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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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 1200D and the Nikon D3100 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 1200D – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras 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)
Camera
Model
Canon 1200D» 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449- i Canon 1200D
Nikon D3100« 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 n Aug 2010 599- i Nikon D3100
Canon 4000D« » 129 mm 102 mm 77 mm 436 g 500 n Feb 2018 399 i i Canon 4000D
Canon 1300D« » 129 mm 101 mm 78 mm 485 g 500 n Mar 2016 449- i Canon 1300D
Canon 750D« » 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749- i Canon 750D
Canon 760D« » 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 565 g 440 n Feb 2015 849- i Canon 760D
Canon G9 X« » 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 209 g 220 n Oct 2015 529- i Canon G9 X
Canon M10« » 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 301 g 255 n Oct 2015 499- i Canon M10
Canon 100D« » 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 n Mar 2013 549- i Canon 100D
Canon 700D« » 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649- i Canon 700D
Canon 650D« » 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849- i Canon 650D
Canon 1100D« » 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449- i Canon 1100D
Nikon D3200« » 125 mm 96 mm 77 mm 505 g 540 n Apr 2012 599- i Nikon D3200
Nikon D5100« » 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 n Apr 2011 749- i Nikon D5100
Nikon D3000« » 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599- i Nikon D3000
Nikon D5000« » 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749- i Nikon D5000
Nikon D40« » 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499- i Nikon D40

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. 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. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1200D and Nikon D3100 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
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
Camera
Model
Canon 1200D»optical n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 1200D
Nikon D3100«optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D3100
Canon 4000D« »optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 4000D
Canon 1300D« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 1300D
Canon 750D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon 750D
Canon 760D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon 760D
Canon G9 X« »- n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 2000 6.0 Y Y Canon G9 X
Canon M10« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 4.6 Y n Canon M10
Canon 100D« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.9 Y n Canon 100D
Canon 700D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon 700D
Canon 650D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon 650D
Canon 1100D« »optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 1100D
Nikon D3200« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n Nikon D3200
Nikon D5100« »optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 4.0 Y n Nikon D5100
Nikon D3000« »optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D3000
Nikon D5000« »optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 4000 4.0 Y n Nikon D5000
Nikon D40« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Nikon D40

Both the 1200D and the D3100 write their imaging data to SDXC cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Canon 1200D»Ymonomono--mini2.0---Canon 1200D
Nikon D3100«Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D3100
Canon 4000D« »Ymonomono--mini2.0YY-Canon 4000D
Canon 1300D« »Ymonomono--mini2.0YY-Canon 1300D
Canon 750D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Canon 750D
Canon 760D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Canon 760D
Canon G9 X« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Canon G9 X
Canon M10« »-stereomono--mini2.0YY-Canon M10
Canon 100D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 100D
Canon 700D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 700D
Canon 650D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 650D
Canon 1100D« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Canon 1100D
Nikon D3200« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D3200
Nikon D5100« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D5100
Nikon D3000« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D3000
Nikon D5000« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D5000
Nikon D40« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D40

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 what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 1200D better than the Nikon D3100 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of 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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Advantages 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 count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 1200D emerges as the winner of the contest (5 : 3 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

1200D 05:03 D3100

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 1200D and the D3100 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

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

The review scores listed above should be treated 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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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