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Nikon D300S vs D5000

The Nikon D300S and the Nikon D5000 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2009 and April 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C 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 D300S   Nikon D5000
Nikon D300S Nikon D5000
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor
720/24p Video 720/24p Video
ISO 200-3200 (100-6400) ISO 200-3200 (200-6400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD, 920k dots 2.7" LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen)
7 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyNot weather sealed
950 shots per battery charge510 shots per battery charge
147 x 115 x 81 mm, 938 g 127 x 104 x 80 mm, 590 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D300S and the Nikon D5000? 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: Nikon D300S vs D5000

The physical size and weight of the Nikon D300S and the Nikon D5000 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.

Size Nikon D300S vs Nikon D5000
Compare D300S versus D5000 top
Comparison D300S or D5000 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D5000 is notably smaller (22 percent) than the Nikon D300S. Moreover, the D5000 is substantially lighter (37 percent) than the D300S. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D300S is splash and dust resistant, while the D5000 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the D300S gets 950 shots out of its EN-EL3e battery, while the D5000 can take 510 images on a single charge of its EN-EL9a power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D300S» 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 33.1 oz 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799- i Nikon D300S
 
Nikon D5000« 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749- i Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D500« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
 
Nikon D5100« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.8 oz 660 n Apr 2011 749- i Nikon D5100
 
Nikon D7000« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 27.5 oz 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499- i Nikon D7000
 
Nikon D3100« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 550 n Aug 2010 599- i Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D3000« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 18.9 oz 500 n Jul 2009 599- i Nikon D3000
 
Nikon D60« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 500 n Jan 2008 629- i Nikon D60
 
Nikon D90« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 24.8 oz 850 n Aug 2008 1,299- i Nikon D90
 
Nikon D700« » 5.8 in 4.8 in 3.0 in 37.9 oz 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999- i Nikon D700
 
Nikon D300« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 2.9 in 32.6 oz 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799- i Nikon D300
 
Nikon D2Xs« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699- i Nikon D2Xs
 
Nikon D200« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 32.5 oz 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699- i Nikon D200
 
Nikon D2X« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999- i Nikon D2X
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The D5000 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 58 percent) than the D300S, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Nikon D300S vs D5000

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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D300S and Nikon D5000 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 12.2 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the D300S and the D5000 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the D300S is a somewhat more recent model (by 3 months) than the D5000, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

The Nikon D300S 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 D5000 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-6400.

D300S versus D5000 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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D300S» APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770Nikon D300S
 
Nikon D5000« APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483Nikon D500
 
Nikon D5100« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380Nikon D5100
 
Nikon D7000« » APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780Nikon D7000
 
Nikon D3100« » APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D3000« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.311.156362Nikon D3000
 
Nikon D60« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.511.456265Nikon D60
 
Nikon D90« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773Nikon D90
 
Nikon D700« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2230380Nikon D700
 
Nikon D300« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.112.067967Nikon D300
 
Nikon D2Xs« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.210.948959Nikon D2Xs
 
Nikon D200« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.311.558364Nikon D200
 
Nikon D2X« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.110.947659Nikon D2X

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (720/24p).

 

Feature comparison: Nikon D300S vs D5000

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D300S and the D5000 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 viewfinder in the D300S offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D5000 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D300S has a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.51x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D300S, the Nikon D5000, and comparable cameras.

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
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D300S»optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y n Nikon D300S
 
Nikon D5000«optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D500« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n Nikon D500
 
Nikon D5100« »optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Nikon D5100
 
Nikon D7000« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n Nikon D7000
 
Nikon D3100« »optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D3000« »optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D3000
 
Nikon D60« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D60
 
Nikon D90« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n Nikon D90
 
Nikon D700« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n Nikon D700
 
Nikon D300« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n Nikon D300
 
Nikon D2Xs« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Nikon D2Xs
 
Nikon D200« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n Nikon D200
 
Nikon D2X« »optical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Nikon D2X

One feature that is present on the D300S, but is missing on the D5000 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 D5000 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 D300S does not have a selfie-screen.

