Nikon D300s Review

October 5, 2009 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


This summer, nearly two years after the introduction of the D300, Nikon announced its successor, the D300s. The new model adds 720p HD video capture with optional autofocus, in-camera video editing, an on-board mono microphone and a stereo microphone input, a dedicated button for Live View access, dual memory card slots, faster continuous shooting, a new Quiet drive mode, a Virtual Horizon to aid you in keeping the camera level, a redesigned eight-way controller with a centred set button, plus an all-new Info button and on-demand screen tips for new users. Pretty much everything else is unchanged from the D300, including the environmentally sealed magnesium-alloy body, the twelve-megapixel DX sensor, the large optical viewfinder with 100% frame coverage and the fixed 3 inch rear screen with 921,000 dots. The Nikon D300s costs £1499.99 / €1821.00 / $1799.95 body only.

Ease of Use

Pick up the Nikon D300s and you'll instantly feel that this is a tool designed for serious work. The body is extremely well made, and fits your hands like the proverbial glove. Based on the published specs, I expected the camera to be quite heavy – but in real use, it didn't weigh me down at all. It's dense with metal, but its excellent weight distribution and superb ergonomics prevent it from feeling like a burden. At first I thought this was only so because Nikon supplied it with the compact and lightweight 35mm f1.8G lens (which we recently reviewed), but now, having used the D300s with a number of other lenses as well, I still think that it feels much less heavy than you would expect based on the specs alone.

The body shape and dimensions are nigh on identical to the D300, and most of the controls are in the same location too. And there are many of them – respecting the requirements of the working pro, Nikon has provided dedicated external controls for almost all of the frequently used functions, and there are a couple of customisable buttons as well. All this makes for quick and easy operation in the field (once you have familiarised yourself with the camera, that is).

One thing that may surprise users trading up from a consumer-oriented model is the lack of an exposure mode dial. Like the other pro cameras from Nikon – and Canon too, for that matter –, the Nikon D300s has a Mode button instead, which you need to hold depressed while spinning the rear control wheel in order to change the exposure mode. There are two main reasons for this: firstly, it prevents inadvertent changes; and secondly, a button takes up much less real estate than a conventional mode dial. Given that the Nikon D300s offers no scene modes, it would have been almost foolish – though not entirely unheard of – to dedicate an entire dial to just four settings; P, A, S and M.

On the other hand the drive mode options, which are often buried in a menu on cheaper and smaller cameras, have their own dial on the D300s. It is located left of the pentaprism housing on the top of the camera, but it won't be immediately obvious to those unfamiliar with top-end Nikon cameras. This is because the drive mode dial – called the release mode dial by Nikon – is in fact found beneath a cluster of three large buttons that provide quick access to the ISO, white balance and image quality settings. A locking pin prevents the dial from accidental bumps – you need to hold it down in order to turn the dial. The available drive modes include single-frame advance, low-speed continuous capture (with the ability to customise frame rate between 1 and 7fps) , high-speed continuous shooting (7fps, up from 6 in the D300; or 8fps if the optional MB-10 battery pack is attached), self-timer, mirror up and a new Quiet mode. The last of these, first seen on the Nikon D5000, allows the photographer to delay the mirror return and the cocking of the shutter until [s]he lets go of the shutter release button. Also, the focus confirmation beep is automatically silenced in this mode, even if you haven't turned it off via the menu. Given that the D300s' mirror is inherently louder than the D5000's, the Quiet mode is still not as quiet as it is on that camera, but neither is it as loud as the other modes.

