Nikon D300 Review

 
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Nikon D300 High ISO Noise Reduction

As noted elsewhere in this review, the Nikon D300 delivers a noticeable advance in high-ISO image quality over the former D200. Its different noise-reduction settings also allow you quite a bit of flexibility in choosing how you want to make the tradeoff between subject detail and noise levels. It's not clear that the "off" setting truly eliminates the noise processing altogether, but it is true that it leaves a lot of fine/subtle subject detail there for you to work with. The combination of shooting with NR turned off and using a good noise-filtering program after the fact can produce very clean images with lots of fine detail in them. (And of course, the D300's NEF files have no noise-reduction processing applied to them at all, adhering to the true philosophy of RAW shooting.)

See for yourself how the noise reduction works under both daylight and tungsten-balanced lighting. Click on any of the crops below to see the corresponding full-sized image.

High ISO Noise Reduction Comparison
Simulated Daylight
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The above crops show the effects of the 4 levels of high ISO noise reduction, under our studio HMI lighting we use to simulate daylight. Note that some minimal NR is still performed at ISO 3,200 and above when High ISO NR set to "Off".

 

High ISO Noise Reduction Comparison
Incandescent Light
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The above crops show the effects of the 4 levels of high ISO noise reduction the D300 offers, under difficult incandescent lighting. (Image noise is much more of an issue under tungsten lighting, because the strong yellow cast requires the blue channel to be boosted considerably to achieve proper white balance. That boost increases noise along with the image data, so noise levels will generally be higher under tungsten lighting than daylight.)

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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