A Quick Comparison: Canon EOS 50D Versus Nikon D300

So how does the new Canon EOS 50D stack up against the Nikon D300? Let’s have a quick look.

Before anyone gets worked up, this is merely a comparison of specs and not capabilities such as which takes better pics or which handles better or which has nicer colors. This is only meant to see what Canon has to offer with their latest SLR.

Comparison Chart

SLR Cameras Canon EOS 50D Nikon D300 Winner
Year Introduced August 26, 2008 August 2007
Cost ~$1,299 ~$1,799
Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 23.6 x 15.8 mm
Viewfinder 95%, 0.95x magnification 100%, 0.94x magnification D300
Max Resolution 4752 x 3168 4288 x 2848 50D
Megapixels 15.5 13.1 50D
ISO rating 100-3200 in 1/3 stops, with 6400 and 12800 as options 200-3200 in 1/3 stops, with 100 and 6400 as options 50D
Auto Focus type 9 focus point TTL CMOS sensor 51 focus point CMOS sensor D300
Metering Evaluative, partial, spot, center weighted average 3D Color Matrix Metering II, partial, spot (center), center weighted
Crop Factor 1.6 1.5
Continuous Drive 6.3 fps for 90 JPEG or 16 RAW 6 fps (8 fps with battery pack) for 100 JPEG
Storage Types Compact Flash (Type I or II) with UDMA support Compact Flash (Type I or II) with UDMA support Tie
LCD 3.0 inches 3.0 inches tie
LCD Pixels 922,000 922,000 tie
Battery Canon Lithium-Ion BP-511A (7.4V, 1390mAh) battery Nikon Lithium-Ion EN-EL3e (7.4V, 1500mAh) battery D300
Weight 822 g (1.8 lb) with battery 903 g (2.0 lb) with battery
Dimensions 146 x 108 x 74 mm (5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in) 147 x 114 x 74 mm (5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in)

From the specs, the biggest advantage that the D300 has over the new 50D is the 51 point auto focus. But in my opinion, the 50D certainly is offering many features that are comparable or better than the D300 for a substantial lower price such as the higher ISO performance, the same high resolution LCD, and more megapixels. It’ll be a matter of time to see if the 50D can perform as good or better than the D300.

44 thoughts on “A Quick Comparison: Canon EOS 50D Versus Nikon D300”

  1. Some users will prefer one over the other simply from an ergonomics standpoint.

    The D300 is more robust and better weather-sealed, though the 50D is a step up from the 40D.

    Bottom line: If a photographer can’t get an excellent image out of either one, they should reevaluate their skills, cause’ it ain’t the camera!!!

  2. Originally Posted By PeachSome users will prefer one over the other simply from an ergonomics standpoint.

    The D300 is more robust and better weather-sealed, though the 50D is a step up from the 40D.

    Bottom line: If a photographer can’t get an excellent image out of either one, they should reevaluate their skills, cause’ it ain’t the camera!!!

    Excellent point! I didn’t include ergonomics because it’s a subjective point. But you do bring up a good point, I should have included how the D300 is better weather sealed.

  3. Forgot to add, the 50D (Body only) will be sold for $1400 through authorized dealers. The D300 is currently selling for around $1600, so there is a $200 difference between the two as it stands today.

  4. @Peach – That certainly makes the two very competitively priced. The two biggest deal beakers for me are ISO handling and AF, which at this point seems mutually exclusive for me if I was considering the 50D or D300.

