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The Camera of My Dreams (But know what you're buying)
on December 7, 2009
Hello everybody, My name is Daniel and I am about as serious as you can be and still be considered "amateur". I have been taking photos on SLR's since I was 10 years old on an old film Minolta and I bought my first DSLR (a Nikon D50) and since then I have owned everything from a base line Canon XSi all the way up to the the best camera I have ever handled... the D300s. I have operated the D3, D3s, D3x and the top of the line professional $10k Canons, and this is still my favorite ALL AROUND camera. So here is the break down to why I love this camera and I will give you a list of pros and cons. I love this camera for many reasons... [...]... not many people can justify spending another $4,000 (2-3 times the money) when they are looking to spend around $1,500- $2,000 for a good DSLR. So here is the benefits that I see to D300s over the other great Nikon models.
1. if you are into sports the D300s has a higher continuous frame rate than other models including the ever so popular full frame D700. With it's DX sensor it has a crop factor of 1.5 which means more bang for you buck when using a telephoto zoom lens. If you purchase the MB-D10 battery pack it will shoot at even higher speeds of 8fps when using continuous shooting and also allows for up to nearly 5,000 pictures to be taken on one charge (when upgraded battery is purchased). With 51 auto-focus and 3-D tracking you are almost guaranteed to have your subject in focus every time you take a picture. The D300s also features Active D Lighting which makes to so your pictures end up properly exposed so you don't end up with areas of under and over exposure which tend to be common in sports and in shadowy landscape photography
2. Freedom: although all Nikon DSLR's allow you to manually adjust your settings they are difficult to change until you get to the semi-pro D300 model. If you understand f-stops, DOF, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focus points, light metering and other technical jargon and really want to experiment with all of these then a D300s is the camera for you. with shooting modes including: single, cont. low speed, high speed, timer, quiet, and mirror up mode this camera gives you all the freedom you could ever ask for.
3. Learning: this camera will make you learn the true in's and out's of photography. With the very accurate light meter it's not very hard to get the exposure right. No matter what your ISO and f stop is at.
4. User interface. With the dedicated live view and info button new to the D300s over the original D300 it cuts menu times down significantly however it no longer has the memory card hatch release switch. The D300s includes great features such as custom menus, easy to understand menus with the classic (?) button which will explain every camera function in easy to understand terms. On the fly changes include ISO, WB, Quality, shooting modes, a user adjusted fn button, AF/AE lock, light metering, and af adjustments. So the only limitations are your imagination. Selecting your focal point is as easy as looking in the viewfinder and pushing the directional button and watching the selector move around until you have exactly the right spot selected. With two selectors (one for shutter speed and one for f stop) it allows you to never have to take your eye out out of the viewfinder.
The bottom line (why you would choose this over any other Nikon DSLR):
why you'd choose this over the D90: 51point AF w/ 3D tracking, more fps, control of image adjustments, not much more money for a lot more freedom and creativity, contrast auto-focusing during movies, ability to utilize dual card slots (CF and SD), 14bit RAW, Active D Lighting.
Over the D700: full 12MP when using DX lenses rather than 5MP, more fps, $600-$1,000 less, movie mode, smaller pixels for more refinement at low ISO, 100% viewfinder coverage
Over the D3 and D3x: A ton of money, shooting speed, optimization of DX and FX lenses and movie mode, and built in flash, 100% viewfinder coverage which allows for better framing.
This is a great camera HOWEVER NOTE THE FOLLOWING!!!!!
The D700, D3,x,s have FX photo sensors which allow for a much bigger and brighter view finder, it also allows for a wider view (no crop factor instead of 1.5x like the DX) which means if you want more area in your pictures for such things as landscapes then the D700 or the D3 lineup maybe a better option because a 50mm lens in a DX camera looks the same as a 75mm lens on an FX camera.
The D700 and D3 lineup (minus the D3x) utilize the large FX sensor and still only have a 12MP capacity which means that the pixels are larger which allows for better depth of color, better definition in shadows, and better high ISO clarity. The D300 can go to extended ISO of 6400 however the image quality is poor at best when the D3 can shoot ISO 6400 all day long and look great. The D700 also does better at high ISOs than the D300 does because it has the same sensor as the D3 however the D3 still does better than the D700 at extreme ISOs. However also consider the fact that the smaller the image sensor the larger the depth of field so the D700 and the D3 are better for macro or portrait photography and the D300 will give you a larger DOF equivalent to about one f-stop.
THIS IS NOT A VIDEO CAMERA video is pretty good and the utilization of lenses is a great feature however if you want good video spend the money on a video camera. Even a Flip HD does better. The camera produces good video but it doesn't do well during panning if you plan on putting the camera on a tripod and filming then by all means its fine and with the option for an external mic to give you stereo sound is nice.
When it comes to portability, price, features, weight, usability, image adjustments ect. I personally believe it doesn't get any better I hope this review helped and I hope you get one too and really enjoy it as much as I have. This camera is the best of all worlds. I say save the money from an FX camera and buy a really nice lens or two or three for that matter. Anyway here is the camera of my dreams and hopefully the camera in your bag shortly I promise you'll love it, I know I do.
UPDATE: For all you HDR photographers look no further than the D300s you can easily create HDR photos by selecting "multiple exposures" and then setting up multi-step exposures for + or - EV per exposure and after the exposures are done voila you have a beautiful HDR photo. Keep in mind however: you will need a cable release (I recommend the MC-36) for the multiple exposures. OR take a few pictures at different exposures and overlay the photos in the in camera retouch menu and there you have it perfect HDR photos every time! Goodbye Photoshop (for HDR anyway)
The D300s and flash compatibility: I have noticed almost no one has talked about the fantastic flash compatibility with the D300s over many cameras. I figured it needed to be covered so here it goes: The D300s is a DREAM to work with when paired with any Nikon Speedlight Dynamic Lighting System. My favorite and most frequently used flash is the SB-600 Speedlight which can be wirelessly operated for NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE with the D300s, you just have to know what settings to change. Unlike the D3 which has to either have a hot shoe flash controller unit or an SB-800 ($900) the D300s can operate a nearly unlimited number of flashes wirelessly without any accessories. So if you are like so many other Nikon users and own an SB-600 just push and hold the "Zoom" and the "-" button at the same time until you get to custom menu and cycle through until you can adjust the squiggly Z shaped line and turn it to on and it defaults to channel 3 then either push and hold the "zoom" and "-" button to get out of the menu or just push the power button. Then go to the "Custom Setting Menu" (the pencil) on your D300s and change "e3" "flash cntrl for built-in flash" to the Commander mode and set to channel 3, and pop up your built in flash and there you go...ABSOLUTELY FREE WIRELESS FLASH with perfect exposure compensation every time using a $250 flash unit. Hope it helps someone I know it helped me so have fun and remember to change it back to TTL flash when you're done.
UPDATE #2: I have had a lot of question on why you would get this over a D300 and here you go the main reasons for buying the D300s over the D300 is the designated info button, and live view button, movie mode, designated okay button instead of one crappy directional selector, quiet mode AND dual memory card slots. It's also 7 months newer so you won't have an out dated camera as soon. It also has slightly different menus and new software for shooting modes including landscape, and portrait modes.