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Nikon D300 Digital SLR First Look Preview
and Side by Side Comparison versus Nikon D200

 





Aug 23rd, 2007 - Nikon has today officially introduced the Nikon D300 digital SLR, the successor to the award winning Nikon D200 (Nov 2005). The Nikon D300 incorporates major advancements in performance and design compared to the Nikon D200, making the new camera much more than a simple upgrade.

A host of new Nikon technologies have been implemented in the Nikon D300 digital SLR camera.

Highlights include: a newly developed 12.3 effective megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor with up to 3200 ISO sensitivity (+ Hi1 6400), a new precision Multi-CAM 3500DX 51-point AF system, a large 3.0-inch high resolution 920,000 pixel LCD information display with Live View Mode, and 6 frames per sec continuous shooting (up to 8 fps with new MB-D10 power grip).

 

The Nikon D300 also features a new Nikon Scene Recognition System and EXPEED image processing including "Picture Control" settings, an integrated self cleaning sensor unit, in camera Retouch Menu (like on the D80), HDMI output and support for the new Wi-Fi transmitter WT-4.

The Nikon D300 also differs from the Nikon D200 in terms of general ergonomic design and the layout of some of the control buttons. We will look at these enhancements in more detail, however we begin by looking at the major new D300 features.

Nikon D300 Digital SLR: Major new features


  • New 12.3 effective megapixel Nikon DX Format CMOS image sensor with integrated A/D converter and increased bit precision of selectable 14-bit NEF (RAW) output

  • Rapid 8 fps (with optional MB-D10 vertical power grip) or 6 fps continuous shooting for up to 100 shots at full 12.3 MP resolution


  • Faster start up, shorter shutter lag and viewfinder blackout versus the Nikon D200


  • Nikon's new Scene Recognition System incorporated in the Nikon D300 and the Nikon D3 digital SLR advances the use of Nikon’s acclaimed 1,005-segment sensor to recognize colors and light patterns that help the camera determine the subject and the type of scene being photographed, before a picture is taken. This information is used to improve the accuracy of autofocus, auto exposure and auto white balance functions in the D300.
  • Nikon's 1005-segment RGB sensor found in the Nikon D300 Digital SLR contributes to the functions of the new Scene Recognition System

    Recommended Lenses:

     


  • New Scene Recognition System (SRS) provides for improved Color Matrix Metering II, White Balance and AF performance:

    Leveraging data provided by their 1,005-pixel RGB Matrix Meter, Nikon’s new SRS provides more precise subject identification, optimizing autofocus, exposure and white balance detection.

    The system uses data from the 1,005-segment RGB sensor to track a moving subject along the plane of direction within the frame. Complementing the AF sensor data with the subject tracking data calculated from the RGB sensor makes it possible for the Nikon D300 to select focus with great speed and precision.

    Improved subject identification performance: information from the 1,005-segment RGB sensor is used to identify the background and any human subjects, and contributes to sharp focus by detecting where the subject's face is positioned. Human subjects are given higher priority when using Auto Area A.

    Enhanced Color Matrix Metering II algorithms: metering data from the 1,005-segment RGB sensor is used to detect the areas of highlights. The range of brightness to be reproduced is calculated from the results of highlight analysis and more precise exposure control can be acheived.

    The Nikon D300 features light source inference employing subject distance information and integrated pattern recognition to optimize auto white balance.

  • New 51-point AF system offers 15 cross-type sensors that maximize the potential of lenses with apertures as small as f/5.6, 3D Focus Tracking, 3 Dynamic AF modes using groups of 51, 21 or 9 points


  • Large 3.0-inch LCD monitor with 920,000-dot (VGA) resolution, brightness adjustment and a 170° ultra-wide viewing angle and
  • tempered-glass protection makes it possible for even more critical image review

  • Camera shooting information can be displayed on the rear LCD monitor or viewed in the traditional way on the camera's large top LCD panel.

