back to article Nikon D300s DSLR

The Nikon D300s is the successor to the original D300 that appeared in the UK almost two years ago. Sharing the same 51-point autofocus and 12.3Mp sensor, it’s the cheaper DX format alternative to the top of the range Nikon D3 DSLR, and sits neatly next to the full frame D700. Nikon D300s Nikon's D300s: still for stills, but …


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  1. Stacy
    Thumb Up

    The noise levels are great

    I'm not a Niklon lover (being a 5d owner) but I have to say the noise levels at high ISO settings were amazing...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    only 5 mins?

    Odd that they limit the 720 encode to 5 minutes? Why? 720p30 at 8Mbps can record for 1hr in the 4GB limit of SC cards, and that is pretty good quality (using H.264). Seems odd to limit it.

    1. Fuzz

      re: only 5 mins

      Nikon are currently using MJPEG on their SLRs for video, the reason being that the compression can easily be handled by the existing hardware.

    2. Steve Evans

      Movie limit...

      I believe the movie length limit isn't imposed by the memory card but by the sensor.

      All sensors warm up during use, and the longer it is active the warmer it will get, this will eventually start to introduce noise into the image.

      1. James Bridge

        5 minute limit

        I'd heard that the 5 minute limit was simply to avoid extra import duty in the EU. If it can record

        more than 5 minutes then it is classified as a video recorder or camera and due for higher

        tax. This could all be rubbish, of course. A similar situation to video cameras disabling firewire

        inputs to avoid being classified as video recorders.

  3. Dave 129

    It's very nice, very very nice :)

    I just picked up the D300 myself and I am loving it. Though I have a lot to learn about it. I wasn't interested in the video options of the s myself. Seems more like a gimmick than anything I would find useful.

    A word of caution for people looking at this. The prices have been up and down like a yo-yo of late, while the D300 stock has been cleared out. In Canada, the D300s was launched at over 2K CAD (really ouch!) but now seems to have settled back to about 1800 CAD (just ouch!). I don't know if the UK prices varied that much, but it might be worthwhile holding off for another month, just to allow them to settle a little more (and get post-Xmas sales!!).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Perhaps in the Future"...

    I appreciate that in this fast moving world of web publishing, articles do become outdated quickly and are hard to edit and update...

    ...but over a month ago Nikon announced the D3s. It's rather nice, full frame, ISO 102,400 (12,800 without using extended modes) and HD video of similar spec to the D300s.

  5. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Nikon D300s DSLR

    The D3 is three times the price of the D300. Not the same beast at all. And we'll be reviewing the D3 in due course.

  6. Ball boy

    Still frame cameras are going..

    If you've seen the reviews of - or handled - the pro-spec DX3s, you'll be aware that even that has a video capture mode. Why this is making an apperance on these (traditionally, at least) still frame cameras is worth investigating.

    It's certainly not because Nikon's marketing have identified enough consumers with deep pockets who'll buy the 300s or DX3s (never mind the cost; anyone who luggs a couple of bodies about for the day appreciates the sense in using lightweight, pocket sized devices for family outings). The main reason is far more likely to be commercial: with a stream of very high quality 'stills', there's a greater chance of having one or two frames that require less post-production work - or catch the action right on the nail. For the serious event-photographer, this is invaluable. 5-10 seconds of such footage is plenty but, if it works well, we'll see the capture duration time go up in leaps and bounds over the next few seasons. At the same time, there'll be a gradual fall-off in 'traditional' still frame technology and a death-knoll sounding for the manufactures that decided against this 'streamed capture' (tm - thought I'd get in first!).

  7. Jaques Croissant
    Paris Hilton


    What I don't need is you bastards telling me about a decent Nikon DSLR. I love my old Nikon film SLR and am trying not to be tempted right now. Nikon seem to make admirablysolid cameras which provide great results with minimal hassle.

    I hate you guys :)

    1. Steve Evans

      Look on the bright side...

      There is good chance all your old Nikon lenses will work just fine on a new digital body.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby

      Then you'd appreciate this line:

      "This, combined with the magnesium alloy chassis, makes the D300s reminiscent of some of those tanks like the F3, from a bygone film age."

      Actually I used to shoot with an F1 and then the EL and ELW.

