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Nikon D300 vs Olympus E-5

The Nikon D300 and the Olympus E-5 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2007 and September 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D300) and a Four Thirds (E-5) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12.2 megapixels.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D300
versus
Olympus E-5
Nikon D300   Olympus E-5
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video 720/30p Video
ISO 200-3,200 (100 - 6,400) ISO 100-6,400
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 922k dots 3.0 LCD, 920k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
6 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
1000 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
147 x 114 x 74 mm, 925 g 142 x 117 x 75 mm, 873 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D300 and the Olympus E-5? 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

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D300 and the Olympus E-5. 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Nikon D300 vs Olympus E-5
Compare D300 versus E-5 top
Comparison D300 or E-5 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D300 and the Olympus E-5 are of equal size. However, the E-5 is markedly lighter (6 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-5).

Concerning battery life, the D300 gets 1000 shots out of its EN-EL3e battery, while the E-5 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-5 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D300 147 mm 114 mm 74 mm 925 g 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799 i
2.
 
Olympus E-5 142 mm 117 mm 75 mm 873 g 750 Y Sep 2010 1,699 i
3.
 
Nikon D500 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 860 g 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i
4.
 
Nikon D7000 132 mm 105 mm 77 mm 780 g 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499 i
5.
 
Nikon D300S 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 938 g 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799 i
6.
 
Nikon D60 126 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 500 n Jan 2008 629 i
7.
 
Nikon D90 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299 i
8.
 
Nikon D700 147 mm 123 mm 77 mm 1074 g 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999 i
9.
 
Nikon D3 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1300 g 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999 i
10.
 
Nikon D2Xs 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699 i
11.
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699 i
12.
 
Olympus E-450 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2009 499 i
13.
 
Olympus E-600 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 535 g 500 n Aug 2009 449 i
14.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699 i
15.
 
Olympus E-3 142 mm 116 mm 75 mm 876 g 750 Y Oct 2007 1,699 i
16.
 
Sony A77 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 732 g 470 Y Aug 2011 1,399 i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

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 E-5 was somewhat cheaper (by 6 percent) than the D300 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 Olympus E-5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-5 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-5 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D300 and Olympus E-5 sensor measures

Even though the D300 has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 12.2 megapixels. This implies that the D300 has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 4.29μm for the E-5), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. It should, however, be noted that the E-5 is much more recent (by 3 years) than the D300, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

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-5 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

D300 versus E-5 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the D300 provides substantially higher image quality than the E-5, 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 0.4 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.

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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
1.
 
Nikon D300 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.112.0679 67
2.
 
Olympus E-5 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.610.5519 56
3.
 
Nikon D500 APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.01324 83
4.
 
Nikon D7000 APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.91167 80
5.
 
Nikon D300S APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.2787 70
6.
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.4562 65
7.
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.5977 73
8.
 
Nikon D700 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.22303 80
9.
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.22290 81
10.
 
Nikon D2Xs APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.210.9489 59
11.
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.5583 64
12.
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.5512 56
13.
 
Olympus E-600 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.510.3541 55
14.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.3536 55
15.
 
Olympus E-3 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.610.5571 56
16.
 
Sony A77 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.2801 78

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The E-5 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D300 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-5 can use is 720/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D300 and the E-5 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-5 (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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D300 and Olympus E-5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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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
1.
 
Nikon D300optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-5optical Y 3.0 920 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
3.
 
Nikon D500optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
4.
 
Nikon D7000optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
5.
 
Nikon D300Soptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
6.
 
Nikon D60optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
7.
 
Nikon D90optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n
8.
 
Nikon D700optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
9.
 
Nikon D3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
10.
 
Nikon D2Xsoptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
11.
 
Nikon D200optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
12.
 
Olympus E-450optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-600optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
14.
 
Olympus E-620optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-3optical Y 2.5 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
16.
 
Sony A772359 Y 3.0 921 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 Y Y

One feature that differentiates the E-5 and the D300 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-5 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-5 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-5 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-5 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D300 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 D300 and Olympus E-5 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
1.
 
Nikon D300Y----mini2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-5Ystereo---mini2.0---
3.
 
Nikon D500YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYY
4.
 
Nikon D7000YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Nikon D300SYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
6.
 
Nikon D60Y-----2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D90Ymonomono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D700Y----mini2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D3Y----mini2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D2XsY-----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D200Y-----2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-450Y-----2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-600Y-----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-620Y-----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-3Y-----2.0---
16.
 
Sony A77YstereomonoY-mini2.0---

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-5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D300 was replaced by the Nikon D300S, while the E-5 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Olympus websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D300 better than the Olympus E-5 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D300:

  • 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).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.58x).
  • 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.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2007).

ilogo

Advantages of the Olympus E-5:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p video.
  • 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.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the D300 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D300 emerges as the winner of the contest (8 : 6 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding 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.

D300 08:06 E-5

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D300 and the Olympus E-5 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D300 or the E-5 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.

Expert reviews

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 (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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D300..+ ++ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799 i
2.
 
Olympus E-54/5..75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,699 i
3.
 
Nikon D5005/5+ +91/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i
4.
 
Nikon D70004/5..80/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499 i
5.
 
Nikon D300S5/5+ +82/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799 i
6.
 
Nikon D60..80/100+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 629 i
7.
 
Nikon D90..+ ++ +4/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299 i
8.
 
Nikon D700..89/100+ +4.5/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999 i
9.
 
Nikon D3....+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999 i
10.
 
Nikon D2Xs.......... Jun 2006 4,699 i
11.
 
Nikon D200..+ ++ +o.. Nov 2005 1,699 i
12.
 
Olympus E-450......4/54/5 Mar 2009 499 i
13.
 
Olympus E-600........4.5/5 Aug 2009 449 i
14.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/10072/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699 i
15.
 
Olympus E-3..88/100+ +o4/5 Oct 2007 1,699 i
16.
 
Sony A775/591/10081/100..5/5 Aug 2011 1,399 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 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 D300:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-5:
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 use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Nikon D300 vs Olympus E-5

    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 D300 Olympus E-5
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date August 2007 September 2010
    Launch Price USD 1,799 USD 1,699
    Sensor Specs Nikon D300 Olympus E-5
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4288 x 2848 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.53 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 3.28 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 6,400 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor EXPEED TruePic V+
    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) 679 519
    Screen Specs Nikon D300 Olympus E-5
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.63x 0.58x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 922k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D300 Olympus E-5
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 6 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy150 000 actuations150 000 actuations
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inno Intervalometer
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-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-5
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D300 Olympus E-5
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-EL3e BLM-5
    Battery Life (CIPA)1000 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 147 x 114 x 74 mm
    (5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in)
    142 x 117 x 75 mm
    (5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 925 g (32.6 oz) 873 g (30.8 oz)

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