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The Nikon D300 - an introduction

Simon Stafford casts an eye over the new D300.

The new D3 is undoubtedly the "flagship" in the Nikon D-SLR lineup but the D300, announced alongside the D3 has the ability to emulate many of the key aspects of its advanced performance.

Making use of the same 51-area auto focus system, 3-inch / 920,000-dot rear LCD monitor screen, Nikon's new EXPEED Image Processing System (EIPS), which it the key to the camera's speed and processing power, 14-bit A/D conversion for NEF Raw files, the new Picture Control System options that enable the user to fine-tune and adjust fundamental aspects of the way in which images are rendered, so they can define the exact tone, sharpening, brightness and saturation they require, LiveView, High Definition Media Interface (HDMI) video out, AF calibration adjustment, Ultra Direct Memory Access (UDMA) CompactFlash card support to provide significantly faster camera-to-card write times (using for example UDMA-capable cards such as Lexar's 300X and SanDisk's Extreme IV range), real-time lateral chromatic aberration correction, Active D-Lighting, and compatibility with the new WT-4/WT-4A transmitter, the D300 is set to pack a powerful photographic punch!

The D300 uses a Sony-made, DX-format (15.6 x 23.7 mm) sensor that delivers 12.3 million (effective) pixel resolution images that incorporates a self-cleaning feature. In its body only configuration, powered by a single EN-EL3e battery, the D300 can shoot at up to 6 fps but attach the optional Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D10 that accepts a single EN-EL4a battery (the same battery used for the D3 and D2-series cameras) and the frame rate is increased to an impressive 8 fps. In order to deliver such pace the shutter has a lag time of just 45ms shutter lag. Underlining its professional aspirations the viewfinder offers a full, 100% coverage (the D200 extends to only 95%), and the camera offers an ISO range of 200-3200 (plus Lo-1 & Hi-1 options of 100 and 6400 respectively). As to be expected the D300 is fully compatible with Nikon's i-TTL Speedlight (flash) system and has a full-featured Commander Mode for wireless control and triggering of compatible remote flash units.

Nikon is set to begin deliveries of the D300 from November 2007, with an expected recommend price of £1299.99 inc. VAT.

If the auto focus system and high ISO performance are as good as Nikon claim the D300 represents a significant step forward in the evolution of the digital SLR; based on a handful of frames shot with a prototype camera a few weeks ago my very earliest impressions of both aspects are very favourable but only comprehensive testing in real world conditions will tell just what the camera can do!

Interestingly Nikon have announced that the D300 is not a replacement for the D200, which will remain in production for the time being at least; a measure of the latter's success to date and the belief that it continues to fulfill a role in the midrange D-SLR lineup. Once the D300 is available I would expect the price of the D200 might become even more attractive than it is currently. The full press release from Nikon can be seen here.

Nikon D300 & D200 Comparative Specification

The basic specification of the new D300 is set out in the following table, with details of the D200 alongside for the purposes of comparison. Significant differences are highlighted in red. The full press release with specification can be seen at here.

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Feature D200 D300
Effective Pixels 10.2 million 12.3 million
Format Nikon DX Nikon DX
Self-cleaning sensor No Yes
(four-direction vibration system)
Image Size 3,872 x 2,592 4,288 x 2,848
ISO 100 - 1600 200 - 3200
Low ISO No Yes - 100
High ISO Yes (+1/3, +2/3, and +1EV) Yes - 6400
Storage Media CompactFlash
(single card port)
(single card port)
UDMA support No Yes
Storage System Uncompressed NEF, Compressed NEF, JPEG Uncompressed NEF, Compressed NEF, JPEG
White Balance Auto, 6 manual settings, Kelvin, and Preset Auto, 6 manual settings, Kelvin, and Preset
Active D-Lighting No Yes
LCD Monitor 2.5" 230,000 TFT LCD 3.0" 920,000 TFT LCD
Live View No Yes
Interface Hi-Speed USB 2.0 Hi-Speed USB 2.0
Chassis Metal Alloy Metal Alloy
Lens Mount Nikon F Nikon F
Support for non-CPU type Nikkor lenses Yes Yes
Viewfinder eye-point 19.5mm 19.5mm
Viewfinder coverage 95% 100%
Viewfinder magnification 0.94x 0.94x
Autofocus Multi-CAM 1000 Multi-CAM 3500DX
AF areas Eleven (7 wide-area) Fifty-one
AF modes Single, Dynamic, Group Dynamic, Dynamic with closest subject priority Single, Dynamic, Dynamic with closest subject priority. AF sensor areas can be grouped as 9, 21, or 51.
Metering Sensor 1005-segement RGB sensor 1005-segement RGB sensor
Exposure Metering 3D Color Matrix II, CW, Spot 3D Color Matrix II, CW, Spot
Exposure modes P, A, S, and M P, A, S, and M
Exposure Compensation +/- 5 EV +/- 5 EV
Exposure bracketing Yes - 2 to 9 exp. Increments of 1/3,1/2, 2/3, 1EV Yes - 2 to 9 exp. Increments of 1/3,1/2, 2/3, 1EV
Shooting modes Single, Continuous-low, Continuous-high, Mirror lock-up, Self-timer Single, Continuous-low, Continuous-high, Mirror lock-up, LiveView, Self-timer
Max shooting speed 5 fps 6 fps
(8fps with MB-D10)
Shutter 30 to 1/8000 sec. +Bulb 30 to 1/8000 sec. +Bulb
Flash Sync 1/250 sec. 1/250 sec.
Auto FP Hi-Speed sync Yes Yes
Flash control TTL flash (1,005-pixel sensor) TTL flash
(1,005-pixel sensor)
GN (m/ft - ISO100) - manual 13/42 12/39
PC sync Yes Yes
Self timer Yes Yes
Depth-of-Field preview Yes Yes
Power 1x EN-EL3e 1x EN-EL3e
Battery Meter Yes Yes
AC adapter EH-6 EH-5
Battery grip MB-D200 (2x EN-EL3e, or 6x AA) MB-D10 (1x EN-EL3e, 1 x EN-EL4a, or 8x AA)
(Note: battery in body is retained)
Wireless Transmitter WT-3/WT-3a WT-4/WT-4a (compatible with D3)
Remote Release Nikon 10-pin accessory terminal Nikon 10-pin accessory terminal
Dimensions (WxHxD) 147 x 113 x 74 mm
5.8 x 4.4 x 2.9 in
147 x 114 x 74 mm
5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in
Weight (g/oz) 830 / 29 825 / 29

© Simon Stafford

August 2007

Posted on: Friday 24 August 2007

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