Despite the amount of room for all the switches and dials, your nose may tend to locate the four-way rocker switch when you go to take a photo, and inadvertently change your focus or aperture point. When your nose is not controlling the settings, you will find that four-way rocker an easy control mechanism for the extensive internal memory.
It is very easy to feel inundated with complex settings, which may deter a first-time photographer, but it does make fine-tuning your camera's settings down to the nth degree very doable.
The D300 really shows off its image quality when in low-light situations. With an ISO of 500, f-stop in the 2.8-4 range, and a shutter speed of around 1/30sec, night time party and street shots turned out well with a good balance of sharpness and exposure. Not to neglect its daytime performance, the D300 manages to squeeze off multiple shots very quickly in burst mode without compensating the image quality.
We were quickly disappointed when we attached the heavy wide-angle lens to the body and attempted to use the built in flash on the camera, as the bulbous physicality of the lens blocked the light from covering the entire image frame and we were left with a dark, semi-circle patch of image in the bottom 8th of the photo.
As mentioned in the performance section, the image quality is phenomenal, and that is only at "high" quality. In order to maintain a good balance between the numbers of photos left in memory and the size/quality of the images, we did not run the camera at its maximum 12.3mpx setting, but chose the next option in the menu -- 10-megapixels -- instead. This reviewer doesn't intend on blowing any images up to poster size, but if you do, the D300 would be a perfect model for the job.
When zoomed close in on the photo, the sharpness of the image really stands out. Even in the softer low-light situations, the edges and fine lines don't blur into the background. When sat on a tripod and opening its depth of field wide open, the whole image is captured in pristine detail. One standout feature of the D300 is its colour saturation levels. Brilliant colours are achieved in high and low light environments.
If you don't mind a swinging around a large camera, enjoy playing with settings and speeds, and have an eye for detail then this camera will satisfy your hunger. On the other hand, if you just want something to casually to take photos with, and don't like to fiddle then perhaps start with a compact camera. The D300 compensates for its size and complexity with very impressive image quality.