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D3/D700 vs D300 Image Quality

Discussion in 'Nikon FX DSLR Forum' started by Triggaaar, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. Triggaaar


    Jun 15, 2008
    Until the D700, I had just assumed that FX was out of my price range, and I decided I'd be getting a D300. Suddenly my choice isn't clear and I assumed that one advantage of the D700 was improved image quality (at base ISO). So only now have I started to compare the image quality of the D3 and D300, and I'm not sure there's a lot in it:

    DPReview comparison. D3 & Nikkor 85 mm F1.8 lens vs D300 & Nikkor 50 mm F1.8 lens. Base ISO, firstly with JPEG, then RAW:
    "Perhaps unsurprisingly at base ISO in controlled lighting the difference is minimal, and it's likely any minor differences are likely to be down to the differences in the lenses used (and depth of field)."
    "the differences are so minimal (especially considering they're taken with completely different lenses) that there's really not a lot to say here. There are slight color mapping differences any difference in detail or sharpness across the frame is almost certainly down to the optics on the front of the camera."

    The improvement at high ISO is clear, but while I would like to be able to use auto iso without too much worry, the D300 is not bad anyway (I decided it was worth the extra £/$ over the D200). So I need more that high ISO ability for the extra cost of the D700.

    What differences have you noticed in image quality between the D3 and D300? (ignoring high iso)

  2. Hokum


    Jun 20, 2006
    Pennines UK
    Using a different lens wouldnt be my way of testing, use the same lens but move the camera i think would give a better ideal of the difference between the two...
  3. Sanyika


    Apr 19, 2007
    Wide is wide again. I HATE digital wide lenses like 12-24, 10-20 and such. Put a 28 f/2.8 AI-S on a D3 or D700, and you gonna see miracle. A lens like 28 AI-S , which is the best 28mm I ever used, is wonderfull on a full frame slr. The other part of the story it subject isolation.... Just wondering about a 180 2.8 on a full frame ... hmm....
  4. Keis


    Jan 13, 2006
    Fort Collin, CO
    The two camera have about the same IQ up to aprox iso 600. Several pros have made this claim. So you really need to figure if you want the reach of a 1.5x crop factor or the high iso performance. For my nature shooting the D300 wins. But the D700 sure sounds sweet.

    OBTW I think the FX systems are not a good bet for hiking outdoors. My reasoning is the lack of reach translates into me carrying my 70-200VR. ITs just too heavy for my poor old back.
  5. Triggaaar


    Jun 15, 2008
    Thanks guys.
    Yep, it sure is. If the only difference was the 1.5x crop factor, wide vs tele (no high iso or IQ gain), I'd choose the DX, even if they were the same price. I'd like gain on the wide side, but I wouldn't like the loss at the other end. There's also the effect on dof to take into account, which is one of the main factors for me (I'd like an f2.8 zoom I can use in available light indoors, to shoot the kids).
    Thanks - I just didn't expect that to be the case, and I had no reason to even check before now.
  6. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Is there an IQ difference between the D300/D3? not enough to worry about for most folks, but there is a slight slight difference in my opinion. I would expect about the same with the D700 since it uses the same sensor.

    At lower ISOs 400/600 I do think the D3 is smoother in large tonal expanses such as blue skies, water, on heavy cropping there is less noise seen compared to my d300 bodies, At ISO 800 it is not as much of a difference because the D300 noise reduction features (even when turned to low or off) make an adjustment. After that, well as you said, no need to discuss high iso.

    I have also found a small quantitative something that I really can't put my finger on, but I can now (having shot nearly 20 thousand D300 shots, and 15 thousand D3 shots) tell the difference between images if they are taken at the same time and place under the same conditions with a pretty good accuracy if the cameras are set up about the same.

    These were taken on different days, but same place and distance and lens, but different looks, minimal cropping on both, but I have some pelican shots, the names will tell you which camera, the D3 has D3D,


    there is a small look or color difference to the images I have found. I also found this when shooting indoor dance recitals with the cameras side by side, same lens, D300 at Iso 1600 vs D3 at iso 3200-4000, not looking at noise but IQ/color Wb set for incandescent, there is a slight tonal nod to the D3 in my views.

    Even on the bright bright day on the pelican shots, there is a difference in the noise in shadow areas underneath the wings, you can't tell on web sized images much differences, but trust me it is there, however, and I must state, this is with pixel peeping at full res files at 100% In print, I can not tell the difference until prints with large sizes at higher iso than 200

    So color/IQ diffs? oh so slight slight slight, not enough to worry about.

    Hope this helps,

  7. Triggaaar


    Jun 15, 2008
    With 35,000 D3/D300 shots under your belt, yes, it's as good a comparison as I could ask for, thanks.
  8. Chris_B


    Mar 12, 2006
    Arlington, VA
    I love my D300 and get some fantastic images from it even at ISO 1600+. However, when I attempt to lighten shadows, the noise becomes a factor right away even at lower ISOs. I hope the D3 and D700 are better at shadows in this regard.
  9. Steinar


    Aug 16, 2007

    Thank you VERY MUCH for this explanation - it is very usefull.


