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Nikon D300S versus Olympus E-5

The Nikon D300S and the Olympus E-5 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in July 2009 and September 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D300S) and a Four Thirds (E-5) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12.2 megapixel. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Nikon D300S vs Olympus E-5

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D300S 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the D300S – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Nikon D300S vs Olympus E-5
Compare D300S versus E-5 top
Compare D300S and E-5 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-5 is somewhat smaller (2 percent) than the Nikon D300S. Moreover, the E-5 is markedly lighter (7 percent) than the D300S. 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D300S) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-5).

Concerning battery life, the D300S gets 950 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 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, 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
Olympus E-5« 5.6 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 30.8 oz 750 Y Sep 2010 1,699- i Olympus E-5
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 D7000« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 27.5 oz 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499- i Nikon D7000
Nikon D3S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 43.7 oz 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Nikon D5000« » 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749- i Nikon D5000
Nikon D60« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 500 n Jan 2008 629- i Nikon D60
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
Olympus E-30« » 5.6 in 4.3 in 3.0 in 24.7 oz 750 n Nov 2008 1,299- i Olympus E-30
Olympus E-520« » 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 18.9 oz 750 n May 2008 699- i Olympus E-520
Olympus E-3« » 5.6 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 30.9 oz 750 Y Oct 2007 1,699- i Olympus E-3
Olympus E-510« » 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 19.0 oz 750 n Mar 2007 799- i Olympus E-510
Olympus E-1« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 26.0 oz 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699- i Olympus E-1

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 E-5 was somewhat cheaper (by 6 percent) than the D300S 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Nikon D300S vs Olympus E-5

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D300S 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 D300S has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-5 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D300S and Olympus E-5 sensor measures

Even though the D300S has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 12.2 megapixel. This implies that the D300S 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 a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 1 month) than the D300S, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

D300S versus E-5 MP

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 D300S provides substantially higher image quality than the E-5, with an overall score that is 14 points higher. This advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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
Olympus E-5« Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.610.551956Olympus E-5
Nikon D500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483Nikon D500
Nikon D7000« » APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780Nikon D7000
Nikon D3S« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382Nikon D3S
Nikon D5000« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872Nikon D5000
Nikon D60« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.511.456265Nikon D60
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
Olympus E-30« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.453055Olympus E-30
Olympus E-520« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.410.454855Olympus E-520
Olympus E-3« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.610.557156Olympus E-3
Olympus E-510« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.210.044252Olympus E-510
Olympus E-1« » Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920-----Olympus E-1

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, but the E-5 provides a faster frame rate than the D300S. It can shoot movie footage at 720/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 720/24p.

 

Feature comparison: Nikon D300S vs Olympus E-5

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D300S 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D300S and Olympus E-5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Nikon D300S»optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 7.0 Y n Nikon D300S
Olympus E-5«optical Y 3.0 920 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y Olympus E-5
Nikon D500« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n Nikon D500
Nikon D7000« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n Nikon D7000
Nikon D3S« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D3S
Nikon D5000« »optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 4000 4.0 Y n Nikon D5000
Nikon D60« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D60
Nikon D700« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n Nikon D700
Nikon D300« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n Nikon D300
Nikon D2Xs« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D200« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Nikon D200
Nikon D2X« »optical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Nikon D2X
Olympus E-30« »optical Y 2.7 230 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y Olympus E-30
Olympus E-520« »optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y Y Olympus E-520
Olympus E-3« »optical Y 2.5 230 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y Olympus E-3
Olympus E-510« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-510
Olympus E-1« »optical Y 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n Olympus E-1

One feature that differentiates the E-5 and the D300S is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-5 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D300S has to rely on optical image stabilization in OIS-equipped lenses to achieve the same effect.

The D300S writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the E-5 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

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
Olympus E-5«Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-5
Nikon D500« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D500
Nikon D7000« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D7000
Nikon D3S« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Nikon D3S
Nikon D5000« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D5000
Nikon D60« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D60
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
Olympus E-30« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-30
Olympus E-520« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-520
Olympus E-3« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-3
Olympus E-510« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-510
Olympus E-1« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-1

Both the D300S and the E-5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D300S was replaced by the Nikon D500, while the E-5 does not have a direct successor.

Review summary: Nikon D300S vs Olympus E-5

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D300S or the Olympus E-5 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Nikon D300S:

  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 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 (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (950 versus 750) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in July 2009).

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-5:

  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (720/30p versus 720/24p).
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 1 month) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D300S emerges as the winner of the contest (7 : 4 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.

D300S 07:04 E-5

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the D300S and the E-5 in practical situations. 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 table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

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»HiRec82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799- i Nikon D300S
Olympus E-5«-75/1004/5-4.5/5 Sep 2010 1,699- i Olympus E-5
Nikon D500« »HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
Nikon D7000« »-80/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499- i Nikon D7000
Nikon D3S« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Nikon D5000« »HiRec75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749- i Nikon D5000
Nikon D60« »80/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Jan 2008 629- i Nikon D60
Nikon D700« »89/100HiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999- i Nikon D700
Nikon D300« »HiRecHiRec5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799- i Nikon D300
Nikon D2Xs« »---rev- Jun 2006 4,699- i Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D200« »HiRecHiRecrev5/5- Nov 2005 1,699- i Nikon D200
Nikon D2X« »-HiRec-rev- Sep 2004 4,999- i Nikon D2X
Olympus E-30« »-71/1004.5/5-4/5 Nov 2008 1,299- i Olympus E-30
Olympus E-520« »87/100HiRec4.5/54/54.5/5 May 2008 699- i Olympus E-520
Olympus E-3« »88/100HiRecrevrev4/5 Oct 2007 1,699- i Olympus E-3
Olympus E-510« »89/100HiRec3.5/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 799- i Olympus E-510
Olympus E-1« »-Recrevrev- Jun 2003 1,699- i Olympus E-1

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, 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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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