Canon 50D vs Nikon D300 Compared

First published on: Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Here’s a comparison of pros and cons of the Canon 50D and Nikon’s top APS-C (DX crop) camera, the Nikon D300.

Canon EOS 50D Advantages

Resolution: The Canon 50D has 15 MP (megapixels) of resolution, while the Nikon D300 only has 12 MP. If you shoot low ISO and have a requirement for more megapixels to help you print really large, or if you have a need to crop a lot, the 50D is the camera for you.

Nikon D300 Advantages

Number of AF (autofocus) points: The Nikon D300 has 51 AF points, while the Canon 50D has 9.

I used to own the Canon 40D which has exactly the same layout and number of AF points, and I find that it’s easier to compose a photo with the D300.

This is especially true when I have the camera on a tripod and doing some still photography — I find that in almost all cases, I can compose the photo and have at least one of the 51 points on the D300 aimed exactly at the area I want.

With more focus points, the D300 makes it easier to track birds in flight. Bird photographer Daniella has this to say about the Canon 40D which has the exact same AF layout as the 50D:

I am very disapointed that Canon did not upgrade for a better AF. Honestly 9 points really suck. The space between the points and the layout make for a difficult tracking in AI servo of a smaller subject. It is ok for larger subjects so when I do snowy owls in flight I have to wait until the bird is big enough in the frame to start tracking. This is a serious disadvantage as I need to start tracking when the bird is pretty close and they are coming in fast! with more points or a closer layout between them, I could track smaller birds in flight and right now it is a real pain to do. the D300 has a much much better AF system in the layout and functionality. It is too bad because the 40D has excellent AF when it track the subject large enough in the is just too limitating as it is.

She has a few more related points to make on the 40D (again, which has exactly the same 9-point AF layout as the 50D):

  1. Post reference:

    so I am not expecting 45 points or so, but at least something more decent than 9 or with a better layout so there are none of those huge gaps between the AF points. It does not take much for the servo to lose a target that is a bird as the only real big part that you see from a bird coming at you is the head..the rest is basicaly just 2 narrow wings.

  2. Post reference:

    Well…It is kind of worthless to try to capture a small swallow in flight with the 40D because the bird is small, fast and it slip through the huge gap of the 9 points layout of the 40D. It’s not worthless for everything but it is worthless for a few things. with the D300 I can start my tracking much farther away than what I can do with the 40D just because of that layout. the D300 pack the AF point where they are most useful, more concentrated in the center area and thus more efficient at holding the target if it is small.

  3. Post reference:

    Another thing that I have noticed is that if the bird suddendly change its speed, like stop to get a prey and then resume flipping and flight, the D300 manages to update its predictive AF a bit better than the 40D does. So with the D300 it was easier to get those shot where the bird would suddendly slow down to snatch a prey. The 40D was pretty good at following the subject coming quite fast, but at a constant speed.

On-camera GPS compatibility: The D300 allows you to easily geo-tag photos by simply plugging a compatible GPS device into the 10-pin remote socket (see how). On the 50D, you would have to purchase the Canon WFT-E3A wireless file transmitter grip in order to enjoy the same functionality.

Spot metering linked to AF point: All Nikon digital SLR cameras have this feature built-in, and the D300 is no exception. With the camera in spot metering mode, the currently-active AF point is the spot meter, while on the Canon 50D, the spot meter is always at the center AF point only.


Jorgen E calculated the following: [via]

  • Pixel density of the Canon 50D extrapolated to full-frame: approximately 39.3 MP.

  • Pixel density of the Nikon D300 extrapolated to full-frame: approximately 27.5 MP.


Canon 50D — Main page.

Nikon D300 — Main page.

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