Nikon D90 or D300

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  • Nikon D90 or D300
  • Premier Icon lorax
    Subscriber

    Is there anyone on here with experience of both the D90 and the D300? I’m looking for a new DSLR (to upgrade from my D80 and use all my existing lenses, so I’m sticking with Nikon) and just can’t choose between them. Having tried them both out in the shop the other day I preferred the feel and the viewfinder of the D300, but it’s bigger and heavier and much more expensive.

    I’m really confused by the reviews, the majority of which imply that the D300 has better image quality, but Ken Rockwell (yes, I know he’s a pillock) but the images are on his site for everyone to see) points out that the D90 seems to have better low light image quality, and they are both pretty much identical in normal light.

    I’m also slightly loathe to buy something as expensive as the D300 when it is at least halfway through its product cycle and may well get replaced in the next few months. I know that it’ll still be just as good a camera when the replacement comes out etc etc, but if I were able to get a much better camera for the same money by waiting a month or two I’d be happy to stick with my D80 for a bit longer.

    I’m not at all bothered about the video on the D90, which I can barely see myself using, nor am I fussed about the D300 being faster – I don’t really do action photos (as you’ll see from Flickr and Shutterchance) so higher speed doesn’t bother me. This is primarily about image quality – including focus and metering accuracy – and usability.

    Many thanks!

    donald
    Member

    I have experience of neither!

    But the D90 shares the same sensor as the D300 so it should have pretty much the same image quality. It probably has better JPGs straight from camera as Nikon will have tweaked the image processing algorithms in the time between launch. Anyway there’ll be nothing significant in it.

    So the big difference will be in usability. It’s up to you to decide whether the price difference is worth it.

    Personally I wouldn’t upgrade at all. There’s no way I’m forking out to upgrade every generation of DSLR. I’m still on the D70 and waiting another generation at least before I change it. I’m interested to see what the successor to the D300 is like though.

    what Donald said, although i believe the image processing is kept up to date with firmware upgrades

    D300 is a wonderful camera to use but i have no experience of D90, just D70 and D40

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Actually the D90 apparently just edges the D300 on noise (RAW, not processed):
    DxOMark comparison

    happysnapper
    Member

    If you must upgrade I’d go with whichever feels best. You’re more likely to use the camera if you find it easy to use. I upgraded my Olympus E510 to an E3 (about the same size as the D300) and am happy with the significant increase in weight because the image quality and usability is great.

    If you fly at all take a look at the dixons tax free website. You usually get pretty good deals with the kit lenses. My E3 cost me £130 after I’d got a great price, subtracted VAT, sold the kit lens and sold the free flash from Oly. Not bad at all.

    conkerman
    Member

    D300 if you have the cash…

    ski
    Member

    I would stick with the D80 myself and maybe look at putting the extra capital into expanding my lens range.

    Premier Icon lorax
    Subscriber

    Thanks everyone. The thing about the D80 is the metering. I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated by its tendency to overexpose. If it did so consistently it wouldn’t really matter as I could just dial in 1/2 or 2/3 of a stop by default, but it isn’t consistent so while most pics are fine around 5-10% are washed out. Having looked into this it seems it is a well-recognised problem with the D80, apparently because the metering is over-influenced by the levels at the focus point.

    The other reason is that I’m using the camera much more now I’m doing the photo-a-day thing, and my wife is getting frustrated when her camera (I bought her the D80 as a birthday present the year before last) isn’t around! So I’d be after a second camera body even if I didn’t have concerns about the metering.

    It seems that both the D90 and the D300 have fixed this, although the review on dpreview suggests that it hasn’t been completely fixed on the D90, while they have almost no complaints at all about the D300. But it’s just a review on a specialist website, and these kinds of reviews tend to focus on minor differences that most of us won’t notice.

