Side by side – Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the new Nikon D300s

by planetmitch25 Comments

Today, Nikon announced a new version of their D300 – the D300s. Many call it a ‘semi-professional' camera, but how does it compare to the Canon EOS 5D Mark II? DPreview has this morning's announcement of the Nikon D300s and that's where we got most of this data. DPReview included a ‘brief hands on‘ article for the new camera. Nikon also announced the D3000 – an entry level DSLR without video.

Update: I've obviously failed to make it clear that this isn't a post comparing two cameras in the same class – the D300s is a “semi-pro” camera and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II is a “pro” camera. Yes, there's a $1000 price difference too. The point of the article is to simply show what differences there are in the cameras. A lot of people were asking this question so I wanted to help people understand what the each camera does in relation to the other with the understanding that they're aimed at different groups of photographers/videographers.

Collision Conference

A quick summary of the differences:

  • The D300s adds video at 24fps – the 5D2 is 30fps
  • The D300s highest resolution video is 720p – the 5D2 is 1080
  • The D300s stills are 12.3mp – the 5D2 is 21mp
  • The D300s does have an external mic plug which is better than the Canon Rebel T1i/500D with no plug
  • The D300s retail price is $1799 – the 5D2 is $2699
  • The D300s adds cropping of the video (start and stop) – they call it ‘in-camera movie editing'
  • The D300s has dual slot storage (one SD and one CF card) with management of what is stored on each
  • The D300s has 51 point auto-focus – the 5D2 is 9 point
  • The D300s has a 5 minute video clip limit (see this post) – the 5D2 is 12 minutes
  • The 5D mk ii has manual shutter, aperture and ISO control in video – the D300s does not

So, the the D300s brings 24fps (the holy grail?) but they still don't have the full 1080 HD size! And we've yet to see if they've improved the jelly of the video either. We'll have to wait for the production release (Aug 28).

Here's a bit more detail – again much of the info comes from the DPReview story


Nikon D300s

canon 5d mark ii

Video (1080)



Video (720)



Video (640)



Video (320)



Max Resolution

4288 x 2848

5616 x 3744

Sensor size

• 23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS sensor
• DX format
• 12.3 million effective pixels
• 3:2 aspect ratio

Full Frame – 21.1mp

Supports lenses

• Nikon F mount with AF coupling and AF contacts
• 1.5x field of view crop

Canon EOS EF

MicroAdjustment for lenses

• Adjust all lenses by same amount (effectively body adjustment)

• Adjust up to 20 lenses individually


mono internal or external stereo

mono internal or external stereo

ISO Range

• Default: ISO 200 – 3200 in 1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV steps
• Boost: 100 – 6400 in 1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV steps

100-6400 (high ISO up to 25600) (low ISO – 50)

Weather Resistant

? (haven't found info yet)


Memory card

SD and CF both – can select stills go on CF and video on SD (or combination)



Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e

New Smart Technology

Raw support

• NEF (12-bit or 14-bit, compressed or lossless compressed RAW)
• JPEG (EXIF 2.21)
• AVI *
• Motion JPEG *

Yes – includes sRAW1 and sRAW 2

Popup Flash



Maximum frames per sec




918 g (2.2 lb) (with battery)

810g (1.8lb)

It seems to me that the Nikon D300s is a good camera, but it isn't at the level of the 5D2. If you can't yet afford the 5D2, it might be a good intermediate step.

(Photo credit: snaps from dpreview)


  1. Doesn’t the 5Dmk2 have an internal mono mic? Not stereo?

    Nice comparison, thanks for sharing!


  2. what about auto focus for the video on the nikon? if that is true then that is huge because that is my biggest problem I have with the 5dmk2.

    1. Author

      I read a little about the autofocus – in video, it is like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, it uses the same technology as the canon – contrast based autofocus – very slow.

  3. I was almost excited about the announcement but it’s kind of a let down. Just get the 5D MKII 24p and nobody will every breath the Nikon name again (not for a while at least).

  4. You’re comparing apples and oranges in my opinion. I think the D300s is squarely aimed at the prosumer market with it’s APS-C sensor, while the 5DII is aimed at the professional market with its full frame sensor. I think the D300s’ real competition is the EOS 50D or (hopefully) the next Canon prosumer model (60D?).

    1. Author

      Yes, it is apples to oranges, but I noticed several people this morning curious as to how the two cameras compared so I thought it needed to be posted.

    1. Author

      Thanks for your comment 🙂 — I made the post because people were asking about the comparisons… so some people needed to know!

  5. How about addressing Canons choice of MPEG vs. Nikon’s M-JPEG (in the AVI wrapper). My understanding is that MPEG is less storage space but at the expense of picture quality. Could be that 720P could be equal to 1080P at least for frame grabs which is what most news agencies also want to do. A real JPEG frame for each of the 24 instead instead of key frames and then making up the in between stuff. MPEG has shown not to stand up in court while the MJPEGs do.

  6. Rather pointless comparison as there’s a nearly $1k price difference between the two.

    By far the 5d is better if you want to shoot video. I would assume that you’re getting D90 level video performance from the D300 which is not any threat to the 5d.