  5. This is always going to come down to the old situation: “I’m a Nikon person/Canon person”. However, the only advantage the 50D has over the Nikon is the 15.1 million pixels vs. the 12.3 million of the D300. Unless you intend to continuously print at greater than A3+, or, crop tightly into a shot, this matters not at all. In terms of ISO performance (and I say this having used both), the Canon cannot touch the Nikon on that: noise elimination is consistently good throughout the ISO range on the D300, whereas you can start seeing it emerge significantly with the naked eye on an Epson R2880 from ISO 1600 onwards. The autofocusing system of the Nikon (taken from the D3) currently has no equal on the market: 51 point, with spot meter that uses the currently selected focus point, excellent predictive tracking, and customisable/programmable for your particular preferences or needs. The ergonomics, weather sealing and overall quality/feel of a camera are also very important at this level. Now this is a personal view, but, unless you purchase an EOS 1D or 5D spec Canon, you always feel you are purchasing a product of inferior quality compared to it’s Nikon peer. The D300 is no exception here: it feels like a slab of granite in comparison to the Canon and, although slightly heavier, it is ergonomically superior to overcome that. It gives you the confidence that, if you were to bounce it off the floor, it would survive better than the Canon would. The contrast and colour saturation produced by the D300 sensor also turn out more pleasing and punchier images than the 50D, all the way up to A3+. OK, yes I am a Nikon man, but, I have to confess to having faced a dilemma just a few months ago (before the introductions of the D700 and the EOS 5D Mark II): was I going to wait for the EOS 5D Mk II, or, go for the D300 or EOS 40D that were available? Of course, the Mk I EOS 5D was also in the frame. Having had a good look at all, I settled for the D300 for the following reasons: 1) ISO performance; 2) ‘sufficient’ resolution for what I need; 3) the DX crop factor is versatile when it comes to lens choice (saves carrying around enormously heavy and long telephoto lenses); a superb selection of DX lenses (especially the 17-55mm f2.8, which I have, and what a beauty it is!) and, of course, access to the huge Nikkor lens ‘museum’; 4) the autofocusing system just blew me away; 5) the fabulous ‘megadot’ 3″ LCD screen; etc. In this digital age, people are always going to get worried about falling behind, or get tempted by huge resolutions because they think that it must be necessary: it is the same with computers having the next generation pentium processor. But, don’t worry here – either camera is more than you will ever need and, overall, the D300 does pip the 50D on a significant number of key elements. Besides, if you keep getting worried about resolution, you will go bankrupt before being able to keep up with evolution. The rest is down to your talent and eye for a photograph alone: no camera on this earth is going to turn you into Ansell Adams!! Get on a course, get out there and practice hard, and pretty much any DSLR on the market today will more than match your expectations. Happy shopping!

  6. Just to make it clear.
    On http://www.amazon.com today (11/24/08) 50d body only sells for $1,184.86 with free shipping

    d300 body only: $1,484.98 which is 25% up (or 50d is 20% down from d300)

    I personally would buy d300… but reality is more complex and I’ll probably get 5d mark II 😉

    d700 also looks good, but without video who needs it?

    As for resolution, it IS important for wild life photography when you can’t get close and lenses are always not long enough.

  7. I second that it ain’t the camera. I have always been partial to Canon. Assimple as it may seem, I like the size of the nikon. I am about to get a 50d…I have a rebel xTi and I need to move up. Any idea if the lenses for the rebel will fit the 50d? Any help is good.

  8. thank you so much!! I am not a pro, just learning. And you just gave relief to my wallet!! Now I can spend more on the body. Thank you for the reply, you are awesome!

  9. I have to say that the camera body does make a difference since we are in the digital age. Unlike film bodies, these new digital cameras have electronics and sensors, and processing engines that DO make a difference. As far as the old Nikon vs. Canon that depends. For sports, you don’t see many Nikon lenses on the sidelines. In most all other areas except birds in flight, either should do you well.

  10. I have owned a nikon d80 and a canon xsi and now I just got a 50d. the 51 AF points make little difference to me. I use a 17-55 F2.8 USM and a 70-200 f4 IS USM. The 50d and the USM lens focus blasingly fast, even in low light. In terms of noise, Nikon just put NR as default—the pics looks pale and the color is absolutely inferior to canon.

  11. Originally Posted By haroldI have to say that the camera body does make a difference since we are in the digital age. Unlike film bodies, these new digital cameras have electronics and sensors, and processing engines that DO make a difference. As far as the old Nikon vs. Canon that depends. For sports, you don’t see many Nikon lenses on the sidelines. In most all other areas except birds in flight, either should do you well.

    That is true, but also keep in mind that at the Olympics and more sporting events, we are starting to see more Nikon lenses and bodies.

  12. I am a Nikonian, but before I get jumped I have to say I love the 50D and would glady jump ship if I could have some free lenses. On the other hand, I like the D300 a lot MORE.

