My job as a Still Photographer in the motion picture industry requires me to get the best possible images for publicity purposes. This requires me to constantly update my equipment when new and better technology is developed.
Such is the case with the Nikon D300 camera which hit the market in Dec 2007 and is now available without the waiting list that it had for several months. I had been using the Nikon D2x and the Nikon D200 cameras for several years, and a Nikon D100 and D1x prior to that.
Because of the low light situations I’m forced to shoot in, I’ve never welcomed a camera as much as the new Nikon D300 and Nikon D3. The D300 greatly reduces the image noise over that of the D2x and the D200 when shooting at high ISOs. This is particularly true from ISO 800 up to ISO 6400–which is the highest ISO I’ve used with the camera.
With the previous series Nikons (D2x & D200) anything above ISO 800 is noticeably noisy and requires a noise reduction filter such as Noise Ninja etc. when processing the images. Using a noise reduction filter runs the risk of the images becoming too soft after the noise is removed.
Not so with the D300!
Guitars at ISO 1600
Using the D300 camera the amount of noise reduction is significantly less–if it’s needed at all. My work on the latest movie called for shooting lots of available light images of Rock n Roll Concerts. Of course in the old days when I was shooting film at Rock n Roll Concerts, it was usually shot on Tri X pushed to ISO1600 and developed in Diafine—an exotic (for the times) developing process. Otherwise I used Kodak Ektachrome ISO 400 film that was pushed a stop or two. Even later on I used Kodak Portra or Fuji ISO 800 films.
Kerr at ISO 3200
With these films and push-processing, grain was expected, accepted, sometimes preferred and definitely did show up in the final product. Now, being able to do without that visual grain or noise is much more preferable. You can always dial grain in with filters in Photoshop while processing the images if it is desired.
Horns at ISO 2500
Of course stopping the action and maintaining sharpness of a Rock n Roll Band or any moving subjects in low light requires shooting at ISO 800 up to ISO 3200.
What a surprise it was for me on this film to look at these images shot with the D300 after they were enlarged to 11" x 14” and possibly larger for the poster.
It’s worth repeating that the lack of noise at high ISOs is just plain wonderful!
While the Nikon D3 with its full size sensor is noticeably better than the D300 (and should be at its $5,000 price tag), the (roughly $1,799) D300 is such a big improvement that it will delight a large majority of professional shooters. Nikon has really done their homework on this camera by including other really nice features such as the big, bright 3” monitor.
That monitor is really easy on the eyes and alleviates a lot of eyestrain. Also the Auto Focus is faster and more accurate than on the D2X and D200. Then too, there’s the D-Lighting feature, which allows for one-stop lighter or darker corrections of images already shot to be saved on the CF card.
These and many more improvements are squeezed into the D300 for the already mentioned amount of $1799.
That’s a bargain in my book.
Last but not least is that it makes my job a lot easier, and that is the name of the game. Isn’t it? Anything that makes my job easier is something to add to my camera bag.
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