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Top of camera controls (right)

On the top of the camera on the right side you will find the power switch, shutter release button, exposure mode and exposure compensation buttons. At the front and rear edges of this side of the camera, in line with the shutter release button are the two command dials (with a soft rubber coating). On the rear of the camera surrounding the AE-L/AF-L button is the metering mode selector, to the right of this is the AF-ON button.

Like its predecessor, the D300S is an incredibly customizable camera and much of the described behavior can be tweaked and fine-tuned. So, for instance, the standard behavior is that you must hold a button while turning one of the command dials but this can be reconfigured so that changes are made after releasing the button CSM f9. (And, if this more Canon-like way of working appeals, you can also switch the direction in which the dials operate CSM f8 and the direction of the exposure indications to match CSM f11). As a result, the descriptions below cover only the default behaviors.

Power dial

OFF Power Off

Powers the camera off immediately, if there are images still buffered to be written the camera will remain on until the write has completed. When off the camera continues to display the remaining frames / frame count and CF status on the top LCD panel.
ON Power On

Switches the camera on, this is as fast as we can time it, as good as instant. There is simply no perceptible delay between turning the the dial and the first shot (you can even hold the shutter release and turn the power dial to test this).
Illuminate backlight

Flick the power switch to this position to illuminate the control panels backlight's (top and rear). The backlight stays on for the 'auto meter-off' time (CSM c3).

Buttons (combined with dial turn)

  Main command dial (rear) Sub command dial (front)
MODE Exposure mode (detail below)

 • Programmed Auto (flexible)
 • Shutter-Priority Auto
 • Aperture-Priority Auto
 • Manual
No function
Exposure compensation

 • +/- 5 EV
 • 0.3, 0.5 or 1 EV steps (CSM b2)
No function

Buttons (single press)

AF-ON AF-ON

The AF-ON button is an alternative to half-pressing the shutter release, it triggers the camera's auto focus system. You can if you wish have the camera set to that AF is not triggered by a shutter release half-press (CSM a5) and only by the AF-ON button (useful for fast action photography where continuous AF tracking is required).
AE-L
AF-L

AE / AF Lock

Pressing this button locks the current exposure and focus, in its default mode both AE and AF remain locked as long as you hold the button. CSM f7 allows you to change the function of this button with a range of AE / AF hold / lock options as well as other camera functions (such as metering, bracketing etc.)

Metering Mode

3D Color matrix metering II / Color Matrix II / Color Matrix

3D Color matrix metering uses a 1005 pixel CCD to calculate the best exposure for the frame. 3D color matrix metering is only available with G type or D type lenses where the range information is used in conjunction with metered light. Color matrix II metering is used with other CPU lenses. Color matrix metering is used when focal length and aperture are entered manually using the 'Non-CPU lens data' menu item.
Center-weighted metering

The camera uses the entire frame for light measurement but assigns a greater weight to an area in the center of the frame (by default an 8 mm circle indicated on the viewfinder focus screen). The size of the circle used to define the "center" of the frame can be set by CSM b5.
Spot metering

The camera measures light only in a circle 3 mm in diameter. This is tied to the currently selected AF area point unless dynamic AF or a non-CPU lens is used when it defaults to the center of the frame.

Exposure Modes

P Programmed Auto (flexible)

In this mode the camera automatically selects aperture and shutter speed based on the current metered exposure value, exposure compensation and selected ISO sensitivity. Flexible program allows you to select one of a range of identical exposures (using different combinations of aperture and shutter speed) by turning the rear command dial. Example:

 • 1/125 sec, F9 (turn left one click)
 • 1/160 sec, F8.0 (turn left one click)
 • 1/200 sec, F7.1 (metered)
 • 1/250 sec, F6.3 (turn right one click)
 • 1/320 sec, F5.6 (turn right one click)
S Shutter-Priority Auto

In this mode you select the shutter speed and the camera will calculate the correct aperture depending on metered exposure, exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity. Turn the rear command dial to select shutter speed in the range of 30 to 1/8000 sec (in 0.3, 0.5 or 1.0 EV exposure steps depending on CSM b3). Enabling 'Easy exposure compensation' (CSM b4) lets you use the front command dial to adjust exposure compensation.
A Aperture-Priority Auto

In this mode you select the aperture and the camera will calculate the correct shutter speed depending on metered exposure, exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity. Turn the front command dial to select aperture (in 0.3, 0.5 or 1.0 EV exposure steps depending on CSM b3). The exact range of apertures will depend on the lens used. Enabling 'Easy exposure compensation' (CSM b4) lets you use the rear command dial to adjust exposure compensation.
M

Manual Exposure

In this mode you define the exact exposure by selecting the aperture and the shutter speed manually. As above use the main command dial (rear) for shutter speed, sub command dial (front) for aperture. The meter on the viewfinder status bar and top LCD will immediately reflect the exposure level compared to the calculated ideal exposure, if outside of the range of the indicator bar (+/- 2 EV on the viewfinder LCD and +/- 3 EV on the top control panel) an arrow ('<' or '>') will appear at the end.

