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I fell in love the d2hs, focusing was fast felt like bullet flying out of it. Then I swicth to my friends d200 with my 17-35mm mounted on it, not only the grip pulling apart on my bracket missing shots and bad focusing. This scares me getting into consumer body.
Hmmm...my guess is your friend's D200 had some issues.
The D300 uses the newer MB-D10 grip, and I've never heard any issues at all with loosening. It also has the same 51-point AF of the D3 and handles much like it as well. Along with all that and the full metal frame, weather-sealing, etc. I definitely wouldn't consider it a consumer body. My D300s moves my 80-200 f/2.8 very snappily, for example. There might be a slight difference between that and my buddy's 70-200 AFS, but I can't discern a difference in focus speed.