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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.

Headline Specifications
Canon 450D versus Nikon D3100
Canon 450D Nikon D3100
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 14.2 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 1080/24p Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-3,200 (100 - 12,800)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.5 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
500 shots per battery charge550 shots per battery charge
129 x 98 x 62 mm, 524 g 124 x 96 x 75 mm, 505 g

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.

Body comparison

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.

Size Canon 450D vs Nikon D3100
Compare 450D versus D3100 top
Comparison 450D or 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 (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).

Concerning battery life, the 450D gets 500 shots out of its LP-E5 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, you can 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
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 450D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
2.
 
Nikon D3100 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 n Aug 2010 599i
3.
 
Canon 750D 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749i
4.
 
Canon 760D 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 565 g 440 n Feb 2015 649i
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 n Feb 2014 799i
6.
 
Canon 650D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
7.
 
Canon G1 X 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 n Jan 2012 799i
8.
 
Canon 1100D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
9.
 
Canon 500D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
10.
 
Canon 1000D 126 mm 98 mm 65 mm 502 g 500 n Jun 2008 449i
11.
 
Canon 400D 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
12.
 
Nikon D3200 125 mm 96 mm 77 mm 505 g 540 n Apr 2012 599i
13.
 
Nikon D5100 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 n Apr 2011 749i
14.
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599i
15.
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749i
16.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499i
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.

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Sensor comparison

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.

Canon 450D and Nikon D3100 sensor measures

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.

450D versus D3100 MP

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.

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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
1.
 
Canon 450D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
2.
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
3.
 
Canon 750D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
4.
 
Canon 760D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
6.
 
Canon 650D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
7.
 
Canon G1 X 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 32641080/24p21.710.864460
8.
 
Canon 1100D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
9.
 
Canon 500D APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
10.
 
Canon 1000D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none........
11.
 
Canon 400D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
12.
 
Nikon D3200 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.2113181
13.
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380
14.
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
15.
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
16.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156

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.

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Feature comparison

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.

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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
1.
 
Canon 450Doptical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
2.
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon 750Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon 760Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2 Y Y
6.
 
Canon 650Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
7.
 
Canon G1 Xoptical n 3.0 922 Swivel n 1/4000s 1.9 Y Y
8.
 
Canon 1100Doptical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon 500Doptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
10.
 
Canon 1000Doptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Canon 400Doptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D3200optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
13.
 
Nikon D5100optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
14.
 
Nikon D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
15.
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
16.
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n

The 450D writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the D3100 uses SDXC cards.

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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 450D and Nikon D3100 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
1.
 
Canon 450DY----mini2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon 750DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 760DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereomono--mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon 650DYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon G1 XYstereomono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 1100DYstereomono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon 500DYmonomono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon 1000DY-----2.0---
11.
 
Canon 400DY-----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D3200YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D5100YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D3000Y-----2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D40Y-----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.

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Review summary

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.

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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).

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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.

450D 03:06 D3100

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.

Expert reviews

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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 450D..+ ++ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
2.
 
Nikon D31005/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599i
3.
 
Canon 750D5/5..75/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749i
4.
 
Canon 760D5/5+77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II3/5+77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799i
6.
 
Canon 650D4/5+ +77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
7.
 
Canon G1 X5/5+76/1004/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799i
8.
 
Canon 1100D..80/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
9.
 
Canon 500D..+ +74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
10.
 
Canon 1000D..82/100+ +3.5/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449i
11.
 
Canon 400D..+ ++ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
12.
 
Nikon D32005/5+ +73/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599i
13.
 
Nikon D51005/5+ +76/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749i
14.
 
Nikon D3000..+72/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599i
15.
 
Nikon D5000..+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
16.
 
Nikon D40..81/100+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
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.

Canon 450D:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D3100:
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.

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    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 Specifications
    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 Technology CMOS CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.5x
    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%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.54x 0.53x
    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 Expectancy100 000 actuations100 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
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    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 Type LP-E5 EN-EL14
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge550 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 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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