    As Craig said it’s ergonomically superior; this is not really a personal preference, it’s just a general belief in the photography community. But beyond that I don’t know why the D300 doesn’t get an “advantage” for having a larger sensor. Richard Bui, you say that the 50D will have better high ISO performance, but that’s not true at all. It may go an extra stop but it has a smaller sensor with more megapixels, which always equals a lot more noise. The D300 is worth the (negligible) extra cash IMO.

  13. Thanks for the review and the feedback from all of you.
    Am having a tough time deciding whether to stay or jump ship.

    I decide to stay.

    Viva Nikonian..
    😀

  14. For pics quality…please get D300.
    I have compared picture from D300 & 50D.
    D300 is better thn 50D, colour / contras / sharpnest is on D300.

  15. Canon Eos 50D is well worth it. I just bought one replacing my old rebel. Camera was really fantastic!

  16. it’s the biggest toss up between cameras nikon or canon.. well, i must say that i have used neither but am ready to buy my first DSLR. i have been leaning towards the D300 because of the reviews, but after researching in camera stores and asking many photographers, i am now ready to buy the 50D because of it’s menu simplicity, durability and because not that it is a huge thing right now, but Canon cameras can fit many different brands of lenses, where as i’ve learned Nikon’s cameras only fit nikon lens’s for the most part. just thought i would put this in 😉

  17. Shady, wrong on lens, all independ manufactors make lens for both Canon and nikon and they’re priced much the same, plus all new Nikon lens of the past 20 or 30 years will fit and work on the latest cameras, minus some autofocus and auto exposure features

  18. I currently use the rebel xti and its been really good to me. Early this month i was opportuned to use both cameras (D300 and 50D), both cameras were very good, on clarity and also colours. Now i am totally confused on which to get. Being a Canon man, i am bending more towards the canon. I need some good advise ASAP.

  19. I currently use the rebel xti and its been really good to me. Early this month i was opportuned to use both cameras (D300 and 50D), both cameras were very good, on clarity and also colours. Now i am totally confused on which to get. Being a Canon man, i am bending more towards the canon. I need some professional advise ASAP.

  20. It depends, both are good cameras but nikon d300 will be the winner here, the price diff. if you compare 51 point vs 9 point AF is huge, 9 points is not enough for diffucult situations when you have a very prolonged perspective from you camera, color wise and ergonomics i do prefer canon as i did test both cameras in my hands (and this is something you have to really consider, cause you’re gonna shake constantly if you choose a camera that will not be comfortable for your hands size ), i have seen in reviews that in order for the 50D to exploit the gapless microlenses on its new 15.1mp cmos with have to use very good glass, meaning very esxpensive glass (1000 dollars and over L class lenses ) so in other words the 50D will be a lot more expensive to fully take advantage of its features than the D300 with is 12.3mp, image guality are similar but i do personally prefer canon’s color rendition as it comes more to a truth color compared to reality, i found that the d300 internal processing punches the color too much, i’d rather shoot in raw with no pre-processing. price whise the Nikon D300 blows the 50 pound by pound for the difference and conveniency …canon 50D to me is like a upgraded version of an eos rebel cause they keep putting this creative and rookie modes (like i dont know how to use a dslr )… so there u have it .. no confusion, is up to use to go the store and hold that camera in your hands and see how confortable is and how steady u can hold it without the shakes ! .. and yea the 50D have better weather sealing thant the prev. 40D for your info !

  21. is not to the other side … is to the DARK SIDE (nikon) LOL. but let me tell you as it was mentioned before, i saw a lot of nikons in the olimpics dude, and check this out … Joe McNally and Scott Kelby (2 top shutters use Nikons …wonder why ? …dont know they might be getting all the gear for free i suppose but hey … is up to you to drive test both of them before you take that jump !

  22. just on elast coment, if you intend to shoot fast pace action sports or wild life go for the 40D if you can still find one…very cheap right now, 10.2 mp will do, frame rate is fastest before you go for a 1D series, cant go wrong with a 40D here, prooven and tested ! for me .. i’ll need the 50D if that was the case cause am more into wedding and event photography than ohter !

  23. but the next spet into dslr is going FULLFRAME and that means that the 5DMkII will be the the thing to go to plus it records HD video !

