Picking up where I left off from looking at the new Nikon D3, the new Nikon D300 is almost impressive as the D3 for different reasons. The D300 is basically an up-dated D2Xs at a third of the D2Xs’ original price! I think D2Xs owners will really want to consider up-grading to the D300. That’s right, I said up-grading!
Consider that the D300 has the following (and the D2Xs doesn’t):
- the new CAM 3500 51 point auto-focus system that is in the D3 flagship
- a new 12 Mega Pixel sensor which is better than the D2Xs’ and the D200’s from all initial reports
- the same new 920,000 pixel 3” LCD that the D3 flagship has
- Nikon’s new Scene Recognition System (SRS)
- Nikon’s new Dynamic Dust Reduction System
Now, what would you buy? A D2Xs or a D300? For me, the answer is pretty obvious… the D300 wins. I’d love to hear the argument for buying the D2Xs over the D300 if there’s anyone that disagrees. Frankly, I’d be surprised if someone could make a valid argument for the D2Xs over the D300. Obviously if you already own a D2Xs, the situation is a little different. What to buy once the D300 is on store shelves shortly is a no-brainer for me, but I think current D2Xs owners may want to consider the D300 as well, either as an addition or as an up-grade.
Frankly, I’m impressed that Nikon has set another benchmark for DSLR excellence. They’ve put their top of the line AF system in their $2000 range entry. The D200 had a dummed-down AF system in comparison to the D2Xs. Now, the D300 shares the best of Nikon’s auto focus with its D3 big brother. Impressive! Not only is this excellent news for soon-to-be D300 owners, its great news for the industry in general. This puts pressure on Canon and the other players in the DSLR arena to offer more in their lower end as well, which is good for us, the consumers!
The big question for me is the sensor. Nikon has been playing second-fiddle to Canon in this area for a while now. The D200 and the D2Xs had poor high iso noise qualities, and many a low-light shooter has migrated to Canon as a result (case in point… me). With this new 12MP sensor in the D300, I hope Nikon has leveled the playing field, but I have my concerns. The Mk3 is phenomenal at high iso, and while I am reasonably certain the D3 will be it’s equal (if not its better), I’m not sure about the D300 with its 12MP crop sensor. I would’ve been happier if Nikon had kept the D300 at 10MP and improved the high iso. I am hopeful though. If they can at least hit 30D high iso quality, I think most folks will be happy. If they hit Mk3 / 40D high iso quality with the D300, I’ll be both impressed and blown away!
The rest of the new features are a great addition. The new LCD looks like another area that Nikon will be making the competition pull up their socks. LiveView sounds really cool, and I can’t wait to try it out. I can think of lots of times when it will come in handy, most specifically when I’m shooting weddings. SRS doesn’t really shake my tree like the other new features, but who knows… maybe I’ll change my mind once I’ve seen what it can do. Same with the Dust Reduction System… it’s a welcome addition, but so far, nobody but Olympus seems to have done it right. Come on Nikon! Blow me away with this one too.