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Nikon D300 Outdoor Crops

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.

Outdoor Crops

The Nikon D300 was tested using a Nikkor 70-300 F4.5-5.6 VR lens and compared to the Pentax K20D using a DA* 50-135 F2.8 lens. Images below show the performance of these cameras on a typical night scene at each ISO sensitivity. These are all 100% crops from maximum quality full-resolution JPEG images taken at night in manual mode with automatic white-balance and set ISO sensitivity.

Night shots are always the most difficult for any digital camera as noise is much more noticeable in dark areas and shadows. Since such scenes consist mostly of dark areas, they represent the worst cases of image noise. Looking at the samples below, we can see that there are several factors at work. As usual, noise starts very low at ISO 100 and increases steadily until ISO 6400. Up to ISO 400, images from both cameras a virtually noise-free. From ISO 800 on, noise levels of the Nikon D300 increase a lot slower than the Pentax. By ISO 3200, the K20D is significantly more noisy than the D300. On the Nikon, only ISO 6400 shows truly excessive noise.

The other important aspect to consider is sharpness and image detail at each ISO. Clearly, from the crops below, the Pentax K20D produced much sharper images with more details at all ISO levels except for 6400. Contrarily to the D300, the K20D softness increases slowly with each ISO stop. Softness changes with the Nikon D300 are more complex. To understand why, we must take note that as sensitivity increases, shutter-speed decreases. This causes the D300 to apply more ISO noise reduction but less long-shutter noise reduction. This causes the ISO 6400 image to look sharper than lower ISOs, albeit with more image noise, since the shutter-speed is 1/8s which probably does not get any long-shutter noise-reduction.

Another factor for the differences in softness at low ISO comes from the lenses used. The Nikkor 70-300 F4.5-5.6 VR is a rather soft lens, particularly compared to the excellent Pentax DA* 50-135 F2.8. Unfortunately, we did not have comparable lenses on hand. Note that a lens at a given focal length and aperture does not change softness with ISO. So any change in detail between ISOs must be caused by internal image processing.

Nikon D300 Pentax K20D
sample crop
ISO 100 - 8s F8
sample crop
ISO 100 - 8s F8
sample crop
ISO 200 - 4s F8
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ISO 200 - 4s F8
sample crop
ISO 400 2s F8
sample crop
ISO 400 2s F8
sample crop
ISO 800 1s F8
sample crop
ISO 800 1s F8
sample crop
ISO 1600 1/2s F8
sample crop
ISO 1600 1/2s F8
sample crop
ISO 3200 1/4s F8
sample crop
ISO 3200 1/4s F8
sample crop
ISO 6400 1/8s F8
sample crop
ISO 6400 1/8s
Nikon D300
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By on 2009/09/20
3

Nikon D300 Facts

SLR digital camera
12 Megapixels DSLRISO 100-6400
Nikon F Mount
1.5X FLM

Sensor-Size: 24 x 16mm

APS-C Sensor

Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI

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
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