Nikon D300S List Price: $1,799 (body only)
Nikon’s popular D300 offered a lot to the nature photographer, including excellent image quality and autofocusing on action subjects. A more powerful EXPEED processing system improves on this and makes possible HD video recording. The 12.3-megapixel CMOS sensor has been “tweaked” for even better performance and video capture.
Retained from the D300 are the 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor with Live View (now more easily accessed via a new Live View button), a sensor-dust reduction system, 1005-pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering II, choice of 12- or 14-bit A/D conversion and a normal ISO range of 200-3200 with 100 and 6400 available.
Besides HD video and faster performance, the D300S adds a second memory-card slot; the camera can record to CompactFlash or SD/SDHC cards in a variety of combinations.
The Nikon D300S includes quick access buttons for menu controls like autofocus and auto exposure locks.
7 fps: The D300S can shoot up to 7 fps (8 fps with the optional MB-D10 battery pack), plenty fast for any wildlife action. IMPROVED ACTIVE D-LIGHTING: Active D-Lighting effectively improves detail in bright and dark areas of high-contrast scenes. You can select any of four levels, let the camera do it automatically or even shoot a bracketed series using various levels. RUGGED BODY: Featuring a magnesium-alloy body with advanced moisture and dust protection, the D300S can stand up to the outdoor environment. The shutter has been tested to 150,000 cycles. ELECTRONIC VIRTUAL HORIZON: Picked up from the all-out pro Nikon D-SLRs, the Virtual Horizon Graphic Indicator makes it easy to keep the camera aligned with the real horizon, even when it doesn’t appear in the frame. This feature can be activated in both Live View and SLR viewfinder operation. You also can activate gridlines in both Live View and viewfinder modes. STANDOUT FEATURE: Not available in the original D300, the D300S lets you record nature subjects in action, thanks to the new D-Movie feature. You can shoot 720p HD video or 640x424 or 320x216 standard video, all at 24 fps, with mono sound via a built-in microphone or stereo sound with an optional external mic. You even can use contrast-based AF while shooting. ALSO CONSIDER:NIKON D90
For about half the price, you can get the same basic image sensor, different but still excellent autofocusing on action subjects, HD video, a 3.0-inch, 920K-dot LCD monitor and more—in a more compact, albeit somewhat less rugged camera. List Price: $899.
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