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

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£1,499.99

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Autofocus

The D300s features the same 51-point AF system as the D300, which is shared by all Nikon’s current high-end DSLRs, from the D300s to the £5,000 24-million pixel D3x. After extended use of all these cameras, I can confidently say that when used properly, this system is the most capable currently available.

In good light, all 51 AF points can be relied on to deliver accurate focus, even when used in ‘3D Tracking mode’, in combination with continuous AF. When the light drops, the accuracy of the peripheral AF points drops slightly, but using the central group of 15 points, reliable AF is still possible even when it is impossible to judge through the viewfinder.

It is worth pointing out, too, that of all the many cameras I have used for performance photography, the D300s is one of the few that can accurately track a moving subject in this environment.

One of the reasons the D300s’s 3D AF tracking is so reliable is its integration with the Scene Recognition System, which is discussed in the ‘Features’ section of this test. I took the D300s to an airshow, and it 
was able repeatedly to accurately track fast-moving aircraft against 
an cluttered, contrasty background. My success rate wasn’t 100%, but after a full day’s shooting I went 
home with far more shots in focus than out of focus.

Contrast detection AF is available in Live View and video modes, and although it is slightly more responsive than the ‘first-generation’ D300 and D3, it is still no match for phase-detection AF of the type described above.

In Live View mode, Nikon calls phase-detection AF ‘Quick Mode’, 
and when Live View is activated the mirror flips down momentarily to expose the AF sensor before an image is captured. In contrast detection AF mode the Live View image is uninterrupted.

I find Live 
View most useful for studio and tripod-mounted photography, at which point manual focus, coupled with the powerful screen magnification options, is more practical.

  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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