Nikon D300S In-depth Review
Rear of camera controls
The back of the D300S is very similar to that of its forebear but, more importantly, it's essentially identical to that of the D700, gaining a centre button in the mutli-direction controller and an 'info' button to the right of the rear LCD (a function previously assigned to the 'protect' button). Other than that minor function shuffling, the only other significant change is the liberation of Live view mode (through which movie shooting is accessed) from the mode selector dial - it gains its own button.
Press the info button in shooting mode (except live view) to show a full screen 'shooting information' display. Unlike less expensive Nikons, the D300S's screen isn't interactive in the sense that you can't scroll around the major shooting options. Instead, pressing the relevant button on the body highlights a shooting setting, so that you can see the changes you're making. Pressing 'Info' for a second time allows you to scroll around the 10 options at the bottom of the display - giving fast access to options such as custom settings presets, button configuration, color space and Active D-Lighting.
By default, the screen goes into a more subtle 'low light' mode when it detects the ambient lighting has dropped below a certain level. As with so many things on the D300S, this can be configured so that it stays in one or other mode if you prefer.
|Information display||Low light mode|
|Changing ISO using the exterior button||Changing detailed settings|
Buttons (single press)
Enters or leaves playback mode, display mode used depends on the last used (left / right press of the multi selector) or thumbnail display mode. As with all shooting priority cameras the D300 immediately removes the playback display if you half-press the shutter release button although interestingly you can trigger AF (press AF-ON) without clearing the screen).
In playback or record review, pressing this button displays a 'Delete?' confirmation dialog, press again to confirm deletion. Nikon's now de-facto 'double press delete' feature is very easy to use and understand and much faster than other delete implementations (why can't all cameras be this simple?).
|Format (Delete + Mode)
Hold the Delete and Mode (top right of camera) buttons simultaneously for approximately two seconds for a shortcut to format the Compact Flash card, the camera first blinks 'For' on the top display and you must release the buttons and press once more to confirm the card format.
Display or cancel the camera menu, as with playback mode the menu is automatically cancelled if you half-press the shutter release button.
Protect / Menu Help *p
|Thumbnail / zoom out *p
In playback mode with a single image displayed pressing this button switches to a four image thumbnail index, press again to switch to a nine image thumbnail index. In playback magnify mode steps back a single zoom level.
|Zoom in *p / Live view magnify
In playback mode with a single image displayed enters magnify mode and steps in a zoom level, there are eight zoom steps. In live view mode magnifies the live view image (move around the live image, very useful for checking focus accuracy, there are six live view magnification levels, use the multi selector to move around.
|OK||OK / Retouching menu *p
The OK button is used to confirm menu selections and dialog options. In Playback mode displays a pop-up version of the retouching menu.
With no image displayed on the screen the multi selector is used to choose AF point, note that this function can be locked by turning the lock lever which surrounds the multi selector (Only effective in shooting mode). The multi selector is also used to change playback display modes (up / down), browse images in playback (left / right) and navigate menus / select dialog options. The newly added central button us used to select menu options, jump to the central AF point or toggle thumbnail view, depending on which mode you're in. Most of these behaviors can be modified to suit your tastes, though (CSM section f).
*p - In record review or playback mode
Auto Focus Area Mode selector
Note that the exact function of the AF area mode also depends on the focus mode (AF-S or AF-C), a full summary of all combinations of focus mode and AF area mode can be found at the bottom of this page.
The camera uses all focus areas and automatically selects the correct focus points. From the D300 user manual: "If type G or D lens is used, camera can distinguish human subjects
from background for improved subject detection."
Allows you to manually select one of the fifty-one focus points (or however many you've asked it to consider, in CSM a3), however the camera will use information from multiple focus areas to determine focus. Useful for focusing on specific subjects which may move out of the focus area briefly.
Allows you to manually select one of the fifty-one focus areas, the camera will only use this area for auto focus.
Front of camera controls
On the left side of the camera front are two buttons, both of these buttons can be customized to perform a range of functions via CSM f5 and f6. By default the top button is is depth of field preview, press and hold this button to stop the lens down to the selected aperture, the button button performs flash value lock. On the right side of the camera front is the focus mode dial and above this the flash mode / compensation button.
Buttons (combined with a command dial)
|Flash sync mode
Front-curtain sync (normal)
Red-eye reduction with slow sync
|Flash exposure compensation
-3.0 EV to +1.0 EV
0.3, 0.5 or 1 EV steps (CSM b2)
Focus Mode selector
servo AF (AF-S)
Camera focus when shutter release button is half pressed and locks when the in-focus indicator (a solid dot) appears on the viewfinder status LCD. If the subject is moving when the shutter release button is half pressed the camera will focus track until a lock can be obtained. In this mode the default is for focus priority, this means that a shot can only be taken with a good focus lock, you can also choose release priority via CSM a2.
servo AF (AF-C)
The camera will focus continuously while the shutter release button is half pressed, if the subject moves the camera will adjust focus to compensate. In this mode the default is for release priority, this means that a shot will be taken whether or not the camera has a good focus lock, you can also choose focus priority via CSM a1.
Focusing is achieved manually by turning the lens manual focus ring. Focus indicator on the viewfinder status LCD will still indicate whether or not the selected manual focus is the same as the calculated auto focus. This mode is always release priority.
- 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