Canon 450D vs Nikon D3100
The Canon EOS 450D (called Canon XSi in some regions) and the Nikon D3100 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2008 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 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 14.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 450D and the Nikon D3100? 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 450D and the Nikon D3100. 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.
The D3100 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the 450D is only available in black.
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 (6 percent) than the Canon 450D. Moreover, the D3100 is slightly lighter (4 percent) than the 450D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 450D 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 compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (450D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3100).
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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon 450D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799|
|2.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|3.||Canon 750D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|4.||Canon 760D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||116 mm||74 mm||66 mm||553 g||240||n||Feb 2014||799|
|6.||Canon 650D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|7.||Canon G1 X||117 mm||81 mm||65 mm||534 g||250||n||Jan 2012||799|
|8.||Canon 1100D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|9.||Canon 500D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|10.||Canon 1000D||126 mm||98 mm||65 mm||502 g||500||n||Jun 2008||449|
|11.||Canon 400D||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|12.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|13.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|14.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|15.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|16.||Nikon D40||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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 D3100 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the 450D, 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.
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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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 8 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (450D) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 14.2MP, the D3100 offers a higher resolution than the 450D (12.2MP), but the D3100 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.01μm versus 5.19μm for the 450D). Yet, the D3100 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 6 months) than the 450D, 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 D3100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3100 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 15.4 inches or 58.5 x 39 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 12.3 inches or 46.8 x 31.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 10.2 inches or 39 x 26 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 450D are 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.3 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.1 x 11.4 inches or 43.4 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.2 x 9.5 inches or 36.2 x 24.1 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 450D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3100 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-12800.
For many 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 450D (overall score 6 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 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.
| DXO |
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||1.5-inch||13.0||4160||3120||1080/30p||21.5||10.8||581||58|
|7.||Canon G1 X||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D3100 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 450D does not. The highest resolution format that the D3100 can use is 1080/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 450D 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the 450D has a higher magnification than the one of the D3100 (0.54x vs 0.53x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 450D, the Nikon D3100, and comparable cameras.
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||optional||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||5.2||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0||922||Swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9||Y||Y|
The 450D writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the D3100 uses SDXC cards.
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 450D and Nikon D3100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon G1 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the 450D and the D3100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 450D was replaced by the Canon 500D, while the D3100 was followed by the Nikon D3200. 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.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 450D or the Nikon D3100 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 450D:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.54x vs 0.53x).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2008).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3100:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (14.2 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 8%.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/24p video.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 6 months of technical progress since the 450D launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3100 emerges as the winner of the match-up (6 : 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. 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 450D and the Nikon D3100 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 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 450D or the D3100 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Canon 450D||..||+ +||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799|
|2.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|3.||Canon 750D||5/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|4.||Canon 760D||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||3/5||+||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||799|
|6.||Canon 650D||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|7.||Canon G1 X||5/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||799|
|8.||Canon 1100D||..||80/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|9.||Canon 500D||..||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|10.||Canon 1000D||..||82/100||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2008||449|
|11.||Canon 400D||..||+ +||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|12.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|13.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|14.||Nikon D3000||..||+||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|15.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|16.||Nikon D40||..||81/100||+ +||o||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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.
Specifications: Canon 450D vs Nikon D3100
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 Model||Canon 450D||Nikon D3100|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2008||August 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 450D||Nikon D3100|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.2 x 14.8 mm||23.1 x 15.4 mm|
|Sensor Area||328.56 mm2||355.74 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.7 mm||27.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||14.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4272 x 2848 pixels||4608 x 3072 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.19 μm||5.01 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.70 MP/cm2||3.98 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 3||EXPEED 2|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||61||67|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.9||22.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.8||11.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||692||919|
|Screen Specs||Canon 450D||Nikon D3100|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 450D||Nikon D3100|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 450D||Nikon D3100|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 450D||Nikon D3100|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||550 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
124 x 96 x 75 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||524 g (18.5 oz)||505 g (17.8 oz)|
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