Nikon D300S In-depth Review
Conclusion - Pros
- Highly competitive image quality at all ISO settings
- Excellent high ISO performance with low noise and good levels of detail
- Highly configurable Auto ISO function (can set maximum ISO and minimum shutter speed)
- 7 frames per second continuous shooting speed (8 with battery grip)
- Makes good use of its dual media card slots
- Sophisticated AF system with effective subject tracking
- Excellent build quality with magnesium body and environmental sealing
- Good ergonomics, well shaped and comfortable hand grip
- Well-placed and configurable buttons
- Menu is well organized and quick to use despite its size and the camera's complexity
- Large and bright viewfinder with 100% coverage
- (Relatively) quick contrast detect AF in live view
- Good quality 720p video output
- Easy switch between stills mode, movie mode and live view
- Contrast detection available in movie mode
- External microphone socket
- Useful Active D-Lighting feature protects highlights as well as boosting shadows
- Reliable flash exposures
- Comprehensive wireless flash control
- Wide range of accessories (WiFi, Battery Grip, GPS)
- Good battery life
- Sophisticated interval timer feature
- Comprehensive software bundle
- Built-in AF assist lamp
Conclusion - Cons
- Unreliable white balance under artificial lighting
- Slight tendency to overexpose in contrasty conditions
- Rolling shutter effect when shooting video
- Occasional 'grain' in blue skies, even at base ISO
- Contrast detection AF is slow (as it is on all DSLRs)
- Internal microphone readily records lens noise
- No liveview histogram
The D300S isn't nearly as significant a step forward for Nikon as the D300 was but that in part is a testament to how good the D300 was. When we reviewed it, Phil stressed how difficult he'd found it to find things to criticize so it's not surprising that Nikon has found it hard to know what to improve. But there are improvements and ones that will be welcomed by certain sections of the photographic community. The ability to shoot movies, although seemingly gimmicky, does appear to be a benefit both in terms of creative options and commercial potential, so shouldn't be dismissed. The addition of a second card slot and the useful ways in which it can be used also considerably increase the flexibility of the camera.
With a 12 megapixel sensor, it would be easy to think of the D300S as being a touch out-of-date. However, that would be to miss the point, as the difference between 18 megapixels and 12 (20% in each direction), is only of value in certain specific circumstance, especially when you're talking about 12 very well captured and processed megapixels. And that's what you get with the D300S - dependable, quality images which it's very hard to find fault with. The JPEGs may be a little softer than we'd choose but they respond well to the sharpening being pushed up a notch, so it's just a matter of tuning them to suit your purposes. Processing from raw brings even better results.
Handling is one of the places that the D300S really shines - both its ergonomics and build quality are first class. Although it's easy to initially be intimidated by the sheer number of external controls, you soon become familiar with them and find yourself glad of them. Then, thanks to the high level of customization, you can add other features you want direct access to onto the user-definable function buttons on the front of the camera. Furthermore, if you're unfamiliar with the Nikon way of working (dials and indicators all have positive on the left and negative on the right), the behavior of both can be switched so that it more close resembles the cameras you're used to.
Although the button changes over the D300 are subtle, they make a surprising difference, not least in terms of making access to video really straightforward. There isn't universal agreement here about the positioning of the buttons on the camera's left shoulder (White Balance, ISO and Image Quality), but that's about the only point of contention, despite us all being familiar with different brands.
The final word
The D300S is not the standout product that its predecessor was and unless you find your clients are clamoring for video footage, we can't see much need for existing owners to upgrade. But that shouldn't take away from an absolutely excellent product - a gently polished and refined update of a product that we considered a benchmark when it was released. The EOS 7D may prevent anyone with a foot in the Canon camp from contemplating defection but unless you desperately need that camera's higher resolution, it's hard to overlook the appeal of the Nikon.
Category: Semi-professional Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
A relatively minor upgrade to one of the defining cameras of the semi-pro sector adds a useful HD video mode and a wealth of minor improvements that improve the already excellent handling. Although the D300S has stronger competition than its predecessor, it still manages to impress, as do the images it produces.
Original Rating (November 2009): Highly Recommended
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean
- 17 Photographic tests (DR)
- 18 Photographic tests
- 19 Movie Mode
- 20 Compared to
- 21 Compared to (JPEG)
- 22 Compared to (JPEG)
- 23 Compared to (JPEG)
- 24 Compared to (RAW)
- 25 Compared to (RAW)
- 26 Compared to (RAW)
- 27 Compared to (Higher ISO)
- 28 Compared to (Resolution)
- 29 Compared to (Resolution)
- 30 Conclusion
- 31 Samples
|Hook Head Lighthouse by kroker|
from Best Photo of the Week
|Green turtle in the shallows by gcachon|
Canon went and put an APS-C sensor in a G series compact. The result is a mighty tempting camera for travel.
