Why do the D200, and now the D300, challenge your technique?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by roger_s, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. I've read it many times, that the D200, and now the D300, challenge a photographer's technique. Can
    experienced-users of the D200 and D300 put into words, and expand, and explain just what that means, and why.

    In what areas does it challenge a photographer?

    What are the most common initial mistakes that a new D200/D300 user makes, until the challenge causes an improvement?

    What improvements in personal technique are experienced by the photographer as a result of the challenge of using
    these models?

    Can a D200/D300 just keep using these models, being ignorant of the challenges inherent in these models, and
    simply not rise to the challenge?
  2. If an image falls in the forest and there is no D300 to record it, was it really an image?

  3. The main thing you'll notice is the loss of the various preset modes, like night portrait, macro, portrait, etc. that the lower end cameras all have. This means you either need to know what those pre-sets actually do shutterspeed/aperture wise, or you'll pretty much lose the ability to take photos in that way.
  4. Challenging to whom? Meaning, challenging compared to shooting slide film, or compared to shooting a compact point-and-shoot camera? Or compared to a D40? Since challenges are generally meaningful in terms of your experience and ability to rise to them, it would sure help to know more about where you are, and where you've been. Oh, and what you'll be shooting, subject-wise, and with what sort of lenses.
  5. For years, I've always agreed with the notion that it's not the camera but the nut behind the ground glass that's important to the creation of great impelling images. I still believe this.

    That said, after 45 years in photography, the D300 is helping me to become a better photographer. With top notch glass the D300 gives me confidence to try new things and better techniques. It has brought the magic of photography back for me. Everything is just where it’s supposed to be making the camera transparent to me. Making a change is automatic.

    For example, I generally only use spot metering. I’m a little old fashioned in that I generally only use the center focus point and reframe. I love that I can quickly spot several items in a scene and mentally come up with the right exposure, set it and push the shutter without removing my eye from the viewfinder. The right exposure being what I chose not always what the camera would have chosen. The D300 makes it so easy, I can do birds in flight this way with better success than I’ve been able to do it before.

    I know I don’t use a lot of the fancy features of this camera, but my older ways are so easy to use on it, I feel like I don’t need to. Everything is in the right place. In other words, it doesn't challenge my technique. It enhances it.

    Good luck and I hope this helps.
  6. I find myself constantly fighting the D300's meter and white balance. The biggest change in my shooting technique is that I find I must shoot RAW/jpg so I can properly correct images that the camera did not get right. I now shoot mainly with spot metering rather than matrix. I have also switch to aRGB rather than sRGB. I find the D200's meter is much more conservative.

    Once you use a camera long enough, you learn to anticipate how it is going to react to various subjects and lighting conditions and compensate accordingly. I prefer a camera that allows me to concentrate more on composition.
  7. Considering my D200 is dead for the second time with a CHA card reading error I find it very challenging in deed to take a photo with the D200!
  8. "...I find myself constantly fighting the D300's meter and white balance...."
    We found that the white balance is much more accurate on the D300 (and D3) compared to the D200. The "auto" white balance setting is much more accurate under different conditions compared to the same setting on the D200.
    We still always shoot in RAW, but there is less post processing necessary on the D300 files (and especially the D3 files) compared to the D200 files.
    You are right that the D200 tended to underexpose more often compared to the newer models. Generally I find myself shooting at -0.3 exposure compensation with the D300 and D3.
  9. The D300 is a camera. No different than shooting with an F3, F4 or whatever. You compose the photo and either manually set the exposure or let the camera do it. Ain't no big thang if you shot with fikm F models.
  10. Russ, I have read numerous posts about how most photographers find the white balance very accurate. I am sending my camera in to have it checked next month.
  11. Wayne,

    I think these DSLRs are more like computers than cameras, though. I mean, put a roll of velvia in an F6, F3, F2, and (fill in
    the blank), the image is the same at the same exposure with the same lens on each.

    Not true of DSLRs.
  12. Good point Peter. I find it odd that there is virtually no consistency in metering from one Nikon DSLR to another. And while you would think that newer models would improve over older models, unless my camera is not functioning properly, the D300 is not an improvement. It will be interesting to see how D700 users find the metering on it.
  13. More of a challenge? Hardly! You learn by doing, and photography is no exception. The camera, film or digital, is a tool to some end. They use the same ISO, shutter speeds, aperture and focusing, and it's up to me to point it in the right direction at the right time.

    Long before I got my first digital camera I shifted from slides to prints, from darkroom to scanning and Photoshop. I get better results than before - all part of the learning process.
  14. I love how my D300 reads the WB. I use it auto and just a few times I have to play with it. It is much better than my D80. Challenge? What I find most difficult is the AF system. I don't think that is the case with a D200 since is the same as a
    D80 and i found that D80 is very simple. Besides that, if you're coming from a lower grade DSLR all you gotta get used to
    is where the controls are. Rene'
  15. On a film camera, a proper exposure could be different for b&w film or chromes; the camera doesn`t know about film latitude. It could be easy to get a wrong exposure, most of us change box ISO speed to have a correct metering for different kind of films.

