Nikon D300 DX 12.3MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Nikkor Zoom Lens

  • 12.3-megapixel captures enough detail for poster-size photo-quality prints
  • Kit includes 18-200mm f3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Nikkor zoom lens
  • 3.0-inch LiveView LCD display; new 51-point AF system
  • In burst mode, shoots up to 100 shots at full 12.3-megapixel resolution
  • Self-cleaning sensor unit; magnesium alloy construction with rubber gaskets and seals

The Camera was in “good condition” with one minor chip in the top of the “control panel”. Everything else seems to be in good or like new condition. It is fast and does take good or excellent pictures. The camera with the 18-200mm ED-IF AF-S VR DX lens makes for a real good match.

The seller, along with Amazon, had to be contacted and encouraged to send the missing parts, a lens and a body cap.

Nikon D300 DX 12.3MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Nikkor Zoom Lens

I ordered my D300 after my D70 suddenly froze in the mirror-up position while I was accompanying a handicapped Italian participant in the 2008 NY City Marathon (I managed to fix it, and had to run like h*ll to catch up!)

I already owned the 18-200mm lens, purchased in a kit for my photojournalism-major son, who is down on zoom lenses.

I’ve been a photographer since 1958 when I “inherited” a school photographer position held by my father and uncle before me. I’ve owned dozens of cameras over the years, mostly Canons and Leicas, and won more than my share of awards from the start, including grand prize in the Kodak High School contest and the old NY Herald Trib contest. I shoot today to illustrate medical equipment case histories as a marketing communications consultant. I have a collection of more than 50 cameras of all brands.

And so, when I say the D300 + 18-200 zoom is a magnificent imaging-making combination, I know of what I speak.

1. First of all, images. Spectacular. At 18mm, it is sharper by far than my 20mm f2.8 Nikon AF, which I sold shortly after I bought the zoom lens (I still own a 17mm Tokina for use with a film N80). There is some mild pincushion distortion characteristic when you shoot planar surfaces close, and you need to keep people out of the frame edges or they will look fat – but for scenics and general photography, it is spectacular.

There are definitely focus points across the 18-200 range that are not as sharp as at the extremes. It’s pretty neutral from a color cast perspective – that point was brought home to me this week when I shot the same scene with the 18-200 and my Tamron 28-75mm XR Di, which startled me with a warmth I never appreciated.

Also – you will discover that the small maximum aperture of the 18-200mm VR doesn’t give you the focus separation of subject from background you might want. Shoot close and wide where you can – the lens is sharp enough wide open to handle that, although “wide open” on this lens isn’t very wide at any focal length.

2. The VR spoils one. For shooting subjects that don’t move, it works just as promised. If you have good technique, you can easily hand-hold this lens at 1/8th of a second over most of its range, and I’ve shot lower with careful bracing.

Unfortunately, the VR mechanism is pretty useless for shooting moving subjects unless in quite bright conditions.

3. The range of options of the menu system can be boggling, although right out of the box, you will shoot amazing images, particularly in the “P” (program) mode. However, once you get past the standard functions, you will not use a tenth of this camera’s capabilities without reading the manual with the camera in front of you. I rate the quality of the manual as a B-. Its explanations are pretty good, but organization borders on absurd, and you may be forced to go through the manual just to understand the vernacular for the function you may be seeking.

4. The LCD screen is a blow-away. I am reluctant to increase its brightness from “0″ because I am afraid of misjudging images, but you can boost brightness quite a bit.

5. The RAW setting produces roughly the same quality images as the fine jpeg setting – until you screw something up. Then the RAW images are vastly better, because you can compensate greatly, especially with the Nikon Capture NX program. Be warned, however, that the NEF format is NOT compatible with popular programs like Paintshop Pro, which handled the NEF files from my D70 and my son’s former D50.

6. The dynamic range – highlight to deep shade/shadow – is spectacular. I don’t push the camera to 3200 ISO, where I know it is measurably poorer; I don’t shoot faster than 1600. I carry a 50mm f1.8 lens with me at all times to avoid having to go faster than 800 ISO, because I can see the difference.

Don’t overexpose with the D300 – not necessary, and just complicates your tasks later. I used to set my D70 at +0.3 compensation to avoid shadow losses, but be VERY careful in doing that with the D300. I do it only in backlit situations where I cannot flash fill. The D-lighting in Capture NX is safer than the D-lighting setting in the camera, and seems to work fine.

7. Battery life is good, assuming you don’t use built-in flash. I always use an SB-400 for fill, so my experience may be different. TTL flash with the SB-400 on the D300 is not to be believed.

8. Consider carefully if you really need the vertical grip. I find the ergonomics quite good without it, and I don’t like the hair trigger on the vertical grip. However, the grip changes the public’s perceived nature of the photographer using it, in an era when everyone is walking around with dinky D40s and digital Rebels. At weddings, it’s a must. I attach it when I want to crash a scene as a pro – with the 80-200mm f2.8 zoom and lens shade, and the vertical grip on a D300, you can get past a lot of guards (e.g. sidelines of most non-pro football fields). On the other hand, take it off when entering museums or other places where the guards are looking to keep pros out. The weight with the AA battery pack is unacceptable – with the lithium ion, no big deal.

Conclusion: While not a D3 or D700, the D300 is more than enough camera for those who shoot images rarely printed larger than 24×36, and certainly more than enough for those whose work shows up mainly on the web.

It’s about the GLASS stupid. But you need a good body to use that glass. This is my backup body for my D700. You can’t go wrong with a Nikon.Every aspect of the purchase was as advertised. The sale from Beach Camera through Amazon went without a hitch. The package arrived on schedule, without damage, and all warranties/instructions were included. The camera has performed, so far, as expected. The 18-200mm zoom will make a good all-purpose TRAVEL lens and I expect to be purchasing additional lens (not necessarily for travel) in the future.Not only is this one of the finest cameras Nikon has ever produced, but Cameta Camera is a good, reputable dealer. I got a factory reconditioned (demo refurb)camera and 18-200 lens for hundreds less than I could at a local pro dealer.

The quality is indistinguishable from new, and there is a 30 day warranty from Nikon included.

As for the quality workings of the camera, they are outstanding, although I would not recommend this camera to an amateur as they will not reap the benefits of all this outstanding machine can do.

I give the camera an A+ and I give Cameta Camera an A+ as well. I will surely do business with them again.

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