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Nikon D40 vs Olympus E-300

The Nikon D40 and the Olympus Evolt E-300 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in November 2006 and September 2004. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D40) and a Four Thirds (E-300) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 8 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D40 VS Olympus E-300
Nikon D40 Olympus E-300
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
6 MP, APS-C Sensor 8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 200-1600 (200-3200) ISO 100-400 (100-1600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5" LCD, 230k dots 1.8" LCD, 134k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
2.5 shutter flaps per second 2.5 shutter flaps per second
470 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
124 x 94 x 64 mm, 522 g 147 x 85 x 64 mm, 624 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D40 and the Olympus Evolt E-300? 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

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D40 and the Olympus E-300. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Nikon D40 vs Olympus E-300
Compare D40 versus E-300 top
Comparison D40 or E-300 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-300 is notably larger (7 percent) than the Nikon D40. Moreover, the E-300 is markedly heavier (20 percent) than the D40. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D40 nor the E-300 are weather-sealed.

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 (D40) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-300).

Concerning battery life, the D40 gets 470 shots out of its EN-EL9 battery, while the E-300 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-1 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons 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)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D40» 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 470 n Nov 2006 499iNikon D40
 
Olympus E-300« 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 n Sep 2004 799iOlympus E-300
 
Leica Digilux 3« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499iLeica Digilux 3
 
Nikon D3400« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 n Aug 2016 499iNikon D3400
 
Nikon D3300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.2 oz 700 n Jan 2014 499iNikon D3300
 
Nikon D3100« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 550 n Aug 2010 599iNikon D3100
 
Nikon D3000« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 18.9 oz 500 n Jul 2009 599iNikon D3000
 
Nikon D60« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 500 n Jan 2008 629iNikon D60
 
Nikon D40X« » 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 520 n Mar 2007 729iNikon D40X
 
Nikon D80« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999iNikon D80
 
Nikon D50« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.0 in 21.9 oz 400 n Apr 2005 749iNikon D50
 
Nikon D70s« » 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 500 n Apr 2005 899iNikon D70s
 
Nikon D70« » 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 400 n Jan 2004 999iNikon D70
 
Olympus E-330« » 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 n Jan 2006 999iOlympus E-330
 
Olympus E-400« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Sep 2006 699iOlympus E-400
 
Olympus E-500« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 n Sep 2005 599iOlympus E-500
 
Olympus E-1« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 26.0 oz 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699iOlympus E-1
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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D40 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the E-300, 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

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D40 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-300 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-300 is 39 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 D40 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-300 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D40 and Olympus E-300 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-300 offers a higher resolution of 8 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the D40. 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 5.30μm versus 7.85μm for the D40). Moreover, it should be noted that the D40 is much more recent (by 2 years and 1 month) than the E-300, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-300 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-300 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 16.3 x 12.2 inch or 41.5 x 31.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 13.1 x 9.8 inch or 33.2 x 24.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 10.9 x 8.2 inch or 27.6 x 20.7 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D40 are 15 x 10 inch or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inch or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inch or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D40 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 200-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus Evolt E-300 are ISO 100 to ISO 400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-1600.

D40 versus E-300 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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.

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 D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156Nikon D40
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........Olympus E-300
 
Leica Digilux 3 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........Leica Digilux 3
 
Nikon D3400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286Nikon D3400
 
Nikon D3300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582Nikon D3300
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362Nikon D3000
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265Nikon D60
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663Nikon D40X
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461Nikon D80
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055Nikon D50
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950Nikon D70
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........Olympus E-330
 
Olympus E-400 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none........Olympus E-400
 
Olympus E-500 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........Olympus E-500
 
Olympus E-1 Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920none........Olympus E-1
Neither the D40 nor the E-300 offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D40 and the E-300 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 (95%), but the viewfinder of the D40 has a higher magnification than the one of the E-300 (0.53x vs 0.5x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D40 and Olympus E-300 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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 D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Nikon D40
 
Olympus E-300optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Olympus E-300
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Leica Digilux 3
 
Nikon D3400optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Nikon D3400
 
Nikon D3300optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Nikon D3300
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D3000
 
Nikon D60optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D60
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D40X
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D80
 
Nikon D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Nikon D50
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D70
 
Olympus E-330optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Olympus E-330
 
Olympus E-400optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Olympus E-400
 
Olympus E-500optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Olympus E-500
 
Olympus E-1optical Y 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n Olympus E-1

The D40 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-300 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-300 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D40 only has one slot.

