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Compared to...

As you can see from the balance between the positives / negatives versus the competition (below) the D300 is, on paper at least, one of the strongest DSLRs on the market. Its Live View feature provides both contrast-detect (like a compact digital camera) and passive (mirror-down) auto-focus options as well as a highly magnified option, these deliver excellent usability on the D300's next strong feature; its large, high resolution (640 x 480) LCD monitor and also in a studio setting through its HDMI output. Auto focus is mature and flexible with the highest number of AF points and largest range of selection / grouping options of any camera here and there's almost no need to mention the superb 1005 pixel RGB metering sensor which is widely accepted as probably the best in the business. Dive into the menus and the D300's extensive custom functions make it (along with the D3) one of the most configurable cameras on the market, providing the photographer with a massive range of customization and adjustment.

Positives versus the competition

  • Both passive (mirror-down) and contrast-detect auto-focus in Live View
  • Full 1:1 magnified view in Live View
  • 51 point AF with wide range of selection / grouping options
  • White light AF assist lamp (over the EOS 40D and E-3 which require flash to be raised)
  • AF 'fine tuning' adjustment can be set for body and per lens
  • Arguably the best metering of the bunch (1005 pixel RGB sensor)
  • High shutter life
  • Fully flexible Auto ISO function (max ISO and min shutter speed configurable)
  • Up to eight frames per second continuous shooting with optional grip and battery
  • Very flexible control system, various configurable buttons, dial operation
  • 3.0" 922,000 dot LCD monitor (also on DSLR-A700)
  • Detailed battery information (including lifetime / aging)
  • High definition HDMI video output (also on DSLR-A700)

Negatives versus the competition

  • Fixed LCD reduces the usefulness of Live View
  • No built-in body stabilization (arguable as a negative but seen in two other SLRs here)
  • No mirror lock-up (although 'exposure delay' can be used)
 

Nikon D300

Canon EOS 40D

Olympus E-3

Sony DSLR-A700
Price (body only) $1800 [check] $1300 [check] $1700 [check] $1400 [check]
Quality zoom price • Nikon 18-200mm VR
• F3.5-F5.6
• 27-300 mm equiv.
• $750
• Canon 17-85mm IS
• F4.0-F5.6
• 27.2-136 mm equiv.
• $600
• Olympus 14-54 mm
• F2.8-F3.5
• 28-108 mm equiv.
• $500
• Sony 16-105mm DT
• F3.5-F5.6
• 24-157.5 mm equiv.
• $550
Dust removal • Self-cleaning filter
• Dust-off image
• Self-cleaning filter
• Anti-static coating
• Dust delete data
• SSW filter • CCD-shift shake
• Anti-static coating
Environmental sealing • Splash proof
• Dust proof
• Sealed lenses available
• Environmental seals on battery and CF compartment doors
• Sealed lenses available
• Weatherproof seals throughout
• Sealed lenses available
• Weatherproof seals throughout
Sensor type CMOS CMOS Live MOS CMOS
Sensor size 23.6 x 15.8 mm 22.2 x 14.8 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm 23.5 x 15.6 mm
Sensor area 373 mm² 329 mm² 225 mm² 367 mm²
Image Stabilization Lenses only Lenses only Built-in sensor shift Built-in sensor shift
Effective pixels 12.3 million 10.1 million 10.1 million 12.3 million
Aspect ratio 3:2 3:2 4:3 3:2
FOV crop 1.5x 1.6x 2.0x 1.5x
Image size 4288 x 2848 3888 x 2592 3648 x 2736 4272 x 2848
Live View • Yes
• Up to 1:1 pixel view
• Contrast detect AF
• Mirror flip AF
• Yes
• Up to 10x magnify
• Mirror flip AF
• Different modes
• Yes
• Up to 10x magnify
• Mirror flip AF
No
Lens support • Nikon F mount • Canon EF / EF-S • Four Thirds • Sony Alpha
• Minolta A-type
File formats JPEG, TIFF, RAW (NEF 12-bit / NEF 14-bit) JPEG, RAW (CR2) JPEG, RAW (ORF) JPEG, RAW (ARW), cRAW (ARW)
Auto focus • 51 point
• 15 cross-type
• -1 to 19 EV
• 9 point
• 9 cross-type
• -0.5 to 18 EV
• 11 point
• 11 cross-type
• -2 to 19 EV
• 11 point
• 1 double cross-type
• 0 to 18 EV
• Eye-start AF option
AF illuminator White lamp Flash strobe Flash strobe Red lamp pattern
AF adjustment Yes, body and per lens No No No
Metering sensor 1005 pixel RGB 35 zone 49 zone 40 segment
Metering range 0 to 20 EV 0 to 20 EV 1 to 20 EV 0 to 20 EV
Metering modes 3D Color Matrix, CWA, Spot Evaluative, Partial, Spot, CWA ESP, CWA, Spot, Highlight spot, Shadow spot Multi-segment, CWA, Spot
Exp. comp. +/- 5.0 EV +/- 2.0 EV +/- 5.0 EV +/- 3.0 EV
Exp. comp. EV steps 0.3, 0.5 or 1.0 EV 0.3 or 0.5 EV 0.3, 0.5 or 1.0 EV 0.3 or 0.5 EV
Manual EV steps 0.3, 0.5 or 1.0 EV 0.3 or 0.5 EV 0.3, 0.5 or 1.0 EV 0.3 or 0.5 EV
Sensitivity range (boost setting) (100), 200 - 3200, (6400) 100 - 1600, (3200) 100 - 3200 100 - 1600, (3200, 6400)
Auto ISO adjust Max ISO & Min shutter speed selectable No Max & Min ISO selectable Max & Min ISO selectable
Shutter speed 30 - 1/8000 sec 30 - 1/8000 sec 60 - 1/8000 sec 30 - 1/8000 sec
Shutter life 150,000 exposures 100,000 exposures 150,000 exposures 100,000 exposures
Continuous rate (high) 6.0 fps (8.0 fps with battery grip) 6.5 fps 5.0 fps 5.0 fps
Continuous buffer • 100 JPEG Norm
• 17 RAW
• 75 JPEG
• 17 RAW
• ?? JPEG
• 19 RAW
• Unlimited JPEG
• 18 RAW / 25 cRAW
White balance • 7 presets
• Color temp (K)
• Manual (4 mem.)
• 6 presets
• Color temp (K)
• Manual
• 7 presets
• Color temp (K)
• Manual (4 mem.)
• 6 presets
• Color temp (K)
• Manual (3 mem.)
Image parameters • 4 presets
• Saturation +/- 3, A
• Contrast +/- 3, A
• Brightness +/- 1
• Hue +/- 3
• Sharpness 0-9, A
• Quick adjust +/- 2

