RSS Twitter YouTube

Nikon D300 Review

12 Megapixels12 MegapixelsSingle Lens ReflexSingle Lens ReflexContinuous DriveContinuous DriveManual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringDepth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Depth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Weatherproof - Seals protect from dust, humidity and light splashing.Weatherproof - Seals protect from dust, humidity and light splashing.Accepts Compact Flash memory.Accepts Compact Flash memory.Neocamera detailed reviewNeocamera detailed reviewDiscontinued: No longer produced by the manufacturer. May still be in stock or found used.Discontinued: No longer produced by the manufacturer. May still be in stock or found used.

Usability - How easy is it to use?

The ergonomics of the Nikon D300 are good with plenty of external controls within easy reach of the thumb or forefinger. It has a deep hand-grip with a protrusion for the front command-dial and another protrusion on the rear along the edge. This shape gives a very secure grip but is not that comfortable because it can dig into the palm of your hand. The D300 has a size and shape that seems more suitable for large hands though. The camera feels very solid with a confidence-inspiring weight.

The D300 has a large pentaprism viewfinder which provides a bright and clear image and 100% coverage. This perfect coverage was previously reserved for much more expensive cameras. At this time, there is only one similarly priced DSLR with 100% coverage. Just below the viewfinder image is the status display which shows all the important camera settings. This includes the usual shutter-speed, aperture, ISO and EC but also the exposure mode and the metering pattern. The viewfinder can also overlay auto focus points and grid lines to aid focusing and composition. One good thing about the focus points in AF mode is that the D300 highlights all the points where focus has been established. In MF mode, the selected focus sensor lights up when the shutter is pressed halfway if focus is detected there.

Nikon D300

While gripping the camera, the forefinger can easily reach the exposure-compensation and mode buttons which are located just behind the shutter-release. The AF-ON and the AE-L/AF-L buttons are located within reach of the thumb. Even though the metering dial is located around the AE-L/AF-L button, it is nearly impossible to change its position using the thumb. A short distance below the AF-ON button is the multi-way controller which is used to select the central focus point.

Two-control wheels allow direct control for exposure parameters. Nikon calls one of them the command dial and the other the sub-command dial. Although there is a setting to reverse them, their functions are not always reversed which is confusing at first - sometimes for logical reasons though! For example, the rear-dial, which by default is the command dial, is always used for mode and exposure-compensation, even in reversed mode. The obvious reason for this is that the sub-command dial would be hard to use in combination with the exposure-compensation and mode buttons due to their position. However, the command-dials become reversed when used to change aperture or shutter-speed when the reverse option is active. Another oddity is that A mode always uses the sub-command dial while S mode always uses the command dial. This does keep it consistent with M mode but it is strange that in A mode the aperture is not controlled by the main dial. Nikon could easily improve this by adding an option where both command dials work to change the aperture or shutter-speed, in A and S mode respectively.

Nikon D300

On the top of the camera, on the opposite side of the shutter-release, there are 3 buttons. The QUAL button controls image compression in conjunction with the command dial and image resolution with the sub-command dial. The other two buttons are for ISO and white-balance.

The ISO button scrolls through fixed ISO values when used with the command dial and does nothing when used with the sub-command dial. Note that Auto ISO is not accessible through this dial. Instead, Auto ISO must be activated using the Shooting menu. When activated, the ISO is increased from its preset value until a user-specified maximum or until the shutter-speed is faster than the user-set limit, whichever comes first. The standard ISO sensitivity range of the Nikon D300 is 200 to 3200. A custom menu option allows this range to be expanded to ISO 100 to 6400 with the usual caveats of higher noise levels at ISO 6400. A minor point with respect to the expanded ISO range is that images taken outside of the normal range do not show the ISO value in the standard EXIF metadata. We are not sure if anyone but camera reviewers get annoyed at this.