     

    Shooting information, including shutter speed, aperture, the number of exposures remaining, buffer capacity, and AF area mode, is displayed in the monitor when the "Info" button is pressed.

    To clear shooting information from the monitor, press the "Info" button again or press the shutter-release button halfway. Auto monitor off is set for 20 sec at default.


  • Liveview: Hand-held shooting mode and Tripod shooting mode with Contrast AF


  • Real-time lateral chromatic aberration compensation and refined high ISO noise reduction


  • Enhanced battery performance from the supplied rechargeable Nikon Li-ion EN-EL3e battery offering the ability to shot almost twice as many images as with the Nikon D200 on a single charge. (Better than D70)

  • Viewfinder with 100% frame coverage and large 0.94 magnification

  • Built-in image-sensor cleaning mechanism for dust-reduction

  • New Picture Control for predictable image finishing optimized to match individual preferences

  • New EXPEED digital image processing concept for faster processing of images

  • Quick response of 0.13 sec. power-up and 45 ms shutter release time lag

  • Magnesium-alloy construction, advanced dust and moisture protection and
    durable shutter mechanism tested to 150,000 cycles


  • Active D-Lighting optimizes tone reproduction in both shadows and highlights

  • Nikon D300 Digital SLR versus D200 side by side major feature comparison


    Specifications


    Nikon D300 Digital SLR


    Nikon D200 Digital SLR

    Effective Pixels

    12.3 million

    10.2 million

    Image Sensor

    CMOS, DX Format; total pixels: 13.1 million

    RGB CCD, DX Format; total pixels: 10.92 million

    Pixel Pitch 5.49µm (same as the Nikon D2Xs) 6.05µm
    Viewfinder Blackout 100ms 105ms

    Shutter lag

    45ms

    50ms

    Shutter Unit Rating 150,000 cycles 100,000 cycles
    Start Up 0.13 sec 0.15 sec

    LCD Monitor

    3.0-in., 920,000-dot (VGA), 170-degree wide viewing angle, brightness adjustment

    2.5-in., 230,000-dot, brightness adjustment

    Sensitivity

    ISO 200 to 3200 equivalent ) in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV plus Lo 1 (ISO 100) and HI 1 (ISO 6400 equivalent)
    Refined high ISO noise reduction. The new A/D converter integrated into the image sensor reduces shadow noise

    100 to 1600 in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV with additional settings up to 1 EV over 1600 (HI 1 is ISO 3200 equivalent)

    Viewfinder Frame Coverage

    Approx. 100%

    Approx. 95%

    Nikon Scene Recognition System

    • Scene Recognition System: (Subject tracking and identification, highlight analysis, light source inference)

    • Improved subject tracking performance realizes more rapid and accurate focus point selection.

    • Improved subject identification contributes to more accurate focus lock.

    • The results of highlight analysis improves exposure control accuracy.

    • Light source inference uses characteristics extraction and pattern recognition to achieve optimal white balance.

    Not available
    Metering Type

    1005-segment RGB metering sensor improved with new diffraction grating system (directs RGB wavelengths to a finer point for enhanced colour accuracy)

    1005-segment RGB Matrix Metering

    Exposure Metering System

    New Scene Recognition System

    Three-mode through-the-lens (TTL) exposure metering

    1) 3D Color Matrix Metering II improved with SRS

    2) Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 6, 8, 10, or 13 mm dia. circle in center of frame or weighting based on average of entire frame

    3) Spot: Meters approx. 3 mm dia. circle (about 2.0% of frame) centered on active focus area

    Three-mode through-the-lens (TTL) exposure metering

    1) 3D Color Matrix Metering II

    2) Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 6, 8, 10, or 13 mm dia. circle in center of frame or weighting based on average of entire frame

    3) Spot: Meters approx. 3 mm dia. circle (about 2.0% of frame) centered on active focus area