• 6 presets / 3 user
• Saturation +/- 4
• Contrast +/- 4
• Color tone +/- 4
• Sharpness 0-7

• 5 presets / 1 user
• Saturation +/- 2
• Contrast +/- 2
• Sharpness +/- 2
• Gradation (3)
• 13 presets / 3 user
• Saturation +/- 3
• Contrast +/- 3
• Brightness +/-3
• Sharpness +/- 3
• Zone -1 to +2
Noise reduction control 4 levels 1 additional level 4 levels 3 levels
DR / Shadow adjust. Active D-Lighting (4 levels) None Shadow adjustment DRO (3 modes plus 5 manual settings)
Built-in flash • Manual pop-up
• Guide no. 12 (ISO 100)
• Electronic pop-up
• Guide no. 13 (ISO 100)
• Electronic pop-up
• Guide no. 13 (ISO 100)
• Manual pop-up
• Guide no. 12 (ISO 100)
External flash • Hot-shoe
• PC sync terminal
• Wireless flash
• Hot-shoe
• PC sync terminal
• Wireless flash
• Hot-shoe
• PC sync terminal
• Wireless flash
• Hot-shoe
• PC sync terminal
• Wireless flash
Flash sync speed 1/250 sec (1/320 sec reduced Guide no.) 1/250 sec 1/250 sec 1/250 sec
Customizable controls • FUNC button
• FUNC+dials
• Multi-selector cent.
• Preview button
• AE-L/AF-L button
• Dials
• SET button
• AF-ON button
• AE lock button
• Dials
• Fn button
• AEL/AFL button
• Dials
• Custom button
• Preview button
• AF/MF button
• AEL button
• Dials
User memories 4 via menu 3 via dial positions 2 via menu 3 via 1 dial position
Delete in record review Yes Yes No Yes
Storage CF (inc. UDMA) CF (inc. UDMA) • CF (inc. UDMA)
• xD-Picture Card
• CF (inc. UDMA)
• MS Duo / Pro Duo
Viewfinder • 100% coverage
• 0.94x magnification
• 95% coverage
• 0.95x magnification
• 100% coverage
• 1.15x magnification
• 95% coverage
• 0.9x magnification
LCD monitor • 3.0" TFT LCD
• 922,000 dots
• 3.0" TFT LCD
• 230,000 dots
• 2.5" TFT LCD
• 230,000 dots
• 3.0" TFT LCD
• 922,000 dots
LCD articulation No No Yes (flip-out & twist) No
Top panel LCD Yes Yes Yes No
Battery 11.1 Wh 10.3 Wh 10.8 Wh 11.8 Wh
Battery status • Percentage (%)
• Shots since charge
• Battery aging
5 stages 4 stages Percentage (%)
Vertical grip Yes, MB-D10 Yes, BP-E2N, BP-E2 & WFT-E3/E3A (WiFi) Yes, HLD-4 Yes, VG-C70AM
Mirror lock-up No, exposure delay Yes, custom function Yes, 1-30 sec Yes, with self-timer
Other features • On demand viewfinder grid
• GPS record with optional cable
• Retouching
• Custom 'My Menu' • RAW development
• JPEG edit
• Included IR remote
Video output HDMI (up to 1080i) Composite Composite HDMI (up to 1080i)
Dimensions 147 x 114 x 74 mm
(5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in)
146 x 108 x 74 mm
(5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in)
142 x 116 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.6 x 2.9 in)
142 x 105 x 80 mm
(5.6 x 4.3 x 3.3 in)
Weight (no batt) 825 g (1.8 lb) 740 g (1.6 lb) 800 g (1.8 lb) 690 g (1.5 lb)
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