Nikon D300 Digital Camera Review

The 12.3-megapixel Nikon D300 updates the older D200 with more resolution on a new CMOS sensor that promises improved noise control. The D300 is the first DSLR in Nikon’s line to include dust reduction, and sits between the $999 D80 and the $3,499 D2Hs.

$1,799.95 MSRP
Buy now at Amazon

Physical Tour

Front (8.0)

The front of the Nikon D300 has a well-defined right hand grip covered in a rubber material that is textured to look like leather. Near the top is Nikon’s hallmark red swath that sits just below the sub-command dial. Above the dial, the hand grip slopes upward to the top. The shutter release button is surrounded by the power switch, and behind it are two buttons for exposure compensation and mode that can all be seen from the front.

To the right of the shutter release area is the large and bright autofocus assist lamp that also shoots out beams when it acts as a self-timer indicator. Below it is a depth of field preview button and, at the bottom, a function button. These are just within reach of the right fingertips.

Just where it should be is the lens mount with its metal couplings and the half-moon lens release button to its right. Directly above the lens mount is the classic Nikon logo where the pop-up flash folds into the top of the camera body. Just below the lens release button, the side of the focus mode selector can be seen.

In the upper right corner is the D300 logo. Just below it are two rubber covers that together look like a single oval. They open to reveal the flash sync terminal on the top and the remote terminal on the bottom.


Back (9.0)

The back of the D300 is littered with buttons and controls and, of course, the glorious 3-inch high-resolution LCD screen. The LCD is positioned below the viewfinder and comes with a thin plastic cover to protect it. There is a Nikon logo at the bottom. Along the left side of the LCD is a column of five buttons. From the top to the bottom, they include: menu, info/help/protect, thumbnail/playback zoom out, playback zoom in, and OK (this was called "enter" on the D200).

In the upper left corner of the back are the playback and delete/format buttons. Above them, the grooved edge of the drive mode dial can be seen. To the right of these features and directly above the LCD is the optical viewfinder surrounded by a removable rubber eyecup. The diopter adjustment control peeks out from the upper right corner of the viewfinder, while the hot shoe sits at the apex above the viewfinder.

To the right of the finder is an auto exposure and autofocus lock surrounded by a metering selector. To its right is a button labeled AF-on that acts the same as pushing the shutter release halfway and is used mainly when shooting with the live view. The main command dial sits in the upper right corner of the D300’s back.

To the right of the LCD is a nickel-sized multi-selector with a focus selector lock around it. Below this combination of controls is a round switch that moves between three autofocus area modes. Between the multi-selector and the autofocus area switch is a tiny LED labeled "CF" that shows when the memory card is being accessed. At the very bottom of the camera is a lever that is tightly spring-loaded but, when turned, releases the memory card door on the right side of the camera. The right edge of the camera has the same rubber material used on the front, and there is a lip on the camera that makes it a little easier to hold.


**Left Side (8.5)

**The left side of this DSLR shows the drive selector dial at the top and the sturdy chrome neck strap lug just below it. Near the front of the camera is the flash pop-up button with the flash mode and compensation beneath it. By the lens mount, the side of the lens release button can be seen. Below it is the focus mode selector that moves between Continuous, Single, and Manual servo modes.

Where the left hand actually wraps around the camera (when not cradling the lens) is a rubber coating that matches the other gripping surfaces on the camera body. Near the back is an inconspicuous cover that is sturdier than the average rubber cover. It opens to reveal a large area with four ports. The video-out jack is on top, the HDMI connector is just below it, the DC-in adapter jack is next, and the high-speed USB function is at the very bottom.


Right Side (7.0)

The right side seems very bland when compared to the other angles of the camera body. That’s a good thing, though. This is where the right hand supports the bulk of the camera’s weight. The only mentionable features from this side are the tightly sealed memory card compartment that can only be opened from the back, and the neck strap lug near the top.



The top of this DSLR shows a few more controls and dials. On the left side is the release mode dial, which peeks out on the back and shows which drive mode is selected. This dial remains stiff and can only turn when the half-moon button above it is pushed. There are three buttons in its center for image quality, white balance, and ISO.

The viewfinder hump sits above the lens mount and shows where the pop-up flash comes up near the front. At the back is the D300’s hot shoe. On the right side is a large monochrome LCD panel that shows shooting information. Above the right side of this LCD is the shutter release button surrounded by the power switch, and two buttons for mode/format and exposure compensation. These controls tilt from the front toward the front and are visible from both the top and front angles.


Bottom (8.0)

The bottom of the camera shows a thin plastic door under the hand grip where the battery fits into its compartment. There is also a rubber cover that surrounds two sides of the battery compartment and houses contacts to communicate with the optional battery grip. Directly below the lens is a ridged rubber surface that also has a metal tripod socket centered on it.


Comparable Products

Before you buy the Nikon D300, take a look at these other cameras.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.


  1. Physical Tour
  2. Testing/Performance
  3. Components
  4. Design / Layout
  5. Modes
  6. Control Options
  7. Image Parameters
  8. Connectivity / Extras
  9. Overall Impressions
  10. Conclusion
  11. Sample Photos
  12. Specs / Ratings