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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LCD, Live View and video

Shooting mode dial

The shooting mode dial provides access to the advance modes, as well as self-timer, mirror lock-up and the new ‘Q’ quiet shutter release mode

3in LCD screen

The D300s features the same 920,000 dot LCD screen as the D300. Detail reproduction is excellent, although the lack of anti-reflective coating
can make screen glare a problem in bright light

Multi-controller

This control point has been remodelled, and the D300s now features the same type of multi-controller as the D700 
and D3. A separate button in the middle of the controller serves as an unlabelled ‘OK’ selecter for confirming settings 
and menu options

Card slots

The D300s features dual card bays, for both Secure Digital and CompactFlash media. The door 
to the card bays 
is now of the 
D700 type, and slides back and out to open, rather than using a D300-style latch

The D300s has a 3in, 920,000-dot LCD screen, which is identical to that used in the D90, D700 and D3/x. Its detail resolution and clarity are on a par with the best of the competition, but images on the D300s’s screen are rather hard to see in bright light. The Canon cameras feature multiple anti-reflective layers built into the screens, but the LCD of the D300s lacks even a surface coating, which makes it more prone to glare when used under direct sunlight.

This isn’t necessarily a major limitation when shooting stills, but quickly becomes frustrating in Live View/video mode.Except for the way in which it is activated, the Live View mode of the D300s is almost unchanged from the D300. The only significant addition is a new aeroplane-style tilt indicator that can be displayed on the Live View image (above right). It works well, but a simple horizontal tilt indicator of the sort that can be activated in the viewfinder of the D700 and D3 would have been less obtrusive and more useful.

In video mode, the D300s performs in much the same way as the D90. The only real difference is the provision for an external microphone. With a Sony stereo mic plugged in, I found that audio quality from the footage is very high. Image quality is excellent, too, and although it is not possible to alter the shutter speed and aperture when shooting, it is at least possible to bias the exposure using exposure compensation.

Like the D5000, though, I would not advise using automatic focus when shooting video. With the in-built monoaural microphone activated, the handling and AF noises are overpowering, and even with an external microphone plugged in the incessant fidgeting of the D300s’s contrast-detection AF makes for jerky footage if you need to refocus the scene.

  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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