Is the D300 still a viable camera choice in 2014? (vs. D90, D7000... D5100)

Started Feb 19, 2014 | Questions thread
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alstauffer Junior Member • Posts: 45
Is the D300 still a viable camera choice in 2014? (vs. D90, D7000... D5100)

I realize the title is very vague and open-ended so I'll give a bit of background and refine it a bit below.
I recently moved to Nikon (from Pentax), and currently own/use a D5100 body.  I can't stand it.  Coming from the K-7, it feels very cheap and plasticky, and digging through the menus and seemingly jumping through hoops to change settings I used to have instant access to is tedious and I just don't enjoy taking pictures as much as I used to.  Additionally, focus is slow and seems to miss very often, and the viewfinder is... well, bad.  IQ so far is really great, and I'm very pleased with higher-ISO performance, but due to my overall negative handling impressions/experience with the camera, I'm looking into a new body.

In my frustration with the D5100, I impulse-purchased a D90 to replace the D5100 without doing much research due to the larger body, more dedicated controls, and assumedly better construction and AF (I later found out this isn't the case, since it's the same AF mechanism as the D5100).  The D90 hasn't arrived yet, but after doing a bit more research, I am considering turning around and selling both it and the D5100, and I'm considering a D300 or possibly a D7000 as a replacement.
I am very far from professional, but I like to think that I'm a step above beginner.  I usually shoot motorsports, still cars, pets, and some product-style photos. Because of the motorsports and pet photos, I'd really like faster, more accurate autofocus, but many of the pet photos are indoors in poor lighting.  For what it's worth, I don't care about video.
My real draw to the D300 is the improved AF over the D90/D5100 and the dedicated controls and large viewfinder are also huge pluses.  I'm not put off too much by the size (though I'll have to upgrade my tripod :-D), the slight resolution downgrade is not a dealbreaker, and the lack of 'Scene' and other Auto modes is not a consideration.  What has me concerned is that the sensor is now 6? years old, and most of the pet photos I take are indoors with less-than-ideal lighting, meaning that giving up the D5100's high ISO performance is slightly off-putting.  This final point is what has me considering a D7000.  It has improved AF over the D5100/D90, but an updated sensor vs. the D300.  Getting the D7000 would involve really stretching my budget and/or getting lucky, though, so if the D300 is still a performer, I think I'd prefer sticking with that.

If it matters, the lenses I currently have are:
-Nikon 18-70mm AF-S
-Nikon 35mm f/1.8G (Love this little guy)
-Nikon 55-200mm VR
-Nikon 50mm f/1.8D (in the mail..)
I'd really appreciate anyone's input or thoughts on the matter?  Experience with any or all of the bodies mentioned here?  Alternate options?  I've read pages and pages about these cameras, but most of the comparisons and conclusions seem to be from years ago, so I'm wondering if they carry through to today?

Nikon D300 Nikon D5100 Nikon D7000 Nikon D90 Pentax K-7
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