Nikon’s D300s DSLR is an excellent camera. There are very few differences between it and its brother, the D300, the major one being the addition of video capability. If video is not on your list of “must haves,” you still may want to consider the D300s, because of some interesting little upgrades.
I’ll not reiterate what I covered in my initial look at the D300s. Click on the link to read that.
The D300s produces HD video at 720p and 24 fps. The quality is magnificent, thanks in good part to Nikon optics as well as the camera’s processor. Its operation is not intuitive (yeah, I had to read the manual), but after using the controls a couple of times, I spent more time with what I was shooting than how to make it work.
I will admit to becoming initially fixated on the camera’s virtual horizon indicator. The video display is on the LCD, not through the viewfinder (you have to get that reflex mirror up and out of the way). That horizon indicator is invaluable in that it tells you if the camera is tilted to the left or right (making your horizon tilt), and it also tells you if the lens is not level, either tilting up or down.
Yes, you can turn it off.
Initially I thought using a DSLR as a video camera was a neat idea. After using the D300s in video mode, handheld, I’m not so sure. On a tripod, sure, great idea. Maybe because I’m used to using shoulder-supported video cameras, holding a camera at arm’s length just doesn’t have the same appeal.
But I do know there are many who are opting for DSLR video, so I guess it’s a matter of what you become used to.
With the D300s, you can add an external mike instead of relying on the in-body microphone, and it offers basic in-camera editing.
The camera has two memory card slots, one for CF cards, the other for SD cards. The D300 had only a CF slot. So with the 300s, you can use one card for video and one for stills, or use the second as an overflow when the first card is filled. Another option is to split between JPEGs and RAW. Any way you slice it, a nice option to have.
The D300s has a D3-style controller, a dedicated Live View button, and a dedicated Info button. It also has improved D-Lighting.
I found the D300 to be a superb camera. Nikon’s Expeed image processor, Scene Recognition System (SRS) and 3D Colour Matrix Metering II system combine to produce an imaging tour de force. The D300s, remarkably, improves on that.