Nikon D300s Nikon D300s
Front Rear

Speaking of which, it has to be noted that we are unsure if having mirror lock-up (MLU) separated from the self-timer was a wise idea. This implementation requires the photographer to press the shutter release button twice: once to lock up the mirror, and once again to actually release the shutter. As this can cause unwanted vibration, it kind of beats the point of mirror lock-up, unless one uses a separately sold, proprietary remote cord (which connects to a 10-pin remote terminal hiding behind a hinged rubber flap on the front of the camera). There are two workarounds: you can wait about thirty seconds taking no action after raising the mirror, in which case a picture is taken automatically, or use the so-called Exposure Delay Mode instead (accessible via Custom Setting d10 in the menu), which introduces a fixed one-second delay between mirror up and exposure. While either of these solutions work – and arguably the kind of folks who will actually use mirror lock-up are likely to purchase a remote release cable anyway –, we still think it would have made more sense to combine MLU with the self-timer, whose duration can be specified by the user.

Live View is no longer treated as a drive mode option, and is thus no longer accessed via the release mode dial. Instead, it now has a dedicated button on the rear panel – a logical and welcome improvement over the D300, although it's one of only two buttons that we feel are a little too recessed to operate easily (the other one is the also-new Info button). Live View comes in two flavours, 'Hand-held' and 'Tripod'. In 'Hand-held' mode, you can use either the AF-ON button or a half-press of the shutter release to initiate autofocus, whereby the mirror is lowered and the AF sensors are engaged. This interrupts the live view, which does not even resume automatically when focus is acquired; only when you let go of the shutter release (or AF-ON) button. The whole procedure is cumbersome and involves lots of mirror slapping, but at the end of the day, it's still the faster way if you want to use AF in live view. Because in the aptly named 'Tripod' mode, it takes a lot more time for the camera to acquire focus, as it uses a contrast-detect method which Nikon's lenses are not optimised for. The undeniable advantage of this mode is that focusing does not interrupt the live view feed, and there is less mirror slapping. Note though that in 'Tripod' mode, you can only use the AF-ON button for autofocus; there is no other option.

Obviously you don't have to use AF when using live view – in fact, one of the key benefits of this feature is that it's an excellent manual-focus aid. There is a red rectangle in the middle of the screen, which you can move practically anywhere in the frame. In manual focus mode, you can magnify into this rectangle simply by repeatedly pressing the button marked with a loupe icon. Using this function, I got the impression that the view at full magnification was less fuzzy than on the D90 I reviewed last year.

The availability of a Virtual Horizon is one of the few improvements the Nikon D300s boasts over its predecessor. It is a levelling tool that debuted in the manufacturer's FX cameras – the D300s is the first DX body to offer it. The Virtual Horizon is a useful aid to avoid slanted horizons and bevelled verticals, although given that it only indicates left/right tilt, it is ultimately less sophisticated than the dual-axis electronic level gauge found on the Olympus E-30 and E-P1 cameras.

Nikon D300s Nikon D300s
Top Pop-up Flash

One thing I found strange about Nikon's live view implementation was that you could not switch directly to playback mode, as the Playback button is idle until you exit live view. Another oddity is the lack of a live histogram, which makes Live View much less useful than it could be. Finally, while the three-inch, 921,000-dot LCD is extremely nice to look at, there will inevitably be people who wonder why it isn't articulated.

Perhaps the most important new feature is the D300s' movie mode. Whilst the D300 was strictly a stills camera, the D300s can also shoot 720p high-definition video at 24 frames per second. Its movie mode is thus quite similar to that of the D90 and the D5000, with two notable differences. One is that apart from the built-in monaural microphone, the D300s also offers a stereo sound recording option via an all-new stereo mic input. The separately sold external microphone can be mounted to the flash hot-shoe – a sensible design solution given that you don't use flash while recording video anyway. The other difference versus the D90 and the D5000 is that you can use autofocus while filming, by way of pressing the AF-ON button. Don't get too excited about this option though – the contrast-detect autofocus method employed is so slow that there is no way it can keep up with anything that moves; which makes it completely useless for video. Really, it seems as if Nikon took an “if-that's-what-you-want-you-can-have-it” approach to providing AF for movies, without doing anything to make it actually useful.

