For my birthday this year Trina had given me a Nikon D300 camera. Since then I have been in digital camera heaven. I have been interested in photography since high school and have owned several cameras during my life. Many of these are chronicled in the About page on my Photo Blog. When I initially suggested that I wanted a Nikon D300 camera Trina was less than enthusiastic. Part of the reason for her apprehension is that I already owned 3 digital SLR cameras. She could not understand why in the world I would need another one especially since I had stated on several occasions that the Nikon D200 I owned was probably the most perfect camera I had ever used. This was definitely a mistake on my part. Not that the D200 is not a great camera; just that I should never let my wife hear that I am content with anything otherwise it makes my life miserable trying to justify why I need a new toy.
I’ve now had the Nikon D300 for 2 months and during that time I have shot over 1200 pictures. Some of these have been posted on 1Photo2Share and others are being readied to be part of an online album on my web site. I thought I would provide a little feedback on this camera and my experiences with it. My shooting style is action oriented and I am constantly challenging myself and the camera to focus and shoot quickly trying to capture each fleeting moment. The D300 is quite suited to this style assuming the lens is capable of complying. What I mean by that is that the D300 seems to focus relatively quickly and maintain that focus through the shot. The camera is bound by the speed of focus of the lens not the other way around. That means that if you have a fast focusing lens you can get quite a few shots off.
I take a lot of pictures at Chase Field. This is probably because I spend a lot of time at Chase Field. I usually try to take my camera to at least one game every series. I am usually shooting form my seat in Section 112 and I will use either the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 lens or the Nikkor 18-200mm f/4.5-5.6 lens. On those days that I carry the 70-200mm I am able to get several shots in a burst capturing a pitcher’s wind-up or a batters swing. The focus is flawless and fast. The same cannot be said for the 18-200mm lens. Its focusing motor is much slower and I am unable to get as many shots as I do with the 70-200mm. I like the flexibility of the 18-200mm lens and the ability to carry just one lens but I do miss some shots because of its lack of speed. The 18-200mm being much slower also challenges the D300 and requires me to use a much higher ISO to capture the action of a baseball game. With the Nikon D200 I would end up with a grainy picture that I would have to manipulate in post-production. I don’t have that problem with the D300. Its noise level software is much better than previous generations of the Nikon DSLR cameras. This has opened up my creativity without having to worry so much about lower levels of light coupled with higher ISO settings.
Battery life on the D300 seems very comparable to what I experienced with the D200. I am able to continuously shoot game action and not have to stop to replace the battery. This is much better than I had when the D100 was first released. I don’t know whether the extended battery life is a result of better power management within the camera or better battery construction but either way I’m happy. I do keep an extra battery pack with me just in case but very rarely am I required to use it.
The color rendition of the D300 is fairly good but still a little muted for my tastes. I therefore have to tweak the color and saturation slightly when I bring the pictures into my editing program. I think I was spoiled in the film era by shooting Fuji Velvia and therefore like things a little brighter. I’m sure there is probably a setting in the D300 that will allow me to modify that a little but I have been so busy with games and events that I have not had a chance to completely go through the manual.
Speaking of manuals, the one that comes with the Nikon D300 is adequate but leaves a lot of unanswered questions in my mind. Third-party books on the D300 have been quite sparse with many of the major publishers not having technical manuals available yet. Several field guides are scheduled to be released in the next month so hopefully I’ll pick one of those up and review it at a later date.
Overall I have been very happy with the Nikon D300. The 18-200mm f/4.5-5.6 lens is a good everyday lens but does suffer from a slower focusing motor making it better suited for family events than for serious stop-action shooting. I would highly recommend the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens but you should be aware that the size of this lens does make it difficult to get into many sporting events. Teams and venues have begun limiting the size of lens they allow fans to bring so you should check with the stadium before taking your camera and lens to a game. As I get more comfortable with the camera I’ll post pictures and settings that I have found that have made my life easier.