Nikon D3 or D300?

Yesterday I went along to the Nikon show at Olympia to play with their two new cameras, the D3 and D300. Both seem decent models, though I’m not sure if I will buy either. After all the D200 is still working pretty well. I only bothered to go there because I wanted to go to a London Bloggers meet in the evening, so it was sort of on the way.

There are some nice things about the D300, in particular the even better screen on the back, and the few images I took at high ISO perhaps seemed a little more usable than with the D200. I’d certainly be a little happier with shooting at ISO1600, though I’m not clear whether the difference is really anything more than more aggressive noise reduction in the D300. The test shots I’ve seen – unlike mine, taken under carefully controlled conditions – on Imaging Resource do seem to show less noise on the D300 image at 1600 than at 800, together with reduced noise and sharpness, suggesting a sharp ramp in noise reduction.

However I didn’t shoot on RAW, but only on fine jpeg, and also hadn’t made all the tweaks I would certainly want to do when using the camera. Detailed reviews may appear shortly, at the moment all we really have to go on is the published specs and some fairly ill-informed comment – including that on at least one site where the author has been using a camera for a few days.

Moving from a D200 to a D300 would be relatively simple, with many of the controls in similar places, and the camera has the same feeling of having controls in the right place. As well as the larger screen, I’d certainly welcome the improved focus system, which is the same as in the D3. Possibly the ability to record 14 bits instead of 12 may also help in high contrast situations.

I took a few frames on the D3 too, with the ISO set to 5000, again as jpegs (I wasn’t sure if my raw processing would work with the RAW files from the cameras.) Lousy subject matter, but – at least where I got the focus correct – technically very usable images. I really needed rather longer to get used to the camera, and the menus seemed rather confusing compared to the D200, though I’m sure I’d soon cope.

So would I like one? I’m not sure. It’s a great camera but I think too large and heavy for me. I’m often using a camera more or less all the time for perhaps 5 or 6 hours at a stretch, and I’m not sure my shoulders or right wrist would cope with the extra heft. The Nikon D200 and D300 both weight around 830g while the D3 is 1240g, half as much again. Of course the difference in practice is a little less obvious, as I’d normally have perhaps 600g of lens fitted to any of the bodies.

I’m not going to rush out and buy either – particularly as the D3 in particular is likely to be in very short supply for a while. Despite the cost and size issues, it’s still the one I’m more inclined to seriously consider. And it would cost. As well as D3 itself costing well over twice as much as the D300, I’d also need a new lens to replace the 18-200 which only covers the DX format, as well as possibly wanting to replace my current Sigma 12-24 (which does cover full frame) with the new Nikon 14-24 f2.8….

It might be easier to just go back to using film!

2 Responses to “Nikon D3 or D300?”

  1. photobymarkdavey says:

    Sometimes when I’m selling cameras in the day-job at Calumet I say to customers:
    “Imagine if digital cameras were invented 150 years ago and then today a person said they had invented a camera which used a tiny roll of acetate to record 36 pictures. When it is finished you send it away and a few days later you get your pictures back. These cameras would be selling like hotcakes!”

  2. :-)

    Though really I think that latter-day would-be Mr Eastman would not have a hope in hell of getting his product off the ground.

    What would we do with these tiny pictures? And why are they all negative? You mean I can’t see the picture straight away, so I won’t know if I got it right? Why can’t I just reformat this stuff and use it again rather than have to buy a new roll?

    Not a chance of it ever selling!


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