All these new features shouldn't distract from the fact that the Nikon D300s is, first and foremost, an SLR camera – so let us now take a look at how it performs at its more traditional functions. The optical viewfinder, which is one of the most important parts of any SLR, is about as good as it gets with a cropped-sensor camera: it's fairly big, very bright and 100% accurate. Also, I found it very good for manual focusing; at least in reasonably decent light. The D300s' 51-point autofocus module, unchanged from the D300, is also a true pleasure to use. Thankfully, the AF points aren't engraved on the focusing screen, so you only see the one in use. Selecting the active AF point is done by way of the eight-way pad, unless the focus selector lock is in the L (=Locked) position. I have found this multi-controller to be a little too small for my tastes, and not as dependable as I would like it to be – but at least the centred button is a nice addition.

Still on the topic of autofocus, the D300s has three distinct AF area modes, auto-area, in which the camera decides what to focus on, dynamic area and single-point AF. The latter is what you will want to use most of the time, as it gives you the freedom of choosing which AF point you would like the camera to use, depending on where the main subject falls within the frame. Dynamic-area AF is the best solution when using continuous autofocus to track a moving subject. In this mode, you also select the focus point manually, but after that, the D300s attempts to track the subject even if it leaves the selected focus point. The number of AF points used for this can be selected from 9, 21 and 51 via Custom Setting a3. If '51 points (3D tracking)' is selected, the camera will track the subject across the entire frame using colour information from the 1005-pixel RGB metering sensor. In the field, it was quite astounding to see 3D focus tracking in action. Acknowledging that minor misalignment between certain lenses and bodies can occur and may lead to front- or back-focussing issues, Nikon has provided an option to fine-tune focus for up to 12 lens types. This is not a new feature, but an important one nonetheless.

Nikon D300s Nikon D300s
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

Unlike the manufacturer's cheaper DSLR models that are more or less restricted in terms of compatible optics, the Nikon D300s can be used with most any F-mount lens produced since 1977, with very few exceptions that are all listed in the manual. To get matrix metering with lenses lacking a built-in CPU, you need to manually enter the lens' focal length and maximum aperture via the 'Non-CPU lens data' menu item in the Setup menu. This will not only give you open-aperture colour matrix metering, but also allow the D300s to display the working aperture on the status LCD as soon as you change it via the aperture ring on the lens, and record both the focal length and the actual aperture value in the EXIF. I tested this feature using an old Horizont branded F-mount lens, and it was quite astounding to see the f-number change on the top LCD while I rotated the aperture ring on the old lens. Not only that, the pictures themselves came out perfectly exposed, with no need to tweak exposure compensation in Aperture Priority mode. And while manual-focus lenses obviously won't autofocus, the D300s' AF sensors remain active, and the green focus confirmation dot will light up when the subject is in focus. Neat!

Using newer lenses is completely straightforward; all you need to do is mount them. All AF lenses will autofocus on the D300s, not only those with a built-in AF motor. This is again something that sets this camera apart from the entry-level offerings.

As opposed to the D300, which recorded images to CompactFlash Type I and II cards and Microdrives, the D300s takes only Type I cards, but adds a very welcome secondary card slot for SD/SDHC media. The implementation of the dual card slots is exemplary: you can tell the camera to record every image simultaneously on both cards for instant backup, or designate one card to store raw files and the other for JPEGs, or use the secondary card for “overflow” - you name it. Thumbs up to Nikon for executing this the right way. Speaking of memory cards, we need to note that the card compartment door is now of the “slide-and-open” variety, which inspires a bit less confidence than the sturdier solution found on the D300; though to be fair it did not cause any issues during the review.