  24. if you’re gonna be a fashion, catalog, corporate portaiture or commercial photographer you definately need to go full frame and get ate least 21 mp for billboard prints !

  25. Not so long ago I shifted from D300/D90 and now to D50. My shift has nothing to do with which body is better than the other. You pick the right brand for the kind of stuff you want to do. I picked the Canon brand this time as I think I would have better options for my new craze, bird photography and sports. There are more affordable top quality choices in the Canon camp than in Nikon when in comes to this field.

    After gaining some confidence with a 50D though, I can now say, feature wise, my D300 was more loaded, ergonomically, it is way much better. I would also give Nikon the edge in the usability department. I would miss a lot of stuff from Nikon D300 like built in commander, time lapse, highly customizable user memory banks, 51 point AF, 100% VF, batteries that can last more than a day, and a lot more.

    But it is alright. I still can’t do with Nikon what I can do now with Canon in terms of bird and sports photography.

  26. Neither brand warms my heart like film. But it is now time to move to digital. Now camera body seems to play even more important role. Looking at color accuracy, I believe Canon 50d produces more natural color than Nikon D300, and slightly sharper image quality on prints (both using comparable lenses on price & type). That color management of most Nikons is good for product photography. Canon 50d holds its value against d300 on landscape, and people.
    51point is better than 9point; but can be confusing, sometimes (to the camera itself, not to the me).
    Editing results of many dSLR Nikon can be frustrating, but YMMV.
    Neither D300 nor 50d offers the quality of full frame. But no full frame offers more “analog” result than film (especially that wonderful 35mm Kodachrome).
    Shoot with either one and you will be happy. For me, I prefer the result of 50d than d300.
    (both are lent by wonderful friend for several weeks; during the film era I shot with leica m4, m3, nikon f2as photomic, f3hp, pentax lx, hasselblad 500 c/m)

  27. Craig says it all.

    The Nikon fares on things that matter to real photography: 51 AF sensors and ergonomics.

    Canon has more sales features like ISO12800 (which will definitely suck on any camera) and 15.1MP, despite a slightly smaller sensor than the Nikons.

    From my experience, Canon’s mid-line lenses (and cameras) always feel more plasticy than similar products from Nikon. Take the cheapest 50mm 1.8 as example, the Canon lens feel really light and dinky.

    Perhaps the biggest difference between 50D and D300 is the really good 51 AF points.

  28. How come noi metion of the D300’s ability to control flashes off camera in iTTL mode without having to buy wireles transmitters? Clearly that’s a D300 win…

  29. To my mind for the amateur enthusiast (with no pre-existing investment in one of the two systems) the argument changes constantly as prices evolve. I have picked up in person both cameras and weighted pros and cons numerous times. My feeling is that I like more the D300, both in feel and handling and in features and performance. My choice though becomes much more difficult since the D300 retails for 1.100 GBP and the EOS 50D for 700 GBP. This makes the D300 a notable 55% more expensive than the Canon. Help, which one should I get!!!

    I am also confused by how D300 is holding value even though it is now being discontinued and replace by the D300s.

    1. Quite a bit IMO. Imagine using an 85mm f/1.2 and you want to use it at 1.2 in bright conditions that might require 1/8000th of a shutter speed. With only 1/4000, you would have to stop down to 1.8? Might not be a whole lot of difference, but it’s nice to have the availability.

  30. The higher resolution on the 50D makes it take noisy pictures. And the high ISO range is useless because again, it makes noise on the pictures.

    If you want to compare the 50D and D300 all together, you should look at the end results from same lens and ISO setups to comparison and you will see that the D300 has less noise on its pictures

  31. I had been using Canon EOS 1000D and just went up to Canon EOS 50D. As far as comparisons go, I feel its the eyes and concepts behind the camera that makes the difference. My experience with 50D is excellent and I’d been able to get very good shots. Of course a digital darkroom processing (photoshop) is required for any camera. As it is, the image quality is so good that you need a little post processing. And we donot always shoot beyond ISO-1600. Hence its just the personal preference.

  32. Hmmmm I am upgrading from Canon Rebel xti & can’t decide on the 50d or d300. I shoot lots of a action… sports, wedding dances, kids, etc. & on a budget

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