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D300 vs D200 (with comparison images)

 

 

Nikon D300

Nikon D200
Sensor 12.3 million effective pixel CMOS  . . . . . .DX format 10.2 million effective pixel CCD . . . . . . DX format
A/D converter 14-bit 12-bit
Image processor Nikon EXPEED Unspecified
Image sizes 4288 x 2848
3216 x 2136
2144 x 1424
3872 x 2592
2896 x 1944
1936 x 1296
RAW files NEF / Compressed NEF 14-bit NEF 12-bit
TIFF files Yes No
Dust reduction Self-cleaning sensor unit No
Auto focus  51-point Multi-CAM 3500DX
15 cross-type sensors
Contrast detect in Live View mode
11-point Multi-CAM 1000
Focus tracking by color Yes No
AF area mode Single point AF
Dynamic Area AF [9 points, 21 points, 51 points, 51 points (3D-tracking)]
Automatic-area AF
Single Area AF
Dynamic AF with Focus Tracking and Lock-on
Group Dynamic AF
Closest Subject Priority Dynamic AF
Sensitivity ISO 200 - 3200
Boost: ISO 100 - 6400
1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV steps
ISO 100 - 1600
Boost: Up to ISO 3200
1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV steps
Continuous shooting With built-in battery: up to 6 fps
With AC adapter or MB-D10 pack up to 8 fps
5 fps
 
Image Parameters Picture Control (4 presets)
Sharpening
Contrast
Brightness
Saturation
Hue
Presets (6 presets)
Sharpening
Tone
Color mode
Saturation
Hue
Active D-Lighting Yes (also adjusts exposure) No
Viewfinder 100% frame coverage 95% frame coverage
LCD monitor 3.0 " TFT LCD
922,000 pixels
2.5 " TFT LCD
230,000 pixels
LCD Live View Handheld mode (phase detect AF)
Tripod mode (contrast detect AF)
No
Compact Flash Type I / II (UDMA support) Type I / II
Vertical grip MB-D10 MB-D200
Video output HDMI (HD) Composite (SD)
Menu languages 14 13
Dimensions 147 x 114 x 74 mm (5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in) 147 x 113 x 74 mm (5.8 x 4.4 x 2.9 in)
Weight (no batt) 825 g (1.82 lb) 830 g (1.8 lb)

 

D300 verses D200 in tungsten light.

Objective - To compare the D300 to the D200 using available tungsten lighting.

Original (but down-sized) Photo

This chart compares the Nikon D300 with the Nikon D200. All the photographs were taken at the same time under fairly weak tungsten lights (four 60 watt recessed ceiling lights in my office). The following parameters were strictly followed:

1- All used the Nikon f2.8 17-35 at 35mm (53mm FOV as compared to a full 35mm format). This is an excellent lens made for full frame photography which produces outstanding results using a cropped sensor.

2- Carmagne carbon fiber tripod with Kirk modified Giotto ball head - from the same exact same position.

3- All shots were taken in raw mode and converted to 16 bit using Adobe Camera Raw version 4.3 and "as shot".

4- All shots were converted with sharpening and noise reduction OFF.

5- All shots had a gentle unsharp mask applied as tiffs to reduce the gaussian blur caused by the AA filters on the sensors. (I used .4 Pixels at 150% and 0 Threshold.

6- The first thing we noticed was how much better the default ACR settings worked with the D300 over the D200  (which looked flat with somewhat off color balance). An easy and constant correction was then applied by using PS CS3 Auto Levels on each and every photograph. This made a slight improvement in the D300 photos and a large improvement on the D200 photos.

7- Exposures ran very, very close between the two cameras. Less than 1/8 a stop in all cases. That was surprising! The only exception was the D300 taking 4 seconds at -1 (supposedly ISO 100) verses 2.5 seconds with the D200. This would put the D300's -1 pretty close to an E.I. (Exposure Index) of 60.

8-  The testing involved both myself and a fellow pro, Nick Berezenko (of Arizona Highways fame).

9- Click on each photo to get a large but cropped 100% image. Please feel free to right click and download. Also note, that because these files were taken from a layered PS CS3 file, any attempt to pull EXIF will be futile as only the base file will display the correct date (6400 data in the D300 case and 3200 data with the D200). I chose to use layers so I could have precise control with cropping and levels.

Our findings:

1- It looks like the D300 has about a 1.5 stop advantage both in noise and rendered detail. We both came to the same conclusion. By viewing precisely stacked photos and using the levels "eye" in PS CS3 it was easy to instantly A-B back and forth between any two layers and see differences. We looked into shadows, various colors, fine print, etc. You can do this for yourself by right clicking and saving - and then opening in Photoshop. Make sure "snap" is enabled and drop in as aligned layers.

Caveat: In order to compare files from two different size formats we had to resample the D200 file up to the same size as the D300. Then, to be completly objective, we did it the opposite way. We downsized the D300 file to the D200 size. Both methods used PS CS3 resampling with bicubic rendering. We could see NO difference using either method.

We have some outside shots using this same testing method (I will add these later). The results are pretty much the same (in differences) except that because more light was available we were able to get much better prints - even with ISO 6400 using the D300. We did need to adjust curves to get the best prints. A full size print on 8.5 x 11 inch luster looked VERY useable in outdoor lighting. Keep in mind, that's with proper post processing!

 

D300 at -1 (ISO 60 by my measurements)

 

 

D200 at ISO 100

 

 

D300 at ISO 200

 

D200 at ISO 200

 

D300 at ISO 400

 

 

D200 at ISO 400

 

 

D300 at ISO 800

 

 

D200 at ISO 800

 

 

D300 at ISO 1600

 

D200 at ISO 1600

 

D300 at ISO 3200

 

 

D200 at High 1 (around 3200)

 

 

D300 at High 1 (around 6400 - measured)

 

 

 

D300 at ISO 3200 with Noise Ninja (again, a 100% crop)