      Considering what it will cost to actually process film, I'll gladly take the digital cameras any day.

      As to the other poster talking about using your old lenses. More than likely not.

      It depends on how old your lenses are.

  8. Neill Mitchell

    Canon 7D?

    I bet Nikon execs went "oh bugger" when the 7D launched.

    8 fps shot rate.

    18mp sensor.

    Dual Digic 4 CPU.

    Up to 29:59 minutes full 1920x1080 video at 30/24/25 fps with full manual control and 44KHz audio.

    Dedicated movie mode switch and record button.

    Built in wireless flash control.

    Price in line with 300S now.

    Regarding the record limit. This is interesting. There are different EU taxes depending on whether the device is a camcorder or camera. Camcorders are taxed higher for some bizarre reason. Apparently the definition of a camcorder is the ability to record 30 minutes or more. Hence the Canon's 29:59 limit. I think the Nikon just lacks the grunt though ;)

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Canon 7D?

      Oh Yeah. The one that has had at least one firmware upgrade since its launch a few months ago.

      That when compled with the AF Problems with the 5D2 seems to me to be a sign that they release stuff before its ready.

      I have a D700 and it is great. Video? Not for me thanks. One of my photo buddies is biting the bullet and selling his Canon gear after his 5D2 shutter failed for the second time. He spent a weekend with my D700 and that made his mind up for him. Sod Canon and Hello Nikon.

      mines the one with a load of Nikon gear in the pockets.

    2. Steve Evans

      Nice if you want a camcorder!

      Unfortunately the Canons are still lacking on the still features. 19 AF point? Is that the best you can do? I can't see that managing the 3D focus tracking like the D300, which really has to be tried!

      And last time I used a Canon the spot metering remained in the middle even when the focus point was moved. Can you say D'oh?!

  9. magnetik

    Re: Still frame cameras are going..

    I don't buy that argument. It's going to be a loooong time before a frame from a video stream is any match for a still shot. HD video is only 2MP per frame - even a sucky phone camera can shoot at that resolution. You wont see sports photographers switching their DSLRs for video cameras any time soon.

    @Jaques Croissant

    Just buy a DSLR, you won't regret it.

    @Neill Mitchell

    Sure, the 7D looks better (in some ways) on paper but don't buy into the myth that higher specs = better camera. I just bought a D90. The CCD is 3MP less than the 500D but the D90 pictures are way better thanks to superior CCD tech, metering, white balance etc. I've been a Canon customer for many years but I've tired of them improving specs without improving build quality, ergonomics, ease of use and image quality.

  10. Peter Rasmussen

    Still waiting for SDXC and possibly USB3

    I can't understand why high end camera manufacturers have taken so long to get SDXC support into their cameras?!

    I would like a DSLR camera with good still frame performance, but right now there is no way I'm going to buy a camera with only SDHC support. It has been outdated for long, and even then has been very slow to be picked up by manufacturers.

    The max. limit of 32GB may (may!) not be a limit right now, but I'm expecting to keep such a camera for several years and:

    1.The speed of SDHC with Class6 as the highest spec. is pathetic! I'd like some full frame burst possibilities beyond just 2 or 3 frames and requiring fast RAM in the camera shouldn't be necessary by today's standards.

    2.The max. file size of 4GB because of the even more outdated FAT32 is even more pathetic.

    3.I don't want CompactFlash in a camera, because it is anything but compact.

    On top of that, I hope someone will soon start to implement USB3.0, too. Not because of the maximum speed, but again because I hope to keep my camera for several years and eventually everything else will be USB3.0, and I'd like to keep high transfer rates a possibility.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Er, why?

      The camera is still going to be the same - if 32GB is enough for you now (and that's what, 2000 pictures or more?), then it will still be enough in a few years, when you still have the same camera.

      1. SDXC may be faster, but since no-one makes product with it, its very expensive. I know that's chicken and egg, but I get 50 odd frames continuous at highest quality on my (old hat) D450. Is that not enough for you? I don't shoot raw though, but even that is 9 I think.

