There's nothing semi-pro about Nikon's D300 – it's a heavy hitter that even the best would be happy with
This is a rather bold statement, but the D300 is possibly – no, make that certainly – the first camera we've seen that we don't really want to complain about.
Sat just below the full-frame D3 flagship model, the D300 is aimed at the very serious enthusiast or as a back-up camera for pros. As such, it boasts just about every feature you could ever imagine needing, and even a ton you couldn't.
The most impressive thing about the D300 is its ability to minimise noise throughout the ISO range. Even up to ISO 3200 the shots are useable, even if detail is softened – preferable to the harsh blotchiness of the Canon EOS 5D, in our opinion.
Colour rendition is superb and detail excellent, although the 5D perhaps comes out on top for the latter. Exposure is also superbly controlled, with the metering system rarely fooled.
Everything you might expect is in there – dust reduction, 6fps continuous shooting and the now widespread Live View, which means you can use the LCD screen as a viewfinder like you would on a compact.
And talking of that LCD, it's an absolute beauty: 3in, 920,000 pixels and really bright.
Anyone familiar with Nikon SLRs won't have much trouble navigating their way around the controls, most of which are easily accessible. A slight niggle is the lock on the dial that switches continuous shooting modes. Still, you're likely to leave it on whichever you use most often.
Quirkier features include a full-size HDMI socket for outputting to a telly (does anyone do that?) and Active D-Lighting. The latter is a Nikon processing technology that's great for high-contrast scenes, where it can darken the light areas and lighten the dark areas so that more detail can be seen.
Probably the only negative thing worth mentioning is the lack of in-camera image stabilisation, which could force you into buying expensive stabilised lenses. Given that the slightly cheaper Olympus E-3 and Sony A700 have excellent sensor-based stabilisers, it seems a shame it was omitted from the D300. But, really, it's no biggy.
The D300 is, considering the deals available, amazing value: a pro-spec camera which is – just – within reach of us mere mortals.
Nikon D300 review
A great value DSLR that excels in low light conditions. Only the lack of image stabilisation irks
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