After two weeks of having the Nikon D300, it is time again to spend some words on this camera. You know, every new gadget is interesting and it takes some time to get used to it, but two weeks, that’s enough for more than an impression.
Now once again: Was it worth it? My spontaneous answer on the first day was “yes”, and it won’t really surprise you that I stick to it. The D200 already was a camera with a lot of professional features, and the D300 beats it in almost every respect. Its autofocus is much better, especially in darkness, its image quality is higher, the automatic features just work and get it right more often, the fabulous monitor and the 100% viewfinder are a blessing. This is an almost perfect tool. It has its limitations as any tool, but when you know them, there are hardly any surprises.
I have not used all of the functions. I have tried Live View once, but witout looking into the manual (400 pages, I have not read it) it seemed confusing. I may be wrong, and as I don’t need it, I can hardly complain. Other than that, everything was just as on the D200. Some new arrangements in the menus, some good, some bad, but after a day or two you get used to it and have forgotten that it was ever different. In any case there are no major annoyances. For anyone coming from the D200, it is simply the same tool, only of higher quality.
The software situation is not perfect, but I have everything I need. At the moment Nikon bundles Capture NX, although sadly it has become very slow. I suppose it is something with the way the software handles picture styles, in any case Capture NX 1.3 is much slower than 1.2 was. For anyone not having a D300 or a D3, I would strongly suggest skipping 1.3 and waiting for Nikon to speed it up again.
Photoshop CS3 handles the D300 perfectly, and as Camera RAW is also a part of Photoshop Elements, I suppose it will work nicely as well. If you still have not upgraded from CS2, now is the time. Adobe plays nasty and won’t support new cameras in CS2.
As regards image databases, I use IMatch, and although it crashed upon indexing a directory with D300 files, it took 24 hours until Mario Westphal supplied a workaround, and since then I had not a single problem. Speak of excellent service!
PTLens is about lenses, not cameras and therefore does not care, Photomatix Pro 2.5.3 does not crash but produces garbage when I open NEF files, but normally I use it on bracketed JPEGs, therefore I don’t really care, and although I have no D300 profiles for Noise Ninja, I normally let it auto-profile the image anyway.
This image was made yesterday in the early afternoon. I had seen the first sun in a week, and I was glad. I didn’t make any particularly interesting images, so this funny bird may suffice. The JPEG out of the camera would have been OK, but I wanted to extract as much detail as possible. You’ll hardly be able to see it at this size, but there was quite some detail left to be squeezed out. I am especially fond of the texture in the feathers.
Nikon 18-200 at 200mm, f5.6 and 1/400s at ISO 200. Post-processing in Photoshop.