April 29th, 2023. The day I decided to take the Nikon D300 out for a spin. Not on a whim, it was a calculated measure. My uncle had gifted me his D300 a couple years ago and I had not used it yet, something I thought about doing multiple times. And after speaking with another photographer about the good image quality it produces, I was inspired to finally bring it out and see what I could do with it. Along with the camera, my uncle also gave me some lenses, I was particularly excited about the 80-200 f/2.8 AF-S. A telephoto lens with f/2.8 capabilities has been something missing from my normal arsenal of lenses. The 300mm f/4 was also used in some of the following photographs.
The Nikon D300 was released in 2007 at a price of $1800 and was discontinued 2 years later. The camera is equipped with a 12.3 megapixel DX format CMOS sensor with a native ISO range of 200 – 3200. It is capable of shooting 6 – 8 frames per second and is described as having a very fast and accurate 51 point auto focus system, one of its major selling points at the time.
For both the 300mm f/4 and the 80 – 200mm f/2.8 I found the autofocus to be quite fast, locking on to targets quickly and precisely. Not quite as quick and precise as present day models but that is to be expected. However I would say it still holds up to this day and found both lenses to exceed the speed and accuracy of my current 100-400mm f/4.5 – f/5.6 with a modern body, for whatever that is worth.
ISO and Noise
In all of these photos I shot at either 200 or 800 ISO and I was pleasantly surprised with how little noise the images produced. However, after shooting with this camera I do think it is noticeable how ISO and noise sensitivity has improved over the years. But the good thing about shooting with an older model camera in present times is that some fantastic noise reduction technology is now available that wasn’t back when this camera was first released. All of these photos have been treated with photoshops new noise reduction AI, I figured this was as good of a time as any to test it out. Below are some close up side by sides before and after noise reduction was applied. But the D300 performs just fine without it.
Would I recommend this camera to someone? yes I would. Especially taking into consideration that a used D300 body can be found for as low as $150.00 online, I’d say this would make a great entry level camera without breaking the bank while being able to produce quality results that hold up pretty well to this very day.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a couple of drawbacks. For me the lower resolution is a big deal because I like being able to make large prints, if you have no need to make large prints then this is of no concern. With the D300’s 12.3 megapixel sensor you are more limited in this regard. I have also grown accustomed to the advanced amenities newer cameras offer that the D300 lacks, such as eye detection/subject detection, a flip out LCD display, more compact and lightweight designs, and lens stabilization/in-camera stabilization to name a few.
Overall I had a great time shooting with this camera and can confidently give it a 7.5 out of 10 Starmickles.