    DSLRs expose for their unique sensors. There could be slight differences between different sensors, thought. I find some of them are more conservative than others.
  16. My experience matches Wayne's. Since I started with film where i had to master the basics, trying a new camera is just a matter of taking some shots and reviewing them, then making any adjustments I think I need.

    I did not have a problem with the D200 underexposing nor does the man who has it now. The D300 is right on unless I do something thoughtless which would have resulted in the same thoughtless outcomes I got with film.

    My D700 arrives the 25th and I want to have time to work with it but may be hampered by other obligations. I am doing my best to unload those obligations.

  17. I don't think we seem to have really considered Roger's original question very well. He was not asking "in what way do you like/dislike the metering of the D200/D300 over other cameras?" (fill in white balance for metering and repeat.) The question was: "I've read it many times, that the D200, and now the D300, challenge a photographer's technique. Can experienced-users of the D200 and D300 put into words, and expand, and explain just what that means, and why."
    I would answer that these cameras are now recording images at a very high resolution and are capable of producing exceptional photos. However, to get such high quality images a lot of other factors will come into play, such has high quality lenses (I've heard many times that "the D300 is very demanding on the lenses") and good technique of the photographer.
    With a lower resolution DSLR you could tell the difference between a high resolution pro lens and a cheap consumer zoom, but you had to really look closely. (OK, don't flame me, I need to add here "for most photos" an average photographer may take. And none of you are average photographers, clearly.) With a D200/D300 the resolution of the sensor is so great that the difference between different lenses becomes obvious much quicker. For the "average photographer" it was already a challenge to make use of the full 6 Mega pixels of a D70 and make "every pixel count." With a 10/12 Mega pixel D200/D300 it becomes all the more challenging to take photos where you make every pixel count. It actually requires a very sharp lens and a steady tripod.
    So what I see as being "more challenging with the D200/D300" is that the D200/D300 are capable of producing better, higher resolution, images than the D100/D70/..., but to actually take images that are "better" than those taken with these predecessor you need to have decent technique. Just getting a D300 will not make your photos better from the ones you were taking before. You will need to have good technique (and good lenses) to actually use this camera to its fullest. Cheers!
  18. Dr. Feinam is on the right track, but he neglected to mention that it's a an issue of pixel pitch/pixel size (number of pixels
    per inch or square inch) , not absolute number of pixels. In essence, the pixels on 10+ MP APS sensors are so small that
    they are able to resolve flaws in lenses and photog technique that were lost on film and larger-pixeled dslrs. In other words,
    a full-frame 12 MP D3 is less demanding in this way than an APS-sized 12 MP D300. The 21 MP 1DsMk3 and much-
    expected 21MP D3x will be equally demanding as the D300, since they have the same pixel pitch.
  19. biggest hurdle with the d300 IMO is the AF system. not only predictive focus tracking, but figuring out when exactly
    to use 9-pt, 21-pt, 51-pt, and 51-pt 3-D. it takes a while to get used to not having AF points light up and having
    to 'trust' the camera's ability to focus. at first so many options can be a little confusing; after a while it becomes more
    intuitive. it is more computer-like, and more complex, so setting settings correctly becomes more of an issue. 'my
    menu' is great, though, since you dont have to wade through infrequently used settings to get to the ones you need.

    but actually the d300 helped my technique since i like to shoot a lot of low-light pics, which means high ISO. for that
    the D300 is great; 1600 is very clean.

    btw, Auto WB is generally better and matrix metering more reliable than a d80. it doesnt automatically overexpose,
    either, as with a d80, which i set at -0.7 EV and left it there. the files are a bit bigger, not a big deal if you're cropping
    them anyway, but you need more external hard drive space. a friend of mine who upgraded from a d70 to a d300
    complained about this. i told him he could have just gotten a D40 if he wanted 6mp images. :)
  20. "I've read it many times, that the D200, and now the D300, challenge a photographer's technique. Can
    experienced-users of the D200 and D300 put into words, and expand, and explain just what that means, and why."

    The higher the pixel density, the steadier the sensor must be during exposure.

    So shooting at 1/125sec with a d70+135mm lens produces a clean shot, but the same technique by the same person
    with the same lens on a D200/D300 can produce a soft image that looks out of focus but in reality is shaken.

    This is more evident with long lenses.