The Nikon D300s draws power from the same EN-EL3e battery as the D300, with Nikon claiming a battery life of approximately 950 shots as per CIPA standards. This is without any Live View use or movie shooting though, so expect a lot less from the battery if you plan on using these functions on a regular basis. Excessive chimping and a few other factors can also reduce the number of shots that can be taken on one charge. By default, the Nikon D300s displays the remaining battery life using a five-segment battery icon, but you can also view it in a much more accurate percentage format via the menu. The battery compartment door is located sufficiently far away from the tripod socket to allow for a battery change even when the camera is mounted on a tripod.

This concludes our evaluation of the handling and feature set of the Nikon D300s. It's time to take a look at the other side of the equation – image quality.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6.5Mb.

During the review, the Nikon D300s produced images of excellent quality. Resolution at base ISO proved enough for some seriously big prints, particularly when using a truly sharp lens. Noise, while detectable if you deliberately looked for it, did not pose a real problem until you went above ISO 1600, and even then it remained low enough to to allow small to mid-sized prints to be made (though saturation did drop noticeably beyond ISO 3200). Active D-lighting managed to squeeze most of the dynamic range captured by the sensor into the JPEGs the camera produced. Red-eye was not a common occurrence with the built-in flash. The camera also proved very well suited to night photography, with no hot pixels appearing in night shots, even with long-exposure noise reduction turned off. The multiple exposure function also worked well, further expanding the creative possibilities of this camera.


The base sensitivity of the Nikon D300s is ISO 200, but you can go down to ISO 100 using the expanded sensitivity setting of L1.0. At the other end of the scale, you can dial in ISO 3200, or even 6400, the latter of which also comes as an expanded setting, called H1.0. The ISO speed can be adjusted in 1/3 EV increments. The 100% crops below are from photos taken at “full” ISO speeds from ISO 100 through ISO 6400, with High ISO NR turned off. The Nikon D300s also has ISO Sensitivity Auto Control, activated from the shooting menu. If set to On, the camera will automatically adjust the sensitivity if proper exposure cannot be achieved at the value chosen by the photographer. The user can put a limit on the maximum sensitivity selectable by the camera.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)


ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

File Quality

The file quality settings available on the D300s include Basic, Normal and Fine for JPEGs, plus you can also store your photos as TIFFs and in Nikon's proprietary raw format (NEF). NEFs can be either 12- or 14-bit. Don't expect to see much of a difference between these two unless you do lots of post-capture tweaking, in which case you may see a benefit to working with 14-bit originals. Do note that the maximum continuous shooting speed drops from 7fps to about 2.5 in this case.

Fine (100% Crop)

Normal (100% Crop)


Basic (100% Crop)

RAW (100% Crop)


Tif (100% Crop)



The out-of-camera JPEGs are in fact quite sharp at the default settings if you use a sharp lens to begin with, but shots taken at maximum aperture often benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. Alternatively you can change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes. Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some extra sharpening applied.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)



The Nikon D300s is exceptionally well suited to flash photography. You can attach both dedicated system flashes and non-dedicated centre-contact units via the hot-shoe, and cable-contact flashguns – including mains flashes – via the standard Pontor-Compur terminal that is sheltered behind a hinged rubber flap on the front of the camera. Like its predecessor, the D300s also features a pop-up flash, which thankfully only pops up when you press a button on the side of the pentaprism housing. The flash mode – front-curtain sync, rear-curtain sync, slow sync, red-eye reduction or red-eye reduction with slow sync – can be selected by holding down a separate button located below the flash pop-up button, and spinning the rear control wheel. By rotating the front control wheel while holding down the same button, you can set the amount of flash exposure compensation.

Flash Off - Wide Angle

Flash On - Wide Angle

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto

Flash On - Telephoto

ISO 64 ISO 64

The built-in speedlight caused no red-eye in this test, so there is no real difference between the two photos in this respect.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Wireless Flash

The Nikon D300s' pop-up flash can also act as a commander for wirelessly slaved SB-900, SB-800 or SB-600 flash units, eliminating the need to buy a separately sold SU-800 wireless speedlight commander. These examples show the difference between shooting with the pop-up flash and using a wireless slave – in this case, an SB-600.

