Canon 1D Mark IV vs Nikon D300
The Canon EOS-1D Mark IV and the Nikon D300 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in October 2009 and August 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D Mark IV) and an APS-C (D300) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 16 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 IV 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.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 1D Mark IV and the Nikon D300 are illustrated 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 dimensions 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 IV. Moreover, the D300 is markedly lighter (25 percent) than the 1D Mark IV. 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 IV) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D300).
Concerning battery life, the 1D Mark IV gets 1500 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 IV 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. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark IV||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1230 g||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999|
|2.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|4.||Canon 1D X||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1551 g||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799|
|5.||Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|6.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|8.||Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|9.||Canon 1D Mark III||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1215 g||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999|
|11.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|12.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|13.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|14.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|15.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|16.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|17.||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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D300 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 64 percent) than the 1D Mark IV, 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 size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the 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 IV features an APS-H sensor and the Nikon D300 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D300 is 28 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.
With 16MP, the 1D Mark IV offers a higher resolution than the D300 (12.2MP), but the 1D Mark IV nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.70μm versus 5.53μm for the D300) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the 1D Mark IV is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 1 month) than the D300, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 1D Mark IV implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 1D Mark IV for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.5 x 16.3 inches or 62.2 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.6 x 13.1 inches or 49.7 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.3 x 10.9 inches or 41.5 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D300 are 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS-1D Mark IV has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. 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 is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the 1D Mark IV has a notably higher overall DXO score than the D300 (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, and 1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark IV||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|4.||Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|9.||Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|11.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|13.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|15.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The 1D Mark IV indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D300 does not. The highest resolution format that the 1D Mark IV can use is 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1D Mark IV 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 IV (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 IV, the Nikon D300, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|2.||Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2 / 1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n|
|4.||Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|5.||Canon 60D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.3||Y||n|
|6.||Canon 7D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|8.||Canon 50D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.3||Y||n|
|9.||Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
|11.||Nikon D4||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|12.||Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D3S||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|14.||Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|17.||Nikon D200||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D300 has one, while the 1D Mark IV 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 IV writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDHC cards, while the D300 uses Compact Flash cards. The 1D Mark IV 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 IV and Nikon D300 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 1D Mark IV||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D300||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 1D X||Y||mono / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 60D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 7D||Y||mono / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 50D||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 1D Mark III||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D4||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D7000||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D3S||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D300S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D700||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D2Xs||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Nikon D200||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the 1D Mark IV and the D300 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D300 was replaced by the Nikon D300S, while the 1D Mark IV does not have a direct successor. 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 how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1D Mark IV or the Nikon D300 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (16 vs 12.2MP) with a 14% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
- 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 (1500 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 modern: Reflects 2 years and 1 month of technical progress since the D300 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D300:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.58x).
- 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 305g or 25 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 (64 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2007).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 1D Mark IV emerges as the winner of the contest (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 IV 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1D Mark IV or the D300. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 IV||5/5||..||..||89/100||..||..||Oct 2009||4,999|
|2.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||..||..||4.5/5||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|4.||Canon 1D X||5/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799|
|5.||Canon 60D||5/5||+||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|6.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||..||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|8.||Canon 50D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|9.||Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||7,999|
|11.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|12.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|13.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|14.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|15.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|16.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|17.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 1D Mark IV vs Canon T5
- Canon 1D Mark IV vs Canon T6i
- Canon 1D Mark IV vs Olympus E-330
- Canon 1D Mark IV vs Olympus TG-6
- Canon 1D Mark IV vs Sony A7R II
- Canon 1D Mark IV vs Sony H200
- Canon 300D vs Nikon D300
- Fujifilm X100S vs Nikon D300
- Leica M-E Typ 240 vs Nikon D300
- Nikon D300 vs Olympus XZ-1
- Nikon D300 vs Panasonic G95
- Nikon D300 vs Panasonic TZ200
Specifications: Canon 1D Mark IV 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 IV||Nikon D300|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2009||August 2007|
|Launch Price||USD 4,999||USD 1,799|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D Mark IV||Nikon D300|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||27.9 x 18.6 mm||23.6 x 15.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||518.94 mm2||372.88 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||33.5 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4896 x 3264 pixels||4288 x 2848 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.70 μm||5.53 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.08 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 102,400 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC IV||EXPEED|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||74||67|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.8||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||12.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1320||679|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D Mark IV||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||920k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D Mark IV||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 IV||Nikon D300|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 1D Mark IV||Nikon D300|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1500 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||1230 g (43.4 oz)||925 g (32.6 oz)|
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