Canon 1D Mark III vs Nikon D300
The Canon EOS-1D Mark III and the Nikon D300 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2007 and August 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D Mark III) and an APS-C (D300) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 12.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1D Mark III and the Nikon D300? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 1D Mark III and the Nikon D300 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D300 is considerably smaller (32 percent) than the Canon 1D Mark III. Moreover, the D300 is markedly lighter (20 percent) than the 1D Mark III. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1D Mark III) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D300).
Concerning battery life, the 1D Mark III gets 2200 shots out of its LP-E4 battery, while the D300 can take 1000 images on a single charge of its EN-EL3e power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the 1D Mark III has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the D300, Nikon provides the MB-D10 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark III||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|2.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|3.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|4.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1230 g||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999|
|6.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|7.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|8.||Canon 1D Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1535 g||1200||Y||Jan 2004||4,499|
|9.||Canon 1Ds||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1265 g||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999|
|10.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|11.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|12.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|13.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|14.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|15.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|16.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The D300 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 60 percent) than the 1D Mark III, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D Mark III features an APS-H sensor and the Nikon D300 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D300 is 29 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the D300 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 10.1 MP of the 1D Mark III. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 7.21μm for the 1D Mark III). However, it should be noted that the D300 is a somewhat more recent model (by 5 months) than the 1D Mark III, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D300 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D300 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 1D Mark III are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.4 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.6 x 10.4 inches or 39.5 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 13 x 8.6 inches or 32.9 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS-1D Mark III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 50-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D300 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the 1D Mark III has a notably higher overall DXO score than the D300 (overall score 4 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV of lower dynamic range, and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|3.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|4.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|6.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|7.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|8.||Canon 1D Mark II||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.1||1003||66|
|9.||Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|11.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|13.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|14.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1D Mark III and the D300 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the D300 has a higher magnification than the one of the 1D Mark III (0.63x vs 0.58x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 1D Mark III, the Nikon D300, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|3.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|4.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|6.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|7.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|8.||Canon 1D Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D300 has one, while the 1D Mark III does not. While the built-in flash of the D300 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D300 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The 1D Mark III writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDHC cards, while the D300 uses Compact Flash cards. The 1D Mark III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D300 only has one slot.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS-1D Mark III and Nikon D300 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Canon 1D Mark III||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||Y||stereo||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 1D Mark II||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the 1D Mark III and the D300 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1D Mark III was replaced by the Canon 1D Mark IV, while the D300 was followed by the Nikon D300S. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 1D Mark III and the Nikon D300? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1D Mark III:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (2200 versus 1000) on a single battery charge.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2007).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D300:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.58x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 230k dots).
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (147x114mm vs 156x157mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 230g or 20 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (60 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (5 months) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D300 emerges as the winner of the match-up (9 : 7 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1D Mark III and the Nikon D300 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 1D Mark III or the D300 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|2.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|3.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|4.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||5/5||..||89/100||..||..||Oct 2009||4,999|
|6.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|7.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|8.||Canon 1D Mark II||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||4,499|
|9.||Canon 1Ds||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2002||8,999|
|10.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|11.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|12.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|13.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|14.||Nikon D3||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|15.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|16.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Canon 1D Mark III vs Nikon D300
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 1D Mark III||Nikon D300|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2007||August 2007|
|Launch Price||USD 4,499||USD 1,799|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D Mark III||Nikon D300|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||28.1 x 18.7 mm||23.6 x 15.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||525.47 mm2||372.88 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||33.8 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.1 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3888 x 2592 pixels||4288 x 2848 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.21 μm||5.53 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.92 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC III||EXPEED|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||71||67|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.7||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.7||12.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1078||679|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D Mark III||Nikon D300|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D Mark III||Nikon D300|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||6 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||300 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDHC cards||CF cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1D Mark III||Nikon D300|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 1D Mark III||Nikon D300|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||2200 shots per charge||1000 shots per charge|
156 x 157 x 80 mm
(6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
147 x 114 x 74 mm
(5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in)
|Camera Weight||1155 g (40.7 oz)||925 g (32.6 oz)|
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