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Nikon D1 versus Nikon D300S

The Nikon D1 and the Nikon D300S are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 1999 and July 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The D1 has a resolution of 2.6 megapixel, whereas the D300S provides 12.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Nikon D1 vs Nikon D300S

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D1 and the Nikon D300S 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the D1 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Nikon D1 vs Nikon D300S
Compare D1 versus D300S top
Compare D1 and D300S rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D300S is notably smaller (30 percent) than the Nikon D1. Moreover, the D300S is markedly lighter (15 percent) than the D1. 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

As can be seen in the images above, the D1 has a battery grip build in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the D300S, Nikon provides the MB-D10 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Nikon D1» 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz .. Y Jun 1999 5,499- i Nikon D1
Nikon D300S« 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 33.1 oz 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799- i Nikon D300S
Nikon D500« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
Nikon D4« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999- i Nikon D4
Nikon D7000« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 27.5 oz 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499- i Nikon D7000
Nikon D3S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 43.7 oz 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Nikon D700« » 5.8 in 4.8 in 3.0 in 37.9 oz 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999- i Nikon D700
Nikon D3« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 45.9 oz 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999- i Nikon D3
Nikon D300« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 2.9 in 32.6 oz 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799- i Nikon D300
Nikon D2Xs« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699- i Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D200« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 32.5 oz 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699- i Nikon D200
Nikon D2X« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999- i Nikon D2X
Nikon D2H« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 37.7 oz 2900 Y Jul 2003 3,499- i Nikon D2H
Nikon D1H« » 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz 1200 Y Feb 2001 4,499- i Nikon D1H
Nikon D1X« » 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999- i Nikon D1X

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D300S was launched at a markedly lower price (by 67 percent) than the D1, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Nikon D1 vs Nikon D300S

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D300S is 1 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D1 and Nikon D300S sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the D300S offers a higher resolution than the D1 (2.6MP), but the D300S has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 11.93μm for the D1). Yet, the D300S is a much more recent model (by 10 years and 1 month) than the D1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

D1 versus D300S MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Nikon D1» APS-C 2.6 2000 1312-----Nikon D1
Nikon D300S« APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770Nikon D300S
Nikon D500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483Nikon D500
Nikon D4« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589Nikon D4
Nikon D7000« » APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780Nikon D7000
Nikon D3S« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382Nikon D3S
Nikon D700« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2230380Nikon D700
Nikon D3« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2229081Nikon D3
Nikon D300« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.112.067967Nikon D300
Nikon D2Xs« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.210.948959Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D200« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.311.558364Nikon D200
Nikon D2X« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.110.947659Nikon D2X
Nikon D2H« » APS-C 4.0 2464 1632-18.910.035240Nikon D2H
Nikon D1H« » APS-C 2.6 2000 1312-----Nikon D1H
Nikon D1X« » APS-C 5.9 3008 1960-----Nikon D1X

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D300S indeed provides for movie recording, while the D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the D300S can use is 720/24p.

 

Feature comparison: Nikon D1 vs Nikon D300S

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D1 and the D300S 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D1 and Nikon D300S along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Nikon D1»optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 16000 1.5 n n Nikon D1
Nikon D300S«optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 7.0 Y n Nikon D300S
Nikon D500« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n Nikon D500
Nikon D4« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D4
Nikon D7000« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n Nikon D7000
Nikon D3S« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D3S
Nikon D700« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n Nikon D700
Nikon D3« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D3
Nikon D300« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n Nikon D300
Nikon D2Xs« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D200« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Nikon D200
Nikon D2X« »optical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Nikon D2X
Nikon D2H« »optical Y 2.5 211 fixed n 8000 8.0 n n Nikon D2H
Nikon D1H« »optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 16000 5.0 n n Nikon D1H
Nikon D1X« »optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 16000 3.0 n n Nikon D1X

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D300S has one, while the D1 does not. While the build-in flash of the D300S is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The D1 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D300S uses Compact Flash or SDXC cards. The D300S features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D1 only has one slot.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Nikon D1»Y-----FW---Nikon D1
Nikon D300S«YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D300S
Nikon D500« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D500
Nikon D4« »Ymonomono--micro2.0---Nikon D4
Nikon D7000« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D7000
Nikon D3S« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Nikon D3S
Nikon D700« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D700
Nikon D3« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D3
Nikon D300« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D300
Nikon D2Xs« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D200« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D200
Nikon D2X« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D2X
Nikon D2H« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D2H
Nikon D1H« »Y-----FW---Nikon D1H
Nikon D1X« »Y-----FW---Nikon D1X

Both the D1 and the D300S have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D1 was replaced by the Nikon D1X, while the D300S was followed by the Nikon D500.

Review summary: Nikon D1 vs Nikon D300S

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D1 and the Nikon D300S? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Advantages of the Nikon D1:

  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (16000/sec vs 8000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 1999).


Arguments in favor of the Nikon D300S:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 2.6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 115%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/24p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 120k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (147x115mm vs 157x153mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 162g or 15 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (67 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 10 years and 1 month of technical progress since the D1 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D300S is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 3 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

D1 03:11 D300S

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D1 or the D300S. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Nikon D1»-HiRec--- Jun 1999 5,499- i Nikon D1
Nikon D300S«HiRec82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799- i Nikon D300S
Nikon D500« »HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
Nikon D4« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999- i Nikon D4
Nikon D7000« »-80/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499- i Nikon D7000
Nikon D3S« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Nikon D700« »89/100HiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999- i Nikon D700
Nikon D3« »-HiRec5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999- i Nikon D3
Nikon D300« »HiRecHiRec5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799- i Nikon D300
Nikon D2Xs« »---rev- Jun 2006 4,699- i Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D200« »HiRecHiRecrev5/5- Nov 2005 1,699- i Nikon D200
Nikon D2X« »-HiRec-rev- Sep 2004 4,999- i Nikon D2X
Nikon D2H« »-HiRec-rev- Jul 2003 3,499- i Nikon D2H
Nikon D1H« »-HiRec-rev- Feb 2001 4,499- i Nikon D1H
Nikon D1X« »-HiRec-rev- Feb 2001 5,999- i Nikon D1X

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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