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Nikon D300 Gordon Laing, December 2007

Nikon D300 features : Lenses and viewfinder / Screen and menus / Sensor and processing / Anti dust

Nikon D300 anti-dust

The D300 is Nikon’s first DSLR to offer active anti-dust features. Like models from other manufacturers, it vibrates a filter in front of the main sensor in an attempt to shake-free any foreign particles. You can set the D300 up to perform this process as you switch it on, off, at both times, or manually.

 
 
Nikon D300 - sensor anti-dust
 










At Cameralabs we believe it’s important to test the anti-dust facilities of DSLRs. Dust is a major bugbear of DSLR owners and anti-dust capabilities have finally become a feature all manufacturers are including on their new models. At this point though it’s important to note the evaluation of anti-dust dust systems can never be as controlled or consistent as other tests. After all, there’s no way of counting the number or type of dust particles which currently lie within a body, nor any way to introduce a consistent number of test particles for it to subsequently get rid of. As such it’s impossible to conclude one system is categorically better than another at eliminating dust.

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Just because something can’t be scientifically measured though, doesn’t mean it should be glossed-over or ignored in a review. Anecdotal evidence can be a valuable indicator and by gathering it from a number of sources over time we can build up a picture of how effective, or ineffective a system performs. That’s our belief at Cameralabs, so for the record here’s what we found.

Following our usual DSLR torture-test we left the D300 face-up without a lens, inside and outside for ten minutes each, before activating the anti-dust system twice, then searching for dust; we can’t know how much dust entered the body during this time, nor even how much was present to start with, but we know such a process would result in dust being a problem for most models.

We then took a series of photos at every aperture setting of a plain white surface at close range with the DX 17-55mm lens zoomed-into 55mm and focused to infinity. Dust marks normally become most apparent at the smallest apertures (eg f16 and f22), but it’s also important to test at more common apertures.

As always, the search started on the image with the smallest aperture, where we found four dust marks, one of which was quite dark and pronounced. We’ve included a crop of it at 100% below left, and following previous reviews, also shown a version with extreme Levels applied to its right – although it’s pretty clear without it.

 
Nikon D300 dust example at f22
Canon EOS 40D dust example at f22 with levels
100% crop measuring 282x136 pixels
  100% crop measuring 282x136 pixels with Levels

As the aperture was opened, the dust marks became fainter and more diffused, with the least offensive almost disappearing at f8 and above. The darkest mark shown above though was still visible on the un-retouched image as you can see in the 100% crops below left. If your monitor is struggling to show it, we’ve included a version with the Levels adjusted on the right.

Nikon D300 dust example at f8
Canon EOS 40D dust example at f8 with levels
100% crop measuring 282x136 pixels
  100% crop measuring 282x136 pixels with Levels

So in our tests the D300’s anti-dust systems weren’t particularly effective, and it was necessary to expose the sensor and manually dislodge the pesky particles with a blower. Of course maybe the particles which entered the body while the lens was detached were more problematic than others, but it does prove you can’t rely on the anti-dust filter to completely remove all foreign particles.

Like earlier Nikon DSLRs you can take a dust reference photo which Capture NX can then use to automatically retouch-out dust marks on subsequent RAW files. In practice though, this failed to completely eliminate the marks on our images, and on the most problematic one shown above, actually resulted in a donut shape. So once again, time for manual intervention.


Nikon D300 features

Lenses and viewfinder / Screen and menus / Sensor and processing / Anti dust

All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2014 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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