Nikon D300 Digital SLR Review - Nikon D300 Digital SLR Review

For more advanced photographers, the other stand-out feature is the optional 14-bit image processing. This allows the use of 14-bit RAW files, offering greater colour depth and a wider latitude for post-processing exposure adjustment without image degradation. Other significant features include extendible ISO range from 100 to 6400, although the standard setting is 200 to 3200. Active D-lighting is very useful too, automatically adjusting shadow and highlight exposure in high-contrast shots, providing additional dynamic range. Other manufacturers do have similar systems, such as Sony’s Dynamic Range Optimiser, but possibly thanks to more advanced on-chip image processing the Nikon system appears to be particularly effective, preserving shadow and highlight detail in extremely high contrast situations. I’d have to compare it side-by-side with the A700 to determine which is better, but it certainly out-performed the DRO system on the Sony A200, which I was testing at the same time as the D300.

Another key feature is of course Monitor Live View, although it says something about the feature-packed nature of the D300 that it is mentioned almost as an afterthought. It has to be said that it’s not the greatest implementation of live view that I’ve ever seen, but at least it has live view, something which the Sony A700 lacks. Crucially it excludes the D300’s 51-point AF system, replacing it with a simple one-point contrast-detection AF system, so it is really best suited to studio use, with the camera mounted on a tripod and the focus pre-set.

The monitor itself is impressive though, a huge three-inch unit with a resolution of 920,000 dots and a 170-degree angle of view. The D300 has a number of built-in features for post processing shots in the camera in playback mode, including adding D-lighting, red-eye correction, adjusting colour balance, adding colour filters and even superimposing two images together. The big sharp monitor is very useful when using these features, and also for focus confirmation. The optional shooting data display on the monitor is faintly amusing though. It takes one of the sharpest and most advanced camera monitors on the market and uses it to graphically reproduce a simple LCD display panel. There’s a bit of irony in there somewhere.

Other useful features that slip by in the crowd are HDMI output for connection to HD TV, adjustable self timer with a delay of up to 20 seconds, and exposure compensation of +/-5 EV in 1.3EV increments. The viewfinder is also superb, exceptionally large and bright with 100-percent frame coverage and full shooting data displayed along the bottom of the frame. Also hidden in the feature set is a function to automatically correct lateral chromatic aberration in the camera, very useful if you are using older lenses. I didn’t have an opportunity to test it, since the lens supplied with the camera was optically almost perfect, but I’ve seen real-world test shots of this feature and it appears to work very well indeed.

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