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Thread: D300 first impressions

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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    D300 first impressions

    I'm sure the following has been said in some form over and over, but here I go anyway. First impressions of of my D300:

    - Ergonomics are excellent, as expected. Like a date once said when she stepped into my sportscar, "It fits."

    - Finder is not as good as on D2x and my old F5. It's good, just not as good.

    - High ISO performance is fantastic. Compared to my D2x there is just no contest. None. Wow. I love how the noise turns into texture and grain at high ISO. I tried some low-light ambient light shots at a party last night, at 3200 the images are quite usable, at 6400 you have to watch out a little with tungsten white balance.

    - Shutter fires away happily at 6fps but the D2x had a cooler sound Speed drop shooting 14-bit raw was a bit surprising but no big deal.

    - My lenses still miss fullframe, nothing new there. I keep telling them to shut up but they won't listen. Especially the 135 DC gets too soft when the defocusing control is used, as the softness radius is also affected by the DX multiplier.

    - The optional grip would be nice, for better grip if nothing else. I'll get one eventually.

    - I LOVE having a built-in flash, it will be life-saver in some situations. Combined with the high-ISO performance the built-in flash has quite some reach. I already have an SU-800 flash controller but it's good to know that I can do without it in a pinch.

    - Nice with a small charger for a change. This camera travels well.

    - Live view... perhaps I'll find a use for it some day.

    - Price. The low dollar has pushed prices down in Europe as well. I got mine from Robert White, great service as always.

    - Resolution. It's still only 12 Mpx - my pipe-dream is 80+ megapixels. I'll keep my 8x10's for a few more years hehe.

    All in all, it's faster and better than the D2x in almost every way, and for a third of the price. I'm happy.

    Lars

  2. #2
    Panopeeper
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    Re: D300 first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    I love how the noise turns into texture and grain at high ISO. I tried some low-light ambient light shots at a party last night, at 3200 the images are quite usable, at 6400 you have to watch out a little with tungsten white balance.
    Well, the explanation of ISO 3200 on the Canon 40D applies to ISO 3200 and 6400 on the D300 in
    Post # 58 (the algorythms of stretching are slightly different).

    In other words: there is no ISO 3200 and 6400. If you are recording JPEG in-camera, serve yourself, but if recording raw data, these are rather counterproductive by reducing the dynamic range.

    Here are the fine histograms with ISO 1600, 3200 and 6400. The gaps between the colored columns represent unused pixel levels.

    (Note, that the pixel values of already 1600 are stretched; this is true to all lower ISOs as well. This shows only, that the sensor does not deliver really 16383 different pixel levels, only about 14000, but that's more than enough.)







    This does not take away from the value of the camera; usable ISO 1600 at that pixel size is quite the state of the art. Furthermore, one has to consider, that Nikon cameras carry out one stage of noise reduction in-camera (not on-chip); the raw data is not really raw. This makes the images look like less noisy, but it reduces the amount of details in the shadows, which is originally supposed to be added by the ISO gain. Thus the difference between true ISO gain and the numerical derivation is not so much, so you don't lose really much with the lack of true 3200 and 6400.

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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: D300 first impressions

    Oh my, a pixelpeeper.

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    Re: D300 first impressions

    Lars,
    I too am a recent D300 convert. I have found Live View (in tripod mode) invaluable for macro and product shots. The occasional "hold the camera over my head shot" is also a target for this feature.

    Here is a sample shot holding the D300 over my head:

    Shot info:
    D300 in Live View
    CV 58mm f1.4 SL II (85mm equiv.)
    1/60 sec
    f/5
    Metz 58 AF-1 flash in bounce mode w/built-in diffuser.

    The Live View makes manual focussing ludicrously simple. It literally turns the D300 into a tiny view camera.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: D300 first impressions

    I always thought LV was a gimmick until I started testing a 40D doing some macro shots - it's bloody addictive. For macro or alt glass tripod work where you have the time, having the pseudo ground-glass where you can walk the plane of focus to exactly where you want it is sweet.

    Just wish the manual focus confirm on the D300 was better. The one I tried with my 35/2 was all over the map (FC dot). I guess there is always Katzeye..

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    Re: D300 first impressions

    I have the Katseye and it works very nice . Brightscreen also has a new focusing screen. I use live view a lot myself
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: D300 first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    I always thought LV was a gimmick until I started testing a 40D doing some macro shots - it's bloody addictive. For macro or alt glass tripod work where you have the time, having the pseudo ground-glass where you can walk the plane of focus to exactly where you want it is sweet.