Pop-up Flash

Wireless Flash


The Nikon D300s lets you dial in shutter speeds of up to 30 seconds and has a Bulb mode as well for exposure times of practically any length, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography. There is an optional long-exposure noise reduction function that can be activated to filter out any hot pixels that may appear when extremely slow shutter speeds are used, though I found no need for this when taking the photograph below at a shutter speed of 30 seconds, aperture of f/11 at the L1.0 (ISO 100) sensitivity setting. We've included a 100% crop for you to see what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)


D-lighting is Nikon's dynamic range optimisation tool that attempts to squeeze  the full dynamic range of the sensor into JPEGs. Active D-lighting works “on the fly”, before the in-camera processing engine converts the raw image data into JPEGs. The available settings are Off, Auto, Low, Medium, High and Extra High. The following examples demonstrate the difference between the two extremes, Off and Extra High. Note that if you are not satisfied with the results, you can also apply post-capture D-lighting from the Retouch menu.


Extra High

Multiple Exposures

Like many of Nikon's film SLRs, the D300s allows you to record more than one exposure in a single photo. Up to ten exposures can be combined. The example below was taken using two exposures.

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon D300s camera, which were all taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The Nikon D300s enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We've provided some Nikon RAW (NEF) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample Movie & Video

The Nikon D300s can record HD video in the Motion JPEG (AVI) format. This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 19 second movie is 51.4Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon D300s

Front of the Camera

Nikon D300s

Front of the Camera / Lens Removed

Nikon D300s

Isometric View

Nikon D300s

Isometric View

Nikon D300s

Rear of the Camera

Nikon D300s

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Nikon D300s

Rear of the Camera / Settings

Nikon D300s

Top of the Camera

Nikon D300s

Bottom of the Camera


Nikon D300s

Side of the Camera

Nikon D300s

Side of the Camera

Nikon D300s

Front of the Camera

Nikon D300s

Front of the Camera

Nikon D300s


Nikon D300s

Memory Card Slot

Nikon D300s

Battery Compartment


If you've read the entire review, you will hardly have any doubts that the Nikon D300s is an excellent camera. Build quality is superb, handling and ergonomics are first-rate, and the abundance of dedicated external controls leads to quick and straightforward operation in the field. The optical viewfinder is up there with the best ones in this class. The 51 autofocus points cover most of the frame, and allow you to focus on whatever subject you deem important, without having to recompose or compromise the framing. 3D focus tracking works as advertised, making the Nikon D300s one of the finest choices for action and sports photography. Image quality is about as good as it gets for a DX-sized sensor, in terms of detail, dynamic range and noise handling alike. Options like capturing multiple exposures in a single photo or being able to control wirelessly slaved system flashes extend the creative possibilities of the camera.

It's all nice and well, but if you are now thinking, “wait, this could all be said about the D300 too”, you are actually quite right. So what does the D300s bring to the table that wasn't available in its predecessor? In our opinion, the most important improvement is the addition of a second memory card slot, which lets you instantly back up your images or helps organise them by allowing you to record NEFs on one card and JPEGs on the other. Another nice addition is the Virtual Horizon, which helps you keep the camera level. The new Quiet mode will surely be appreciated by photojournalists, while the addition of a dedicated Live View button is a sensible choice, even if we found it a little too recessed for our tastes. Finally, the video recording function is something few DSLRs can afford to miss these days, though it's still a bit rough around the edges.

