ISO. Click the name above the photo to view FULL RES PHOTO (Warning, big file!):

dsc_0021.jpg (ISO 3200)
dsc_0021_s.jpg

dsc_0027.jpg (ISO1600)
dsc_0027_s.jpg

dsc_0031.jpg (ISO800)
dsc_0031_s.jpg

dsc_0032.jpg (ISO800)
dsc_0032_s.jpg

dsc_0034.jpg (ISO1600)
dsc_0034_s.jpg

That’s all for now. Hope you enjoy my writing above. Do feel free to leave comment or feedback, this encourage me to write more in future. 🙂

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