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Old Jun 28, 2008, 6:00 PM   #1
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I am currently testing a D300 with 18-200mm VR lens. Out of the box results are a bit dissapointing though. I visited Nikonian.org and downloaded the recommended settings and came up with the following result. Overall I think itis a bit soft andthe image does not"jump out at me" so-to-speak!Do I have a bad unit possibly, or are images from the D300 expeceted to be post processed? Would appreciate any feedback from D300 users.

Program Mode, ISO 200 with settings as recommended at Nikonian.org





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Old Jun 29, 2008, 6:34 AM   #2
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The sky looks a bit gray? What time of day was this? I don't see any shadows so I suspect it's mid day and a gray day at that. The focus does look soft. Every Nikon I have seems to be soft as well. You can crank up the sharpness in the camera and improve it. You can also try the vivid mode and give that a tweek to get the"pop" your looking for in this type of shot. That treein the top right corner is also not well placed. I like to frame then like this but try and move it up more in the frame. Your camera my have been trying to focus on to much and thus got nothing right. Try focusing on what youwant and then old the shutter half way down and reframe.

I have the same setup you have andhave manyshots that look just like this one. What makes your photos "pop" is you far more than the camera. My "dud" count has not changed much with what camera I buy.

That's a beautiful house though. Try taking one at night with the windows lit or at sunset. Get a little lower and closer too. Houses love wide shots.
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Old Jun 29, 2008, 7:33 AM   #3
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You should expect to do some post processing with a high level DSLR like the d300. You can tweak an adjust your settings so the camera does it for you, but results are typically better with post work than straight out of camera. Also, with the resolving power of the D300, you really have to watch your shot taking discipline. Technique becomes very important, as the D300 can easily show flaws in the lens and in your technique. That means careful handholding, or even better using a tripod for these types of shots. In addition, the 18-200 is not the sharpest of lenses, especially at the extremes of the zoom range.

The D300 is a great camera and will yield excellent results. However, it's far from automatic. You must really put some work in, and understand how to pull the best results from the cam. It's not going to be a great point and shoot camera.
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Old Jun 29, 2008, 8:32 AM   #4
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ReneB3: Thanks for your comments. Based on your feedback, it would appear that there is no defect in my D300. It was cloudy when I snapped this shot, but not as hazy as the image shows. Re. the focusing, it was set at single point focusing and pointed at the brick in the house. Based on your comments as well as those of Rjseeney, it seems that some post processing, is in order when using the D300.

RJSEENEY: Your comments re. technique are good ones and I try to practice the discipline as best as I can...which is what surprised me about the experience with D300's.VR wasin use on the images and given the light of day, I presume compensated for any camera shake on my part. You are also correct in the quality of the glass. My larger issue had to do with the rather bland appearance of the image. In any event, I will continue to experiment with the tweaking. By the way,I notice that you are practically in myneighborhood! I'm in Hebron (close to the airport).


As a comparison, I created a custom profile with the sharpness, color, saturation levels set to higher than default which resulted in the picture below. I think the saturation settings need to be toned down some, but it is an improvement over the default settings. Also for your reference, I tried a Pentax K20D out of the box (i.e. default settings) with the 2nd image shown below. With the adjusted D300 settings, sharpness and clarity between the two are about on par.

D300 w/ customized profile





Pentax K20D w/ DA* 50-135mm (JPEG): default settings



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Old Jun 29, 2008, 11:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
I notice that you are practically in my neighborhood! I'm in Hebron (close to the airport).
Yep...My wife has a sister in Burlington...I'm not originally from this area, but have been living in NKY for almost 10 years now.

The second picture looks a bit over done. I've never been satisfied with any tweaks I've done to the picture settings on my own. I've found I have more control in Photoshop and get much better results. One thing I have done, is to download the D2X picture controls from Nikon. This mirrors the settings from the pro level D2x (which I've never used), and has given me very good results. From there, I increased sharpening to 4, and as long as I nail the exposure, I have to do very few adjustments in post work.
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Old Jun 29, 2008, 5:04 PM   #6
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Downloaded and installed the D3X settings and this was the results for each of the 3 available settings. Once again, no post processing...straight out of the camera. I'd say that image #2 accurately reflects the color and tonal balance of the actual scene (i.e. later afternoon sun w/ yellow gold hues). Pictures still appear a bit soft. Once again, these are straight out of the D300 with no PP. I noted the comment about this lens being a bit soft at max zoom; I checked the EXIF and these were at 90mm focal length.