To us it seems that the majority of D300 owners aren't likely to switch to the D300s unless they've been specifically waiting for one or more of the improvements it offers, but everyone else in the market for a capable and high-quality DSLR should seriously consider this camera, which easily earns our 'Highly Recommended' rating.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 5
Value for money 4

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Nikon D300s from around the web. »

Nikon’s D300s is the new flagship in the company’s DX-format range. Announced in July 2009, it inherits a great deal from the earlier D300, including its 12.3 Megapixel CMOS sensor, tough body, large viewfinder, 3in VGA screen, powerful 51-point AF system, Live View and HDMI port. It remains a powerful feature-set a year-on from its launch, but the D300s further enhances it with 2009’s key features, along with a couple of surprises.
Read the full review » »

When Nikon launched their pro-bodied, DX-format D300 in 2007 it marked something of a revolution for Nikon. At last, Nikon cemented their top-level cameras into two categories: FX (cameras packed with 35mm full-frame image sensors) and DX (cameras using APS-C sized image sensors with a 1.5X crop factor). But as far as the rest of the world was concerned, the real revolution came a year later with Nikon's introduction of the D90 -- the first DLSR capable of recording HD video. It's no wonder that Nikon was so eager to take the new high resolution sensor and video mode from their mid-grade D90 and put it into a higher-priced DSLR ... the new Nikon D300S.
Read the full review » »

Camera prices have been rising, but £1,350 still seems pretty rich for a 12-megapixel dSLR, even one with an HD movie mode. And don't forget that's the body-only price. The Nikon D300S remains a smart buy for professionals with numerous DX lenses or who need a fast, flexible second body for their system, but it's no bargain
Read the full review »



Single-lens reflex digital camera

Lens mount

Nikon F mount (with AF coupling and AF contacts)

Effective picture angle

Approx. 1.5 x conversion factor (Nikon DX format)

Effective pixels

12.3 million

Image sensor

23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS sensor

Total pixels

13.1 million

Dust-reduction system

Image Sensor Cleaning, Image Dust Off reference data (requires optional Capture NX 2 software)

Image size (pixels)

4,288 x 2,848 [L], 3,216 x 2,136 [M], 2,144 x 1,424 [S]

File format

• NEF (RAW): 12 or 14 bit, lossless compressed, compressed, or uncompressed
• JPEG: JPEG-Baseline compliant with fine (approx. 1:4), normal (approx. 1:8) or basic (approx. 1:16) compression (Size priority); Optimal quality compression available
• NEF (RAW) + JPEG: Single photograph recorded in both NEF (RAW) and JPEG formats

Picture Control System

Can be selected from Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome; storage for up to nine custom Picture Controls


Type I CompactFlash memory cards (UDMA compliant); SD memory cards, SDHC compliant

Dual card slots

Either card can be used as the primary card; secondary card can be used for overflow or backup storage, or for separate storage of NEF (RAW) and JPEG images; images can be copied between cards

File system

DCF (Design Rule for Camera File System) 2.0, DPOF (Digital Print Order Format), Exif 2.21 (Exchangeable Image File Format for Digital Still Cameras), PictBridge


Eye-level pentaprism single-lens reflex viewfinder

Viewfinder frame coverage

Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical


Approx. 0.94 x (50mm f/1.4 lens at infinity; -1.0 m-1)


19.5 mm (-1.0 m-1)

Diopter adjustment

-2 to +1 m-1

Focusing screen

Type B BriteView Clear Matte screen Mark II with AF area brackets (framing grid can be displayed)

Reflex mirror

Quick return

Depth-of-field preview

When depth-of-field preview button is pressed, lens aperture is stopped down to value selected by user (A and M modes) or by camera (P and S modes)

Lens aperture

Instant return, electronically controlled

Compatible lenses

• DX NIKKOR: All functions supported
• Type G or D AF NIKKOR: All functions supported (PC Micro-NIKKOR does not support some functions); IX-NIKKOR lenses not supported
• Other AF NIKKOR: All functions supported except 3D color matrix metering II; lenses for F3AF not supported
• AI-P NIKKOR: All functions supported except 3D color matrix metering II
• Non-CPU: Can be used in exposure modes A and M; color matrix metering and aperture value display supported if user provides lens data (AI lenses only)
•Electronic rangefinder can be used if maximum aperture is f/5.6 or faster