    Just wish the manual focus confirm on the D300 was better. The one I tried with my 35/2 was all over the map (FC dot). I guess there is always Katzeye..
    Try setting the D300 to single-spot focus. That way the FC light only reads the center spot.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: D300 first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Panopeeper View Post
    ...... no ISO 3200 and 6400. ...... the pixel values of 1600 are stretched....... usable ISO 1600 at that pixel size is quite the state of the art......... images look like less noisy, but [noise reduction in-camera] reduces the amount of details in the shadows, which is originally supposed to be added by the ISO gain...
    Well yes, it is pixel peeping but I found it a useful addition to my background knowledge of the camera. I'm sorry if it has been said before, but at what ISO does the in-camera noise reduction start to 'kick in', or is it added incrementally beyond base ISO?

    Thank you from me at least for taking the time to post.

    ................ Chris

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    Re: D300 first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by etrigan63 View Post
    Try setting the D300 to single-spot focus. That way the FC light only reads the center spot.
    Carlos - That really is a statement of the bleeding obvious; and it would likely have taken me ages to think it for myself. So thanks.

    .............. Chris

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    Re: D300 first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by etrigan63 View Post
    Try setting the D300 to single-spot focus. That way the FC light only reads the center spot.
    Exactly use it like a M8 . Focus than recompose. Also put camera on single not continuous . Just use center point to focus on what you need and hold release down or back button depending how you have it set up and than just recompose. Frankly it like manual focusing in a lot of ways just faster
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: D300 first impressions

    Thanks. Can't remember what settings I had the thing on - gives me an excuse to go back and try it again..given it's the highest-end body the local shops have....;>

    Had the Katzeye on a 30D last year - worked very well. Can lead to a busy VF though if you can't, as in the 1 series, clear the VF of indicated focus points (not illuminated, but black 'here they are' indicators).

    Unfortunately from what I can tell with the D300, you can't set a clear VF (no black focus points in view) in center-point only focus mode. At least not that I could find playing with the various menus. It would me nice if I missed something.

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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: D300 first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Panopeeper View Post
    Well, the explanation of ISO 3200 on the Canon 40D applies to ISO 3200 and 6400 on the D300 in
    Post # 58 (the algorythms of stretching are slightly different).

    In other words: there is no ISO 3200 and 6400. If you are recording JPEG in-camera, serve yourself, but if recording raw data, these are rather counterproductive by reducing the dynamic range.

    ...

    This does not take away from the value of the camera; usable ISO 1600 at that pixel size is quite the state of the art. Furthermore, one has to consider, that Nikon cameras carry out one stage of noise reduction in-camera (not on-chip); the raw data is not really raw. This makes the images look like less noisy, but it reduces the amount of details in the shadows, which is originally supposed to be added by the ISO gain. Thus the difference between true ISO gain and the numerical derivation is not so much, so you don't lose really much with the lack of true 3200 and 6400.
    Very well then, I'll play...

    Your D300 samples are shot in 14-bit mode - had you evaluated 12-bit raw files instead, you would have found a solid histogram at 3200 as well as at HI1 (6400), with the HI1 file underexposed by one stop yielding 11 bits of precision. The obvious conclusion is that the D300 is indeed true ISO 3200, just not at 14-bit depth. Nikon took a shortcut with 14-bit raw mode at higher ISO speeds.

    Is this relevant, losing the lowest 2 bits at high ISO? Not really. High ISO noise level is much higher than bit 13-14 - on almost any camera - so the fact that Nikon took a shortcut in processing at high ISO doesn't matter at all for the final image. What does matter is the signal to noise ratio - bit depth doesn't even matter as long as you have enough bits to capture the noise floor.

    At a higher level, the point with high ISO for most photographers is to be able to use a faster shutter time and still get usable shots. We're all aware of that higher speed demands a compromise in image quality, and dropping two bits of precision to get that money shot is frankly not much of a compromise.

    Lars
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Re: D300 first impressions

    My oh My
    2 pixelpeepers in ONE thread!

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: D300 first impressions

    HI Lars
    More seriously
    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post

    - My lenses still miss fullframe, nothing new there. I keep telling them to shut up but they won't listen. Especially the 135 DC gets too soft when the defocusing control is used, as the softness radius is also affected by the DX multiplier.

