>I want ( I'm not a pro so I won't say "need") >better high ISO performance than my D200 can deliver. The D300 >is a step up but is not a huge step up in that department. I >want better low light autofocus capability, again, not a big >step up in the D300. I want a faster frame rate than the D300. >I want this in a DX format with a pro level body that can take >the abuse and be as durable and consistent as my D200 has >been. In other words, a D7000 will not cut it.
I also wanted those things when I had my D200 and skipped the D300 for the same reasons you listed. For me, the D7000 delivered them (ok 5 FPS is good enough for me and it focuses way better than my D200 did). Less durable? Perhaps - I'll worry about that when and if I break it. I don't baby my gear and it is holding up fine. I DID need the dynamic range and lower noise high ISO for my bird photography.