Nikon D300

The WB button controls white-balance. The command dial is used to select the white-balance setting and the sub-command dial is used to fine-tune white-balance on the amber-to-blue axis. Note that the D300 can fine-tune white-balance on the green-to-magenta axis too, but you have to enter the menu system to do that. Also, contrarily to ISO, AWB (Auto White-Balance) is selectable using the WB button in conjunction with the command dial.

Both control-wheels are usable during image playback and menu navigation. In playback mode, the command dial changes images while the sub-command dial rotates the information displayed for the current image. Zooming is done by two buttons to the left of the LCD. Menu navigation with the dials is possible but a bit weird. While you can use the main command dial to select between items within a menu-level, the sub-command dial can change menu levels and select options. The odd thing is that the sub-command dial only works one way sometimes. Specifically, you can enter a setting like Red-eye correction but you cannot exit from it, you can enter and exit from LCD Brightness, though.

The normal way to navigate the menu system is by using the multi-way controller. Instead of the usual 4-way plus OK control, this digital SLR uses a single control which can be tilted in 8 ways and pressed. The extra directions are useful for selecting a focus point. Because this control is made of a single piece, pressing it to activate a menu item is error prone as it often causes the control to tilt and activate something inadvertently.

Two small buttons between the hand-grip and lens barrel provide more customizable behavior. By default, the top one is DOF-Preview but can be reassigned to one of 11 functions by itself or one of 4 functions in conjunction with a command dial. The bottom button, called Fn, can be customized the same way. Useful options to assign include spot-metering and bracketing.

Nikon D300

A switch on the front of the camera body selects between the 3 focus modes: single, continuous and manual. In single and continuous focus modes, a custom setting decides whether a picture can be taken without focus-lock. Continuous focus tries to keep the main subject in focus at all times. There is a clever custom setting called Focus tracking with lock-on which avoids losing the subject focus when something passes in front of it. With this enabled, the camera monitors sudden changes in focus distance and delays locking for a period specified by the user as short, long or normal.

There is an info button which can be used to display a status screen on the rear LCD. The status screen is very similar to the top LCD, only with a bit more information. In playback mode, the info button becomes the lock button. Speaking of buttons, the Nikon D300 has 4 of them which have absolutely no function in shooting mode: Delete, Zoom-Out, Zoom-In and OK. In playback mode, the AEL/AFL and AF-ON have no function, while the Mode and Exposure-Compensation buttons keep their normal function. To save real-estate, Nikon could have dropped the Zoom-In and Zoom-Out buttons in favor of assigning those functions to the AEL/AFL and AF-ON buttons. Or, they could have provided customizable functions for these buttons.

Since no DSLR has a truly usable live-preview yet, it is common to leave a setting such as white-balance or exposure-compensation incorrectly set. While the Nikon D300 remembers all settings while being powered off, it shows a number of them on the top LCD, thus informing the user of the camera's status.

The rear LCD is incredibly sharp with a good viewing angle and controllable brightness for easy viewing under most conditions. Nikon also supplies an LCD protector with the camera.

Nikon D300
Buy from these sellers:Buy From Amazon.com
By on 2009/09/20
3

Nikon D300 Facts


SLR digital camera

Sensor-Size: 24 x 16mm

APS-C Sensor

Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI

12 Megapixels DSLRISO 100-6400
Nikon F Mount
1.5X FLM
Shutter 1/8000-30s
100% Coverage
Large Viewfinder
Full manual controls, including Manual Focus
WeatherproofCustom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning
Built-in Dust ReductionSpot-Metering
6 FPS Drive, 100 ImagesHot-Shoe & Sync-Port
3" LCD 920K PixelsLithium-Ion Battery
Compact Flash
Buy from these sellers:Buy From Amazon.com

Camera Bag

Clear

Your camera bag is empty. To add a camera or lens click on the star next to its name.

Your camera bag is empty.

Add cameras or lenses by clicking on the star next to their name.

Updates

    2019.11.26

  • 2019.11.26

    10 Gifts Photographers Will Love

    10 Gifts Photographers Will Love

    The 2019 gift guide for photographers showcases photography gear that amateur and enthusiasts will enjoy. It is divided into 3 price categories to suit different budgets from $50 to $200 USD.