    - The optional grip would be nice, for better grip if nothing else. I'll get one eventually.
    I'm a little confused as to why you are not using a D3, as these are the obvious 2 arguments to get that instead of a d300.

    I just enjoyed your website - are you still doing most things with large format film?

    Just this guy you know

  15. #15
    Panopeeper
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    Re: D300 first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    had you evaluated 12-bit raw files instead, you would have found a solid histogram at 3200 as well as at HI1 (6400)
    Not really. I chose the 14bit version, for I did not want to make this even more complicated.

    Here are the fine histograms in 12bit depth, 1600, 3200 and 6400:







    The 3200 and 6400 are "two-dimensional derivatives": they are derived from the 14bit ISO 1600 data. If you load these in PS as layers, you can see, that the 12bits are the reduction of the 14bits.

    Note: the histograms are linear along the x-axis and logarythmic along the y-axis. For example the tiny but regular teeth at the top of the red histogram with 12bit, ISO 1600 represent about 33% higher pixel counts in the taller columns.

    Is this relevant, losing the lowest 2 bits at high ISO? Not really. High ISO noise level is much higher than bit 13-14 - on almost any camera - so the fact that Nikon took a shortcut in processing at high ISO doesn't matter at all for the final image
    Sure, it does not matter from the point of noise. However, those ISOs reduce the dynamic range by one respectively two stops, without giving anything in exchange. In other words, if you expose as you would with ISO 6400 but leave the setting at 1600, you can achieve the very same result in raw processing on discretional basis (by adjusting the lightness/exposure), without risking clipping the highlight.

    That's the reason I wrote, that they may be useful for JPEG, but not for raw.

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    Re: D300 first impressions

    Jono, thanks, and please allow me to return the compliment. Yep mostly 8x10 when I put the effort into shooting, and the little 6x9 Ebony when the 8x10 is too heavy. Only 100-250 sheets of 8x10 per year so I try to make most of them count.

    I simply don't have the budget for a D3 right now, it's that simple. The SLR doesn't bring in any money for me, it's just for snapshots at this time.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Re: D300 first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    Jono, thanks, and please allow me to return the compliment. Yep mostly 8x10 when I put the effort into shooting, and the little 6x9 Ebony when the 8x10 is too heavy. Only 100-250 sheets of 8x10 per year so I try to make most of them count.

    I simply don't have the budget for a D3 right now, it's that simple. The SLR doesn't bring in any money for me, it's just for snapshots at this time.
    Thank you - I should perhaps be more dedicated.
    I've definitely given up on film, a consciously enforced month of film only convinced me that digital was for me.

    As for the D3, I don't think I had the budget for it either, it just kind of appeared - I had been thinking of getting some MF digital gear (don't visit the forum here, it's VERY dangerous!), having decided not to go there until I'd seen what Nikon could do with a 24mp FF sensor, buying the D3 as an interim measure seemed so simple!

    Personally I don't like vertical grips much (I don't mind the weight) but the camera has been a bit of a revalation - whatever the actual pros and cons of the 6400 ISO, I've managed to do a couple of shoots with it, with happy customers all around.

    I'm afraid none of my photographic gear makes money for me . . . . actually, I should rephrase that, I did a fair amount of business in the last year - but if I take my time into account as well it certainly doesn't make a profit for me!

    Just this guy you know

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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: D300 first impressions

    "Panopeeper",
    Like I said, the noise floor makes your point irrelevant. You don't lose two stops of DR, because it was never there. You could have started with 32 bits precision in the A/D conversion, would still not have mattered if the camera doesn't have 14 stops of DR at that ISO. No DSLR delivers that kind of dynamic range at high ISO. You are making an academical point with no real relevance. May I suggest that you start a separate thread in the image processing forum instead (and perhaps post with your real name)? I'd be happy to disagree with your conclusions over there.
    Lars
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Senior Member Daniel's Avatar
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    Re: D300 first impressions

    since nikon has gone this far with a nice lcd, you all think nikon would come out with another model that has an lcd that tilts up so that you can use it as a waist level view finder? i think that would be a very useful feature. i think, for example candid shots, people are not quite intimidated or bothered by a camera pointing at them from waist level. i know i become quite uncomfortable as soon as a camera is lifted to eye level and pointed towards my direction.

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