BTW, my neighbor's house is getting a lot of publicity!:lol:

Image #1


Image # 2

Image #3


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Old Jul 2, 2008, 6:50 PM   #7
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Well, after much deliberation and more tweaking, I decided to return the D300 and 18-200 VR lens combo. Unfortuantely, I was unable to obtain the "stunning" image qualitythat the D300 has been credited with otherexperts and users. The D300 is definitely a versatile, highly customizable,and has many nice performance and egonomic features that I admire. Butgetting "wow" images from it just did not work for me. I will be staying with the Pentax K20D together with some of Pentax's premium lenses which hasveproduced for me very pleasing images.

Thanks to all for thefeedback on my test shots as well as for the advice on how to tweak the settings.

Jay


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Old Jul 7, 2008, 10:59 PM   #8
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I am sorry you're disappointed in your Nikon. However, I would like to point out that to achieve "wow" photographs you must always shoot with excellent quality glass, know and understand the settings of your camera, and do some post processing.

In my opinion, all of the pictures that "WOW" people are post processed from a quality image. I own Nikon equipment and would recommend that no matter what brand you go with, buy the best glass you can afford. Every photo you take has to go through that piece of glass on the front of the body. Glass will be around a lot longer than the body of the day.

I would like to have seen this photo with a 70-200mm f2.8 lens.


I wish you luck with Pentax. I suggest the best glass Pentax makes for your use. Learning to post process is part of life in digital photography. I am no expert and am still leaning techniques every day. This is not unlike learning sound techniques in the dark room. Even Ansel Adams would spend an entire day in the dark room working on one negative until he achieved the "wow" he was looking for. He took notes so he could recreate the effects that he liked.

I don't like to post process! I want to take a good picture and not make a good picture in the computer. However, understanding and being proficient in the use of post processing software is paramount to achieving the results everyone wants. If it were not required the camera manufacturers would not give you a post processing software package when you buy the camera.

Cheers,
Bill
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Old Jul 8, 2008, 8:45 AM   #9
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Hello!

It's pity...that you abandoned Nikon...as I just enter to Nikon family, after that I still owning a Pentax K10D with various zoom lenses designed for film Pentax bodies. Intend to sell all my Pentax inventory!.

Own exactly the same set combination that you acquired & gave back....but maybe the great difference is that my selected "Gray" market here where I live, Israel, was "Marketed' for Japan. all the books also from the body & lens + Capture NX came ONLY in Japanese language.

Here I want to share with all of you a photo example made at 200mm focal lenght at "Neutral" + Active D-lighting (Normal), + PP with my PSP 0.01 & FrameFun of course VR was activated!

What all of you say?

Peace,

Alex 007:|
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Old Jul 8, 2008, 11:34 AM   #10
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Bill (Curmedgeon):

Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this thread. I guess after reading the many reviews for the D300, I was expecting stunning images. Siimilar to you, I do not care to spend a lot of tme postprocessing; currently I limit my PP to straightening, cropping and some mild sharpening (if needed). My experience with the entry level Pentax *istDL and a $200 50mm-200mm lens have produced some good pictures wthout any adjustments to levels or curves. Check out the picture of the Iguana as well as the parasilor on this posting: http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fo...mp;forum_id=80. Unfortunately, I was never able to get comparable results out of my D300. No one is more puzzled by the results than I. I have since purchased the K20D and some of Pentax's DA* glass (their premium line) and am very pleased with the results.



Alex: I wonder if the D300 for the Japanese market is calibrated differently? In any case, I am too dissapointed that the D300 did not work for me. The only other explanation that I can think of is that my D300 was out of calibration.

The key point is that it is important to thoroughly check out a major purchase such as this before makng a commitment. I was fortunate to work with a seller who had a most generous return policy.

Cheers

Jay
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