In terms of its stills capability the D300s is superb - one of the very best cameras in this test - but sadly the plaudits don't extend to the camera's video performance.
Essentially an update of the hugely popular D300, the movie mode is the main addition on the ‘s' version, along with twin CF/SD media card slots. The camera can be set so that you record stills to one card and video to the other, among other permutations.
The video specification is almost identical to that of the D5000, however, apart from the inclusion of an external mic port for stereo audio. There is also the ability to trim the start and end points of your clips afterwards.
Controls are the same as on the D5000. Focus is manual and the aperture must be pre-set before selecting live view. There is no direct shortcut to the video, nor is there any marking on the camera such as a movie icon, to tell you where it is.
The D300s also employs the AVI Motion JPEG format, offering a restrictive five-minute clip length at the highest 720p HD quality, and 20 minutes in the two non-HD modes.
Outdoors with a good light source the video picture quality can be fairly impressive, although moving subjects are still prone to the rolling shutter problem and the audio quality is not great. Although you can add an external mic for stereo sound, the sampling rate remains a very low 11kHz, a mere quarter of its rivals' rates.
Like the D5000, in lower light the limitations of the video mode come to the fore, with high noise, weak colours and poor dynamic range.
There's clearly the scope for Nikon to make a decent HD movie enabled DSLR, if the full-frame models are anything to go by, but neither the D5000 or D300s are in the same ball park as Canon, Panasonic or Pentax on the video front.
For a camera making HD movie one of its major features,
the D300s is disappointing overall.
|Video Resolution||1280 x 720|
|Maximum Clip Length||5 Minutes|
|Built-in Audio||Mono, 11 KHz|
|Memory Card||CF, SD/SDHC|
|Sockets||Mic, USB, HDMI, AV|
|Video Focus Modes||AF, MF|
|Dimensions||147 x 114 x 74mm|
Impressive LCD screen quality, external mic port
Average video quality, poor sound
Stars: 3.5 out of 5