Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Nikon’s D300 Inspires

©Bert Gildart: There hasn’t been a camera released in a long time that has excited me as much as Nikon’s new–just released–D300. The “D,” of course, stands for digital, and though it’s fundamentally the same as the D200, it has many new features worth shouting about. The camera is built tough, helping to maintain the Nikon tradition–and it inspires creativity.

Nikon D300

Nikon D300

How does it accomplish all that? First and perhaps foremost the D300 shoots at 12.3 Megapixels, an upgrade from the D200, which shot at 10.3 Megapixels. Two other features, particularly helpful for those of us who spend much time photographing wildlife, is this camera’s ability to shoot about six frames a second. With the optional battery grip, the number increases to 8 frames per second. As well the camera features autofocus with 51 points that improve the tracking of a moving object. That simplifies flight shots of birds.

I also like the huge 3-inch LCD monitor display that supports LV–or Life View–a feature you can dial in on the release mode dial, located on the top of the camera. Using LV you can place your camera on a tripod and then compose using that huge LCD screen. That’s nice when there’s not much action and when you want to control exposure with your cable release.

Much larger LCD screen

Much larger LCD screen

Again, for the wildlife photographer, this camera also has an easy-to-use mirror lock up, very important for images such as the one of the Yellow-crowned night heron shown here. The picture was taken last year in Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve and was made with a 600mm lens in a swamp where light was very low. My exposure was something like 1/30th second at f5.6. In other words, though the lens was wide open, shutter speed was slow, and it was only because of luck and possibly some bean bags that helped prevent camera shake with the D200. Now, with mirror lock up there won’t be any vibration so the percent of blur-free images taken at slow shutter speeds will increase.

After exposing, if you want an instant view of your image to see how sharp it is, there is a “+” button on the back of the camera that allows you to “blow up” the image on the LCD. Though you could accomplish the same thing with the D200, more steps were involved. Such critical evaluation allows you to examine important portions of the picture, such as the eye. Is it or is it not in focus? With the D300, that’s something you can evaluate in seconds.

From a maintenance and appearance perspective, I appreciate the smooth transition of metal to rubber where the two substances meet. On the D300, they’re perfectly flush, but not so on the D200. Here, the rubber tends extrude just enough to snag on camera bags when storing, imparting a much-used look to a relatively new camera. I’m wondering now if I can use super glue to reattach the small lip of rubber now sticking out from the D200?

Mirror lock up enhances stability

Mirror lock up enhances stablity when using long telephoto lenses

All that said, I have one complaint regarding the D300 and it’s introduction. There’s no advisory explaining that if you want to work with RAW images you will need to upgrade from Photoshop CS2 to CS3. That’s not a major complaint, and other Nikon users say the new features in Adobe’s CS3 are so improved over CS2 that you should upgrade anyway. I respond saying I think Nikon and Adobe are in cahoots. In turn, friends counter saying it’s a sign the two major corporations are in sync and working well together, and perhaps they’re right.

Regardless, I’m excited about the camera and continue to find that the advantages of digital over film are immense. Obviously digital is required for people who need high-quality images in a hurry.

At any rate, my one complaint is more than balanced but all the upgrades the D300 incorporates, many that I haven’t mentioned. In short, the camera inspires creativity, and in the two weeks now I’ve owned it, I probably shot close to 300 images, some on assignment for a travel magazine. That tells you that the transition from the D200 to the D300 is an easy one, else I wouldn’t be taking the chance of having to cope with new camera functions with which I was not familiar.

Still I’m glad it arrived well before we depart for the Southwest, but essentially to learn what’s new in Photoshop CS3. We’re not in a real hurry to leave Montana, but after Christmas, during a window when the roads are clear and when the weather man says there’ll be no storms for a few days, that’s when we’ll be heading out. We’ll be pulling our Airstream–then setting up housekeeping somewhere in the desert sand.

2 Responses to “Nikon’s D300 Inspires”

  1. Kimmy Says:

    Swing by Tn. and pick me up. lol
    That is an extraordinary camera. I’m sure it will be a treasure that will last a long time. Best Wishes to you and Jane!

  2. Eric Says:

    You don’t need to upgrade to Photoshop CS3 to work with RAW files. The D300 includes a free copy of Nikon Capture NX which works perfectly for converting RAW to JPG, final post-processing can be done in Photoshop after the conversion.

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