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Canon 50D vs Nikon D100

The Canon EOS 50D and the Nikon D100 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2008 and February 2002. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 6 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon 50D versus Nikon D100
Canon 50D Nikon D100
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
15.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 6 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 (100 - 12,800) ISO 200-800 (200 - 1,600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 920k dots 1.8 LCD, 118k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6.3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
800 shots per battery charge370 shots per battery charge
146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g 144 x 116 x 81 mm, 780 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 50D and the Nikon D100? 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 physical size and weight of the Canon 50D and the Nikon D100 are illustrated 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 50D vs Nikon D100
Compare 50D versus D100 top
Comparison 50D or D100 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D100 is notably larger (6 percent) than the Canon 50D. However, the D100 is markedly lighter (5 percent) than the 50D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 50D is splash and dust resistant, while the D100 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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 (50D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D100).

Concerning battery life, the 50D gets 800 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the D100 can take 370 images on a single charge of its EN-EL3 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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 50D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299i
2.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
3.
 
Canon 80D 139 mm 105 mm 79 mm 730 g 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199i
4.
 
Canon 7D II 149 mm 112 mm 78 mm 910 g 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i
5.
 
Canon 70D 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199i
6.
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399i
7.
 
Canon 1D Mark IV 156 mm 157 mm 80 mm 1230 g 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999i
8.
 
Canon 7D 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699i
9.
 
Canon 500D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
10.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
11.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
12.
 
Canon 5D 152 mm 113 mm 75 mm 895 g 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299i
13.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
14.
 
Nikon D500 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 860 g 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i
15.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899i
16.
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699i
17.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999i
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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The 50D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 35 percent) than the D100, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the 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 D100 is 11 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (50D) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 50D and Nikon D100 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 50D offers a higher resolution of 15.1 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the Nikon D100. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.69μm versus 7.85μm for the D100). However, it should be noted that the 50D is much more recent (by 6 years and 6 months) than the D100, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

The resolution advantage of the Canon 50D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 50D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23.8 x 15.8 inches or 60.4 x 40.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19 x 12.7 inches or 48.3 x 32.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.8 x 10.6 inches or 40.2 x 26.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D100 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 50D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D100 are ISO 200 to ISO 800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-1600.

50D versus D100 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
2.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
3.
 
Canon 80D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579
4.
 
Canon 7D II APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270
5.
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
6.
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
7.
 
Canon 1D Mark IV APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074
8.
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
9.
 
Canon 500D APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
10.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
11.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
12.
 
Canon 5D Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912none22.911.1136871
13.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
14.
 
Nikon D500 APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
15.
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
16.
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
17.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
The 50D offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The D100 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 50D and the D100 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 50D has a higher magnification than the one of the D100 (0.59x 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 50D, the Nikon D100, 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 50Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3 Y n
2.
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon 80Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon 7D IIoptical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon 70Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon 60Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3 Y n
7.
 
Canon 1D Mark IVoptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 n n
8.
 
Canon 7Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon 500Doptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
10.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
11.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
12.
 
Canon 5Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
13.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Nikon D500optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
15.
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
16.
 
Nikon D200optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
17.
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 50D and the D100 write their files to Compact Flash 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 50D and Nikon D100 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 50DY----mini2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D100Y-----1.1---
3.
 
Canon 80DYstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 7D IIYstereomonoYYmini3.0---
5.
 
Canon 70DYstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
6.
 
Canon 60DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 1D Mark IVYstereo-Y-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 7DYmono-Y-mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon 500DYmonomono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
11.
 
Canon 30DY-----2.0---
12.
 
Canon 5DY-----2.0---
13.
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
14.
 
Nikon D500YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYY
15.
 
Nikon D70sY-----2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D200Y-----2.0---
17.
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 50D (unlike the D100) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 50D and the D100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D100 was replaced by the Nikon D200, while the 50D was followed by the Canon 60D. 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 what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 50D better than the Nikon D100 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 50D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.1 vs 6MP) with a 58% higher linear resolution.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.59x vs 0.53x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 118k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.3 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (800 versus 370) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (35 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years and 6 months of technical progress since the D100 launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D100:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2002).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 50D is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 1 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

50D 12:01 D100

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 50D and the Nikon D100 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 50D and the D100 in practical situations. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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 50D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
2.
 
Nikon D100....+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999i
3.
 
Canon 80D4/5+ +84/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199i
4.
 
Canon 7D II4.5/5+84/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i
5.
 
Canon 70D5/5+ +83/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199i
6.
 
Canon 60D5/5+79/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399i
7.
 
Canon 1D Mark IV5/5..89/100.... Oct 2009 4,999i
8.
 
Canon 7D5/5+ +84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699i
9.
 
Canon 500D..+ +74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
10.
 
Canon 40D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
11.
 
Canon 30D..+ ++ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
12.
 
Canon 5D..88/100+ +o.. Aug 2005 3,299i
13.
 
Canon 10D....+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
14.
 
Nikon D5005/5+ +91/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i
15.
 
Nikon D70s........5/5 Apr 2005 899i
16.
 
Nikon D200..+ ++ +o.. Nov 2005 1,699i
17.
 
Nikon D70....+ +.... Jan 2004 999i
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. 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. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon 50D:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D100:
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 your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon 50D vs Nikon D100

    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 50D Nikon D100
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2008 February 2002
    Launch Price USD 1,299 USD 1,999
    Sensor Specs Canon 50D Nikon D100
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 23.7 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 369.72 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 15.1 Megapixels 6 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4752 x 3168 pixels 3008 x 2000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.69 μm 7.85 μm
    Pixel Density 4.53 MP/cm2 1.63 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 200 - 800 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 12,800 ISO 200 - 1,600 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 63 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.8 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.4 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 696 ..
    Screen Specs Canon 50D Nikon D100
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.59x 0.53x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 1.8inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 118k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 50D Nikon D100
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 6.3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations50 000 actuations
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 50D Nikon D100
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 1.1
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 50D Nikon D100
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type BP-511A EN-EL3
    Battery Life (CIPA)800 shots per charge370 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 146 x 108 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
    144 x 116 x 81 mm
    (5.7 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 822 g (29.0 oz) 780 g (27.5 oz)

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