  • 2019.11.25

  • 2019.11.25

    Sony Alpha A7R IV In-Depth Review

    Sony Alpha A7R IV In-Depth Review

    The newest Sony high-resolution mirrorless packs a 61 MP Full-Frame BSI-CMOS sensor on 5-axis Sensor-Shift system. It shoots at 10 FPS, records 4K Ultra-HD video and focuses with a new 567-Point and 425-Area Hybrid AF system with Realtime tracking. This professional-grade camera features a 5.8 MP 0.5" EVF with 0.78X magnification, 100% coverage and an Eye-Start Sensor plus triple control-dials in a weatherproof body. This review shows exactly how the A7R IV performs and compares to top Full-Frame and Medium-Format digital cameras.

  • 2019.11.04

  • 2019.11.04

    Olympus OM-D E-M1X Review

    Olympus OM-D E-M1X Review

    Professional Micro Four-Thirds mirrorless sporting an ultra-high speed 20 MP sensor with 121-Point Phase-Detect AF on a 5-axis image-stabilization system effective to 7-stops. 60 FPS drive with blackout free view on a huge 0.83X magnification 2.4 MP 0.5" EVF. Even a builtin GPS in a dual-grip double dual-control-dial IPX1-rated weatherproof and freezeproof body.

  • 2019.10.17

  • 2019.10.17

    Nikon D3500 Review

    Nikon D3500 Review

    The lightest DSLR packs a 24 MP APS-C sensor with ISO 100-25600 sensitivity-range, 5 FPS drive and Full HD video capture. Basic features with simple ergonomics.

  • 2019.10.16

  • 2019.10.16

    Time-Lapse Photography for Beginners

    Time-Lapse Photography for Beginners

    Learn how to get started with time-lapse photography in 4 easy steps.

  • 2019.10.07

  • 2019.10.07

    Fujifilm X-T30 Review

    Fujifilm X-T30 Review

    The newest 26 MP 4th-Generation X-Trans CMOS sensor and X-Process 4 from the flagship X-T3 in more compact body. ISO 80-51200, 1/32000-30s, 20 FPS Continuous drive, Cinema 4K video. Dual control-dials and 2.4 MP EVF with Eye-Start Sensor.

  • 2019.09.30

  • 2019.09.30

    Nikon Z6 Review

    Nikon Z6 Review

    Nikon Full-Frame Mirrorless with 24 MP and 5-Axis Built-In Image-Stabilization effective to 5-Stops. ISO 100-202400. 12 FPS Continuous Drive. 3.7 MP 0.5" EVF with 0.8X Magnification and 100% Coverage. 4K Ultra-HD video.

  • 2019.04.22

  • 2019.04.22

    Fujifilm GFX 50R Review

    Fujifilm GFX 50R Review

    Medium Format Mirrorless Digital Camera based on 50 MP 0.8X-Crop CMOS sensor without Anti-Alias Filter. ISO 50-102400, 1/16000s-60m Shutter-Speeds, 3 FPS and Full 1080p HD video at 30 FPS. Large 0.5" EVF with 3.7 MP, 100% coverage, 0.77X magnification and an Eye-Start Sensor. Dual control-dials in a weatherproof and freezeproof body.

  • 2019.04.10

  • 2019.04.10

    Fujifilm X-T3 Review

    Fujifilm X-T3 Review

    State of the art 26 MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor with 2.1M Phase-Detect pixels, 20 FPS Full-Resolution Continuous Drive, Cinema 4K & Ultra-HD 4K video at 60 FPS. Built-in 0.5" EVF 3.7MP, 100% Coverage, 0.75X magnification and Eye-Start Sensor. Dual control-dials plus dedicated dias in weatherproof and freezeproof body.

  • 2018.12.26

  • 2018.12.26

    Think Tank Photo Story Teller 10 Review

    Think Tank Photo Story Teller 10 Review

    Review of the Think Thank Photo Story Teller 10 photography shoulder bag.