Nikon D300 vs Panasonic GF2
The Nikon D300 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and November 2010. The D300 is a DSLR, while the GF2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D300) and a Four Thirds (GF2) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D300 and the Panasonic GF2 is provided 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.
The GF2 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the D300 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF2 is considerably smaller (54 percent) than the Nikon D300. Moreover, the GF2 is substantially lighter (66 percent) than the D300. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D300 is splash and dust resistant, while the GF2 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GF2). Mirrorless cameras, such as the GF2, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
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|
|2.||Panasonic GF2||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
|3.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|4.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|5.||Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|6.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|7.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|8.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|9.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|10.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|11.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699|
|12.||Nikon D2X||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999|
|13.||Panasonic G3||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599|
|14.||Panasonic GF3||108 mm||67 mm||32 mm||264 g||300||n||Jun 2011||549|
|15.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|16.||Panasonic G2||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599|
|17.||Panasonic GF1||119 mm||71 mm||36 mm||385 g||380||n||Sep 2009||749|
|Notes: 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 GF2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 69 percent) than the D300, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 Panasonic GF2 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GF2 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 GF2 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 12.2MP, the D300 offers a slightly higher resolution than the GF2 (12MP), but the D300 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 4.33μm for the GF2) due to its larger sensor. However, the GF2 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 2 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 pixels.
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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
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 GF2, with an overall score that is 13 points higher. This advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 1.7 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.
|2.||Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|7.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|13.||Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|14.||Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49|
|15.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|16.||Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|17.||Panasonic GF1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||513||54|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The GF2 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D300 does not. The highest resolution format that the GF2 can use is 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D300 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GF2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the GF2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the DMW-LVF1. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D300 and Panasonic GF2 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|2.||Panasonic GF2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n|
|3.||Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|4.||Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n|
|5.||Nikon D60||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|6.||Nikon D90||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5||Y||n|
|7.||Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|10.||Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D200||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D2X||optical||Y||2.5 / 235||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|13.||Panasonic G3||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
|14.||Panasonic GF3||none||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.2||Y||n|
|15.||Panasonic G10||202||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n|
|16.||Panasonic G2||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n|
|17.||Panasonic GF1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
One feature that is present on the D300, but is missing on the GF2 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 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 GF2 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 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.||Panasonic GF2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||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.||Panasonic G3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Panasonic GF3||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Panasonic G10||Y||mono / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Panasonic G2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic GF1||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D300 (unlike the GF2) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D300 and the GF2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D300 was replaced by the Nikon D300S, while the GF2 was followed by the Panasonic GF3. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Panasonic websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D300 better than the Panasonic GF2 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Nikon D300:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 460k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 2.6 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 300) 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2:
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More compact: Is smaller (113x68mm vs 147x114mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 615g or 66 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (69 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 2 months of technical progress since the D300 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D300 is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 7 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D300 and the Panasonic GF2 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings 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 GF2 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|
|2.||Panasonic GF2||3/5||82/100||..||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|3.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|4.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|5.||Nikon D60||..||80/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|6.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|7.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|8.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||..||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|9.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|10.||Nikon D80||..||+||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|11.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699|
|12.||Nikon D2X||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||4,999|
|13.||Panasonic G3||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599|
|14.||Panasonic GF3||3/5||82/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549|
|15.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|16.||Panasonic G2||..||..||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599|
|17.||Panasonic GF1||..||85/100||..||69/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||749|
|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 1D Mark IV vs Panasonic GF2
- Canon 400D vs Nikon D300
- Canon SX520 vs Nikon D300
- Canon T3 vs Panasonic GF2
- Leica M-E Typ 240 vs Panasonic GF2
- Leica V-LUX 2 vs Nikon D300
- Nikon D100 vs Nikon D300
- Nikon D300 vs Sony A6000
- Nikon D300 vs Sony A7S
- Nikon D5 vs Panasonic GF2
- Nikon D5600 vs Panasonic GF2
- Panasonic GF2 vs Panasonic GH1
Specifications: Nikon D300 vs Panasonic GF2
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||Panasonic GF2|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2007||November 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 1,799||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D300||Panasonic GF2|
|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||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4288 x 2848 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.53 μm||4.33 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||5.34 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 6,400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||EXPEED||Venus FHD|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||67||54|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||21.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||679||506|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D300||Panasonic GF2|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D300||Panasonic GF2|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||6 shutter flaps/s||2.6 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|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||Panasonic GF2|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D300||Panasonic GF2|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1000 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
147 x 114 x 74 mm
(5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in)
113 x 68 x 33 mm
(4.4 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||925 g (32.6 oz)||310 g (10.9 oz)|
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