Gone boating. Now becoming nostalgic for a clean, low mileage Nikon D300S.

All images: West Palm Beach. Nikon D300 + 18-200mm. 

I provided photographic coverage for an executive retreat for Freescale Semiconductor in 2008. We ended up at the Breakers Hotel in West Palm Beach. The accommodations were lovely. During part of the event, I guess to blow off steam generated by days of arguing and debating over corporate strategy, someone arranged for everyone to go out fishing. I'm not sure why as most of the participants were not big fishermen and most came back to the dock, hours later, with varying degrees of seasickness. 

When I found this folder of images I was reminded that the two cameras I used during that week long event were the original Nikon D300's, Not the D300Ss. The lens I used the most was the Nikon 18-200mm which was more or less the state-of-the-art for image stabilization at the time. It promised (and generally delivered) about four stops of stabilization ---- mostly useful for objects that don't move around a lot). 

I also brought along an 85mm f1.4, a 35mm f1.4 and a 20mm f2.8 for all the work that I had to cover in a sometimes dim conference room. 

Reviewing the shots this afternoon; and running a handful of them through the latest raw converter, reminding me that we already knew what we were doing with digital cameras back then and that the D300 was a damn fine photographic instrument. My interiors and exteriors evoke photography just the way I always thought it should be. I was also reminded that the cameras had great battery life and comfortable handling. 

I made the (ill advised?) switch into the Canon system by the time the upgrade, the 300"S" came out so I never got to compare the cameras directly but I knew the general themes. The newer camera offered remedial video, a much faster and larger buffer and an HDMI out for monitoring. I've been told by various sources that the imaging quality was either "the same" or "much better" on the newer model,  depending on who you wanted to listen to....

What you essentially were offered in the final D300S was a 3 inch LCD finder, a very, very robust camera body, an imaging sensor that was much better at higher ISOs than the previous "flagship" body, the D2XS, a lighter package, card slots for SD and CF (and the CF upgraded to UDMA for much faster read/write speeds) at about a third the price of the earlier D2XS or the D3 that came along around the same time. In many ways the D300S was the APS-C version of the D3 series!

I found one (300S) a couple days ago at Precision Camera. It's cosmetically near perfect and has about 25k shutter actuations on it. I asked them to put it on hold yesterday but got busy today with more family administration stuff. If it's still there tomorrow I'm thinking of picking it up for the princely sum of >$300. That is, unless you guys know some deep dark secret about this model and you're quick to talk me out of it. 

On another topic: It seems chic to be personally confessional these days on photography blogs. I note that MJ has published an essay mentioning his use of online dating services. Lloyd Chambers has gone into amazing detail about the aftermath of his concussion.  I'm joining the party! No. I'm not using dating services, and I'm not a bike rider; just sharing a bit of personal information. To wit, B. and I are celebrating our 33 wedding anniversary tomorrow. Yes, Friday the 13th. Odd omen, for sure. 

Since my wife and I worked together and dated for five years before taking the matrimonial plunge this means we've been getting along (pretty damn well, considering my idiosyncrasies) for a whopping 38 years. We'll have a quiet celebration and then get back to work...


  1. Congratulations on a long and wonderful marriage! I guess if I added up all the years I have been married, to my three wives (not at the same time, thank God!) I would be around the same watermark. Fortunately the third time is the charm. I am a slow learner I guess.

    As I have commented before I have been having fun with a D70s for the past 6 months and have now picked up a D300. Like you I am finding gold in these old cameras. Sure they don't have the high ISO performance of the latest and greatest, but really how many times have you needed it in real life? The only time I fully utilized my old D700's high ISO performance was in Turkey shooting in cave churches where flash was not allowed. The shots came out perfect by the way.

    The small number of images I have made with the D300 have been wonderful but don't have the organic feel and look of the D70s. The D300 and later cameras could be compared to a super model. Exquisite to look at but boney when you want to cuddle while the D70s files are like hugging a beautiful and slightly curvy women.

    On another note I have pulled out my 4x5 and have had some fun shooting B&W. Who knows maybe the Leica film M's will get some exercise once the snow melts. If it ever does.

    Eric, just heading out the shovel, Rose

  2. Congrats on the anniversary, 35 years this October +2 for dating......and the d300s was, and based on reviewing my old files, still is an amazing camera. One that perhaps I didn't appreciate at the time, or one made better with age / improvements in software

  3. Well, it's 43 for me but who's counting? ;-)

    Happy anniversary and many many happy returns of the day. No small accomplishment in today's world.

  4. Congratulations on your anniversary. It's clear from your writing that your family is your number one priority. That focus pays off.

  5. Congratulations on your wedding anniversary! Coincidently I am also looking at obtaining a low kilometre D300.
    I have done may panoramic photos using a Nikon D200 in raw mode with DXO as the raw converter. The results are terrific, so a D300 would technically improve that setup! I remember that the antialias filter is thinner on the D300. Thanks for your excellent posts.


  6. Congrats on your wedding anniversary Kirk, hope you and your wife have a lovely day.

  7. Congratulations on the anniversary!
    D300/ D300S - great cameras, still more than capable (who'd have thought it) of delivering great results. A nice example would make a worthy companion for your D700.


  8. Before recently picking up nice D800 I purchased a used D300. A few folks in the know cocked their heads and say "that is a 10 year old model why would buy it?

    Well #1 the size of the D300. It's perfect. Noticeably trimmer than the D700 or 800. Fits beautiful in the hand it does. I did years with smallish mirrorless and using a full size camera again was a joy.

    #2 despite all the hoopla about the latest and greatest equipment the image quality we once raved still exists and these cameras still take those same fine photos they did years ago. Sure the dynamic range and high ISO performance has improved in newer models but for most things the D300 still does a fine job. Especially for me who shoots mostly for the web and maybe a smallish print here and there.

    #4 B&W. Sure you can convert any image to B&W but getting the more gritty look of 35mm B&W is more difficult with the smoother images I get with my D800. On the D300 I set the image to monochrome red then The ISO to 800 and exposure compensation to -.7 Gets me a look without post processing that I really like.

    #5 Lenses. There are a number "sleeper" lenses that work beautifully on the D300. I use a Sigma 24mm Super wide II that cost me a whopping $80 used. Not mechanically great but very sharp and makes a fine, close focusing, 35mm equiv. all arounder. Another is a 50mm series e 1.8 pancake. Costs about as much as a 52mm filter and is tiny. Makes for a nice, casual portrait and general purpose lens.

    In a nutshell for color I would try to keep the ISO 400 and lower when possible and B&W 400 and above. I could go on but I won't :) Have a great day.

  9. Congrats to both you and Belinda. (35 for me next Tuesday, and 51 cumulatively. )

    Proving yet again, it's not about the camera.

  10. Happy Anniversary! Your writing since the brief hiatus has been ever more fascinating.

  11. Happy Anniversary! My wife and I hit thirty years in June!

  12. Happy anniversary from the land of temporarily no ice and snow!

  13. Congratulations to you and Belinda, she must be a very special women watching you playing with new toys every few weeks.

  14. Happy anniversary.

    I shot an event today with the old canon 1d 3 with an aps-c 10mp sensor and it did great :) Nikon from the same years i bet is just as great. I just have a lot of canon lenses :D

    here is a link to some pictures from today if your interested. its not advertising as im from denmark and cant take american clients. just a input to the topic ;)



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