Slugline. Simple, elegant screenwriting.

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    by Stu Maschwitz

Nikon D300S

The Nikon D300S features 24p video at 1280x720, with an external microphone input. DX (crop) sensor.

It also features limited autofocus in video mode. The D300S will auto-focus on a fixed point in the frame.

This page hints that it might have some manual exposure control (thanks @tylerginter!).

Nikon also clearly learned from Canon in that they got the camera into some pro shooters’ hands before its release:

Rolling shutter is either greatly improved from the D90 or it’s being expertly hidden in editing.

You can pre-order the D300S now from Amazon. $1,800, body-only.

Reader Comments (33)

I'd say that there are at least shutter speed manual controls hiding from the videos.

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEugenia

S/hiding/judging. Sorry about the typo, using iPod touch to type.

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEugenia

I would be ok with Manual shutter only, fine with auto ISO, currently use a D90 and controlling one stray variable would be a bit easier than two, lwt alone the initial three.

I''m losing it a bit for the Nikon. Reading up on dvxuser and not many ppl look happy so far. We await Kholi to pick one up, but i think even he changed his mind.

The bitrate could really use some help, I had a project where I was keying green out with D90 it really gave me trouble.

My biggest problems with nikon are the lack of shutter control (flicker in PAL 24/25) and the codec.

I eagerly await news of Nikon, they're saying a D700 is comin out in Oct, this is all according to DVX.

I've come to want 25fps more than 24, I really don't notice the difference. It seems a GH1 is most viable for me as it is 25/50p and manual.

Stu you haven't said much about the GH1... The most prominent issues i hear about are mud in 1080, and the bitrate. Your thoughts?

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTarek Kandil

I'd say the rolling shutter affects are not present simply due to either editing or avoiding offensive shots all together. I dont see any shots in either that would typically exhibit the affects.

That said, however, you can clearly see the rolling shutter affects in the helo blades at the beginning of clip 2. Beyond that, no other likely scenerios.

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

the slumdog reverie?

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor

The rolling shutter artifacts were hidden.
Threre are enough people who know about it to affect their purchase.
Nikon knows this, and has acted in such a way to present an attractive product.
Otherwise, they'd have advertised this.
If it's genuine, what harm would that cause?

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDigigenic

If the helicopter blades are an indication of the rolling shutter, then the problem is very minor.

My guess is that the camera is peeling the image off the sensor in about 1/1000s which would be hardly visible in most cases. And not much difference from a mechanical shutter.

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarniphage

Thinking of this, and considering the price bracket that's not very 'pro' I would really be happy with just shutter controls on my D90 as it is. No ISO, keep my full manual lenses, and speed up to 25 fps when I need to go to DVD.

I think that's a good compromise, especially since we may learn from canon's upcoming 1D that pro-video comes at pro-price.

Shutter speed is what I'd ask for.

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTarek Kandil

Also, watching the India-fest video, pausing at the cars 'whizzing' by, I didn't realize they were played back so fast. The cars were probably trudging along slowly.

I also believe the rolling shutter artifacts were hidden, using tricks.

If the timelapse shots are done using Nikon stills, then dammit that doesn't count.

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTarek Kandil

I like the videos, unfortunately the second one hangs at .1:58 It is much better to watch a nice edited, picture rich film than just some sample footage.

Concerning the rolling shutter i wouldn´t expect too much from this camera, it is still using a CMOS sensor which is in most cases the reason for this bad effect.
It will be most noticeable in fast horizontal pans, or fast (zoomed in) handheld without stabilizing techniques and vertical lines in the picture like Trees or buildings. While you can avoid it most of the time, the risk remains, especially when planning post production or matchmoving.
Another bad habit of this little cameras is their sensitivity for little vibrating wobbles, which can be reduced by adding weight.

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMartin Kulig

I just had a thought, would it be possible for Nikon to simply add an ISO status and a Shutter status in its already auto-expose mode to at least let us SEE what the camera is doing of its own accord?

As the camera does its weird thing, we'd see numbers go up and down, and at least have an idea of what we 'lock' at.

