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Canon 400D vs Nikon D5100

The Canon EOS 400D (called Canon XTi in some regions) and the Nikon D5100 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2006 and April 2011. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 16.1 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 400D versus Nikon D5100
Canon 400D Nikon D5100
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
10.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 25,600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
370 shots per battery charge660 shots per battery charge
127 x 84 x 65 mm, 556 g 128 x 97 x 79 mm, 560 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 400D and the Nikon D5100? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 400D and the Nikon D5100. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 400D vs Nikon D5100
Compare 400D versus D5100 top
Comparison 400D or D5100 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D5100 is notably larger (16 percent) than the Canon 400D. Moreover, the D5100 is slightly heavier (1 percent) than the 400D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 400D nor the D5100 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 compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (400D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D5100).

Concerning battery life, the 400D gets 370 shots out of its NB-2LH battery, while the D5100 can take 660 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.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 400D 5.0 in 3.3 in 2.6 in 19.6 oz 370 n Aug 2006 799i
 
Nikon D5100 5.0 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.8 oz 660 n Apr 2011 749i
 
Canon 750D 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 440 n Feb 2015 749i
 
Canon 760D 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.9 oz 440 n Feb 2015 649i
 
Canon 650D 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.3 oz 440 n Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon 1100D 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 17.5 oz 700 n Feb 2011 449i
 
Canon 550D 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.7 oz 440 n Feb 2010 699i
 
Canon 500D 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799i
 
Canon 450D 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.5 oz 500 n Jan 2008 799i
 
Canon 40D 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Canon 350D 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899i
 
Nikon D5600 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 16.4 oz 970 n Nov 2016 699 i
 
Nikon D5300 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 16.9 oz 600 n Oct 2013 799i
 
Nikon D5200 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 500 n Nov 2012 749i
 
Nikon D3100 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 550 n Aug 2010 599i
 
Nikon D5000 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D40X 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 520 n Mar 2007 729i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

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 D5100 was somewhat cheaper (by 6 percent) than the 400D at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the 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 D5100 is 13 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (400D) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 400D and Nikon D5100 sensor measures

With 16.1MP, the D5100 offers a higher resolution than the 400D (10.1MP), but the D5100 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.80μm versus 5.71μm for the 400D). Yet, the D5100 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 7 months) than the 400D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D5100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D5100 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 400D are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.4 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.6 x 10.4 inches or 39.5 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 13 x 8.6 inches or 32.9 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 400D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D5100 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.

400D versus D5100 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the D5100 offers substantially better image quality than the 400D (overall score 18 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 2.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Canon 400D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380
 
Canon 750D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
 
Canon 760D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
 
Canon 650D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
 
Canon 1100D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
 
Canon 550D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
 
Canon 500D APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
 
Canon 450D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
 
Canon 350D APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
 
Nikon D5600 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883
 
Nikon D5200 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.213.9128484
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D5100 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 400D does not. The highest resolution format that the D5100 can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 400D and the D5100 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the D5100 has a higher magnification than the one of the 400D (0.51x vs 0.49x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 400D and Nikon D5100 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Canon 400Doptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5100optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Canon 750Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon 760Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon 650Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon 1100Doptical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon 550Doptical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
 
Canon 500Doptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
 
Canon 450Doptical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
 
Canon 350Doptical n 1.8 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5600optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5300optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5200optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
The D5100 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the 400D does not have a selfie-screen.

The Nikon D5100 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

The 400D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D5100 uses SDXC cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 400D and Nikon D5100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Canon 400DY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D5100YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon 750DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Canon 760DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Canon 650DYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon 1100DYstereomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon 550DYstereo-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 500DYmonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon 450DY----mini2.0---
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
 
Canon 350DY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D5600YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Nikon D5300YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Nikon D5200YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D40XY-----2.0---

Both the 400D and the D5100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 400D was replaced by the Canon 450D, while the D5100 was followed by the Nikon D5200. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 400D or the Nikon D5100 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 400D:

  • More compact: Is smaller (127x84mm vs 128x97mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2006).

ilogo

Reasons to prefer the Nikon D5100:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (16.1 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 26%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (18 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.51x vs 0.49x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (660 versus 370) out of a single battery charge.
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 7 months of technical progress since the 400D launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D5100 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 2 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. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

400D 02:15 D5100

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 400D and the Nikon D5100 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 400D or the D5100. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 400D+ ++ +o4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799i
 
Nikon D5100+ +76/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749i
 
Canon 750D..75/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749i
 
Canon 760D+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
 
Canon 650D+ +77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon 1100D80/10069/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
 
Canon 550D+ +77/1004/55/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
 
Canon 500D+ +74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
 
Canon 450D+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
 
Canon 40D+ ++ +4.5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Canon 350D80/100+ +oo.. Feb 2005 899i
 
Nikon D5600..79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i
 
Nikon D5300+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799i
 
Nikon D5200+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2012 749i
 
Nikon D3100+ +72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599i
 
Nikon D5000+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D40X79/100+ +4/5o4/5 Mar 2007 729i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon 400D:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D5100:
Check Ebay offers

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.

~

    Specifications: Canon 400D vs Nikon D5100

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 400D Nikon D5100
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2006 April 2011
    Launch Price USD 799 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Canon 400D Nikon D5100
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.2 x 14.8 mm 23.6 x 15.7 mm
    Sensor Area 328.56 mm2 370.52 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.7 mm 28.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 10.1 Megapixels 16.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3888 x 2592 pixels 4928 x 3264 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.71 μm 4.80 μm
    Pixel Density 3.07 MP/cm2 4.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 25,600 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC II EXPEED 2
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 62 80
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 23.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.0 13.6
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 664 1183
    Screen Specs Canon 400D Nikon D5100
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.49x 0.51x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 400D Nikon D5100
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy50 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 400D Nikon D5100
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 400D Nikon D5100
    Battery Type NB-2LH EN-EL14
    Battery Life (CIPA)370 shots per charge660 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 127 x 84 x 65 mm
    (5.0 x 3.3 x 2.6 in)
    128 x 97 x 79 mm
    (5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 556 g (19.6 oz) 560 g (19.8 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

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