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CNET First Look
CNET First Look
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>> Lori Grunin: Hi. I'm Lori Grunin, Senior Editor for CNET, and this is the Nikon D300S. The D300S is the follow-up to the D300, which admittedly is a great camera. Now, the D300S maintains Nikon's tradition of a really great, fast mid-ranged camera in the, you know, $1,800 range, but it doesn't improve a lot on the older model. So, frankly, if you have a D300, don't feel so much envy. One, of course, of the most touted new features of the D300S is its video capture. It does 720p at 24 frames per second, which is essentially the same as the D90. The video quality is fine. It's, it's pretty much the same as the D90. You can make it induce the jello-rolling phenomenon that some people have complained about, but for the most part, it's pretty steady as long as you hold the camera steady. There are a few more controls. You can use picture styles, etc. as well as, it supports auto focus during movie capture, but it's really not very practical. So I wouldn't even consider trying it. Unfortunately, the live view auto focus, which is what you use during movie capture, is really slow, and the lenses are kind of noisy while you're using it. And of course, one of the nicest carryovers from the D300 is the big, bright viewfinder that has a 100 percent coverage. One new feature in the D300S is it now has dual card slots. In this case, it's compact flash and SD. The implementation is just like you see on higher-end models with the ability to set it to overflow, to duplicate the photos, or to, say, put video on one card and stills on the other. Nikon has also tweaked the performance of the camera. It's just as fast, if not faster, than the D300 in a lot of ways including one more frame per second in the continuous shooting rate. The one area in which it hasn't really changed is the image quality. Now, on one hand, the D300 had really nice image quality, and this has the same sensor and seemingly the same image processing. So I was kind of disappointed that its high ISO sensitivity performance hadn't improved. It's just about the same as the D300. But given that it's a 12 megapixel sensor, which is kind of low compared to others in its class these days, I would have expected to see better performance at higher ISO's given all the time Nikon has had to work on it. The D300S uses the same fundamental body design as the D300, which means it's really sturdy, and for the most part, very well laid out. Definitely a shooter's camera, but I'm really unhappy with the multi-selector. I don't like the feel of it. It feels kind of mushy when you're navigating around, and it doesn't always register the, the button presses that you make, and because you use it so often, it really impacts the feel and the usability of the camera. But like the D300, it's incredibly well built, weather-sealed, and it's a little heavier than the D300, but still comfortable shooter's design. Given that there are only a few changes between the older model and this one, if you can find a deal on the D300, I suggest you try that, and spend the extra on a really nice lens. If you buy the D300S, I don't think you'll be disappointed. It really is a good camera. It's just a little disappointing relative to how surprising and wonderful the D300 felt at the time. I'm Lori Grunin, and this is the Nikon D300S.
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