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Nikon D1 vs 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 megapixels, whereas the D300S provides 12.2 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D1 versus Nikon D300S
Nikon D1 Nikon D300S
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
2.6 MP, APS-C Sensor 12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 720/24p Video
ISO 200-1,600 (200 - 6,400) ISO 200-3,200 (100 - 6,400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 120k dots 3.0 LCD, 920k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1.5 shutter flaps per second 7 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
157 x 153 x 85 mm, 1100 g 147 x 115 x 81 mm, 938 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D1 and the Nikon D300S? 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.

Body comparison

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.

Size Nikon D1 vs Nikon D300S
Compare D1 versus D300S top
Comparison D1 or 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 compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

As can be seen in the images above, the D1 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 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.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D1 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g .. Y Jun 1999 5,499i
 
Nikon D300S 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 938 g 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799i
 
Nikon D500 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 860 g 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i
 
Nikon D4 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1340 g 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999i
 
Nikon D7000 132 mm 105 mm 77 mm 780 g 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499i
 
Nikon D3S 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1240 g 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199i
 
Nikon D700 147 mm 123 mm 77 mm 1074 g 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999i
 
Nikon D3 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1300 g 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999i
 
Nikon D300 147 mm 114 mm 74 mm 925 g 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799i
 
Nikon D2Xs 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699i
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699i
 
Nikon D2X 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999i
 
Nikon D1H 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 4,499i
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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

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.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D300S implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D300S 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 Nikon D1 are 10 x 6.6 inches or 25.4 x 16.7 cm for good quality, 8 x 5.2 inches or 20.3 x 13.3 cm for very good quality, and 6.7 x 4.4 inches or 16.9 x 11.1 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 200-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D300S are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.

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.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Nikon D1 APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........
 
Nikon D300S APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770
 
Nikon D500 APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589
 
Nikon D7000 APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780
 
Nikon D3S Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
 
Nikon D700 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2230380
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2229081
 
Nikon D300 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.112.067967
 
Nikon D2Xs APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.210.948959
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
 
Nikon D2X APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.110.947659
 
Nikon D1H APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........

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

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 viewfinder in the D300S offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D1 (96%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D300S has a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.53x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. 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.

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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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Nikon D1optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 1.5 n n
 
Nikon D300Soptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
 
Nikon D500optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Nikon D7000optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3Soptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Nikon D700optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Nikon D300optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D2Xsoptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Nikon D200optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D2Xoptical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Nikon D1Hoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 5.0 n n
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n

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

The Nikon D300S 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 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.

Connectivity comparison

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 Nikon D1 and Nikon D300S and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Nikon D1Y-----FW---
 
Nikon D300SYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D500YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYY
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---
 
Nikon D7000YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3SYstereo---mini2.0---
 
Nikon D700Y----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3Y----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D300Y----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D2XsY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D200Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D2XY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D1HY-----FW---
 
Nikon D1XY-----FW---

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

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. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D1 and the Nikon D300S? Which camera is better? 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 (1/16000s vs 1/8000s) 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.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 96%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.53x).
  • 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.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • 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 (14 : 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. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D1 03:14 D300S

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D1 and the Nikon D300S 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 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 shooting 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.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D1..+ +...... Jun 1999 5,499i
 
Nikon D300S+ +82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799i
 
Nikon D500+ +91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i
 
Nikon D4....4.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999i
 
Nikon D7000..80/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499i
 
Nikon D3S..89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199i
 
Nikon D70089/100+ +4.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999i
 
Nikon D3..+ +5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999i
 
Nikon D300+ ++ +5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799i
 
Nikon D2Xs......o.. Jun 2006 4,699i
 
Nikon D200+ ++ +o5/5.. Nov 2005 1,699i
 
Nikon D2X..+ +..o.. Sep 2004 4,999i
 
Nikon D1H..+ +..o.. Feb 2001 4,499i
 
Nikon D1X..+ +..o.. Feb 2001 5,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

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.

Nikon D1:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D300S:
Check Ebay offers

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.

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    Specifications: Nikon D1 vs Nikon D300S

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon D1 Nikon D300S
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date June 1999 July 2009
    Launch Price USD 5,499 USD 1,799
    Sensor Specs Nikon D1 Nikon D300S
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 23.6 x 15.8 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 372.88 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 2.6 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 2000 x 1312 pixels 4288 x 2848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.93 μm 5.53 μm
    Pixel Density 0.71 MP/cm2 3.28 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/24p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 200 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost 200 - 6,400 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 70
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 22.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 12.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 787
    Screen Specs Nikon D1 Nikon D300S
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 96% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x 0.63x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 120k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D1 Nikon D300S
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1.5 shutter flaps/s 7 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D1 Nikon D300S
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector Firewire USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D1 Nikon D300S
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-4 EN-EL3e
    Body Dimensions 157 x 153 x 85 mm
    (6.2 x 6.0 x 3.3 in)
    147 x 115 x 81 mm
    (5.8 x 4.5 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 1100 g (38.8 oz) 938 g (33.1 oz)

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