Nikon D300s adds video capture

The D300 replacement incorporates D90-comparable video capture and a slight bump in continuous-shooting speed.

Nikon's D300s
Nikon's D300s Nikon USA

Though Nikon fans on message boards around the Web were hoping today's announcements would include a "D700x," we'll all have to settle for a not-too-shabby replacement for the D300 instead. Along with the D40's update, the D3000, and a pair of lens replacements, Nikon unveiled the D300s, which most notably includes support for 720p video capture.

The D300s incorporates the same video engine as that of the D90, which, at 720p resolution but limited to 24fps, isn't the greatest video we've seen, but it's significantly better than nothing. And the D300s goes it one better by supporting autofocus during recording--though we'll have to see how usably implemented that is--and use the Picture Controls to adjust the tone and color. The camera also has a stereo mic input.

Here's how it compares to line mates old and new:

 Nikon D90Nikon D300Nikon D300sNikon D700
Sensor (effective resolution)12.3-megapixel CMOS12.3-megapixel CMOS12.1-megapixel CMOS12.1-megapixel CMOS
23.6 mm x 15.8mm23.6 mm x 15.8mm23.6mm x 15.8mm36mm x 23.9mm
Magnification factor1.5x1.5x1.5x1.0x
Sensitivity rangeISO 100 (expanded)/200 - ISO 3,200/6,400 (expanded)ISO 100 (expanded)/200 - ISO 3,200/6,400 (expanded)ISO 100 (expanded)/200 - ISO 1,600/3,200 (expanded)ISO 100 (expanded)/200 - ISO 6,400/25,600 (expanded)
Continuous shooting4.5fps
n/a
6fps
n/a raw/100 JPEG
7fps
n/a raw/100 JPEG
5fps
17 raw/100 JPEG
Viewfinder
magnification/effective magnification
96% coverage
0.94x/0.63
100% coverage
0.94x/0.63x
100% coverage
0.94x/0.63x
95% coverage
0.72x/0.72x
Autofocus11-pt AF
center cross-type
51-pt AF
15 cross-type
51-pt AF
15 cross-type
51-pt AF
15 cross-type
Live ViewYesYesYesYes
Video720p at 24fpsNo720p at 24fpsNo
LCD size3 inches fixed
920,000 dots
3 inches fixed
920,000 dots
3 inches fixed
920,000 dots
3 inches fixed
920,000 dots
Shutter durability100,000150,000 cycles150,000 cycles150,000 cycles
Battery life (CIPA rating)850 shots1,000 shots950 shots1,000 shots
Dimensions (inches, WHD)5.2x4.1x3.05.8x4.5x2.95.8x4.5x2.95.8x4.8x3.0
Body operating weight (ounces)2632.632.6 (estimated)38.7
Mfr. Price (body only)$999.95$1,799.95$1,799.95$2,999.95

Even if you don't care much about the video aspects of the camera, there's quite a bit here for photography purists, too. While the body and performance remain relatively unchanged--the continuous shooting rate is bumped by 1 fps, Nikon has tweaked both the Live View and standard AF systems, and there's some accelerated image processing, but that that's about it--the D300s adds dual CF and SD card slots (yay!), streamlined Live View operation, and a quiet shutter release mode. If you use the on-camera flash, note that the wide-angle coverage has expanded to 16mm.

There really aren't any direct competitors for the current D300 and the D300s looks to be in the same solitary segment:

 Nikon D300sOlympus E-3Canon EOS 50D
Sensor (effective resolution)12.1-megapixel CMOS10.1-megapixel Live MOS15.1-megapixel CMOS
23.6mmx15.8mm17.3 mmx13mm 22.3mmx14.9mm
Magnification factor1.5x2.0x1.6x
Sensitivity rangeISO 100 (expanded)/200 - ISO 1,600/3,200 (expanded)ISO 100 - ISO 3,200ISO 100 - ISO 3,200/12,800 (expanded)
Continuous shooting7fps
n/a raw/100 JPEG
4fps
16 raw/unlimited JPEG
6.3fps
16 raw/90 JPEG
Viewfinder
magnification/effective magnification
100% coverage
0.94x/0.63x
100% coverage
1.15x/0.58x
95% coverage
0.95x/0.59x
Autofocus51-pt AF
15 cross-type
11-pt AF
all cross-type
9-pt AF
all cross-type
Live ViewYesYesYes
Video720p at 24fpsNoNo
LCD size3 inches fixed
920,000 dots
2.5 inches articulated
230,000 dots
3 inches fixed
920,000 dots
Shutter durability150,000 cyclesn/a150,000 cycles
Battery life (CIPA rating)950 shots610 shots640 shots
Dimensions (inches, WHD)5.8x4.5x2.95.6x4.6x2.95.7x4.2x2.9
Body operating weight (ounces)32.6 (estimated)31.629.8
Mfr. Price (body only)$1,799.95$1,399.99$1,199

However, Canon has a press event scheduled for August 19 and rumors abound that a video-capable replacement for the didn't-set-the-world-on-fire 50D is a possibility. That might shake things up a bit.

Expect to see the D300s on your virtual store shelves at the end of August.

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