The Nikon D300s replaces the popular D300 as Nikon’s flagship DX-format DSLR, and brings HD video capture plus a host of other refinements. Is this Nikon’s most complete enthusiast DSLR yet? Our Nikon D300s review finds out...

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Nikon D300s

Noise/resolution:
Metering:
Features:
AWB Colour:
LCD viewfinder:
Dynamic Range:
Build/Handling:
Autofocus:

Product:

Nikon D300s review

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Price as reviewed:

£1,499.99

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Build and handling

As the D300s shares almost exactly the same chassis as the D300, its build quality and handling experience are virtually identical to that of the earlier camera.

Nikon D300s Live view button

There are some differences, though, and Nikon has decided to update the ergonomics of the basic D300 chassis to incorporate some of the changes introduced in other recent Nikon DSLRs. To this end, the D300s has a dedicated ‘LV’ button to initiate Live View, and the all-important multi-controller on the rear of the camera has a separate (unlabelled) ‘OK’ button at its centre.

In my first look of the D300s I suggested that this change constituted a great improvement to the ergonomic experience of using this much-accessed control point. Since then I have spoken to several photographers who have expressed a preference for the ‘old’ D200 and D300 multi-point design. With this in mind I will reserve judgment, but for better or worse the change has been made, and in effect, the D300’s ergonomics are now identical to the D700.

Less controversially, the addition of the separate ‘LV’ button is convenient in two ways – the first being that Live View is now easier and quicker to activate. This is more important in the video-equipped D300s than it was in the D300 because setting Live View is the first step in initiating video capture. The second benefit is that moving Live
View from the shooting mode dial frees up the self-timer allowing it to be used in combination with Live View.

Nikon D300s Other buttons

In all other respects, the D300s is identical to the D300. On the camera’s top-plate to the left of the prism is the lockable shooting mode dial, which provides access to the continuous shooting modes, mirror lock-up and self-timer, and above this are three dedicated buttons for setting ISO sensitivity, ‘quality’ and white balance.

Exposure mode and exposure compensation are both selected with dedicated buttons adjacent to the shutter release, and like the D300 and D700, automatic focus modes are dealt with by a three-way switch on the rear of the D300s, and the three metering modes – spot, centreweighted and 3D Matrix – are selected by a dial to the right of the viewfinder, at the centre of which is the exposure/focus lock button.

Nikon D300s Menu and functions

Although most of the D300s’s key shooting parameters are changed using dedicated buttons on the body of the camera, the D300s can be easily customised. The otherwise slick ergonomics fall down a little at this point, and the myriad options in the menu system can be rather bewildering.

Fortunately, a ‘my menu’ tab can be customised to allow often-used functions to be corralled into a separate area, but there are a few inconsistencies in how functions are arranged in the main menu system.

I was hoping that Nikon would take the opportunity to do a spot of ‘spring cleaning’ with the menu of the D300s. However, it seems Nikon thought otherwise. To pick one example, the various different ‘image-quality’ parameters are still split over four sub-menus.

This means it is 
necessary to go back and forth through four neighbouring
tabs to set (respectively) the desired file format, JPEG output resolution, JPEG compression and raw bit depth/compression. You may only need to do this once, but even so, it is oddly complicated, and more time consuming than necessary.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Build and handling
  4. 4. White balance and colour
  5. 5. Metering
  6. 6. Autofocus
  7. 7. Resolution, noise and sensitivity
  8. 8. Dynamic range and Gamut
  9. 9. LCD, Live View and video
  10. 10. Our verdict
  11. 11. The competition
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