    White Balance and Fine Tuning • Improvements with new Scene Recognition System: Light source inference uses characteristics extraction and pattern recognition.
    • A color cast (G-M) option has been added on the Nikon D300 for adjustment on 2 axes
    • Fine-tuning steps are now equivalent to 5 mired each (same with bracketing)
    10 mired each fine-tune step

    Autofocus

    • TTL phase detection / Focal plane contrast (in Liveview tripod shooting mode)

    • 51 focus points (15 cross-type sensors) by Nikon Multi-CAM 3500 autofocus module; with AF-assist illuminator

    • Detection range: -1 to +19 EV

    • Fine AF adjustment possible: 20 non- CPU lenses supported

    • TTL phase detection 11 focus points (one cross-type sensor) by Nikon Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus module with AF-assist illuminator

    • Detection range: -1 to +19 EV

    3D Focus Tracking Uses new Scene Recognition System and analysis colour and brightness from data provided by the 1005-segment RGB sensor Not available

    Focus Points

    • AF51 mode: 51 focus points from which a single area can be selected

    • AF11 mode: 11 focus points from which a single area can be selected (like Nikon D2Xs)

    • Liveview: Full screen AF possible in contrast AF mode (tripod mode)

    • Normal: 11 areas; single area or group can be selected

    • Wide: focus area can be selected from 7 areas

    AF Area Mode

    1) Single point AF
    2) Dynamic Area AF
    3) Group Dynamic AF

    Auto Area AF now with primary subject priority

    1) Single Area AF
    2) Dynamic Area AF
    3) Group Dynamic AF
    4) Dynamic area AF with closest subject priority

    Dust-reduction System

    • Mechanical image sensor cleaning unit.

    • Enhanced weather dust protection and seals (covers have added protection versus D200)

    Weather dust seals

    Image Quality Settings

    • 12-bit NEF (RAW):uncompressed or compressed RAW

    • 14-bit NEF (RAW):uncompressed or compressed RAW. Images are recorded at a bit-depth of 14 bits, producing files roughly 1.3 times larger than 12-bit files but increasing the color data recorded resulting in smoother tones. Maximum frame advance rate decreases to 2.5 fps.

    • TIFF (RGB)
    • JPEG: Fine, Normal, Basic
    • NEF (RAW) + JPEG Fine
    • NEF (RAW) + JPEG Normal
    • NEF (RAW) + JPEG Basic

    • Compressed NEF (RAW): 12-bit compression

    • JPEG: Fine, Normal, Basic
    • NEF (RAW) + JPEG Fine
    • NEF (RAW) + JPEG Normal
    • NEF (RAW) + JPEG Basic

    Image Size • 4,288 x 2,848 [L]
    • 3,216 x 2,136 [M]
    • 2,144 x 1,424 [S]
    3,872 x 2,592 [L]
    2,896 x 1,944 [M]
    1,936 x 1,296 [S]

    Storage Media

    CompactFlash (CF) Card (Type I and II), High Speed UDMA compliant, Microdrive

    CompactFlash (CF) Card (Type I and II) and Microdrive

    Image Processing

    EXPEED Image Processing

    Faster digital signal processing: Contributes to improved Auto White Balance (AWB) performance and real-time lateral chromatic aberration compensation. Approximately 4x faster than the D200

    • Improved memory card recording speed: 4x faster than D200 using new UDMA CF cards

    • Improved USB transfer speed: 2x faster than the D200

    • Improved memory card access speed: approximately 2.5x faster than the Nikon D200

    Does not support the faster new generation UDMA Compact Flash (CF) memory cards

    Active D-Lighting

    Yes. Preserves details in shadows and highlights while also maintaining the right level of contrast across the image. Set before taking the picture.

