Nikon D300 vs Olympus E-3
The Nikon D300 and the Olympus E-3 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and October 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D300) and a Four Thirds (E-3) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 10 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 Olympus E-3? 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 Olympus E-3 are illustrated 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 width, height and depth dimensions 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 Olympus E-3 is somewhat smaller (2 percent) than the Nikon D300. Moreover, the E-3 is markedly lighter (5 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 will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D300) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-3).
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, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699||ebay.com|
|3.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799||ebay.com|
|5.||Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D2X||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-5||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus E-30||142 mm||108 mm||75 mm||701 g||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699||ebay.com|
|16.||Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799||ebay.com|
|17.||Olympus E-1||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-3 was somewhat cheaper (by 6 percent) than the D300 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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 Olympus E-3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-3 is 40 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the D300 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-3 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 12.2MP, the D300 offers a higher resolution than the E-3 (10MP), but the D300 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 4.74μm for the E-3) due to its larger sensor. It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D300 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D300 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 Olympus E-3 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 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 Olympus E-3 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the D300 provides substantially higher image quality than the E-3, with an overall score that is 11 points higher. This advantage is based on 0.5 bits higher color depth, 1.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|2.||Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|7.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|13.||Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|14.||Olympus E-30||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|15.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|16.||Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|17.||Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||20.0||9.7||-145||44|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D300 and the E-3 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 D300 has a higher magnification than the one of the E-3 (0.63x vs 0.58x), 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 D300 and Olympus E-3 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Olympus E-3||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Nikon D60||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Nikon D90||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5/s||Y||n|
|7.||Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|10.||Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D200||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D2X||optical||Y||2.5 / 235||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|13.||Olympus E-5||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-30||optical||Y||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-520||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Olympus E-510||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Olympus E-1||optical||Y||1.8 / 134||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that differentiates the E-3 and the D300 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-3 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D300 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The E-3 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 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 D300 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-3 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-3 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 Olympus E-3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D300||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-3||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Nikon D7000||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Nikon D300S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Nikon D60||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Nikon D90||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon D700||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D40X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D2Xs||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D80||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D200||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D2X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-5||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-30||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-520||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Olympus E-510||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Olympus E-1||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the D300 and the E-3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D300 was replaced by the Nikon D300S, while the E-3 was followed by the Olympus E-5. Further information on the features and operation of the D300 and E-3 can be found, respectively, in the Nikon D300 Manual (free pdf) or the online Olympus E-3 Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D300 better than the Olympus E-3 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Nikon D300:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.2 vs 10MP) with a 13% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.5 EV of extra DR).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.58x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 230k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1000 versus 750) on a single battery charge.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-3:
- 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.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D300 is the clear winner of the match-up (9 : 4 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. 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 Olympus E-3 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D300 or the E-3 perform in practice. 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-3||..||88/100||..||+ +||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699||ebay.com|
|3.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799||ebay.com|
|5.||Nikon D60||..||80/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||..||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D80||..||+||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D2X||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||4,999||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-5||4/5||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus E-30||..||..||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699||ebay.com|
|16.||Olympus E-510||..||89/100||..||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799||ebay.com|
|17.||Olympus E-1||..||..||..||+||o||..||Jun 2003||1,699||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1Ds vs Nikon D300
- Canon SL3 vs Nikon D300
- Canon T2i vs Nikon D300
- Fujifilm X-Pro1 vs Olympus E-3
- Fujifilm X70 vs Nikon D300
- Nikon D300 vs Olympus E-600
- Nikon D300 vs Sony A7R IV
- Olympus E-3 vs Panasonic TS7
- Olympus E-3 vs Sony A6600
- Olympus E-3 vs Sony HX350
- Olympus E-3 vs Sony HX90V
- Olympus E-3 vs Sony RX10 II
Specifications: Nikon D300 vs Olympus E-3
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||Olympus E-3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2007||October 2007|
|Launch Price||USD 1,799||USD 1,699|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D300||Olympus E-3|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.8 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.88 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||10 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4288 x 2848 pixels||3648 x 2736 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.53 μm||4.74 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||4.44 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 6,400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||EXPEED||TruePic III|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||67||56|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||21.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||10.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||679||571|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D300||Olympus E-3|
|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||3.0inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D300||Olympus E-3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||6 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||CF or XD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D300||Olympus E-3|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D300||Olympus E-3|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1000 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
147 x 114 x 74 mm
(5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in)
142 x 116 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||925 g (32.6 oz)||876 g (30.9 oz)|
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