  21. For me, the challenge to shooting digital is that the cameras don't use film. Was a time when you chose your film based on what you would be shooting. Now, you set the camera based on what your shooting. Which means that you can choose the contrast level, the saturation level, the ISO, the tonal response curve (which is embedded in the Picture Controls for the D300) the White Balance, and finally the color space. All of which came prepackaged in that handy roll of film. Fortunately for all of us, Nikon has done a fairly good job with some the Picture Controls so, with the D300, you can treat the Picture Controls to some extent like a film selection. That simplifies matters greatly, so the major decision areas become color space, White Balance and ISO. Another very fortunate feature is that you can shoot RAW and leave the color space and White Balance decision for post processing without losing anything. So, now your down to just deciding what ISO to shoot at. Basically, by shooting RAW you using a very powerful set of training wheels that go a long way towards protecting your from failure. However, you will have to learn how to properly post process your images and a lot of that will be simple trial and error. Which is why I never modify my original, I only work on a proxy copy of the original.

    The other area that can be challenging is the AF system and all of it's options. For the first 2 months that I had my D300 I used that AF system exactly as I had used the AF in my N8008s. That is it was set in single frame, center Area, and I used the focus/recompose methodolgy. Used that way I have found that the D300 is very near perfect, I think I only had 3 misses out of 1500 frames shot using this method. More recently I have been experimenting with the 21 point Dynamic mode in AF-C. Where I have found that the camera almost never misses. However, I still have to experiment with the 9 point, 51 point, 51 point 3D, Dynamic modes and figure out when they are a better choice. I also have to do some experimenting with the Auto Area AF and try to figure out what hidden features may be lurking within this mode. Basically, the AF system has so many features that it's going to take any new user some time to figure out what to use when.

    So yeah, it's a bit challenging. However it's a challenge that you learn from. You can treat it like a Point and Shoot camera and get good results most of the time. But if you take the time to explore all it's features, it will make you a better photographer.
  22. If all one wants to do is point and shoot, put either of these babies to program mode and you got it. If one wants to be creative and shutter or aperture selection or want to take full control and use manual you need to know what you are doing and that one may have to learn.
  23. I went from a D70 to a D300 6 months ago. Other then learning a little bit more about autofocus options there was no
    challenge in technique. While there is some truth to "it is the nut behind the camera" and other variants of "your camera
    doesn't matter" I found the jump exhilarating because unlike the D70 I hardly ever have to think about the cameras
    operation getting in the way. I essentially see a subject that has potential and go to work with hardly a thought about
    mechanics like did I get the right exposure focus etc. That part just happens. Certainly one of the main differences I
    like is having the ability to shoot at higher ISO values with little loss in quality. Too my mind better a sharp slightly
    noisy image than no image at all.

    About the only real challenge is when you get the "Wow, what a great picture ... you must have a nice camera" Sigh,
  24. "I've read it many times, that the D200, and now the D300, challenge a photographer's technique. Can experienced-users of the D200 and D300 put into words, and expand, and explain just what that means, and why. "
    If you cite the source of the above statement, perhaps the responses would he more targeted to the answer you are looking for. For me, I basically treat the D200 and D300 like most other Nikon cameras I have had, granted there are differences in the way the controls work, etc.
  25. How would "expose to the right" fit into any of these? In the film days, one would usually expose for the highlights, compose and shoot. For a denser picture, probably underexpose by 1/3 stop. However, DSLRs use a photon counting sensor, not the same thing as a density recording film. Added to this is the way how the photon counts are stored in a linear file format. This practically ensures that current sensors will not have enough tonality in the mid range if pictures are taken at correct exposure (compared to slide film). I am currently shooting with a custom made curve in the d70 and d200 that forces the LCD and histogram to (nearly) show what captureNX would show with exposure set to -1 (and a linear tone curve). Not the best of techniques, but it works. I believe this depends on the dynamic range of the sensor too. Has someone with a d300 or d3 encountered any noteworthy "challenges" while "exposing to the right"?
  26. I think the main challenge for me is there are a gazillion more buttons and options on the D300 compared with my old D70.
    The challenge is to work out what they all do and put them to good use!

    I wouldn't say the D300 challenges me directly but it gives me the option of doing things my D70 were perhaps not capable
    of doing (high FPS multi-shots, multiple exposure shots, lower light photography with more useable higher ISO settings) but
    overall that I spent best part of $1900 on my new camera body and so I've been challenged to get the most out of it for my
  27. Photography still relies on combination of Lens, Aperture and shutter speed to capture best light. A better photograph only can be made by the better composition, nothing else affect the photography.
  28. I grew up shooting with and FE, then moved to an FM3a when my pair of FEs passed on. I had never shot with a programmed, autofocus camera and was skeptical of shooting digital SLR because of all the preprogrammed features. I loved the feel and control of the FE/FM3a systems and wasn't sure that a preprogrammed camera would let ME take the shots.

    I purchased a D300 about 2 months ago and do not find my D300 a challenge. I have found the controls quite natural (although little things like having shot-to-shot control over ISO and being able to immediately review a photo and it's histogram takes a bit to get used to).

