Purchasing a D300..

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by corysmith, Jan 3, 2019.

  1. I am currently shooting with a Nikon D3400. While I am content with the quality of the images I am getting from it, I am not so with the ergonomics of it; I feel I require something with a screen on the top, and switches/dials for changing shooting modes, focus modes, etc.

    I am on a budget, and I am aware of the 7xxx series of cameras. But I have also noticed that the D300 is regularly available at a bargain. Would it be wise to switch from a D3400 to a D300, or save up a little more for a 7xxx camera? The biggest thing I am concerned about in terms of photographic quality is high ISO performance. I generally do not shoot above 3200. For those of you experienced with the D300, how does it perform at that level?
  2. No - I considered ISO 1600 the maximum on the D300; it is very unlikely that you see an improvement in ISO performance stepping from the D3400 to the D300. For high ISO performance, consider FX as an option (it really depends on your budget though).
    In terms of resolution, the D300 is a clear step down from the D3400 (and the latter has the former beat in terms of dynamic range too). Your best option in the DX realm is a D7200.
  3. You will be disappointed in the D300. It's enough generations behind, you will always feel lacking. I used a D200 from inception and there were never enough resolution/features to ever upgrade to a D300. Long story being short, my D200 was stolen and I went without a digital for a few years. Being mostly a film shooter, it was not a big deal.

    While in Vegas a couple of years ago, lugging around film, lenses and film cameras, got a little tired for vacation. I quickly looked on Kijji and found a cheap slightly used D7000. I was impressed how much better it was that I expected.

    I have no desire to upgrade as 16mp is fine. The features are leaps and bounds better than the D200/D300 arena and the D200/D300 really over value the cameras. So my advice is to look at what you can get in the 7xxx series. It will be forward not backward.
  4. I thought the same for quite some time - until I got the D300. The better AF alone was enough to justify the upgrade - though this may not matter depending on the subject matter one shoots.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I agree that the D300 is just way too old by now. Additionally it needs to use the out-of-date EN-EL3e battery and CF memory cards. I think you are better off with the D7000 series with dual SD cards (except for the D7500) and EN-EL15 battery. Even the D7200 is quite affordable used or refurbished nowadays.
  6. I'm going to disagree with just about everybody. The D300 was an awesome camera in it's day, ISO performance and AF was heaps better than the D200 but not as good as todays camera's. Some of my best bird shots were taken with the D300. The construction of the D300 is solid unlike some of the modern cheaper camera's. The D300s is a step up and if you can get one of those as it will do video as well. If you want a full frame version the D700 is almost identical and is a marvelous camera.
    jimmy_s. and John Seaman like this.
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    As Mike points out, the D300S (note the S) can capture Standard Definition video, but the original D300 (non-S) cannot. Another difference between the two is that the D300 has only one memory card slot for CF cards. The D300S has dual slots, CF + SD. Otherwise, the electronics is essentially the same. Nikon did not upgrade the sensor and other electronics when they upgraded the D300 (2007) to D300S (2009).

    The issue is that the OP's D3400 was introduced in September 2016; that is still fairly recent technology. If you move to the D300/D300S, you are going backward for almost a decade to 2007 technology. You will experience a huge difference.
  8. I bought a D300 in 2017 as an "upgrade" to the D2X I was using at the time. Aside from being lighter and being moderately usable at ISO 1600(I didn't like taking the D2X past 400), it wasn't a huge upgrade for me. My next camera after that was a D800, which was a HUGE leap in every way, but also a lot more expensive.

    The D300 is certainly capable, and I'd prefer using it over a D3400 for the fact that it has two command dials and a top LCD. That's what I'm use to, though. The D300 has a much, much broader range of lens compatibility than the D3400, although that's something I care a lot about but that many people won't(plus the D300 won't work with the newest DX AF-P lenses, while the D3400 will). The D3400 is a more than capable camera and I'd be shocked if it's absolute image quality is not better in pretty much every measurable way than the D300-although I suspect that the D300 would probably edge it out in terms of AF speed and most certainly has a higher frame rate(up to 8fps if you use a battery grip with an EN-EL4a).
  9. The D300 was and still is a great camera. Professional in every way. Instantaneously reacts to any situation. Focuses MUCH faster than some "modern" cameras I have used. Only 12mp but BIG pixels.
  10. No disagreement with me on any of this.

    Not that it matters in any way anymore - the D300 (and the D700) don't have any advantage over more modern cameras in terms of dynamic range and ISO performance.

    I stepped up from the D200 to the D300, skipped the D7000 and eventually - after it became clear that there would be no D400 - made the mistake of getting a D7100 that I later corrected by getting a D7200. All those were history the instant the D500 came out.

    The D7200 is the best option for those on a budget - the D7500 is better in some aspects but comes with a few drawbacks of its own.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
  11. I still have a D300s and had a D7000 (briefly a while back), and have other more modern cameras.. From a pure image quality standpoint, your D3400 should produce better images at about any ISO (more MP) vs D300, but especially above ISO 1200, my personal limit for the D300.

    Still, I would not hesitate to use my D300(s) for shooting in daylight, and would prefer it to a D3XXX for shooting action (in daylight). My thoughts are pretty much ditto what Ben says above.