The Nikon D300S and the Nikon D5000 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 D300S writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the D5000 uses SDHC cards. The D300S features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D5000 only has one slot.

 

Connectivity comparison: Nikon D300S vs D5000

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 D300S and Nikon D5000 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D300S»YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D300S
 
Nikon D5000«Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D500« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D500
 
Nikon D5100« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D5100
 
Nikon D7000« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D7000
 
Nikon D3100« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D3000« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D3000
 
Nikon D60« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D60
 
Nikon D90« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D90
 
Nikon D700« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D700
 
Nikon D300« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D300
 
Nikon D2Xs« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D2Xs
 
Nikon D200« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D200
 
Nikon D2X« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D2X

It is notable that the D300S has a microphone port, which is missing on the D5000. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D300S (unlike the D5000) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the D300S and the D5000 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D5000 was replaced by the Nikon D5100, while the D300S was followed by the Nikon D500. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.


Review summary: Nikon D300S vs D5000

So what is the bottom line? Is the Nikon D300S better than the Nikon D5000 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Nikon D300S:

  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.51x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (950 versus 510) 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.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 3 months after the D5000).


Reasons to prefer the Nikon D5000:

  • More flexible LCD: Has full-flex 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.
  • More compact: Is smaller (127x104mm vs 147x115mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 348g or 37 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (58 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2009).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D300S is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D300S 13:06 D5000

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D300S and the Nikon D5000 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D300S or the D5000 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: Nikon D300S vs D5000

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D300S»+ +82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799- i Nikon D300S
 
Nikon D5000«+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749- i Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D500« »+ +91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
 
Nikon D5100« »+ +76/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749- i Nikon D5100
 
Nikon D7000« »-80/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499- i Nikon D7000
 
Nikon D3100« »+ +72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599- i Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D3000« »+72/1004/53.5/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599- i Nikon D3000
 
Nikon D60« »80/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Jan 2008 629- i Nikon D60
 
Nikon D90« »+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i Nikon D90
 
Nikon D700« »89/100+ +4.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999- i Nikon D700
 
Nikon D300« »+ ++ +5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799- i Nikon D300
 
Nikon D2Xs« »---o- Jun 2006 4,699- i Nikon D2Xs
 
Nikon D200« »+ ++ +o5/5- Nov 2005 1,699- i Nikon D200
 
Nikon D2X« »-+ +-o- Sep 2004 4,999- i Nikon D2X
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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.

Nikon D300S:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D5000:
Check Ebay offers

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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes 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 D300S vs Nikon D5000

    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 D300S Nikon D5000
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date July 2009 April 2009
    Launch Price USD 1799 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Nikon D300S Nikon D5000
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.8 mm 23.6 x 15.8 mm
    Sensor Area 372.88 mm2 372.88 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4288 x 2848 pixels 4288 x 2848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.53 μm 5.53 μm
    Pixel Density 3.28 MP/cm2 3.28 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/24p Video 720/24p Video
    ISO Setting 200-3200 ISO 200-3200 ISO
    ISO Boost 100-6400 ISO 200-6400 ISO
    Image Processor EXPEED EXPEED
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 70 72
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.5 22.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.2 12.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 787 868
    Screen Specs Nikon D300S Nikon D5000
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.63x 0.51x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 2.7 inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fully flexible screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D300S Nikon D5000
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 7 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy150 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF or SDXC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D300S Nikon D5000
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D300S Nikon D5000
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyNot weather sealed
    Battery Type EN-EL3e power pack EN-EL9a power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)950 shots per charge510 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 147 x 115 x 81 mm
    (5.8 x 4.5 x 3.2 in)
    127 x 104 x 80 mm
    (5.0 x 4.1 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 938 g (33.1 oz) 590 g (20.8 oz)

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