As with most Nikon cameras, the D300s is solidly built, unlike some competing models which can feel plasticky, especially for those priced at the lower- and mid-level. Then again, you can always argue that this is why there's a substantial price difference; Nikon tends to lean on the pricier side for all its DSLRs, but at least it has good reason for doing so; the feel and weight of the body is certainly a factor.
The feel of the D300s is, again, very much the same as the D300. One difference that I would like to point out is that rear grip (where you usually place your thumb when shooting) seems to have had its surface area reduced, making the camera slightly harder to grasp with one hand. For those of you who have a habit of handling the camera with one hand while looking for interesting subjects to shoot, we suggest you take note of this aspect and factor it in when shopping for your next DSLR.
The camera has a good weight to it and doesn't seem overbalanced in our hands (with or without a lens). The button placement suggests an intuitive placement for the general photographer, giving you access to the most oft-used functions without having to delve into the menu. Need to format your card? Press the two buttons with the red dots beside them. Need to reset your settings? Press the two buttons marked with green dots. You spend less time diving into the menu system, and more time concentrating on what matters most: taking photos.
The design fundamentals of the D300 haven't changed drastically from the earlier Nikon DSLRs, and most Nikonians would be thankful for that. This again builds familiarity and comfort for every Nikon user looking to upgrade, perhaps from that D70s, D80 or D90. D700 owners will also be pleased with the D300s, knowing that the button layout is the same as the former, save for the inclusion of a dedicated Live View button just under the rear directional pad.
The 51-AF points system that Nikon provides in the D300s is something that sports photography enthusiasts will surely rejoice for tracking moving subjects. In fact, it's the same system used on the D3, D700 and the older D300. However, the shutter button does feel a little unresponsive at times, especially when holding it at the half-press position to lock your focus.
Even the directional pad is the same as on the D3 and the D700; the inclusion of the center button does make it easier for you to quickly switch back to the center AF point should the need arise. The directional pad on the D300 did have a problem in this particular area; every time you try to press the middle of the directional pad, the chances of you activating any other surrounding AF points is much higher because of the way the pad was designed. At least that little problem has been fixed on the D300s.