    If you were to compare both on it’s still photography merits, the D300 is superior with it’s 51 auto focus points, 7fps shooting speed, weather sealing, LCD screen, and pop-up flash with full support for Nikon’s Creative Lighting System.

    As a working stills professional, I prefer the D300. If I did short-form video, the Canon would be my only choice.

  7. I don’t get why people complain about this comparison?!
    Bored at home and don’t have anything better to do???!!!

    Thank you for posting it!!!
    It’s a very easy way to compare Nikon’s effort to find a place in this growing market.

    It’s sad that there seems to be no competitors for the 5D. This allows Canon to be lazy and not make a bigger effort to either find a way of making the 5D shoot at 24p or come out with a (rumored) 5Ds that does… sooner rather then later, after everyone has already bought one…

    For those with a bigger budget, how will the Scarlet fits in to all of this, still remains to be seen…

  8. As far as I see it, Canon HIgh-End what called L Lenses, can’t even fill the resolution of the MK-II sensor. The image quality in terms of sharpness and natural color, in this field Nikon is ahead of Canon (and I have Canon DSLR Guys).

    If I had to choose between the two, I would prefer an Excellent still camera. The Video is nice to have, but not a must. I love watching picture and if I wanted some movies to share with friends or on YouTube, I would be very pleased with the 720p resolution.

  9. Can somebody help to understand this:

    “How about addressing Canons choice of MPEG vs. Nikon’s M-JPEG (in the AVI wrapper). My understanding is that MPEG is less storage space but at the expense of picture quality. Could be that 720P could be equal to 1080P at least for frame grabs which is what most news agencies also want to do. A real JPEG frame for each of the 24 instead instead of key frames and then making up the in between stuff. MPEG has shown not to stand up in court while the MJPEGs do. – Greg Barra”

    I know that Motion-Jpeg is easy to edit.
    H.264 need convertion before edition.
    But what abou image and sound quality. Image first please, because sound, proper sound should be record with a external device like a mic or a digital recorder.

    Well my friends; Is Motion-Jpeg an odd choice or a good choice, (also because Nikon insist on it after a year now with use on 3 cameras)?


  10. The comparison is not stupid at all. like me, many people are waiting to see the D300s before to buy 5D the mark II. nikon costs 500 USD less, there are 40 years of lens compatibility and, frankly, if photos are not your job (in that case, even the 5D is not the best choice), but one of your ways of expression, nothing’s better than an analogue middle format or a 35mm rangefinder. for those who do not need to shot hundreds of pics a day, these two cameras are in direct challenge. Hopefully, Canon will put down prices. In that case, FF will be the choice.

  11. OK. You think the video is nice to have, but not a must. That's YOU, and that's dandy. However, let's say your publisher has decided to take the paper online and now wants all feature stories to have a video-audio component. Still comfy with the possibility of excessive rolling shutter effects and NO manual controls?

  12. For me, the 5dII WAS the right choice. I originally bought the 1ds Mark III but the only advantage for me was the ruggedness. Besides, as a pro, video is now officially in my job description. The 5DII was an absolute no-brainer.

  13. “Why compare a “pro-sumer” camera to what is considered a professional camera?”

    You’re right. The Nikon D300s, with it’s best in the industry AF system, pro level build quality, and superior features, is a professional level camera, while the Canon 5D MkII, with it’s 50D type non-pro body and lower end AF system, is a pro-sumer level camera.

    I still think it’s an interesting comparison, especially if readers wanted to see it. Kudos Mitch!

  14. I’ve been using the Nikon D 50 & D60 and sell lots of photos + weddings. Just got the 5D Mark ll. I’m a photographer and this sucker has too many bells and whistles for me. Would like to try before sending it back but having a lot of trouble with which buttons to push when. I suddenly feel technically brain dead. I want the MP’s and maybe the Sony a 900 would have been a good choice?

  15. I am sittle confuse. I am freelance photographer. I work with one of my close friend. I love nikon and he love canon. We both saving money to buy a new camera. I perfer to buy Nikon. coz I already using Nikon D40x and my friend using Canon D350. My friend want to buy Canon D5 MarkII and I want to buy Nikon D300s. Plz help us which is the better for the Photography.

  16. hi Ajay Kr Singh,

    regarding to your needs..i have the same situation as you too..I’m a Nikon d300s user n my partner now are using canon 50D.both of us were freelance photographer..i don’t think this forum helps you much on deciding either going to use a Nikon or Canon machine..the main thing you need to know or understand is what r you going to do with the machine itself..i av no problem with nikon or is how are you going to use n manipulate the camera..both camera have its own pro’s n is clear that nikon produce more natural color while canon produce more vivid color..i don’t think it a huge problem so..after was the man behind the machine who took control of everything..hope this helps you..tq..

  17. WOW~ not much help at all!
    still do not know which way to go…
    what is the consensus on still images for a wedding/family/child/food/restaurants menus?

    Thanks & GodBless

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