The Nikon D300 is part of the same generation as the well-respected D700 and D3. At the time, it was Nikon’s flagship crop sensor camera. It quickly became a favorite for many enthusiasts and professionals, and the camera has aged well. You can pick one up today in excellent condition for very little money. However, with all these new affordable beginner cameras, the question remains whether the D300 is still a purchase worth considering.
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Without any question, this was a camera made to live up to the expectations of professional photojournalists who took it to some of the most hostile places in the world. The 12 MP resolution is not unheard of in today’s cameras, with flagships like the Sony A7s pulling out about the same pixel count. The shutter speed range is between 30s-1/8000 sec, which is quite uncommon for beginner and mid-level cameras. This is great for high speed shooting as well as for situations where you want to use wide aperture like f/1.4 in harsh sunlight. The AF system has 15 points, which is still good by today’s standard. However, the Canon 5D Mark II and 6D which are still in use by pros around the world only have 11 points.
It’s the ideal camera for anyone who wants to photograph more than family snapshots. This is a camera for young photography students and anyone considering a long term relationship with photography.
One of the potential drawbacks of the D300 is the lackluster ISO. It’s clean up to 800, good at 1200 and usable at 1600. This is something to consider if you take a lot of photos at night or in low light situations.
By far my favorite feature of the D300 is the integrated CLS system. Nikon’s Creative Lighting System was revolutionary and it is the reason why many generations of photographers made a career in studio photography. It is the favorite of many strobists who love to light their photos creatively using small, affordable flashes. No triggers, no receivers, no cables, all you need is the D300 and a Nikon Speedlight. It works with the latest flashes as well as the older ones, which can be found at very good prices in great condition.
At the end of the day we’re talking about a camera in the $300 range that was created with professional features. Apart from the lackluster ISO performance, which is something you can easily live without if you’re into studio and flash photography, this really is a fantastic camera for learning advanced photography. The Nikon D300 has professional controls and features at an amazingly affordable price.