Summary first - it's a class and a half above the D80 and well worth the extra. It means that the user is much more in charge of the camera, rather than the other way round - which is the way I like it. The biggie for me is metering. Bottom line - much much better than the D80. For identical scenes with the focusing point over a neutral tone, the D300 exposes between 1/3 to 2/3 stop darker than the D80 and does not blow the highlights like the D80 does in the same scene. This tends to reinforce the conventional wisdom of dialing in -0.7ev on the D80. More dedicated buttons = less menu fiddling = faster operation - with the caveat that the D80 menu system is easier to find one's way around than the D300's in my opinion Picture controls work great: I can set up different options for portrait, landscape, indoor etc. Neutral, saturation +1, auto contrast, brightness 0, ADL = off is returning some nice results. The extra weight is not an issue: an Op-Tech strap takes a lot of the strain; the build makes the D50 & D80 seem very plasticky in comparison. Focusing speed not dramatically better than the D80, but those 51 focusing points make composition much easier - much less focus & recompose now. So the good news is that the D300 allows the user to concentrate much more on image making rather than worrying about whether the camera is going to do something silly that you don't expect. In other words, it doesn't get in the way - which is all one can really ask of a camera! More comparisons to follow when I've looked at sharpness, noise, colour and tone.