    I generally shoot in Aperture priority mode with spot metering and AF set to single point focus. I have also been using my fixed focal length, manual focus lenses more than the two AF zooms I purchased shortly after buying the camera.

    In general, I find this camera to be very easy to fit into my old habits. I could see it being a challenge to someone who came into photography relying on cameras with programmed modes such as "night", "portrait" and "landscape", but I don't see that as a show stopper if the person is willing to put the work into learning how to use traditional photographic controls.

  29. To respond to the further questions in your post:

    1. Post processing RAW files has challenged me the most to date. Having never worked in the "Digital Darkroom", I have found myself back at school so to speak. In some ways, mixing chemicals and timing development/temperature settings was easier than keeping track of the number of development controls that are available with digital software.

    2. Being aware of the dynamic range of the camera is also a challenge and can lead to alot of inital mistakes. I find shooting the D300 more like shooting slide film. It is easy to overexpose an area of a photo trying to capture the shadows of a scene. If you study your photographs, studying mistakes that blew out the highlights of a photo will make you more aware of lighting conditions and how to control them. The nice thing is that you have the histogram available to immediately review the photo, see problems and (perhaps) reshoot before you leave the field.

    3. This camera provides many technological variations that can be accessed quickly and easily (as mentioned in my prior post, I find the controls very natural). This means that you can take the same shot multiple times varying the control options, then review them to see the results. This will expand your knowlege of what these controls do and how they affect the resulting photograph. This can expand your range of creative options in various shooting conditions.

    Keep in mind that (as earlier posts mention) the camera is a tool. It will not make one a better photographer, but it will provide the tools to allow a creative photographer to capture exceptional images. The best thing I can say about this camera is true of any digital camera...It will allow you to shoot lots of photos and review them quickly which can lead to a faster learning curve.

    4. You can set the camera to Program mode, Multi point metering, Multi point focusing, Auto white balance, ISO 400 using the 18-200mm VR lens and get technically proficiant photos under most conditions without ever rising to the challenge of learning anything else about the camera system.

  30. Photography still relies on combination of Lens, Aperture and shutter speed to capture best light. A better photograph only can be made by the better composition, nothing else affect the photography.
    You keep hearing this. Not to deny the central role the photographer takes, but the statement above is really not quite a complete statement.
    First and foremost, you forgot to mention film. With out the film in your camera you won't be taking any pictures. And if you look at film and how it has improved over the last 100 years, you see that an incredible amount of technology went into this. Color film got more and more vivid and would render color more natural, film got better grain characteristics and finer grain, special films like velvia or portra appeared, etc.
    So in the DSLR world, there are different sensors with different characteristics, which require different techniques to get the most out of them. As was mentioned already, the sensor of the D300 behaves a little different from previous sensors. All the different camera settings which interpret the result from the sensor, do make a difference in how the final result looks. Just change the "sharpening" and you can change the resulting photo in a subtle (and sometimes not quite subtle) way. Some people have complained that their images look noisy, which seems usually to have been errors in the technical use of the camera.
    So where with film you could not really tell the difference between different camera bodies, but you could certainly tell the difference between different films. With digital you often can tell the difference between different camera bodies, certainly in what was possible (though not always at web resolutions, but then, web resolution is not enough to always tell different films apart either.)
  31. Yes Tachion, I forgot to mention the capture storage medium like film or chip...! Thanks to remember.
  32. The biggest challenge for me was figuring out how to get the WB correct and then migrating more into full manual control of the camera. What helped me most was learning from the post-processing work in LR many repetitions of what I had to do to get the WB correct along with the other aspects of "developing" the shots and then taking that experience into the field to apply those same adjustments to the WB while shooting a few test pictures to get the adjustments correct. Now I am finding a dramatic reduction in post work time as a result and much more satisfying photographic results overall. So it has been a challenge to learn all this and very enjoyable as well.
  33. My D300 is my first DSLR, having used Canon SLRs with film prior to acquiring the Nikon 7 months ago. The challenge has been discovering all of the absolutely great stuff this camera can do and the fact that you can recover some images with exposure and white balance corrections in post processing when you shoot RAW. As far as composing shots, the D300 is easier to use than any film camera I have owned. The viewfinder is very bright and the LCD is wonderful for an immediate check to decide to repeat the shot or accept what you have. I like to use the single point focus and metering for most situations but the 51 point AF with 3D tracking has been exceptional for moving subjects like flying birds and airplanes...even dragonflies in flight. The active D lighting feature works fairly well but is not a substitute for intelligent judgements about back-lit subjects and adding fill flash or recomposing the shot.
    The greatest challenge for me is that I have to put the camera down and do other stuff...my wife is constantly reminding me:)!

Share This Page