Google Photos is adding a few pet-friendly features that will make it easier to find photos of your favorite pooch. Now, you can organize your pet photos by facial recognition, and you can even search your library by breed.
Colorful tripod maker MeFOTO has launched a new tripod... and a whole new brand name. Meet the GlobeTrotter travel video tripod, the first product to be released under the MeVIDEO brand.
If you own a Moto Z, you'll soon be able to attach a Polaroid instant printer to it. Check out the unreleased Moto Mod, which was leaked earlier today.
DJI has developed a technology called AeroScope that allows law enforcement to identify and track airborne drones that are breaking UAV regulations, while simultaneously addressing privacy concerns.
The Nikon D850 is a 45.7MP full-frame DSLR with an autofocus system lifted wholesale from the pro-sports focused D5. 4K capture, continuous shooting at 7 or 9 frames per second make it sound like the ultimate all rounder. Is it all that these specs suggest?
The Mate 10's Kirin 970 chipset with integrated AI processing allows for object recognition, motion detection and automatic scene selection in the camera app.
DxO has announced version 3.0 of the iOS app for its 'One' connected camera. It adds support for multi-camera Facebook Live broadcasting and both time-lapse still and video capture. Android users will be pleased to hear that a One for their platform is on the way, as well. Several new accessories are available, including a battery pack.
Canon has introduced the PowerShot G1 X Mark III, which borrows the 24MP APS-C sensor and Dual Pixel AF system from the company's recent mirrorless and DSLR cameras, adds a 24-72mm equiv., F2.8-5.6 lens and puts them into a lightweight body – but it'll cost you quite a bit.
It's not often that we see a genuinely interesting compact camera, and the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III is one such beast. We've pulled out the top features of the camera and tell you why they matter – and put the Mark III up against the competition.
Apple's HDR effect in the iPhone 8 Plus is on by default and more aggressive than in previous generations. It's also good enough to convince DPR contributor Jeff Carlson to leave it on all the time.
Canon's 28mm F2.8 IS USM may be small in size, but it's big on fun. We wrote about our experience using it as our only lens in Big Sur, California, but in case you missed out on our full gallery, take a look to see what this little lens can do.
Travel photographer Elia Locardi tells the story behind this gorgeous (and rare) panorama of the Dubai cityscape draped in fog.
Bison, drift cars, horseback riders, antelope – from the beach to the race track, the Sony 100-400mm G Master is one versatile piece of kit.
"Wildlife photography in Yellowstone National Park is an incredible opportunity, yet some bad photographers are giving all photographers a bad name by not following the rules."
Casio's bionic-looking new action camera, the GZE-1, is built with extreme sports in mind. The little camera is drop-proof, freeze-proof, dust-proof, and waterproof to 50 meters.
Yashica recently released the digiFilm Y35: a camera that tries to simulate the "experience" of shooting film... and it's just the worst.
Western Digital has revealed some interesting new technology that, it claims, will allow them to develop 40TB hard drives by the year 2025.
Photographer Micael Widell wanted to see just how affordable it could possibly be to get into digital photography—so he bought a full DSLR kit with battery grip and 50mm lens on eBay for just $80.
Confused about DxOMark's scoring system? This straightforward video by Marques Brownlee breaks down how DxO gets its scores, and why you should always look beyond that "overall" number.
It's not exactly a revolutionary device, but the iPhone 8 Plus does promise some evolutionary updates in the camera department. DPR contributor Jeff Carlson has been putting the 8 Plus to the test in some everyday shooting situations – take a look at how it fared.
This week in Hollywood, DJI introduced its new Zenmuse X7 camera, a Super 35 format cinema camera of its own design that can also capture 24MP still images in APS-C format. Is it time to start thinking of DJI as a camera company?
Landscape and astrophotographer Asif Islam shot a series of timelapses starting in Los Angeles and getting farther and farther away, showing how the Milky Way emerges as the light pollution fades.
Ultraviolet photography is something that relatively few photographers explore, but it’s a fascinating realm to explore with less of an investment in equipment than most people think.
After almost fifteen years of nearly buying one, Barney recently found a working Canon PowerShot G5 in his local thrift shop. It must be Throwback Thursday.
DJI has launched the Zenmuse X7, a Raw video capable Super 35 camera module. The camera/gimbal system which mounts to the company's drones features a new, proprietary lens mount.
Windowed is a free app that lets you upload photos to Instagram straight from your Mac or PC—no tablet, smartphone, or complicated workaround required.
Nikon has published a list lenses that it deems worthy of its newest DSLR: the 45.7MP Nikon D850.
The Nikon D850 isn't the first camera to hit triple digits on DxOMark; in fact, the Pentax 645Z was listed at 101 all the way back in 2015. So why was the full review never published? DxOMark explained earlier today.
Due to 'slower-than-expected development of the VR market,' Nokia has decided to pull the plug on its $25K Ozo VR camera while it restructures the company and sheds as many as 310 jobs.