      2. Agreed. But, since this thing cannot record more than 5 minutes, you are not going to get near that limit. In H264 that still an hours worth of recording at 720p

      3. True.

  11. Scott 9

    Close but no cigar

    I have the D90, the little brother to this, there's no way the D300/D300S sits "next" to the D700. The D700 is my main camera and the pictures on this at ISO 6400 is what the DX cameras look like at ISO 2500. Still, for the money these newer DX cameras offer good picture quality within their limits, and the D700 has no video.

    The two biggest selling points are;

    1. External mike jack

    2. Able to meter with manual focus lenses

    The metering with manual lenses is a good feature to have as it means any Nikon lens (except the IX-Nikkors and a few weird ones) from 1977 will work on it, and lenses back to 1959 can be modified to fit. In a weird twist my D90 will meter in movie mode with manual lenses, so I don't know why Nikon cripples their cheaper DSLR's for still photos, all the Canons can meter with any lens you stick on it.

    For movie makers this means you get some of the advantages of an expensive movie camera at a fraction of the cost, such as wide angles, fish eyes, zooms, narrow depth of field, and so on. The external mike is necessary as all those clicks and pops you hear as you use the camera are gone.

    Just put the thing on a tripod or a shoulder mount and you're set but........what is missing is full manual controls for the movie mode and more options on frame rate/resolution. Fix those and it would be kind of hard to justify a camcorder anymore.

  12. Steve 53

    As well built as an F3?

    Give over, my F3 "Dinosaur" will be working many years after this generation of digital junk is in a landfill

    1. magnetik

      @Steve 53

      "Give over, my F3 "Dinosaur" will be working many years after this generation of digital junk is in a landfill"

      ... and the abacus I played with as a child will survive long after my laptop dies. So what?

      You know, I wonder just how long you'll be able to buy film for that F3. Companies like Fuji and Kodak are discontinuing more and more types of film every year.

      Maybe you should grow up, stop your petty film snobbery, and accept that digital is the way forward.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby


      You think the F3 is tough, had an F1 fall from a table ~42" land on its head.

      Had a dent in it, but other than the cosmetic dent, it still works like a charm.

      Now try that with any of the newer cameras.

      A hand grenade because thats how tough Nikon products are.

      BTW, while you could modify your old bayonet mounts, not worth the price.

  13. Adam T

    Canon D7

    You can shrug off the reported AF issues on the Canon D7, I've had none and none of the other owners I know have any.

    D300s has better noise levels at high iso, but this is offset somewhat by the higher resolution of the D7.

    D300s video is much more limited (if that's a motivator for you), and the D7 is getting the same (fantastic) Magic Lantern firmware support that the D5mk2 gets at the moment (, which is true game-changing stuff, especially if you're a capable programmer yourself.

    And let's not get the price facts wrong.... the D7 is currently cheaper than the D300s by a couple hundred squid. For just 400 more than the difference, you can get a 5DMk2... full frame, even better high ISO/low noise, and the rest. Get it for even less refurbished (check out Canon's e-bay shop).

  14. Neill Mitchell


    I nearly didn't post my comment about the Canon 7D because I knew we'd see loads of FUD being posted by Nikon fanciers. I always love the "last time I used a Canon for I had this problem" comments. How many years ago was that? Or the "I have heard, but never actually used one" type stuff.

    All par for the course. No doubt when the 7D gets reviewed we'll see the reverse. Canon vs Nikon is as polarised as Apple vs Windows. Chill out.

    I'm not just blinded by spec numbers. The 7D has got a radically upgraded AF and metering systems and yes, it has got proper spot metering. If I was blinded by spec numbers I'd ditch all my Canon lenses and buy a 300S because it has 51 focus points to endlessly fiddle with ;)

  15. The First Dave

    24 fps ?

    What is the point of 24 frames/sec? Is that a standard format ?

  16. Neill Mitchell


    24fps is the film movie frame rate. So yes, it is a fairly widespread standard ;)

    A lot of modern TV's now support this (often called "film mode") as BluRay movies match the original film 24fps rate. This is important because it avoids all the artefacts caused by converting 24fps to PAL (introduces a 4% speed change) and NTSC (3:2 pulldown can introduce nasty panning judder and jaggies).

    So if you record in 24fps you avoid all this. In addition it means your footage will play without conversion artefacts on any TV set that supports 24fps film mode.

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