Nikon D300S vs Sony A77 II
The Nikon D300S and the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2009 and May 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 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 D300S and the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II? 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 physical size and weight of the Nikon D300S and the Sony A77 II 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 size dimensions 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 A77 II is notably smaller (12 percent) than the Nikon D300S. Moreover, the A77 II is markedly lighter (31 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. 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|2.||Sony A77 II||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||647 g||480||Y||May 2014||1,199|
|3.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|4.||Nikon D7200||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199|
|5.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|6.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|7.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|8.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|9.||Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|10.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|11.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|12.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|13.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699|
|14.||Nikon D2X||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999|
|15.||Sony A68||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||610 g||540||n||Nov 2015||699|
|16.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|17.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|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 A77 II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 33 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.
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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A77 II is 2 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the A77 II offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 12.2 MP of the D300S. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 5.53μm for the D300S). However, it should be noted that the A77 II is much more recent (by 4 years and 9 months) than the D300S, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A77 II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A77 II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D300S 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 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 Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-51200.
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"). 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 A77 II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|16.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the A77 II provides a better video resolution than the D300S. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Nikon is limited to 720/24p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A77 II has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the D300S has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the A77 II has a higher magnification than the one of the D300S (0.73x 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 D300S and Sony A77 II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n|
|2.||Sony A77 II||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|3.||Nikon D500||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|4.||Nikon D7200||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|5.||Nikon D7100||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|6.||Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|7.||Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7 / 230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D60||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|13.||Nikon D200||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D2X||optical||Y||2.5 / 235||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|15.||Sony A68||1440||Y||2.7 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0 / 921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y|
One feature that differentiates the A77 II and the D300S is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The A77 II reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D300S offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The A77 II 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 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 D300S writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the A77 II uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The D300S features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the A77 II only has one slot. The A77 II supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D300S cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 D300S and Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D300S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony A77 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Nikon D500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y|
|4.||Nikon D7200||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Nikon D7100||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Nikon D7000||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon D3100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D5000||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D60||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D700||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D300||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D2Xs||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D200||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D2X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony A68||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony A77||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the A77 II offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D300S does not provide wifi capability.
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
The A77 II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the D300S has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D300S was succeeded 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 and Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D300S or the Sony A77 II – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Nikon D300S:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (950 versus 480) on a single battery charge.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in July 2009).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 40%.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60p vs 720/24p).
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.63x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 920k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a 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.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (143x104mm vs 147x115mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 291g or 31 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (33 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 9 months of technical progress since the D300S launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A77 II is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 5 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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 D300S and the Sony A77 II 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D300S and the A77 II in practical situations. 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 expert reviews are important. 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 D300S||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|2.||Sony A77 II||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||1,199|
|3.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||4.7/5||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|4.||Nikon D7200||4/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2015||1,199|
|5.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|6.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|7.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|8.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|9.||Nikon D60||..||80/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|10.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|11.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|12.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|13.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699|
|14.||Nikon D2X||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||4,999|
|15.||Sony A68||3/5||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Nov 2015||699|
|16.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|17.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||..||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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.
- Canon G7 X Mark III vs Nikon D300S
- Canon SX620 vs Nikon D300S
- Canon T3i vs Sony A77 II
- Canon T7i vs Nikon D300S
- Leica TL2 vs Nikon D300S
- Nikon D300S vs Panasonic FZ1000
- Nikon D300S vs Pentax K-3
- Olympus E-M1 II vs Sony A77 II
- Panasonic FZ200 vs Sony A77 II
- Pentax 645Z vs Sony A77 II
- Sony A7 vs Sony A77 II
- Sony A77 II vs Sony A99
Specifications: Nikon D300S vs Sony A77 II
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 D300S||Sony A77 II|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2009||May 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 1,799||USD 1,199|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D300S||Sony A77 II|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.8 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.88 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4288 x 2848 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.53 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/24p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 6,400 ISO||50 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||70||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.5||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.2||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||787||..|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D300S||Sony A77 II|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D300S||Sony A77 II|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||7 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D300S||Sony A77 II|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D300S||Sony A77 II|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||950 shots per charge||480 shots per charge|
147 x 115 x 81 mm
(5.8 x 4.5 x 3.2 in)
143 x 104 x 81 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||938 g (33.1 oz)||647 g (22.8 oz)|
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