The Favorite Son: Nikon D300

d300_sideI learned more about photography shooting with the Nikon D300 than any other camera I’ve ever used.

Because Nikon designed the D300 as a pro-level body, the camera offers little in the way of hand-holding features. The camera lacks scene modes or other souped up automation. A single program mode came the closest to hand-holding automation. This lack of hand-holding is the primary reason I became a better photographer using the Nikon D300. Getting back to the basics of composition, learning exposure, experimenting with aperture versus shutter priority, understanding how continuous focus really worked, plus a host of other nuances all contributed to my growth as a photographer.

The original D300 shipped in late Fall, 2007 as Nikon’s successor to its professional DX line. Nikon announced the D300 simultaneously with its first foray into full-frame DSLRs, the D3. The D3 proved to be a fateful product, sending Nikon down a long road in which the company developing a number of full-frame, professional DSLRs. However, no more pro-level DX bodies would ship until the recent announcement of the Nikon D500. Even if you count the D300s — really just a D300 capable of shooting 720p video — the drought of pro-level DX bodies would last from 2009 until 2016.

I used the D300 to shoot both indoor volleyball, winter guard, and outdoor marching band photos. I also took the camera on a number of different trips, where it proved to be a capable landscape camera as well. The D300’s sensor handled low-light conditions better than previous prosumer bodies I used, and could shoot at six frames per second. The camera’s autofocus seemed exceptionally quick, though that may be because I came from lower-end bodies.

51pointsThe sensor included 51 autofocus points, and I became fairly facile at moving the focus point around even while shooting action sports. This didn’t happen overnight, but I eventually came to love all those focus points, and pretty much shot exclusively with all the focus points turned out, though I avoided the “3D autofocus” mode.

I learned a ton about exposure and shooting in natural light, but never quite got the hang of shooting with a flash. That would come with later cameras, which I used more for product photography. But the Nikon D300 remains my favorite camera body to this day. Maybe the D500 will supersede that, but until I get one in my hands, I won’t know. Meanwhile take a look at the gallery below, which demonstrates just how much fun shooting with the D300 could be.

 

 

2 thoughts on “The Favorite Son: Nikon D300

  1. I agree with Stuart Dootson. I have a large collection of Nikons both film and digital and I still reach for the son of the D3 the D300… every time.

  2. I’m still using my D300, six years after purchase (second hand from eBay!), mainly because I’ve not found another camera I prefer within my budget. Whatever I’ve used it for (ranging from snaps through personal projects to very occasional conferences and weddings), it’s done the job I needed. Very definitely a favourite son…

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