Nikon D300 vs P950
The Nikon D300 and the Nikon Coolpix P950 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and January 2020. The D300 is a DSLR, while the P950 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D300) and a 1/2.3-inch (P950) sensor. The D300 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the P950 provides 15.9 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 Nikon D300 and the Nikon Coolpix P950? 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 P950 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon P950 is notably smaller (8 percent) than the Nikon D300. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D300 is splash and dust resistant, while the P950 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the P950 has a lens built in, whereas the D300 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D300 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the D300 gets 1000 shots out of its EN-EL3e battery, while the P950 can take 290 images on a single charge of its EN-EL20a power pack. The power pack in the P950 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|2.||Nikon P950||140 mm||110 mm||150 mm||1005 g||290||n||Jan 2020||799|
|3.||Leica V-LUX 2||124 mm||80 mm||95 mm||520 g||410||n||Sep 2010||849|
|4.||Nikon B600||122 mm||82 mm||99 mm||500 g||280||n||Jan 2019||349|
|5.||Nikon A1000||114 mm||72 mm||41 mm||330 g||250||n||Jan 2019||429|
|6.||Nikon P1000||146 mm||119 mm||181 mm||1415 g||250||n||Jul 2018||999|
|7.||Nikon P900||140 mm||103 mm||137 mm||899 g||360||n||Mar 2015||599|
|8.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|9.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|10.||Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|11.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|12.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|13.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|14.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|15.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|16.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699|
|17.||Nikon D2X||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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 P950 was launched at a lower price than the D300, despite having a lens built in. 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.
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. 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 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 P950 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the P950 is 92 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 5.6. The sensor in the D300 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the P950 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the P950 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 12.2 MP of the D300. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.33μm versus 5.53μm for the D300). However, it should be noted that the P950 is much more recent (by 12 years and 4 months) than the D300, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the P950 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon P950 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the P950 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 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 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 Coolpix P950 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-12800.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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.
| DXO |
|3.||Leica V-LUX 2||1/2.3||14.0||4320||3240||1080/60i||..||..||..||..|
|12.||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 can also record movies. The P950 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D300 does not. The highest resolution format that the P950 can use is 4K/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the P950 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the D300 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D300 and Nikon P950 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|3.||Leica V-LUX 2||202||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/2000s||11.0||Y||Y|
One feature that is present on the D300, but is missing on the P950 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The P950 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the D300 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Nikon D300 and the Nikon P950 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 P950 uses SDXC cards.
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 Coolpix P950 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Leica V-LUX 2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the P950 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D300 does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D300 (unlike the P950) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The P950 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the D300 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D300 was succeeded by the Nikon D300S. 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? Is the Nikon D300 better than the Nikon P950 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Nikon D300:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1000 versus 290) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2007).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon Coolpix P950:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.9 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 12%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D300 requires a separate lens.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 12 years and 4 months of technical progress since the D300 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the P950 emerges as the winner of the match-up (15 : 13 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 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 Nikon D300 and the Nikon P950 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Superzoom Camera listings 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D300 or the P950 perform in practice. 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 why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|2.||Nikon P950||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2020||799|
|3.||Leica V-LUX 2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2010||849|
|4.||Nikon B600||..||+||..||3.5/5||3/5||Jan 2019||349|
|5.||Nikon A1000||..||+ +||..||3.5/5||3/5||Jan 2019||429|
|6.||Nikon P1000||..||+||73/100||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jul 2018||999|
|7.||Nikon P900||..||..||77/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2015||599|
|8.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|9.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|10.||Nikon D60||..||80/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|11.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|12.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|13.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|14.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|15.||Nikon D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|16.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699|
|17.||Nikon D2X||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||4,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Nikon D300 vs Nikon P950
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 P950|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||24-2000mm f/2.8-6.5|
|Launch Date||August 2007||January 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 1,799||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D300||Nikon P950|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||1/2.3" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.8 mm||6.17 x 4.55 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.88 mm2||28.0735 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||7.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4288 x 2848 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.53 μm||1.33 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||56.73 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||67||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||679||..|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D300||Nikon P950|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||90%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D300||Nikon P950|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||6 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D300||Nikon P950|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D300||Nikon P950|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1000 shots per charge||290 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
147 x 114 x 74 mm
(5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in)
140 x 110 x 150 mm
(5.5 x 4.3 x 5.9 in)
|Camera Weight||925 g (32.6 oz)||1005 g (35.5 oz)|
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