 

Connectivity comparison

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 D40 and Olympus Evolt E-300 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
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D40Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D40
 
Olympus E-300Ynonenone--none2.0---Olympus E-300
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereomono--none2.0---Leica Digilux 3
 
Nikon D3400Ymonomono--mini2.0--YNikon D3400
 
Nikon D3300YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D3300
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D3000Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D3000
 
Nikon D60Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D60
 
Nikon D40XYnonenone--none2.0---Nikon D40X
 
Nikon D80Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D80
 
Nikon D50Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D50
 
Nikon D70sYnonenone--none2.0---Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70Ynonenone--none1.0---Nikon D70
 
Olympus E-330Ynonenone--none2.0---Olympus E-330
 
Olympus E-400Ynonenone--none2.0---Olympus E-400
 
Olympus E-500Ynonenone--none2.0---Olympus E-500
 
Olympus E-1Ynonenone--none2.0---Olympus E-1

Both the D40 and the E-300 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-300 was replaced by the Olympus E-330, while the D40 was followed by the Nikon D40X. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Olympus websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D40 better than the Olympus E-300 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D40:

  • Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
  • Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.53x vs 0.5x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (230k vs 134k dots).
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 102g or 16 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 1 month of technical progress since the E-300 launch.

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Advantages of the Olympus Evolt E-300:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (8 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 13%.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 470) out of 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 around for much longer (launched in September 2004).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D40 is the clear winner of the match-up (10 : 4 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D40 10:04 E-300

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D40 and the Olympus E-300 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 D40 or the E-300. 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

This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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
cam
era
  labs  
dp
re
  view  
e
photo
  zine  
ima
ging
resource
photo
graphy
  blog  
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D4081/100+ +o5/54.5/5 Nov 2006 499iNikon D40
 
Olympus E-300..+oo4.5/5 Sep 2004 799iOlympus E-300
 
Leica Digilux 3.......... Sep 2006 1,499iLeica Digilux 3
 
Nikon D3400+76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499iNikon D3400
 
Nikon D3300+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499iNikon D3300
 
Nikon D3100+ +72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599iNikon D3100
 
Nikon D3000+72/1004/53.5/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599iNikon D3000
 
Nikon D6080/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Jan 2008 629iNikon D60
 
Nikon D40X79/100+ +4/5o4/5 Mar 2007 729iNikon D40X
 
Nikon D80++ +o4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999iNikon D80
 
Nikon D5078/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Apr 2005 749iNikon D50
 
Nikon D70s......o5/5 Apr 2005 899iNikon D70s
 
Nikon D70..+ +..o.. Jan 2004 999iNikon D70
 
Olympus E-330..+o3.5/5.. Jan 2006 999iOlympus E-330
 
Olympus E-40085/100..4/5..4/5 Sep 2006 699iOlympus E-400
 
Olympus E-50076/100+ +...... Sep 2005 599iOlympus E-500
 
Olympus E-1..+oo.. Jun 2003 1,699iOlympus E-1
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Nikon D40:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-300:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Nikon D40 vs Olympus E-300

    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 D40 Olympus E-300
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date November 2006 September 2004
    Launch Price USD 499 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Nikon D40 Olympus E-300
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 8 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 3264 x 2448 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 5.30 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 3.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 200-1600 ISO 100-400 ISO
    ISO Boost 200-3200 ISO 100-1600 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 56 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.0 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.0 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 561 ..
    Screen Specs Nikon D40 Olympus E-300
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x 0.5x
    Rear LCD Size 2.5 inch 1.8 inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 134k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D40 Olympus E-300
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 2.5 shutter flaps/s 2.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D40 Olympus E-300
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D40 Olympus E-300
    Battery Type EN-EL9 BLM-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)470 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 124 x 94 x 64 mm
    (4.9 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
    147 x 85 x 64 mm
    (5.8 x 3.3 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 522 g (18.4 oz) 624 g (22.0 oz)

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