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Nikon D300 versus Nikon D700

The Nikon D300 and the Nikon D700 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and July 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D300) and a full frame (D700) sensor. The D300 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixel, whereas the D700 provides 12.1 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 D300 vs Nikon D700

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D300 and the Nikon D700. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the D300 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Nikon D300 vs Nikon D700
Compare D300 versus D700 top
Compare D300 and D700 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D700 is notably larger (8 percent) than the Nikon D300. Moreover, the D700 is markedly heavier (16 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 D700) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (D300). You can find a comprehensive overview of suitable optics in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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)
Nikon D300» 5.8 in 4.5 in 2.9 in 32.6 oz 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799- i
Nikon D700« 5.8 in 4.8 in 3.0 in 37.9 oz 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999- i
Nikon D850« » 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D500« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Nikon D810« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299- i
Nikon D800« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 Y Feb 2012 2,999- i
Nikon D7000« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 27.5 oz 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499- i
Nikon D3S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 43.7 oz 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199- i
Nikon D300S« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 33.1 oz 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799- i
Nikon D90« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 24.8 oz 850 n Aug 2008 1,299- i
Nikon D3« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 45.9 oz 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999- i
Nikon D2Xs« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699- i
Nikon D80« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999- i
Nikon D200« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 32.5 oz 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699- i
Nikon D2X« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D300 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the D700, 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 D300 vs Nikon D700

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D300 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D700 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D700 is 131 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D300 and Nikon D700 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Nikon D300 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixel, compared with 12.1 MP of the Nikon D700. This megapixel 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 8.43μm for the D700). Moreover, it should be noted that the D700 is a somewhat more recent model (by 10 months) than the D300, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

D300 versus D700 MP

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 consideration, the D700 offers substantially better image quality than the D300 (overall score 13 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 0.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.8 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Nikon D300» APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.112.067967
Nikon D700« Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2230380
Nikon D850« » Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100
Nikon D500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
Nikon D810« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397
Nikon D800« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.314.4285395
Nikon D7000« » APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780
Nikon D3S« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
Nikon D300S« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770
Nikon D90« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
Nikon D3« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2229081
Nikon D2Xs« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.210.948959
Nikon D80« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.111.252461
Nikon D200« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.311.558364
Nikon D2X« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.110.947659
Both the D300 and the D700 offer Live View, so that they make it possible to use the rear screen for framing. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Nikon D300 vs Nikon D700

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D300 and the D700 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D300 and Nikon D700 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera 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
Nikon D300»optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D700«optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n
Nikon D850« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 9.0 n n
Nikon D500« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n
Nikon D810« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D800« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 4.0 Y n
Nikon D7000« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D3S« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Nikon D300S« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 7.0 Y n
Nikon D90« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 4.5 Y n
Nikon D3« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Nikon D2Xs« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Nikon D80« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Nikon D200« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D2X« »optical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n

Both the D300 and the D700 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D300 was replaced by the Nikon D300S, while the D700 was followed by the Nikon D800.

Review summary: Nikon D300 vs Nikon D700

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D300 and the Nikon D700? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Advantages of the Nikon D300:

  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 149g or 14 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2007).


Reasons to prefer the Nikon D700:

  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.8 stops ISO advantage).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (10 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D700 emerges as the winner of the match-up (5 : 3 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.

D300 03:05 D700

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D300 or the D700 handle or perform in practice. 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 cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Nikon D300»HiRecHiRec5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799- i
Nikon D700«89/100HiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999- i
Nikon D850« »HiRec89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D500« »HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Nikon D810« »-86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299- i
Nikon D800« »HiRec82/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2012 2,999- i
Nikon D7000« »-80/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499- i
Nikon D3S« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199- i
Nikon D300S« »HiRec82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799- i
Nikon D90« »HiRecHiRec4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i
Nikon D3« »-HiRec5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999- i
Nikon D2Xs« »---rev- Jun 2006 4,699- i
Nikon D80« »RecHiRecrev4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999- i
Nikon D200« »HiRecHiRecrev5/5- Nov 2005 1,699- i
Nikon D2X« »-HiRec-rev- Sep 2004 4,999- i

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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