Electronically-controlled vertical-travel focal-plane shutter


1/8,000 to 30 s in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV, bulb, X250

Flash sync speed

X = 1/250 s; synchronizes with shutter at 1/320 s or slower (flash range drops at speeds between 1/250 and 1/320 s)

Release modes

Single frame, continuous low speed, continuous high speed, quiet shutter-release, self-timer, mirror up

Frame advance rate

With Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e: Approx. 1 to 7 fps (CL), approx. 7 fps (CH);
With optional Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D10 and Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL4a: Approx. 1 to 7 (CL) fps, approx. 8 fps (CH)*

* With a battery other than Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL4a, the continuous shooting speed may be slower than 8 fps in continuous high-speed mode.


Can be selected from 2, 5, 10 and 20 s duration


TTL exposure metering using 1,005-pixel RGB sensor


• Matrix: 3D color matrix metering II (type G and D lenses); color matrix metering II (other CPU lenses); color matrix metering available with non-CPU lenses if user provides lens data
• Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 8-mm circle in center of frame. Diameter of circle can be changed to 6, 10 or 13 mm, or weighting can be based on average of entire frame (fixed at 8 mm when non-CPU lens is used)
• Spot: Meters 3-mm circle (about 2% of frame) centered on selected focus point (on center focus point when non-CPU lens is used)

Range (ISO 100 equivalent, f/1.4 lens, 20°C/68°F)

• Matrix or center-weighted metering: 0 to 20 EV
• Spot metering: 2 to 20 EV

Exposure meter coupling

Combined CPU and AI

Exposure modes

Programmed auto with flexible program (P); Shutter-priority auto (S); Aperture-priority auto (A); Manual (M)

Exposure compensation

-5 to +5 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV

Exposure bracketing

2 to 9 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV

Exposure lock

Luminosity locked at detected value with AE-L/AF-L button

ISO sensitivity (Recommended Exposure Index)

ISO 200 to 3200 in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV; can also be set to approx. 0.3, 0.5, 0.7 or 1 EV (ISO 100 equivalent) below ISO 200 or to approx. 0.3, 0.5, 0.7 or 1 EV (ISO 6400 equivalent) above ISO 3200

Active D-Lighting

Can be selected from auto, extra high, high, normal, low or off

ADL bracketing

2 to 5 frames with strength levels varying according to number of frames chosen; for 2 frames, off and a chosen level are applied


Nikon Multi-CAM 3500DX autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection, fine-tuning, 51 focus points (including 15 cross-type sensors) and AF-assist illuminator (range approx. 0.5 to 3 m/1 ft. 8 in. to 9 ft. 10 in.)

Autofocus detection range

-1 to +19 EV (ISO 100 equivalent, 20°C /68°F)

Lens servo

• Autofocus: Single-servo AF (S); continuous-servo AF (C); predictive focus tracking automatically activated according to subject status
• Manual (M): Electronic rangefinder supported

Focus point

Can be selected from 51 or 11 focus points

AF-area modes

Single-point AF, dynamic-area AF, auto-area AF

Focus lock

Focus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (Single-servo AF) or by pressing AE-L/AF-L button

Built-in flash

Manual pop-up with button release; Guide number of 17/56 (m/ft., ISO 200, 20 °C/68 °F) or 12/39 (m/ft., ISO 100 equivalent, 20 °C/68 °F)

Flash control

• TTL: i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL flash for digital SLR using 1,005-pixel RGB sensor are available with built-in flash, Speedlight SB-900, SB-800, SB-600 or SB-400
• Auto aperture: Available with Speedlight SB-900 or SB-800 and CPU lens
• Non-TTL auto: Supported flash units include Speedlight SB-900, SB-800, SB-28, SB-27 and SB-22S
• Range-priority manual: Available with Speedlight SB-900 and SB-800

Flash modes

Front curtain sync, slow sync, rear-curtain sync, red-eye reduction, red-eye reduction with slow sync

