Not all of the changes made to create the D300S will be immediately apparent from looking at the specification sheets. Thankfully Nikon has loaned us a D300S which we've pored over and peered into, in an attempt to get to the bottom of the less obvious changes that have been made to its APS-C flagship. Click here for more information.
Nikon D300S Brief hands-on
by Richard Butler and Andy Westlake, July 2009
The Nikon D300 made quite an impact when it was first launched - enough to prompt us to conclude: 'There's simply no better semi-professional digital SLR on the market.' And, in many respects, it is still the camera to beat in that class - nearly two years later and it is still able to command essentially the same price as at launch (though the strong Yen has pushed all prices up). And this success appears to have left Nikon unsure how to improve on its APS-C flagship.
Although the many of the additions to the D300S are simply those that we've seen appear on Nikons since the D300 arrived (virtual horizon from the D3, movies from the D90), one genuinely new feature is the inclusion of contrast-detection autofocus that operates while in movie mode - a first for a Nikon DSLR. It's not the quickest focusing you'll ever see, though, and you'll also need to make use of the external mic socket if you're to avoid the distant generator chuntering or asthmatic rodent sounds that autofocus motors seem to so accurately mimic.
The D300S inherits the non-latched memory card door we first saw on the D700, but now with both a CF and SD slot behind it. As you'd expect at this level, the exact behaviour of how the camera writes to the two cards can be defined: use one after the other, write backups to the second card, RAW and JPEG to different cards or split stills and videos. In fact many of the changes make the D300S even more similar to the D700, including Nikon's now-standard multi controller with separate central button that, on this camera, initiates movie recording when in live view.
The continuous shooting speed has been given a bit of a boost, with the camera now capable of shooting at 7fps using its own battery and 8fps with the MB-D10 battery grip. The settings display screen is now, in line with most current DSLRs, interactive, allowing most shooting settings to be changed more quickly, a couple of extra Active D-Lighting options ('Auto' and 'Extra High') have been thrown in too. Finally the 'Quiet' drive mode first seen on the D5000 also makes an appearance.
Nikon D300S Key Features
- 13.1 megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor (effective pixels: 12.3 million)
- 720p HD video
- 3.0" LCD monitor (920,000 dots)
- Image sensor cleaning (sensor shake)
- 51 AF points (with 3D tracking)
- IS0 200-3200 range (6400 expanded)
- 7 frames per second continuous shooting (buffer: 17 RAW, 44 JPEG fine, 100 JPEG Normal)
- Expeed image processing
- Picture Controls - image parameters consistent with all current Nikon DSLRs
- Same EN-EL3e battery as D300
- 72 thumbnail view in playback
Nikon D300S vs D300: Key Differences
The D300S is a subtle upgrade from the D300; but aside from the obvious addition of video, there are a few other tweaks and additions:
- 720p HD video, including autofocus while recording
- SD card slot in addition to existing CF slot
- Faster continuous shooting (7fps, vs. 6fps)
- Socket for external microphone
- Live View and Info buttons
- Discrete 'OK' button in multi controller
- Interactive settings display screen
- Auto and Extra High Active D-Lighting options
- Quiet drive mode
- Virtual horizon
The back of the D300S is slightly revised from the D300, and is now almost a dead-ringer for the D700. All of the key shooting controls remain in the same place, but the card door latch makes way for a dedicated 'info' button, and in a welcome move the D300's somewhat spongy multi-controller is replaced with the more positive design (with separate center button) seen on every Nikon DSLR since. Echoing the D90 and D5000, Live View now has its own dedicated button on the back of the camera; its place on the drive mode dial is occupied by the 'Quiet' mode, which in truth isn't especially quiet but does at least delay the mirror return until the shutter button is released. Finally nine small holes at the bottom right corner reveal the location of the small speaker used for audio playback, resulting in a decrease in area of the rubberised grip on the back.
In the hand
We were full of praise how the D300 felt when you picked it up and started using it, and not surprisingly the D300S is to all intents and purposes exactly the same. The camera fits solidly in your hand, although the reduced acreage of the grip on the back makes it feel just slightly less secure than the D300. Key shooting controls are all logically placed and easy to use, and the new multi-controller makes changing autofocus points much more positive (especially when pressing the centre button).
Join DPReview editors Rishi Sanyal and Carey Rose on Facebook Live as they share their experience and answer your questions about the new Sony a9, Wednesday at 9:30 AM Pacific time. Click here for additional details and time zones
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.
Photokina, the biennial photo industry trade show in Cologne, Germany, has announced that it will become an annual event beginning in 2018, and expand its focus to additional areas of imaging technology. Read more
No mic socket? No problem. In this video, Daniel Peters at Photo Gear News shows you how to make a lapel microphone using just a smartphone and a pair of earbuds.
How does the iPhone 7 Plus stack up against the Arri Alexa cinema camera? Watch this short video to find out.
Canon Australia's video series "The Lab" is designed to make photographers experiment and think outside the box. In the latest video a group of photographers create images based on their sense of taste.
The GH5 is expected to get a firmware update this summer to support 400Mbps internal recording. NewsShooter explores what memory cards you'll need to make it work.
Microsoft's new Surface Pro offers Intel's latest processor generation and improved battery life.
Riding a mountain bike downhill is dangerous enough in daylight, but potentially lethal at night. Which is where drones come in.
Rumors abound that Canon (and maybe Nikon) may produce a mirrorless camera based using their existing DSLR mount. Does this guarantee immediate great lens choice or a perpetually second-rate experience? Read more
According to rumors, the next camera from Nest will be able to capture 4K video, though that resolution will be only used for 'virtual' pan and tilt functions.
Boundary's Prima 'fully modular' backpack is expandable to 30L and has a removable camera case and tablet sleeve. Early Kickstarter backers can get one for $189.
Stanley Greene captured 'brutally honest' photographs in the war zones of the Middle East, Chechnya and Georgia. He was also one of the few African-American photographers working internationally.
Owners of Leica M cameras that suffer from peeling CCDs will be able to claim a free repair in the future so long as the camera was purchased within five years of the fault becoming apparent, the company has announced. Read more
The Carl Zeiss Jena BIOTAR 75mm F1.5 Red T lens is very rare and priced accordingly. It can be yours today for the low, low price of $15,000.
The MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a drone that does not require any human control for recording tracking shots. Read more
In this terrifying video, Iraqi journalist Ammar Alwaely narrowly misses a sniper's bullet, which takes out his chest-mounted GoPro. Warning: strong language. Watch the video
A new report expects action camera growth to increase about 15% by 2021, with Ultra HD cameras driving demand. Read more
Profiles for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom have been released for Irix's ultra-wide 11mm and 15mm primes. Like all profiles, these correct for distortion and vignetting.
An upcoming firmware update from DJI will cripple its drones unless they are 'activated' on the company's website. Live streaming will be turned off and flight radius/altitude will be limited.
Brent from ShareGrid rounds up the 10 most common products filmmakers are renting from one another for productions; chances are good you own one or more of them.
DaVinci Resolve is making strong moves to compete with Premiere and Final Cut Pro, including affordable control panels for colorists. According to Premium Beat, they're really good.
If you are not planning to fly your drone commercially you are not required to register it with the FAA anymore. This decision was handed down by a federal court in Washington, D.C.