    I had looked into Dixons tax-free but had discounted them as I don’t want the kit lens, but good suggestion to buy it and then flog it on – thanks happysnapper.

    what kit lens are they shipping with it?

    if it’s the 18-70 f3.5/4.5 then i’ll buy it off you

    Premier Icon lorax
    Subscriber

    Thanks mrmw. I just spoke to Dixons tax free and apparently the D90 ships with the 18-105 kit lens (she didn’t specify the aperture range but I assume it’s the f3.5-5.6 VR). The D300 is £150 less from them than I can get it elsewhere, so I may end up getting that, but if you’re interested in the 18-105 lens let me know just in case I buy the D90.

    The cheapest I can find the lens for is £165, so I guess I’d sell it for something like £125 on the basis that you wouldn’t get the Nikon warranty, but I wouldn’t even have put it on the camera so it would be completely new and unused.

    could well be interested, i made the mistake of giving my wife the 18-70 and now miss it as i find it better at the wider end than the 18-200 and it’s far lighter

    donald
    Member

    Lorax if you haven’t read Thom Hogan’s reviews of both cameras then you should. It’ll take a few hours mind.

    D90
    D300

    “D90 Metering and focus not state-of-the-art. A step forward from the D80 in both regards, but the D300 is better at both.”

    Premier Icon lorax
    Subscriber

    Thanks Donald. I have in fact read Thom Hogan’s reviews – they’re one of the things tipping me towards the unaffordable D300!

    Premier Icon lorax
    Subscriber

    Sorry – meant to say – thanks mrmw. As you can see I’m leaning towards the D300, but I’ll bear you in mind if I do get the kit lens. No worries if you don’t want it if the situation arises – I’m happy to stick it on eBay – but also happy to give you first refusal.

    donald
    Member

    You might find the D300 getting more affordable if a replacement is announced in the next few months 🙂

    Premier Icon lorax
    Subscriber

    I know – but then I’ll want the replacement with night vision pixel enhancement, a 6″ high resolution screen on the back, and an automated compostion robot that only takes perfectly composed pictures 🙂

    Seriously though, that’s one of the things tipping me towards the D90 as that has only come out relatively recently, but there doesn’t seem to be any consensus on when the D300 will be replaced: if it were in the next month or so I’d wait, but if it were in a year I wouldn’t.

    Decisions, decisions…

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    …an automated compostion robot that only takes perfectly composed pictures


    (Credit: WhatTheDuck.net)

    IN MY UNEDUCATED OPINION:

    I was disappointed with the pictures the D300 took at first (i also changed lens which didn’t help), i’m not convinced i get better results than i did with the D70. however, it is far better ‘in the hand’, shoots faster, has the self cleaning sensor, a big screen and performs better in low light. it also performs a lot better in fully automatic mode than the D70, if i wasn’t such a tool i’d probably get better pics leaving it in auto all the time

    DrJ
    Member

    The thing about the D80 is the metering. I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated by its tendency to overexpose. If it did so consistently it wouldn’t really matter as I could just dial in 1/2 or 2/3 of a stop by default, but it isn’t consistent so while most pics are fine around 5-10% are washed out.

    Exactly why I was so glad to see the back of my D80 – was a pain to have to bracket every f***ing shot just to be sure of getting a decent exposure.

    D300 is a big improvement – noise, image quality, big screen and bright viewfinder, more solid build. No regrets.

    simonfbarnes
    Member

    I have a D300, and now I’ve sorted out the colour balance, it’s great 🙂 Nothing gets in the way of taking photos.

    if i wasn’t such a tool i’d probably get better pics leaving it in auto all the time

    yes, I use P mode all the time, although it will throw in a few strange overexposed shots most days.

    My feeling was the D90 was rushed out half finished, with some obvious compromises that the next model will fix.

    fontmoss
    Member

    id go for d300, no experience of d90 and 300 but mate has 80 and 300 and loves the 300 because as said feels so much better to handle. Id considered getting a d80 but after playing with a 300 im saving those pennies-difs in sensor may not be massive but the fact you can alter settings so quickly (theres a button to alter whether dynamic focus on the body rather than in a menu!) and build quality would steer me to the 300. pics may not be that much better (more of a user interface issue there methinks) but it should last a long time and do justice to any lenses you buy.

    fontmoss
    Member

    btw added you as a contact, hope you dont mind 🙂

    Premier Icon lorax
    Subscriber

    Many thanks everyone – looks like I should bite the bullet and get a D300 – now I’ve just got to work out the finances…

    And thanks fontmoss – of course I don’t mind – delighted to be added; I’ll reciprocate 🙂

    I’m also slightly loathe to buy something as expensive as the D300 when it is at least halfway through its product cycle and may well get replaced in the next few months

    No its not/won’t.

