Nikon D300 vs D4
The Nikon D300 and the Nikon D4 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2007 and January 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D300) and a full frame (D4) sensor. The D300 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the D4 provides 16.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Nikon D300||Nikon D4|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor||16.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO 200-3200 (100-6400)||ISO 100-12800 (50-204800)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 922k dots||3.2" LCD, 921k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|6 shutter flaps per second||11 shutter flaps per second|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|1000 shots per battery charge||2600 shots per battery charge|
|147 x 114 x 74 mm, 925 g||160 x 157 x 91 mm, 1340 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D300 and the Nikon D4? 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 Nikon D300 and the Nikon D4 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. 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 D4 is considerably larger (50 percent) than the Nikon D300. Moreover, the D4 is substantially heavier (45 percent) than the D300. 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 (as in the D4) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (D300). You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the D300 gets 1000 shots out of its EN-EL3e battery, while the D4 can take 2600 images on a single charge of its EN-EL18 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D4 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 table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Nikon D300»||5.8 in||4.5 in||2.9 in||32.6 oz||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D4«||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.3 oz||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D5« »||6.3 in||6.3 in||3.6 in||49.9 oz||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D4S« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.6 oz||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499||Nikon D4S|
|Nikon Df« »||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.6 in||26.8 oz||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749||Nikon Df|
|Nikon D7000« »||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||27.5 oz||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D3S« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||43.7 oz||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199||Nikon D3S|
|Nikon D300S« »||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||33.1 oz||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799||Nikon D300S|
|Nikon D60« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||500||n||Jan 2008||629||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D90« »||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||24.8 oz||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299||Nikon D90|
|Nikon D700« »||5.8 in||4.8 in||3.0 in||37.9 oz||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D3« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||45.9 oz||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D40X« »||4.9 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||520||n||Mar 2007||729||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D2Xs« »||6.2 in||5.9 in||3.4 in||44.2 oz||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699||Nikon D2Xs|
|Nikon D80« »||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||23.6 oz||600||n||Aug 2006||999||Nikon D80|
|Nikon D200« »||5.8 in||4.4 in||2.9 in||32.5 oz||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699||Nikon D200|
|Nikon D2X« »||6.2 in||5.9 in||3.4 in||44.2 oz||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999||Nikon D2X|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 70 percent) than the D4, 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 sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 Nikon D300 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D4 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D4 is 131 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, the D4 uses a more advanced image processing engine (EXPEED 3) than the D300 (EXPEED), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
With 16.2MP, the D4 offers a higher resolution than the D300 (12.2MP), but the D4 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.29μm versus 5.53μm for the D300) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D4 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 4 months) than the D300, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D4 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D4 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.4 inch or 62.6 x 41.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inch or 50.1 x 33.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inch or 41.7 x 27.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D300 are 21.4 x 14.2 inch or 54.5 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.2 x 11.4 inch or 43.6 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.3 x 9.5 inch or 36.3 x 24.1 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D300 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D4 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 consideration, the D4 offers substantially better image quality than the D300 (overall score 22 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.6 bits higher color depth, 1.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Nikon D300||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||none||22.1||12.0||679||67||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89||Nikon D4S|
|Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89||Nikon Df|
|Nikon D7000||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||10800/24p||23.5||13.9||1167||80||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82||Nikon D3S|
|Nikon D300S||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.5||12.2||787||70||Nikon D300S|
|Nikon D60||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.5||11.4||562||65||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D90||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||977||73||Nikon D90|
|Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D40X||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.4||11.4||516||63||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D2Xs||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||none||22.2||10.9||489||59||Nikon D2Xs|
|Nikon D80||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.1||11.2||524||61||Nikon D80|
|Nikon D200||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.3||11.5||583||64||Nikon D200|
|Nikon D2X||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||none||22.1||10.9||476||59||Nikon D2X|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D4 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D300 does not. The highest resolution format that the D4 can use is 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D300 and the D4 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 D4 has a higher magnification than the one of the D300 (0.70x vs 0.63x), 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 Nikon D300, the Nikon D4, and comparable cameras.
|Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D4||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D5||optical||Y||3.2||2359||fixed||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||n||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D4S||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Nikon D4S|
|Nikon Df||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||n||Nikon Df|
|Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D3S||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Nikon D3S|
|Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n||Nikon D300S|
|Nikon D60||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D90||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5||Y||n||Nikon D90|
|Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Nikon D2Xs|
|Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D80|
|Nikon D200||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D200|
|Nikon D2X||optical||Y||2.5||235||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Nikon D2X|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D300 has one, while the D4 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 and the Nikon D4 both have 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 D300 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D4 uses Compact Flash or XQD cards. The D4 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 Nikon D300 and Nikon D4 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Nikon D300||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D4||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D5||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D4S||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D4S|
|Nikon Df||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon Df|
|Nikon D7000||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D3S||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3S|
|Nikon D300S||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D300S|
|Nikon D60||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D90||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D90|
|Nikon D700||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D3||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D40X||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D2Xs||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D2Xs|
|Nikon D80||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D80|
|Nikon D200||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D200|
|Nikon D2X||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D2X|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the D300 and the D4 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D300 was replaced by the Nikon D300S, while the D4 was followed by the Nikon D4S. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D300 or the Nikon D4 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D300:
- More compact: Is smaller (147x114mm vs 160x157mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 415g or 31 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (70 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2007).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D4:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (16.2 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 15%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (22 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.1 stops ISO advantage).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (EXPEED 3 vs EXPEED).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.63x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (2600 versus 1000) out of 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 4 years and 4 months of technical progress since the D300 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D4 is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 5 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D300 and the Nikon D4 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D300 and the D4 in practical situations. 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 why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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.
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Nikon D300 vs Nikon D4
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||Nikon D300||Nikon D4|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2007||January 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 1799||USD 5999|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D300||Nikon D4|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.8 mm||36.0 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.88 mm2||860.4 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||16.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4288 x 2848 pixels||4928 x 3280 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.53 μm||7.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||1.88 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200-3200 ISO||100-12800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-6400 ISO||50-204800 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED||EXPEED 3|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||67||89|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||24.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||13.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||679||2965|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D300||Nikon D4|
|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||3.0 inch||3.2 inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D300||Nikon D4|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||6 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||400 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||CF or XQD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D300||Nikon D4|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D300||Nikon D4|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1000 shots per charge||2600 shots per charge|
147 x 114 x 74 mm
(5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in)
160 x 157 x 91 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.6 in)
|Camera Weight||925 g (32.6 oz)||1340 g (47.3 oz)|
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