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.
The 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.