Nikon D300 vs Sony A900
The Nikon D300 and the Sony Alpha A900 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and September 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D300) and a full frame (A900) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24.4 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 Sony Alpha A900? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D300 and the Sony A900. 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 Sony A900 is notably larger (9 percent) than the Nikon D300. However, the A900 is slightly lighter (3 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999||amazon.com|
|5.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699||ebay.com|
|14.||Panasonic S1||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1017 g||400||Y||Feb 2019||2,499||amazon.com|
|15.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999||ebay.com|
|Note: 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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D300 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the A900, 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.
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 Sony A900 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A900 is 131 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24.4MP, the A900 offers a higher resolution than the D300 (12.2MP), but the A900 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 5.53μm for the D300) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A900 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) 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.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A900 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A900 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.2 inches or 76.8 x 51.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 41 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 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 Sony Alpha A900 offers exactly the same ISO settings.
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.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 consideration, the A900 offers substantially better image quality than the D300 (overall score 12 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.1 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.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|9.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|10.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|13.||Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|14.||Panasonic S1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.5||3333||95|
|15.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|16.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|17.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D300 and the A900 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 A900 has a higher magnification than the one of the D300 (0.74x vs 0.63x), 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 Sony A900 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Sony A900||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||Y|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9/s||n||n|
|4.||Nikon D500||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|5.||Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Nikon D60||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D90||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5/s||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|11.||Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|12.||Nikon D200||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Olympus E-3||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|14.||Panasonic S1||5760||Y||3.2 / 2100||full-flex||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0/s||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A99||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A850||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D300 has one, while the A900 does not. While the built-in flash of the D300 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
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 A900 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A900 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 Sony Alpha A900 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.||Sony A900||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Nikon D500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Nikon D7000||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Nikon D300S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon D60||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D90||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D700||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D3||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D2Xs||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D200||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-3||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Panasonic S1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|15.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A99||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony A850||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||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 A900 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D300 was replaced by the Nikon D300S, while the A900 was followed by the Sony A99. Further information on the features and operation of the D300 and A900 can be found, respectively, in the Nikon D300 Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony A900 Manual.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D300 and the Sony A900? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D300:
- 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 880) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- 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).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A900:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.4 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 41%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (12 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.1 stops ISO advantage).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.63x).
- 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: Was introduced somewhat (1 year) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A900 emerges as the winner of the match-up (8 : 6 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 Sony A900 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D300 or the A900. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.||Sony A900||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||..||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||4.7/5||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999||amazon.com|
|5.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D60||..||80/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D3||..||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-3||..||88/100||..||+ +||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699||ebay.com|
|14.||Panasonic S1||4.5/5||+ +||4.5/5||88/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||2,499||amazon.com|
|15.||Sony A99 II||..||..||4.5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony A99||5/5||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony A850||3/5||..||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999||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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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.
Specifications: Nikon D300 vs Sony A900
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||Sony A900|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2007||September 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 1,799||USD 2,999|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D300||Sony A900|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.8 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.88 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||24.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4288 x 2848 pixels||6048 x 4032 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.53 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 3,200 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||67||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||679||1431|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D300||Sony A900|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D300||Sony A900|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||6 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||CF or MS cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D300||Sony A900|
|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||Sony A900|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1000 shots per charge||880 shots per charge|
147 x 114 x 74 mm
(5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in)
156 x 117 x 82 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||925 g (32.6 oz)||895 g (31.6 oz)|
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