Many of our readers request detailed information on the difference between the Nikon D700 and Nikon D300/D300s DSLR cameras. They wonder why there is such a big price difference, while the cameras look almost identical and the number of megapixels is the same. In this comparison, I will be providing not only feature differences between these cameras, but also high ISO samples to explain the difference between the different types of sensors used in D700 and D300/D300s.
If you are wondering about the differences between the Nikon D300 and Nikon D300s, I highly recommend to check out my Nikon D300 vs D300s comparison. Basically, Nikon D300s is an update to the Nikon D300 with more features and speed, while the sensor remains identical. The biggest changes are: more frames per second, ability to use both SD and CompactFlash memory cards and video-recording capability up to 720p HD.
Nikon D700 was released in July of 2008, approximately a year after Nikon D3 release date. D3’s sensor was a huge success for Nikon and the company knew that if it used the same sensor on a smaller and cheaper body, they could create a new product line that could compete directly against the Canon 5D full-frame camera. The company executives were not wrong – Nikon D700 became an instant success when it was announced and it became the camera of choice for those, who did not need the speed or the price tag of the D3, but still wanted the same superb performance of the full frame sensor.
Here are the main differences between Nikon D300s and Nikon D700:
- Sensor – Nikon D300s has a smaller 12 megapixel DX (1.5 crop factor) sensor, while Nikon D700 has a 12 megapixel FX (full-frame) sensor. The sensor is what primarily makes up the difference in price between the D300s and D700. Full-frame sensor means more dynamic range and better high ISO capabilities with no field of view crop. See sample images below for comparison.
- ISO sensitivity – Nikon D700 has better ISO sensitivity than D300, because of larger pixels. Default sensitivity on D700 is ISO 200 – 6400, while it is ISO 200 – 3200 on D300s.
- Reach – Due to differences in sensors (full-frame vs 1.5x crop sensor), the Nikon D300s has a longer “reach”, because of the difference in field of view and higher pixel density. Basically, it has the same number of megapixels in a smaller sensor, which means that you get more resolution from the center area of the lens, while the corners are cut off. At the same time, wide-angle lenses are truly wide-angle on a full-frame sensor and you get a larger field of view, which is nice for architecture and landscape photography.
- Larger viewfinder – Nikon D700 has a bigger mirror, pentaprism and viewfinder than the D300, making it easier to see and photograph the scene (especially manual focus).
- Autofocus – Nikon D700 is equipped with the same autofocus system as the D3/D3s, which is better than the one on D300s.
- Better weather-sealing and build – Nikon D700 has a thicker magnesium alloy construction and is better equipped for tough weather conditions than the D300s.
- 14-bit RAW recording – Nikon D700 records both 12-bit and 14-bit RAW files at 5 frames per second (FPS), while Nikon D300s drops to 2.5 FPS on 14-bit files.
- Viewfinder coverage – Nikon D700 has a 95% viewfinder versus 100% on the Nikon D300, which means that you do not fully see what the camera will capture on the D700 when you take a picture.
- Video recording – Nikon D300s can shoot 720p video and Nikon D700 has no video recording capability.
- Camera dimensions – Both cameras have similar dimensions, but D700 is slightly larger (147x123x77mm) than D300s (147x114x74mm).
- Weight – Nikon D700 is slightly heavier (995g) than D300s (840g).
- Quiet Shutter Release – All new Nikon DSLRs, including the D300s have the “Q” (Quiet Shutter Release) mode. Nikon D700 does not have this mode.
- Other minor differences in camera menu/settings.
- Nikon D700 is currently priced about $1,000 more than D300s.
Nikon D300s and D700 High ISO Comparison
Below is the head-to-head high ISO comparison between the D300s and D700 sensors at ISO 800, 1600 and 3200. I had to match the field of view between the two cameras and move the D300s setup a little back for accurate results. The below images are 100% crops and they were not resized in any way.
ISO 800 (Left: Nikon D300s, Right: Nikon D700:
The difference between the D300s DX sensor and D700 FX is already pronounced at ISO 800. The image from the Nikon D300s DX sensor looks looks noisy and we are beginning to lose a little bit of sharpness. Nikon D700 has no visible noise.
At ISO 1600, the Nikon D300s is extremely noisy and there is clear evidence of loss of sharpness and detail in the image. Nikon D700 starts having a little bit of noise in the shadows, but still looks good.
At ISO 3200, Nikon D300s looks bad, while Nikon D700 is still retaining sharpness, but has some noise in the shadows.
