Every control on the Nikon D300S feels assured and tough. The shutter button has a particularly fine feel to it: you still depress it halfway to activate autofocus, of course, but it doesn't "click" halfway down.

There's a smooth hint of a detente at the halfway stage instead. We've always been fans of the control system on Nikon's top-end cameras, and the D300S owes much to its big brother, the Nikon D700.

Nikon d300s

The mode dial on the left hand shoulder of the camera has a release button next to it, which makes it all but impossible to switch between shooting modes by accident.

The sheer number of features, settings and modes you can choose without needing to dip into the menu system is what made us fall in love with the D300S, though.

Mode dial

The mode dial allows you to choose from single shot, low-speed continuous (which itself has seven different settings available via the custom settings menu) and high-speed continuous shooting.

Nikon d300s

PORTS: they include mini USB, audio and HDMI

You can opt for mirror-up shooting and self-timer modes, as well as a "Quiet" mode, which turns off the auto-focus beep and minimises the return "clack" from the shutter mechanism. It still doesn't make the D300S stealthy, but it's a useful feature for a quiet museum, for instance.

Nikon d300s

There are ISO, white balance and quality control buttons on the left hand shoulder – just turn the command dial on the right hand side while pressing one of them.

With a bit of practice it's possible to get up a serious head of steam using the D300S, making minor or major alterations to every shot. It makes taking pictures exactly how you want them an absolute joy.