Friday, January 23, 2009
Comparing the Nikon D50 and D300 in an unscientific way.
I've bought a Nikon D50 in the summer of 2006. Excellent camera back then, I've shot about 24000 pictures with it, had loads of fun and have learned an awful lot more about photography. But, just like anyone who reads the major photo sites, I now and then had the urge to replace that simple D50 by something better. The first camera that really appealed to me was the Nikon D300. It feels great when you pick it up and has features that are really tempting. Things like 51 AF points, AF tracking, metering with Ai lenses, CLS commander and a dedicated button for metering to name a few.
An acquaintance who owns both the Nikon D50 and D300 was kind enough to shoot the same image with his 17-50 2.8 on both cameras. Shots were is01600, A-mode, f8, 1/5 on the D300, 1/2 on the D50. Light came from two compact fluorescent lamps and the window.
All pictures are stored on Flickr with full exif. Click on any to see the full sized version.
Here's the original, just converted to jpg:
Hmm... Immediately you notice the difference in dynamic range but also a weird color cast on the D300.
Let's get both in Capture Nx, I'm running 2.0.
First an Auto Whitebalance:
Let's see what happens if we brighten the images a bit. I'm applying +1 EV to both.
There is still a lot more detail visible trough the window on the D300 shot. In the D50 it's mostly blown.
OK, on with the D300 shot. Picture Control wasn't set to neutral yet, now it is.
And now let's disable active d-lighting:
Finally, for the pixel peepers a crop. To be honest, I didn't expect this level of noise.
I don't know, perhaps the test setup was wrong. I do like what I can do with the D300's raw files. There's loads of room there and at +1EV the D300 clearly retains a lot of dynamic range. That color cast I can't seem to get rid of bothers me. There's, obviously more room to crop and a load of dynamic range to play with. Looking at http://www.flickr.com/cameras/nikon/d300/ there's lots of people out there shooting beautiful pictures with this impressive camera.
But why this color cast???
If anyone has any ideas, I'd apprieciate some feedback. I still find the D300 a desireable camera but, based on this, I am a bit disappointed in the image quality.
In case anyone wants to play with them, here are the NEF files: