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LCD Monitor

Like its predecessor, the D300S features a 921,600 dot LCD. Because it takes a triplet of a red, a green and a blue dot to give a single, full-color pixel, these dots represent a 640x480 pixel array. The D300 (along with the Sony A700) was one of the first cameras to include one of these high-resolution screens that give the same resolution as a VGA computer display from the late 1980s. This high resolution makes a surprising difference in terms of being able to assess the quality of the images you've taken, whether looking at the whole-image view or a zoomed-in section.

The higher resolution also means that the user interface can be highly detailed and include a lot of information on each screen, helping to make the incredibly deep menus that bit more manageable. The D300S comes with a protective plastic screen cover to avoid the screen getting scratched when you're out and about.

Top Control Panel

The D300 has one control panel on the top, this large display dominates the entire right top side of the camera and provides a full range of information covering photographic and digital settings. The panel has a green back light which can be illuminated by flicking the power switch to the lamp position, it's spring loaded and returns to 'ON', the back light stays on for the 'auto meter-off' time (CSM c2). You can also choose to have the backlights come on with any button press (CSM d8). Note that even when the camera is 'Off' this panel displays the number of frames remaining on the card or -E- if no card is inserted (an indication that the camera is never really powered off but instead in a sleep mode).

A breakdown of information displayed on the LCD panel can be found on the diagrams below.

*1 • Shutter-speed
• Exposure compensation value
• Flash compensation value
• ISO sensitivity
• White balance fine-tuning
• White balance preset number
• Number of shots in bracketing sequence
• Number of intervals
• Focal length (non-CPU lens)
*2 • Aperture (f-number)
• Aperture (number of stops)
• Bracketing increment
• Number of shots per interval
• Maximum aperture (non-CPU lens)
• PC connection indicator
*3 • Number of frames remaining
• Number of shots remaining before buffer fills
• PC mode indicator
• Preset white balance recording indicator
*4 • Electronic analog exposure display
• Exposure compensation
• Bracketing progress indicator
• PC mode indicator

Diagram reproduced with permission from the Nikon D300 user manual.

Viewfinder

To the right top corner of the removable eyepiece rubber is a diopter adjustment wheel. Unlike the D3-series models, the D300S does not feature an internal viewfinder curtain.

Viewfinder view

The image below isn't designed to be representative of a typical view through the viewfinder but instead shows the position of all possible information including all 51 AF points, battery status overlay and optional grid lines. All information is displayed using an LCD overlay, rather than being etched into the focusing screen so the numerous focus points are completely invisible until one is selected.

1 Focus indicator 10 Electronic analog exposure display / compen.
2 Metering mode 11 Flash compensation indicator
3 Auto exposure lock 12 Exposure compensation indicator
4 Flash value (FV) Lock 13 ISO / Auto ISO indicator
5 Flash sync indicator 14 ISO sensitivity
6 Shutter speed 15 Exposures remaining / buffer / exp. value
7 Aperture stop indicator 16 Thousands indicator
8 Aperture (f-number / number of stops) 17 Flash-ready indicator
9 Exposure mode    

Diagram reproduced with permission from the Nikon D300 user manual.

Viewfinder size

One figure hidden away in every SLR's spec is the size of the viewfinder (often in a format that makes comparison between competing models impossible). The size of the viewfinder is a key factor in the usability of an SLR - the bigger it is, the easier it is to frame and focus your shots, and the more enjoyable and involving process it is.

Because of the way viewfinders are measured (using a fixed lens, rather than a lens of equivalent magnification), you also need to take the sensor size into account, so the numbers in the diagram below are the manufacturer's specified magnifications divided by the respective 'crop factors'. The D300S retains the 0.94x magnification, 100% coverage viewfinder featured in its predecessor.

The D300S offers 0.94x magnification which, with its 1.5x crop sensor gives it an overall magnification equivalent to 0.63x in full-frame terms. This makes it indistinguishable from the Canon EOS 7D.

Viewfinder crop

The Nikon D300S is a member of a fairly exclusive club of DSLRs that offer 100% field of view (the EOS 7D and K-7 compared here are others). As a result, you get to see exactly what the sensor will record, helping optimize composition.

Nikon D300S: 100% viewfinder

Battery and Charger

The D300S uses the same EN-EL3e battery we first saw on the D200. It has a quoted capacity of 1500 mAh at 7.4V (11.1 Wh) and charges on the supplied MH-18a quick charger. Note that the D300 is also compatible with the larger EN-EL4a battery when the MB-D10 battery grip is attached (see below).

Battery information available on the camera:

  • Top control panel has a five segment battery life indicator
  • The Setup menu -> Battery Info provides:
    • Battery meter (as a percentage)
    • Picture meter (estimated frames on current power)
    • Charging Life (a scale from 0 to 4 indicating if the battery has come to the end of its useful life)

Battery pack / Vertical grip (optional)

The D300S can use the same MB-D10 battery pack / vertical grip as its predecessor. The grip plugs in to a small series of connectors on the bottom of the camera to allow power and control connection without the need to remove the built-in battery or battery door, allowing fast addition and removal. The MB-D10 supports a range of batteries; the EN-EL3e used in the camera, the larger EN-EL4a as used in D3-series bodies or with a collection of AA batteries. Using either AAs or an EN-EL4a allows the camera to shoot at a slightly improved continuous shooting rate of 8 fps. (Images are of a D300)

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