1. Dual Card Slots: The D300s will accept both CompactFlash and SD memory cards via individual slots under the same door.
2. Handy Live View Button:You can activate live-view shooting simply by pressing the Live View button. 3. High-Res LCD: The D300s features the same 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor as the pro Nikon D-SLRs.
ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $1,799 (body only)
Nikon made a really good thing even better when it created the D300s by adding a number of useful new features to its very popular 12.3-megapixel D300 model. A more powerful EXPEED processing system improves image quality and performance, along with making some of the new features possible.
WIDE ISO RANGE: The D300s provides low-noise ISO settings from 200 to 3200, with expansion to 100 and 6400. Image quality for the speed is very good at all settings.
VIRTUAL HORIZON: The D300s includes the handy electronic Virtual Horizon Graphic Indicator featured in recent pro-level Nikon D-SLRs, great for keeping things level even when the real horizon doesn’t appear in the picture.
1005-PIXEL METERING: Nikon’s 1005-pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering II provides good exposures in a wide range of situations. There’s also adjustable center-weighted metering, and 2% spot metering, plus +/-5 stops of exposure compensation.
IMPROVED ACTIVE D-LIGHTING: Nikon’s Active D-Lighting effectively increases detail in bright and dark areas in high-contrast scenes. Now you can bracket up to five frames at different strengths.
One of the new features is D-Movie HD video. You can shoot 720 HD video at 24 fps as with the D90 and D5000, but the D300s provides contrast-detect AF during shooting, as well as a new external microphone jack, allowing for both off-camera sound recording and stereo sound. And you can shoot your movies with the wide range of excellent Nikkor lenses available for the D300s.
The D300s offers the same AF features as the top pro Nikons: There are 51 AF points, and you can choose any single one, let the camera select one or engage 9-, 21- or 51-point Dynamic Area AF for moving subjects. With 51-point 3D tracking, the camera even uses color data to help track the subject.
Retained from the D300 is your choice of 12- or 14-bit A/D conversion; 14-bit conversion produces four times as many tones or color shades as 12-bit, but slows the maximum shooting rate. You also can choose to shoot lossless compressed or uncompressed RAW images, or even TIFFs, as well as JPEGs at three sizes and compressions.
Like the D300, the D300s provides two Live View modes. Handheld mode uses the same quick phase-detection AF system employed for normal shooting; and Tripod, with contrast-based AF from anywhere in the image, is ideal for still subjects like landscapes.
STANDOUT FEATURE: The D300s can shoot up to 7 fps (8 fps with the optional MB-D10 battery pack). VERDICT: The D300s is an excellent choice for most any photography, especially well suited to quick action shooting. The video capability adds even more creative possibilities.
The D90 features essentially the same image sensor as the D300s and also provides HD video capability (albeit without the AF and stereo capability), but costs about half as much. The D300s is more rugged and quicker, with a better AF system, but the D90’s AF system can handle birds in flight. The D90 can shoot up to 4.5 fps, has the same 3.0-inch, 920K-dot LCD monitor as high-end Nikon D-SLRs and incorporates sensor-dust removal. List Price: $999.
The D700 features the same full-frame, 12.1-megapixel sensor and superb image quality as the D3, even at very high ISO settings—you can set up to ISO 25,600, and ISO 6400 is good enough for regular use. It’s considerably smaller and lighter than the D3, and costs some $2,000 less. It’s not as rugged as the D3, and slower (the D3 can shoot 9 fps in full-frame mode and 11 fps in DX mode vs. a still-swift 5 fps for the D700), but is well built (on par with the D300s) and a great deal for low-light/high-ISO shooters. List Price: $2,999.