Nikon D300s

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Nikon D300s was released on August 10, 2009.  Nikon D300s replaces the camera most expert think cannot be beat at it’s intended market and price range at the time – the infamous D300.  Nikon D300s improved enough to make it a better camera than the D300, but in a lot of D300’s fan opinions, it didn’t improved enough.  Most people expected more from the D300s, especially owners of the D300.  However, one cannot argue with the versatility and speed of the D300s, it is a good camera to have for a variety of shooting condition.  It is the do it all camera.

You can get the detail specs and facts about the Nikon D300s from Nikon official website.  I will only list the important key features that are essential for photographers.

Speed:

  •  power-up in 13 ms, shutter lag – 45 ms, black-out 100 ms
  • 7 frames/second continuous shooting
  • 51 AF Points –  it focuses very quickly and accurately

Those stats mean very high speed.  The Nikon D300s is an amazingly fast camera!  The combination of high frames/second shooting with accurate and fast AF speed makes it a great camera for action.

Image Quality:

  • DxOMark over all score:  70
  • DPReview:  “dependable, quality images which it’s very hard to find fault with.”
  • CNET:  “colors look even better than before”, “bright and saturated, but still accurate”
  • PC Magazine: “Top-notch image quality”

Image quality of the Nikon D300s is generally considered good for its price range from major reviews.  However, most of them also agree that the JPEG produce by the Nikon D300s is on the soft side, although it can be improved by tweaking the in-body settings.  In my opinion – stick with RAW.

Noise/Low Light/High Level ISO Performance:

  • Effective ISO 200-3200, expendable to 6400
  • DPReviw places D300s low light/high ISO performance between acceptable and good in its chat
  • PC Magazine: “a champ at suppressing image noise across all ISO sensitivities … ideal for low-light shooting situations … From ISO 200-3200”
  • CNET: “Images begin to look “processed” at ISO 800; you can begin to see some sharpness degradation starting at ISO 1,600, but it doesn’t become obtrusive until ISO 3,200″
  • Imaging-Resource: “Low noise at the lower sensitivity settings, with very good results up to ISO 800. However, detail loss to noise reduction takes a jump at ISO 1,600 and above”, “able to capture usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle light level”

The D300s low light shooting ability is great (in terms of focusing speed and accuracy), however, it’s high ISO performance is often rated only between acceptable and good.  The D300s produces acceptable images up to ISO 800.  Even images captured at ISO 800 are borderline.  Try not to exceed ISO 800 when shooting with the D300s.

Videos:

  • Takes 720p HD video
  • 3.0 inch LCD monitor
  • Live view AF with phase detect and contrast detect

There’s really nothing to rave about the video capturing ability of the D300s.  I believe at that time, Nikon is still experimenting with video recording.  The D300s is simply not suitable for video capturing.  However, it’s there when you need it, it is still convenient to have the function.

X-Factors:

  • HDMI output
  • Environmentally sealed
  • Dual card slot, one for SD and the other for CF
  • Quiet shutter-release mode –

With everything comes with HDMI ports nowadays, the HDMI output is a very good thing to have.  The D300s offers protection from weather, although I would not trust it too much.  The dual card slot is the best feature in my opinion, it means great flexibility and convenience!  The quiet shutter mode allows you to take photos quietly, no more loud “clicks”.  The x-factors of this camera really makes it a desirable camera.

Pros:

  • Excellent build quality
  • Protection against weather
  • Good image quality
  • High speed shooting
  • Accurate and fast AF
  • Flexible and useful in-body custom settings
  • Large and bright viewfinder
  • Dual Card slot
  • Good battery life

Cons:

  • Auto white balance is not always trust-able
  • Low light/High ISO performance is only acceptable
  • Weak overall video recording ability
  • JPEG image quality is a bit soft

Conclusion:

The Nikon D300s is a reasonably priced professional grade camera that offers high quality in build and image quality that is very speedy and flexible.  This is the camera that can perform in all kind of shooting situation, with the exception of fast action in low light.  Even though it didn’t offer significant upgrade from the Nikon D300, for non D300s owner, this is still a highly recommended buy.

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