By Ellis Vener
From the L1 setting (approximately ISO 100) to ISO 800, Nikon D300 resolution remains near constant and virtually unaffected by noise. With the onboard High ISO Noise Reduction function turned off, at ISO 800 the visible noise-to-signal ratio starts to change to the point of becoming noticeable on a good monitor, but it is nowhere near the problem present in the D200 or D2X. If you are forced by circumstances to go to ISO 1600 and higher (the top end is 6400), the resulting images are still very usable but are softer and more freckled with noise than what you see with the D3. The ability to easily go up to ISO 800 with only a very marginal loss in quality has big implications with the way we work: not only can we work in dimmer ambient light, but it has broad implications for our choice of lighting tools.
Following is a series of targets showing the Nikon D300 performance through its ISO range. The images were shot using a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. Click any image for a larger view.