So, which one is right for you, Nikon D300s or Nikon D700? I guess it all depends on your budget and the type of photography you do. If you are a landscape or architectural photographer, Nikon D700 is the obvious choice, because it has better dynamic range and you can use ultra wide-angle lenses without the crop factor. If you are a wedding photographer, D700 is better for low-light situations. If you are a wildlife/sports photographer, then you need to see what is more important for you – reach or better performance at high ISOs. I personally choose high ISO over reach, because most wildlife (especially birds) gets active early in the morning and late in the afternoon when the light conditions are not ideal. In addition, being able to acquire accurate focus in various lighting conditions is also extremely important for wildlife photography and D700 definitely performs better in that regard, especially in low-light. For regular portraiture and flash photography where dynamic range and high ISO performance are not that important, D300s would also work great.
But at the end of the day it all boils down to your budget. If you can afford buying a full-frame camera with pro-level lenses, FX will give you the best results. If you have already invested in several DX lenses, it might not make sense to switch, because you would need to sell all of your DX lenses and you would definitely lose a considerable amount of money. And before you make the final decision, think about this question: How serious are you about your photography and do you only need the camera for occasional photography and travel, or do you need a more advanced tool to get the best results? If it is the latter, get yourself the D700 and don’t look back. Otherwise, stick with the D300s or even a cheaper body like the Nikon D90, because a camera is always the worst investment you can make.
I also highly recommend checking out my Nikon DX vs FX article, in which I provide detailed information on differences between the two sensor types and their advantages/disadvantages.
Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below.
I have a D300s and really enjoy it. I have been using it since 2009. I am considering replacing it with a D700 for the 8 fps (with the battary grip) and the better noise control at ISO over 800. I love the heft and feel of the the body and the availability of settings using buttons. I occasionaly make prints up to 11X14 so I think the megapixel size is not an issue. Do you still believe that this would be an worthwhsile step up. I don’t care for the feel of the D610.
thank you for this great and helpful article.
Very recently I got myself a D700. Have used my dear D300 over a period of time mostly with a Tokina 12-24mm; love using wide.
For FX, I’ve got 70-300VR and 24-85mm so far, but thinking of
Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f:3.5-4.5 G lens
What are your thoughts to this lens, please?
Heinz, please see my review of the lens: photographylife.com/revie…-f3-5-4-5g
In short, it is a very good lens for the price!
Nasim, thank you for the fast reply and the excellent info on the lens.
Very much appreciated.
We sell Nikon and Canon camera in our company.. is there anyone who cares to buy? contact us:
Hi, I am currently Using a Canon 550D with just one single 50 mm 1.8. I am very happy with my lens except sometime I feel the need of going wider while shooting landscapes or indoor. Now I got myself about $2000 and was thinking of getting a D700 with just a 50mm . ( actually I can only afford a 50 mm if I buy the D700). So is it a good idea to do this or should I get some good lens for my 550D or better yet get a D7000. I am very happy with my Canon’s quality but the ability to use older lenses on Nikon tempts me…I am really confused please help. BTW I shoot mostly events and nature.
Excellent post it did help me a lot to clarify the difference between them
“5. Autofocus – Nikon D700 is equipped with the same autofocus system as the D3/D3s, which is better than the one on D300s.”
It is not better, is the same. D3s, D700 and D300s uses the same Multi-CAM 3500DX/FX, next time check spec dude:
Fiod, It is NOT the same. Did you bother reading the article you provided the link to? D300/D300s comes with Multi-CAM 3500 DX, which is physically smaller in size than the Multi-CAM 3500 FX. While both have the same number of focus points + cross-type sensors and the same software algorithm, the FX version is larger and hence receives more light from lenses. The FX mirror is much larger in size than DX.
I shot with the D300 for two years since it came out, along with D700 and D3s camera bodies. Anybody who shoots with these bodies will tell you that there is a difference in AF speed and accuracy between DX and FX.
I don’t need to go into these technical details when explaining differences between cameras. D700 and D3s have exactly the same AF system, while D300 has a smaller version and hence is NOT the same.
“Fiod, It is NOT the same. Did you bother reading the article you provided the link to? D300/D300s comes with Multi-CAM 3500 DX, which is physically smaller in size than the Multi-CAM 3500 FX. While both have the same number of focus points + cross-type sensors and the same software algorithm, the FX version is larger and hence receives more light from lenses. The FX mirror is much larger in size than DX.”
AF speed is not dependent on the size of the Multi-CAM 3500!, only the processor in the body and lens.