    Maybe it is just the one I had, but I did not much like the D7000 I had briefly when they first came out. Glad I kept my D90. D7000 results looked "blue" to me and the AF was not accurate on my sample with a number of lenses I had.

    The D7100/D7200 cameras would have better camera controls setups, better AF, and have about equal the image quality of your D3400. Take a look at those. Actually, $750 or less and careful shopping will buy a LOT of camera on fleabay right now. (D3s, D800, even less for D3 or D700), but then FX lenses would be required.

    Couple of posts appeared while I was writing this. I think the biggest difference between D7100 and D7200 is shot buffer depth for continuous shooting.
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Precisely. If one shoots "machine gun" style, the difference between the D7100 and D7200 can be very noticeable. If one doesn't, you might feel that they are essentially the same camera.

    When the D7100 was my main DX body, I was highly selective with my action images to avoid filling the buffer as much as I could.
  13. Whatever camera you will get, please pay attention to light and composition. Then you will be fine with a D300, D300s or whatever currently available cameras. In my experience, the D300/s worked very well with action shots. All my Alaska, Southeast Asia, Canadian Rockies, European, USA, African Safari shots, ... that were shot several years ago were from D300 or D300s. Many won competitions and awards. Naturally, however, you want to get the best value for what you pay. So the other members' experienced advices are valid as well.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
    jimmy_s. likes this.
  14. If my experience with the D3 is any indication, the ISO 6400 performance of that sensor is nothing to sneeze at.

    It's a shame Nikon never made a D700s with the D3s sensor, as to my eye the D3s looks better at 12,800 than the D3 does at 6400.

    I'll add the caveat that I've never owned a D3 or D700, but did borrow a D3 for a little while with a serious eye toward purchasing. I decided that the D3s was worth the extra money for what I wanted the camera for-it's probably the only "s" camera that I consider worth the considerable premium that it brings over the non-s camera(although I also have a D70s, D2Xs, and D300s-the D300s does win some serious consideration from me for its second card slot).
  15. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Well, back in 2007/2008, I too thought the D3's performance at ISO 6400 was wonderful. I had a loaner D3 for a while and ended up buying a D700 myself. The electronics in the D3 and D700 was essentially the same, and they generated essentially the same results. (But the D3 is the more robust camera with a larger battery and dual memory cards.)

    And of course, the D3S (2009) was considerably better.

    Recently I have been using a Z6 for high ISO, and the results are by far superior to whatever I got from the D3, D700, and D3S a decade ago, as you would expect. Technology marches on.
  16. I don't know how likely this is to happen, but I'd love to see the backside-illuminated 24mp sensor from the Z6 make it into a DSLR. An updated D610 or D750(perhaps a D620/D650 or D760) at the current price point of $1600 or $2K plus some other "up to date" features would be a winner in my book. IBIS(or is it IBVR?) would be nice, especially now that Nikon has gone there with the Z series, although I wouldn't hold my breath on seeing it in a DSLR.

    The current 24mp FX sensor in the D600/D610/D750 is great, but the newer generation of sensors from the D850 and the Z cameras are putting it to shame in terms of dynamic range and high ISO performance. My D600 looks good at ISO 6400-probably about as good as a D3-but seeing what a newer sensor of the same resolution is capable of makes i start to show its age.

    Maybe we could even get that sensor in the probably-not-going-to-happen Df2(or whatever it's called) :) .

    To come back around to the general theme of this thread, though-as has been indicated the D7000 is considered something of a defacto replacement for the D300(or at least was until the D500 came along). I've never used a D7000, but as I understand it the D600 is more-or-less an FX D7000. I love the D600, and I appreciate how small and light it is, but it also certainly handles a lot differently from my D300. To me, I can pretty easily see the F100->D200->D300->D700->D800->D810->D500->D850 lineage. There have obviously been some major changes along the way, but there are also other little ergonomic things like the lack of a mode dial. One of the biggest things that annoys me on the D600 is the ISO button-since it's shared with one of the menu/image review buttons, if you have image review on you have to remember to tap the shutter button if you want to change the ISO right after taking a photo. This has caught me more than once, especially since my other main DSLRs I use have discreet ISO buttons.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
  17. You will be disappointed with D300, it's high ISO didn't impress me when I had it brand new, today it's outdated.
    When you choosing camera, look at it, as a system, lenses are most important part of that system. If you Nikon user and on budget, make sure you got camera with that screw driving AF, it will give you access to "old" D lenses, there is some good bargains there.
  18. I agree with Dieter. I did find that anything above ISO 1600 was not safe with the D300/s. Hwvr, one can do quite a lot.
    Hi Cory, if it helps, here is a review comparing the Nikon D300 vs Nikon D3400 (link). Hope you will find the one that is a good fit for you. Good luck!
  19. Not so many years ago, I bought a used D200, to replace my D70s, which still worked but sometimes forgot it had a memory card.

    Not much later, used D700 came into my price range, so I got one of them.

    I believe the D700 is better at high ISO than the D300, but am not sure about that.

    The D200, D300, and D700 are good choices if you like using older AI lenses.
    I believe that used D700 are pretty reasonably priced now.

    Used D7x00 might also be reasonably priced.
  20. Nearby store has a used D700, 13900 shots, for $449, and used D7000 for $229.

    The OP didn't indicate a price range, but those are good cameras for those prices.

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