    If I go for the D700 it is for the FX and for the fantastic iso-values, and the latter would be very, very usefull - shooting my sons soccer and my wedding-shotting.

    I think fundamentaly my D200 have almost the same IQ-quality - my wedding partner, who has the D300, and I, shoot the same subject and with the same lens and at the same time and then compared on a 24.

    In some areas the D300 were better (detail in a number plate on a car), in some areas the D200 (detail in a window).

    A little confusing, but that was what we both agreed - even he was sure his was better, before we started. (he had the D200 before)


    Even the D700 has the same sensor and more as the D3 I would like to see a review from a trusted source - like Bjørn Rørslett, before I will set me back so many money - the D200 has now a very low price here in Denmak, so it can nok be used as a good fund.
  10. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Now you are aren't confused, I really do think that in some situations the D200 can have a better look at ISO 100 than the D300 at ISO 200 (I once again mention blue skies) and I still love the wide AF reticle that the D200 had that created a large center sensor area for focusing. I found this so very handy for airshows and other flight shots with birds.

    Would I trade my D300 for D200, no way, but the D200 takes very nice photos.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2008
  11. Steinar


    Aug 16, 2007
    Yes, your are right Wade, it was ISO 200 for the D300, but now I realize, when I read your response (and thank you very much for that), that we maybe forgot to set my D200 on ISO 200, so maybe it was ISO 100 for the D200.


    But even I have a good camera, I can not resist the wish for D700 :biggrin: so I am so happy, that I could order it, but at the same time, when it arrives to the store about the end of July I have the oppurtinity to say no.

    That is one of the advantages of being a good customer, I think.

    In the meantime I will wait for a review in dept (right word ?) of Bjørn Rørslett.

    If it is 100 % same IQ and 100 % same ISO-values - I am not sure I can resist:smile:
  12. cotdt


    Jul 14, 2007
    Bay Area, USA
  13. Steinar


    Aug 16, 2007
    You are right Phil - and you think the D700 will be the same ?

    It should - but .... you never know for certain. - Really look forward to a test/review.
  14. PWPhoto


    Jul 21, 2006
    San Diego
    So All the FX lenses have to offer is just high ISOs over the D300? I thought that full frame brought more to the table. for example, the canon 5d, it appears to have overall sharper images because of its sensor. Is that the case vs other crop sensor canons or not?

    I just thought that FF brought more the the table like sharpness , subject isolations and dof? Am I crazy?

  15. Triggaaar


    Jun 15, 2008
    You mean 'All the FX bodies', as opposed to lenses.
    Each case is different. The D700 vs the D300 offers 1) better high iso, 2) reduced depth of field (for a given subject distance, aperture and field of view, due to using a longer focal length) = subject isolation. 3) A bette choice of wide angle lenses
    The sharpness isn't much different at low iso. As you can see from the responses here, there are slight image quality differences, and if you shoot a lot of portraits or landscapes (where skin colour and smooth skies are important) this slight differences are worthwhile. For me the main advantages are the high iso & subject isolation, but I prefer the reach of the D300.

    Since you've asked, no, but close. You will wait for an in depth review from Bjørn
  16. Steinar


    Aug 16, 2007
    Thank you.
  17. TheCommons


    Jul 2, 2008
    LA, CA ;)
    I have a question Regarding the D3's ability to switch to DX format at a loss of resolution.

    1)Does this mean that if you're shooting with a 300mm and you feel you dont have enough range, you can flip a switch and it'll automatically crop to 450mm?

    2) So if youre using a 70-200mm with a D3 on DX format, is it still affected by soft corners and vingetting?
  18. TheCommons


    Jul 2, 2008
    LA, CA ;)
    I can't tell you about sharpness, but the depth of field is definitely affected since it is a function of sensor size
  19. marioni


    Jan 22, 2006
    Sharpness at what ISO? 200? Dont know if there is one, doubt it. The higher you go, pretty soon DX cameras have to use noise reduction, which means it's game over in terms of details. FF wins. 5D has that sharpness because it has a weak AA filter. At least, that's one of the reasons.

    How about noise, FF compared to DX? Lower at every ISO.

    DOF, Have you ever looked at images from Canon 5D used with fast primes? 85mm F/1.2? 24mm F/1.4? 200mm F/1.8? Have you ever seen a crop camera produce something exactly like that? Ok, how about crop camera producing something that's even close to that? Me neither.

    Maybe you're looking at it the wrong way. Ask yourself what does DX has over FF? Unless you're a wildlife shooter who needs a 500mm lens and TCs :wink: - it has nothing.
  20. Nuteshack

    Nuteshack Guest

    for me it's all about that "look" and FX gots it!!!
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