    Get the D300.

    Also, even if it was to be replaced soon (which I doubt) was the D200 suddenly a shit camera when the D300 arrived?

    Premier Icon lorax
    Subscriber

    I completely agree scott – the arrival of a new camera doesn’t make the old one any worse, but it does change what you can get for the money. I’d feel a bit sore if I spent that much only to find a week later that I could get something significantly better for the same money

    But anything that replaced the D300 would be significantly more money. There was a whopping difference between the price of the D200 and 300 in November 2007 when the 300 was released.

    Trust me, you’ll be so busy trying to read through the instruction manual, you won’t notice any new releases for at least 6 months (make that 18 months if you were to go for the D700).

    fontmoss
    Member

    out of interest how does the d200 compare to the d300?

    simonfbarnes
    Member

    out of interest how does the d200 compare to the d300?

    not a huge difference, better viewfinder coverage, bigger screen, faster frame rate, possibly better autofocus, lower noise, more pixels. Not a big operational difference, apart from loss of bracket button (and operating mode), and playback button moved

    Premier Icon theginjaninja
    Subscriber

    Spent a long time reading about this and almost bought a D90 after Christmas replacing my (Mikes old) D70 but it wasn’t enough of an upgrade to justify it. I’m saving for a D300 mainly for the better FPS performance and weather sealing.

    I also want a Nikkor 10.5mm lens but that will have to wait for the next year…

    Lorax are you http://www.flickr.com/people/modalshift/ ?

    fontmoss
    Member

    he is 😉

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Spent a long time reading about this and almost bought a D90 after Christmas replacing my (Mikes old) D70 but it wasn’t enough of an upgrade to justify it.

    I’m surprised at that. I upgraded from the D70s to the D80, purely because the viewfinder was much better. The D70/D70s viewfinder is tiny!

    Premier Icon lorax
    Subscriber

    yes i am (thanks fonmtmoss) – couldn’t get lorax as a username there – but i managed to on shutterchance

    so D300 it is, although the D700 looks tempting – imagine the possibilities with all those wonderful wide lenses being properly wide… 😉

    Premier Icon theginjaninja
    Subscriber

    I’m surprised at that. I upgraded from the D70s to the D80, purely because the viewfinder was much better. The D70/D70s viewfinder is tiny!

    Yeah the screen would make a massive difference but I can only afford to do one upgrade and I reckon it’s worth going for the D300.

    fontmoss
    Member

    my friend tommy has a d700, although to be fair his pictures were stunning before as well

    tommy

    vinnie110
    Member

    Only reason to get the D90 is for the video. Which is limited use anyway.

    I still have my D200 and D300 would like the D700 for better low light performance but that costs. D300 is quite a lot better than the D200 IMHO but it gives me a good 2nd body and backup. With Lighroom I can get good results from both, D300 is a lot better with noise and low light than the D200.

    Unless you feel you really need a new body I would spend the money on some fast glass. 24-70mm 2.8 for example if you can’t afford the Nikon look at Sigmas they are great value. Plus if you haven’t already get the Nikon 50mm 1.4mm. Great for low light and on a DX body is great portrait lens.

    Premier Icon lorax
    Subscriber

    sheesh that Nikon 24-70/2.8 is pricey! Think I’ll take a closer look at those Sigmas…

    Coasting
    Member

    Id look at the 300 and maybe go second hand as theres plenty oif bargans to b had from people with upgraditis.Also wouldnt take much notice of Ken Rockwell as all his images r highly worked with software.

    fontmoss
    Member

    having handled a d300 i really want one 🙁

    id settle for a d200 though 😉

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