I doubt displaying a readout can be difficult, out of a mechanism that's much harder to modify. I would make better use of my cam if at least I knew at what ISO/Shutter combination my cam was doing during live view. Like a built-in meter works i would think.

But with this, you turn on live view, shake the cam around till you get the numbers you like, and lock. At least you know what settings you caught at.

Without a 'lag' also.

Is this an easier thing to ask for, considering the price bracket/pro-level of this cam without giving anyone the chance to call us greedy? lol

And, if not, can a plug-in be employed at least to read the thing? Off an iphone even?

I'm just trying to think outside considering the chance for manual control. Nikon after all make 24p as yet.

I am no programmer (this is not modesty i really am guessing and know very, very little about hardware/firmware) but i think it's a less insistent and demanding need. If you can't let us control it directly, at least tell us what the cam is doing.


August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTarek Kandil

The videos looks fine, but they don't tell us much about the features. This whole ninjaclaw backrub thing is extremely frustrating. I have a lot of Nikon equipment, an I love it for stills, so I really don't want to go Canon.

How can we make these people listen? Seriously. I want to call the chief engineer and tell her/him a thing or two.

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSjur Pollen

Nikon would begin to be interesting for me --only when they stop using the very lame Motion JPEG codec! (and of course full manual control) oh, and 1080p would be nice too, but not mandatory....

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDan

This just in: NO MANUAL CONTROL, fuhggedaboutit.
Less jello due to increased processing power.

This is according to a Nikon product specialist in Sweden.

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSjur Pollen

Oh, and supposedly better compression quality,

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSjur Pollen

If more tests confirm this, then I'll believe the rolling shutter artifacts are virtually gone now, due to Nikon's reported improved processing power and improved compression quality. For now, I still think it's not high on their priority list to really improve anything video related, especially if they dropped the ball on manual control.
My hopes are riding on the D700 successor.
Now that I've been using the 5DmkII, which is my first full frame DSLR, I don't think I'll go back to crop. I'm pretty happy for now but there are areas Canon can't improve on that Nikon does. 24p is a significant difference. And the D700's AF system is much more advanced than the 5D's. I'm looking forward to a full frame 1080p, 24p, manual control, high quality codec, & 0 rolling shutter artifacts. I think NIkon can easily do this if they decide it's a priority.

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDigigenic

i like mjpeg, it's the low bitrate that sucks. no motion artifacts, very low system requirements. 50 mbps mjpeg would be awesome, much better than avchd or other interframe schemes for my purposes. manual control is the only thing i *really* need. we shot a feature on the d90 and the time we spent trying to get the right exposure was a major drag, while we knew how to control jello and had learned from extensive testing exactly what and what not to expect from the codec, which we had decided was "good enough". (it looks better on 35mm than on an hd screen btw) ;-)

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermattias

I love motion Jpeg too, it already has a natural filmic look to it without that harsh video feel and the still frames extracted from the video are cleaner to.

Cheers Rambo

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRambo

You'd think that after the big fuss with the 5Dii and manual control that if the 300s had manual controls, it wouldn't be a secret, but rather they would shout it from the rooftops. From the videos it looks like it at least has the ability to lock the exposure settings which is better than nothing. But since there's been no word on manual controls I'm not holding my breath.

I still think the GH1 is a way better value considering it has a flip-out LCD, full manual control, autofocus, shoots in 720P and 1080P, and has three different filmspeeds (24, 30, & 60fps) - all for $1500 WITH a pretty decent lens. It's only shortcoming is it's weak codec implementation which hopefully will be fixed in the future.

August 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBoz

its *only* shortcoming? i'd say the smaller sensor, the low light sensitivity and the general lack of "beauty" in the image qualify too. it's most definitely the best camera to work with but i don't think it takes the prettiest pictures, not even close.

August 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermattias

general lack of "beauty" in the image? You're kidding of course or never read the Rebel Guide or confused a camera with the person aiming it and the person viewing it.