Yes, when it comes to speed: D700 is a little faster than the D300s and a little slower than the D3s.
Fiod, AF speed is dependent on all three – the AF system, the speed of the processor + number of processors and the speed of the motor on the lens. The difference in AF speed between the D700 and the D3s is very small. D3s is slightly faster in some challenging situations (especially low-light), but other than that, I find both to be very very very close.
The D300s and the D700 both have the same EXPEED processor. If you mount exactly the same lens on both, you will find AF on the D700 to be a little faster. And this has been proven in labs (so I am not pulling this out of my rear end). If the speed of the processor and lens were the only thing that impacts AF performance, you would see that both D300s and D700 have EXACTLY the same AF performance. But this is not the case for sure. D3/D3s/D3x cameras have dual EXPEED processors, which is why they can handle more throughput than D300s/D700 cameras and can deliver faster AF results. So your last sentence is true in terms of AF speed – D300s, followed by D700, followed by D3s (from slowest to fastest). And by the way, battery type does NOT affect AF performance. Drained battery vs charged battery may.
Hope this brings an end to our discussion :) If you have any doubts, let me know and I will show you some proof that backs up my statements.
i have been in to with photography since last 14 years and d200 is my first digital gear with couple of dx lens. Actually D200 is the tremendious gear but now its quite old. I have checked the review about D700 and found pros and cons both, Even thouhg i would love to go for D700 sinch it gives best pics with wide viewfinder.
So guys and now lots of my friends said to me to buy D300s which is not full frame camera so got lots of confuing suggestion from different people.
So i humbly request you guys to fidn me the proper path to buy the perfect one.
I am just a passionate photographer.
Great article – Gave me what I needed to know on upgrading from my D300 to a D700. I do have 2 questions. First, since the D700 was introduced in 2008, are we on the cusp of a new camera coming out? Second, I have 3 good DX lenses, I would upgrade my primary to the 28-300 FX lens. Can I still use my DX 10-24? My other lens 70-300 would no longer be needed.
You cannot use the DX 10-24 because the D700 is an FX sensor.Keep it for the D300 that will be your backup camera.
When you going to use it on the D700, you will see a dark frame around inside the view finder. That will be the image you will get on the screen too. The crop you get is only 5meg in NEF RAW file size and that means a possible of 1.2meg in Jpeg.
Don’t sell your 70-300 because that is possible the F/3.5-4.5 lens and the 28-300 mm is the F/3.5-5.6 and is SLOWER than the 70-300.
Also the 70-300 is for FX frame and you can rely on that for a backup lens that will never fail you.
You can also invest in a nice 17-35mm F/2.8 if you want a broad spectrum in low light if you don’t want to buy the EXPENSIVE 14-24 lens…. Don’t know what they cost in the USA….
Enjoy the D700 when you get it !!!
All you guys, wake up and use the current camera you have. That is the best camera you own NOW and make use of it until you see you have mastered light into a photo you can say WOW for each one.
I didin’t see on this site someone talk about light and how the images are created, seems the camera can go and do that itself for each situation.
The camera is only an little black box with a sensor, once you adjust a setting, you can go and give it to a five or six year old, and the picture he or she takes, will the same quality you take with the same settings…
I do have the D700 and a Sony video camera, I will get rid of the Sony when I have the D7000 for that purpose only and no stills. I will get myself again the first Nikon camera started off with, a D300s to qualify on the Nikon Professional Services Scheme in the UK.
I have only two lenses,Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 and the Nikon 105mm F/2.8 VR Macro. I don’t need a longer zoom for my wedding photography and macro’s. Only need too buy the Nikon Macro Flash System …
Happy clicking to all you guys and girls…
The lens matters far more than the camera and is a much better investment long term for most circumstances, unless you are running into a limitation a certain body can’t handle (ISO range, fps, bracketed exposures, intervalometer, etc.). You have some very nice lenses there!
i am a regular visitor to your site and enjoy doing so.I like your to the point reviews as well.I have very recently given away a D90 with a 18-105mm lens(bought last July) to my son as he wanted to upgrade from a P&S. At the moment I am left with a 300mmf/4 and a 14E TC. I started of with Birds but I gradually noticed that I was also enjoying shooting landscapes,flowers,portraits etc. I am still undecided in regard to my next purchase.Should I wait for a D300s replacement which should come around September or buy D700,and alternatively should I buy a used DX body for the moment and buy a D700 replacement next year which should come with some extra MP which would enable me to crop sometimes.
A valuable suggestion from your end would be highly appreciated.