Flash compensation

-3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV

Flash bracketing

2 to 9 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV

Flash-ready indicator

Lights when built-in flash or flash unit such as Speedlight SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, SB-400, SB-80DX, SB-28DX or SB-50DX is fully charged; blinks after flash is fired at full output

Accessory shoe

ISO 518 hot-shoe with sync and data contacts, and safety lock

Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS)

Advanced Wireless Lighting supported with built-in flash, Speedlight SB-900, SB-800 or SU-800 as commander and SB-900, SB-800, SB-600 or SB-R200 as remotes; Auto FP High-Speed Sync and modeling illumination supported with all CLS-compatible flash units except SB-400; Flash Color Information Communication and FV lock supported with all CLS-compatible flash units

Sync terminal

ISO 519 sync terminal with locking thread

White balance

Auto (TTL white-balance with main image sensor and 1,005-pixel RGB sensor), Incandescent, Fluorescent (7 options), Direct Sunlight, Flash, Cloudy, Shade, preset manual (able to store up to 5 values) and color temperature setting (2,500K to 10,000K); fine-tuning available for all options

White balance bracketing

2 to 9 frames in steps of 1, 2 or 3

Live View modes

Tripod, Hand-held

Live View autofocus

• Tripod: Contrast-detect AF anywhere in frame
• Hand-held: TTL phase-detection AF with 51 focus points (including 15 cross-type sensors)

Movie frame size (pixels)

1,280 x 720/24 fps, 640 x 424/24 fps, 320 x 216/24 fps

Movie file format


Movie compression format


Movie autofocus

Contrast-detect AF on a desired point within a frame is possible (Tripod mode)

Movie audio

Sound can be recorded via built-in (monaural) or optional external (stereo/monaural) microphone; sensitivity can be adjusted

Movie maximum length

5 min (1,280 x 720 pixels), 20 min (640 x 424, 320 x 216 pixels)

LCD monitor

3-in., approx. 920k-dot (VGA), low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD with 170° viewing angle, approx. 100% frame coverage, and brightness adjustment

Playback function

Full-frame and thumbnail (4, 9 or 72 images) playback with playback zoom, movie playback, slide show, histogram display, highlights, auto image rotation, and image comment (up to 36 characters)


Hi-Speed USB

Audio video output

Can be selected from NTSC and PAL

HDMI output

HDMI Mini connector (Type C); camera monitor turns off when HDMI cable is connected

Audio input

Stereo mini-pin jack (3.5-mm diameter)

10-pin remote terminal

Can be used to connect optional remote control, GPS Unit GP-1 or GPS device compliant with NMEA0183 version 2.01 or 3.01 (requires optional GPS Cable MC-35 and cable with D-sub 9-pin connector)

Supported languages

Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish


One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e

Battery pack

Optional Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D10 with one Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e, EN-EL4a/EN-EL4 or eight R6/AA-size alkaline, Ni-MH, lithium or nickel-manganese batteries; Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL4a/EN-EL4 and R6/AA-size batteries available separately; Battery Chamber Cover BL-3 (available separately) required when using Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL4a/EN-EL4

AC adapter

AC Adapter EH-5a/EH-5 (available separately)

Tripod socket

1/4 in. (ISO 1222)

Dimensions (W x H x D)

Approx. 147 x 114 x 74 mm/5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in.


Approx. 840 g/1 lb. 14 oz. without battery, memory card, body cap or monitor cover

Operating environment



Less than 85% (no condensation)

Supplied accessories (may differ by country or area)

Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e, Quick Charger MH-18a, Eyepiece Cap DK-5, Rubber Eyecup DK-23, USB Cable UC-E4, Audio Video Cable EG-D2, Camera Strap AN-DC4, LCD Monitor Cover BM-8, Body Cap BF-1A, Accessory Shoe Cover BS-1, Software Suite CD-ROM


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