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Canon 1200D versus Nikon D3100

The Canon EOS 1200D (called Canon T5 in some regions) and the Nikon D3100 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2014 and August 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 14.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3100

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 1200D and the Nikon D3100. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 1200D – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3100
Compare 1200D versus D3100 top
Compare 1200D and D3100 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3100 is notably smaller (8 percent) than the Canon 1200D. However, the D3100 is markedly heavier (5 percent) than the 1200D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 1200D nor the D3100 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Yet, since both cameras are based around an APS-C sensor, their respective lenses will tend to have similar dimensions and heft. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1200D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3100).

Concerning battery life, the 1200D gets 500 shots out of its LP-E10 battery, while the D3100 can take 550 images on a single charge of its EN-EL14 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 1200D» 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 16.9 oz 500 n Feb 2014 449- i
Nikon D3100« 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 550 n Aug 2010 599- i
Canon 4000D« » 5.1 in 4.0 in 3.0 in 15.4 oz 500 n Feb 2018 399 i i
Canon 1300D« » 5.1 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 17.1 oz 500 n Mar 2016 449- i
Canon G9 X« » 3.9 in 2.3 in 1.2 in 7.4 oz 220 n Oct 2015 529- i
Canon 750D« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 440 n Feb 2015 749- i
Canon 760D« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.9 oz 440 n Feb 2015 849- i
Canon M10« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.4 in 10.6 oz 255 n Oct 2015 499- i
Canon 100D« » 4.6 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 14.4 oz 380 n Mar 2013 549- i
Canon 700D« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 n Mar 2013 649- i
Canon 650D« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.3 oz 440 n Jun 2012 849- i
Canon 1100D« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 17.5 oz 700 n Feb 2011 449- i
Nikon D3200« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 540 n Apr 2012 599- i
Nikon D5100« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.8 oz 660 n Apr 2011 749- i
Nikon D3000« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 18.9 oz 500 n Jul 2009 599- i
Nikon D5000« » 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749- i
Nikon D40« » 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 470 n Nov 2006 499- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 1200D was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the D3100, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3100

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D3100 is 7 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (1200D) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 1200D and Nikon D3100 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 1200D offers a higher resolution of 17.9 megapixel, compared with 14.2 MP of the Nikon D3100. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 5.01μm for the D3100). However, it should be noted that the 1200D is much more recent (by 3 years and 5 months) than the D3100, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

1200D versus D3100 MP

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D3100 has a markedly higher DXO score than the 1200D (overall score 4 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 1200D» APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
Nikon D3100« APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
Canon 4000D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.469563
Canon 1300D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p----
Canon G9 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.512.349563
Canon 750D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p22.712.091971
Canon 760D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
Canon M10« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.475365
Canon 100D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363
Canon 700D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
Canon 650D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
Canon 1100D« » APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
Nikon D3200« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.2113181
Nikon D5100« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380
Nikon D3000« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.311.156362
Nikon D5000« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
Nikon D40« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-21.011.056156

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the 1200D provides a higher frame rate than the D3100. It can shoot video footage at 1080/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/24p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3100

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1200D and the D3100 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 1200D, the Nikon D3100, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 1200D»optical n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Nikon D3100«optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Canon 4000D« »optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Canon 1300D« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Canon G9 X« »- n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 2000 6.0 Y Y
Canon 750D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Canon 760D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Canon M10« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 4.6 Y n
Canon 100D« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.9 Y n
Canon 700D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Canon 650D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Canon 1100D« »optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Nikon D3200« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n
Nikon D5100« »optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 4.0 Y n
Nikon D3000« »optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Nikon D5000« »optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 4000 4.0 Y n
Nikon D40« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n

Both the 1200D and the D3100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3100 was replaced by the Nikon D3200, while the 1200D was followed by the Canon 1300D.

Review summary: Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3100

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1200D or the Nikon D3100 – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 1200D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 14.2MP) with a 12% higher linear resolution.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p versus 1080/24p).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k dots).
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 5 months of technical progress since the D3100 launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3100:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2010).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 1200D emerges as the winner of the contest (5 : 3 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

1200D 05:03 D3100

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 1200D or the D3100 handle or perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 1200D»Rec-4/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449- i
Nikon D3100«HiRec72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599- i
Canon 4000D« »rev---3.5/5 Feb 2018 399 i i
Canon 1300D« »rev73/1004/53.5/54/5 Mar 2016 449- i
Canon G9 X« »HiRec-4.5/54/54.5/5 Oct 2015 529- i
Canon 750D« »-75/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749- i
Canon 760D« »Rec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 849- i
Canon M10« »---rev4/5 Oct 2015 499- i
Canon 100D« »Rec78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549- i
Canon 700D« »-76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649- i
Canon 650D« »HiRec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849- i
Canon 1100D« »80/10069/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449- i
Nikon D3200« »HiRec73/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599- i
Nikon D5100« »HiRec76/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749- i
Nikon D3000« »Rec72/1004/53.5/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599- i
Nikon D5000« »HiRec75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749- i
Nikon D40« »81/100HiRecrev5/54.5/5 Nov 2006 499- i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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