    Not available

    Liveview Mode (Preview image on rear LCD live)

    • Hand-held shooting mode
    • Tripod shooting mode with Contrast AF

    Not available

    HDMI Output

    HDMI 1.3a compliant Type A HDMI connector

    Not available

    In Camera Editing with Retouch Menu

    Yes (like Nikon D80, D40x, D40)

    • D-Lighting
    • Red Eye Correction
    • Trim
    • Monochrome
    • Filter Effects
    • Color Balance
    • Image Overlay (NEF / RAW)

    Not available

    Auto Exposure Bracketing

    2 to 9 exposures in 1/3, 2/3, 3/4 or 1 EV steps

    2 to 9 exposures in 1/3, 2/3 or 1 EV steps

    Picture Control System

    Select and adjust from Picture Control settings:
    • Standard
    • Neutral
    • Vivid
    • Monochrome.
    Each Picture Control setting can be tweaked for personal preference. Parameters include:
    • Quick Adjust: Equal increments of change in sharpness and contrast are applied at the same time. Choose from -2 to +2
    • Sharpness: Choose from Auto, or select one of 9 settings (0-9)
    • Contrast: Set from Auto, -3 to +3 in one step increments
    • Brightness: Settings include
    -1, 0, +1
    • Saturation: Auto, -3 to +3 in one step increments
    • Hue:-3 to +3 in one step

    Three Optimize Image Colour Modes I, II, III

    Mode I - For portraits, renders natural looking skin tones. Bias towards the reds. Can be used with sRGB or Adobe RGB color profiles.

    Mode II - Provides wider color reproduction range and a wider color gamut. Only with Adobe RGB

    Mode III - More vivid. Applies to landscapes and scenery. sRGB or Adobe RGB color profiles can be used

    Shooting Modes

    1) Single frame [S] shooting mode
    2) Continuous low speed [CL] shooting mode: 1 to 6 frames per second
    3) Continuous high-speed [CH] shooting mode: 6 frames per second (up to 8 fps with MB-D10 power grip and 8x AA batteries or the optional Li-Ion rechargeable EN-EL4a (D2 series)
    4) Liveview [LV] mode
    5) Self-timer shooting mode
    6) Mirror-up [Mup] mode

    1) Single frame shooting mode
    2) Continuous low speed (CL) shooting mode: 1-4 frames per second
    3) Continuous high-speed shooting mode: around 5 frames per second
    4) Self-timer shooting mode
    5) Mirror-up mode

    Custom settings 48 custom settings 45 custom settings
    Maximum number of continuous shots (JPEG Large-Fine or NEF/RAW)

    • Up to 99 shots at 6 frames per sec    with 14-bit processing (Jpeg)
    • Around 19 images at 6 or 8 fps in    NEF/RAW with 12-bit processing

    • Around 37 shots at 5 fps (JPEG-Large,    Fine)
    • Around 22 images at 5 fps in NEF/RAW

    Flash Compensation

    -3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV

    -3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3 or EV

    Power Source

    One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e, Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D10 (optional) with one rechargeable Nikon EN-EL4a, EN-EL4 or EN-EL3e Li-ion battery or eight A6/AA-size alkaline (LR6), Ni-MH (HR6), lithium (FR6) batteries, or nickel-manganese ZR6 batteries, AC Adapter EH-5a (optional)

    One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e, MB-D200 battery pack (optional) with one or two rechargeable Nikon EN-EL3e Li-ion batteries or six AA alkaline (LR6), NiMH (HR6), lithium (FR6) batteries, or ZR6 nickel-manganese AA batteries, AC Adapter EH-6 (optional)

    Battery Consumption Approximately twice the number of images can be captured with an EN-EL3e battery compared to the Nikon D200. Improved and better than the Nikon D70s. About 340 shots under normal shooting conditions without using an active VR lens

    Dimensions (W x H x D)

    Approx. 147 x 114 x 74 mm (5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in.)

    Approx. 147 x 113 x 74mm (5.8 x 4.4 x 2.9 in.)