Top of camera controls (left)

The top left side of the camera has the mode dial which allows you to select the camera's drive mode, single, two continuous speeds, quiet mode, self-timer or mirror up. This dial is locked from accidental change and can only be turned by holding the lock release pin to the top left of the dial. On the top of this dial are three buttons for quality, white balance and ISO sensitivity.

Mode Dial

S Single frame shooting

One frame is taken with one depression of the shutter release button. You can of course still 'pump' shots as quickly as you can re-press the shutter release. The D300's shutter release button is the soft-press type which easily facilitates quick re-press.
CL

Continuous low speed shooting

Camera shoots continuously while the shutter release is depressed. In this mode the actual shooting rate can be set between 1 and 7 frames per second (through CSM d5), the default is 3 frames per second. Images are buffered as they are taken and written out to the Compact Flash card in the background. Current buffer space is indicated on the viewfinder LCD status bar as a number prefixed with a lower case 'r' (eg. r25).

CH

Continuous high speed shooting

Camera shoots continuously while the shutter release is depressed. In this mode the camera shoots at its maximum speed of 7 frames per second. Images are buffered as they are taken and written out to the Compact Flash card in the background. Current buffer space is indicated on the viewfinder LCD status bar as a number prefixed with a lower case 'r' (eg. r25).

Q

Quiet mode

A new feature on the D300S, Quiet mode separates the action of the shutter release and its re-cocking (which is delayed until the shutter button is released). The benefits of this system are substantially reduced by the D300S's rather loud mirror. The distinct 'clunk' that usually makes the shutter sound so satisfying is only partially moderated. Think of it as a quieter mode, rather than an especially quiet one.

Self-timer

Camera takes a shot after a predefined delay. This can be set to 2, 5, 10, or 20 seconds via CSM c3.
MUP

Mirror Up

Press the shutter release once to raise the mirror, again to take the shot. We still think it'd be more sensibly combined with self-timer so you don't need to touch the camera (or use a remote) to trigger the actual shutter release. (CSM d10; exposure delay mode; offers something similar but the delay is not long enough).

Buttons (combined with a command dial)

  Main command dial (rear) Sub command dial (front)
QUAL Image quality

 • RAW
 • TIFF
 • Fine JPEG
 • Normal JPEG
 • Basic JPEG
 • RAW + Fine JPEG
 • RAW + Normal JPEG
 • RAW + Basic JPEG

Image size (all except RAW quality)

 • Large (4288 x 2848)
 • Medium (3216 x 2136)
 • Small (2144 x 1424)

WB White balance mode

 • Auto
 • Incandescent
 • Fluorescent
 • Direct sunlight
 • Flash
 • Cloudy
 • Shade
 • Color temperature (Kelvin)
 • White balance preset
White balance adjustment

 - Fine tune 6 Amber - 6 Blue
 - Fine tune 6 Amber - 6 Blue
 - Fine tune 6 Amber - 6 Blue
 - Fine tune 6 Amber - 6 Blue
 - Fine tune 6 Amber - 6 Blue
 - Fine tune 6 Amber - 6 Blue
 - Fine tune 6 Amber - 6 Blue
 - Temperature 2500 K to 10000 K
 - Preset 0 to 4
ISO Select sensitivity (ISO equiv.)

 • L 1.0 (100 equiv.)
 • L 0.7 (125 equiv.)
 • L 0.3 (160 equiv.)
 • 200
 • 250
 • 320
 • 400
 • 500
 • 640
 • 800
 • 1000
 • 1250
 • 1600
 • 2000
 • 2500
 • 3200
 • H 0.3 (4000 equiv.)
 • H 0.7 (5000 equiv.)
 • H 1.0 (6400 equiv.)

(You can choose 0.3, 0.5 or 1.0 EV steps for ISO selection via CSM b1)
No function
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Comments

BobFoster

Great camera excellent review - but I feel like someone watching the review of a Ferrari on Top Gear fat chance of me owning it but you can dream! lol

1 upvote