Beautiful art can be with with 10 X 10 pixel 2-bit color. I've awful footage from IMAX camera (not to mention every DSLR including the 5D Mkii) and beautiful pixel vision stuff. The real differences in cameras are tool-wise. Features for the price, usability, practicality etc. All tools have limitations of some kind.

But the most important factor in "beauty" is person holding it.

August 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstephen v2

Sorry for the rude words but Nikon has learned shit from their previous shit!
Man, I hate this company!

August 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

Well, there is also that 5 minute recording limit. What the hell gives?

I'd Also love to hear more about the GH1 from you Stu. I've been wanting to get my hands on one for some time but they are back ordered from Panasonic it seems till September (according to most photo/video places in NYC at least).

I'm also curious about the comments on low light from the GH1, but that 5 min cap on recording in the D300s puts the nail in the coffin. Argh.

August 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commentervade

On thing I've got to hand to Nikon is that they have less of a videolook than what I've seen from 5D MKII. For some reason especially the highligts on the MII looks very digital and video'ish to me.

Nikon IMO looks more organic.

August 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSjur Pollen

The videos by Bosch and Vitale look a thousand percent better than the no-story story about Vinnie Allforme.

Looks like Nikon got it right. Now, lets hope that there really is a 700X with video.

August 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNikon shooter.

Regarding the video bit rate: from the Nikon D300s microsite, 5 minutes of 720p video (& sound) from the D300s produces a file size of 800MB, which (if my calculations are correct) is approximately 21Mbps.

I understand the D90 is less than that......

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRocket Boy

so, I am gathering that this camera does not have a full-frame sensor, considering the price?

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJason T.

Also, would my Nikkor lenses from my Nikon D80 work with this?

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJason T.

Hi Stu, thanks for all this info! I was just in Vietnam shooting HD water bgs with
the 5D for matte shots.... mostly locked off. Had them transferred various ways and looked at them on the big screen at the joint.... beautiful. What a tool for doing elements for matte paintings.... I was wondering... if I comp with AE and import
the movies in the mvi format, am I losing information compared to doing a real time
transfer from the camera/card converted to exr and then comped? I guess I should
get my ass in gear and do a test. The footage transferred realtime from the camera
and card looked the best of all the tests we did.... but we didn't try an AE conversion.

August 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

I just got my D300s recently, I knew and I expected no manual shutter speed control in video mode, however I was quite happy to notice that it does have an exposure locking in video mode - I can confirm that - but you need to set the AE-L button to "lock" mode in system settings so that you need to push it only once and after you do not have to hold it. So that is how you get your manual setting in video mode at this time.. a bit limited but if you are creative it is going to work.

For a pro on a budget.. - a camera with such an incredible range of interchangeable lenses - it is a good compromise for the time being. If you do have pro lenses then you will have amazing image quality and let's not forget that interchangeable lenses are available only on "real" video cameras at a much-much-much higher prices..
Picture quality is very beautiful (I tested it with Nikon 50mm and 70-200mm 2.8 pro lenses and it is really-really sharp, and it is amazing that you can use 2.8 and get beautiful blurred background in video)

if you move the camera fast then yes, there is that weird effect on top but much-much better than on the D90 footage, hardly noticable. So If you want to capture war, then it is not your camera. But if you are willing to know how to use it with its limitations, then you get pro results.

However I hope Nikon will make life easier later with better and easier pro control for shutter speed and allow the camera to use spot metering / center weighted in video mode. It is neccessary for some applications and for special circular fish eye lenses with lots of black.
I am satisfied all together.

September 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPisti

do you how to lock this button?
its drive me crazy!

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlejo

They are coming out with new cameras too fast. I just bought my D90 and already its out of date.

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I own a D300s and i have to say Im very sad about its video feature, I have been plagued with lines that seem to go up or down, besides the rollig shutter deffect and the difficult focus and exposure controls makes this camera a bad investment. I would like to know if anybody can help me with these problems, I dont have money to purchase another camera, but I would gladly, are there any firmwares that can help me to fix this problems, or post production fixes?? HELPPP!!

July 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSADD300SUSER
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