    Weight

    Approx. 825 g (1.82 lbs.) without battery, memory card, body cap, or monitor cover

    Approx. 830g (1 lb 13 oz) without battery, memory card, body cap, or monitor cover

    Optional Accessories

    Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D10 (stand alone wired), Wireless Transmitter WT-4, DK-21M Magnifying Eyepiece, AC Adapter EH-5a,

    Multi-Power Battery pack MB-D200, Wireless Transmitter WT-3 (grip and battery function), Semi-soft case D200, AC Adapter EH-6,




    Nikon D300 Compared to the Nikon D200: Major differences in design


    When comparing the Nikon D300 to the Nikon D200 one of the most obvious visible differences between the two cameras is the new large 3.0-inch LCD screen on the Nikon D300 versus the 2.5-inch screen on the Nikon D200.

    Nikon D300 versus Nikon D200 digital SLR

    The Nikon D300 features a more sculpted body design than the D200. The Mode button and the +/- Exposure Compensation button located on the front grip above the shutter release are now round and raised making them even more accessible compared to the oblong shape of the same two function buttons on the Nikon D200.

    The PC sync connection socket (for studio lights) that is found on the side of the Nikon D200 has been moved on the Nikon D300 to the front right side of the camera above the 10-pin remote socket. The little plastic threaded protective connection covers (which always get lost) are gone on the D300, and have been replaced with new hinged covers that are attached by the strap eyelet to the camera body .





    Other than from an ergonomic and visual design point of view there is not much that has changed in terms of the top layout of the Nikon D300 versus the Nikon D200. The new Liveview mode on the D300 is activated by turning the continuous shooting dial to the Liveview "Lv" position.

     

    On the control buttons on the back of the Nikon D300 the icons and text are now white making them stand out more compared to the gold/dark yellow colour of the similar buttons on the D200.

    The Playback button on the Nikon D300 has been moved to a more convenient position on the top left corner of the camera, replacing the location of the bracketing (BKT) button on the D200.

    Changes to bracketing settings on the D300 is done by using the Function (Fn) button located on the front of the camera (default Custom setting f4), or can be be assigned to the depth-of-field preview button (Custom setting f5), or the AE-L/AF-L button (Custom Setting f6)

    The "Enter" confirmation button found towards the bottom on the Nikon D200 has been replaced with the renamed "OK" button on the Nikon D300.

    As shown below, the edge on the back thumb rest grip portion of the Nikon D300 has been raised up further towards the rear control dial making for a more comfortable feel and hold when using the dial to scroll settings.


    Other changes include; the AF-On button has been raised, a simplified AF Area Mode selector that now has three positions, and a redesigned CF memory card door.



    Nikon D300 New Feature: LiveView Hand-held and Tripod Mode


    One of the new features incorporated in the Nikon D300 is the ability to preview your image on the camera's large 3.0-inch LCD display. The Nikon D300 (and the D3) offer two LiveView modes:

    The Hand-held mode allows recomposing of the frame in the LCD prior to actual shooting, using the camera’s standard phase-detection autofocus system.

    The second mode, called Tripod mode, is designed for precise focus accuracy with still subjects, while the camera is mounted on a tripod. The Tripod mode uses focal plane contrast autofocus.

    The camera normally uses phase-detection autofocus, in which the sensor splits the image from the camera lens into two using a separator lens and adjusts focus based on the separation between the two images.

     

    With contrast-detect autofocus, the camera analyses the data from the image sensor and then adjusts focus for the greatest contrast, on the assumption that the sharpest focus is associated with the highest level of contrast. This is similar to the auto focus method used in Coolpix compact digital cameras. Contrast-detect autofocus takes longer than phase-detection autofocus.

    In tripod mode, the focus point for contrast-detect autofocus can be moved to any point in the frame using the multi selector. To focus using contrast-detect autofocus, you press the AF button on the back of the D300. The focus point will blink green and the monitor may brighten while the camera focuses. Once focus is achieved, the focus point will be displayed in green; if the camera is unable to focus, the focus point will
    blink red.


    Next Page: Nikon D300 AF System and Camera Menu Screen Shots


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