Canon 550D vs Nikon D3200
The Canon EOS 550D (called Canon T2i in some regions) and the Nikon D3200 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2010 and April 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24.1 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 550D and the Nikon D3200? 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 physical size and weight of the Canon 550D and the Nikon D3200 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D3200 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the 550D 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 D3200 is notably smaller (5 percent) than the Canon 550D. Moreover, the D3200 is markedly lighter (5 percent) than the 550D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 550D nor the D3200 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 (550D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3200).
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, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon 550D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 4000D||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon 750D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 760D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon 1200D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 700D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 650D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 600D||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 1100D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 500D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699||amazon.com|
|13.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749||ebay.com|
|17.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D3200 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 14 percent) than the 550D, 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 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 D3200 is 8 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (550D) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24.1MP, the D3200 offers a higher resolution than the 550D (17.9MP), but the D3200 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.85μm versus 4.31μm for the 550D). Yet, the D3200 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 2 months) than the 550D, 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 D3200 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3200 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20 inches or 76.4 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16 inches or 61.1 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.1 x 13.3 inches or 50.9 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 550D are 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 550D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The Nikon D3200 offers exactly the same ISO settings.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
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 D3200 offers substantially better image quality than the 550D (overall score 15 points higher). The advantage is based on 2 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 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.
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 550D and the D3200 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 550D has a higher magnification than the one of the D3200 (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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 550D and Nikon D3200 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon 550D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|2.||Nikon D3200||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|3.||Canon 4000D||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon 750D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 760D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Canon 1200D||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Canon 700D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Canon 650D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Canon 600D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|10.||Canon 1100D||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Canon 500D||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D5600||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D3400||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D3300||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D5300||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon D5100||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|17.||Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 550D and the D3200 write their files to SDXC cards. The D3200 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the 550D cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 550D and Nikon D3200 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 550D||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D3200||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 4000D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon 750D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon 760D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon 1200D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 700D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 650D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 600D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 1100D||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 500D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D5600||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|13.||Nikon D3400||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y|
|14.||Nikon D3300||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D5300||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D5100||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Nikon D3100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the 550D and the D3200 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The 550D was replaced by the Canon 600D, while the D3200 was followed by the Nikon D3300. Further information on the features and operation of the 550D and D3200 can be found, respectively, in the Canon 550D Manual (free pdf) or the online Nikon D3200 Manual.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 550D or the Nikon D3200 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 550D:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.54x vs 0.53x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 921k dots).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2010).
Advantages of the Nikon D3200:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.1 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 16%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (540 versus 440) out of a single battery charge.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (14 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 2 months of technical progress since the 550D launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3200 is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 550D and the Nikon D3200 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 550D or the D3200. 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 summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 550D||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||..||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 4000D||..||o||3/5||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon 750D||5/5||..||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 760D||5/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon 1200D||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 700D||..||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 650D||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 600D||3/5||o||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 1100D||..||80/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 500D||..||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||4/5||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699||amazon.com|
|13.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||4/5||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749||ebay.com|
|17.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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
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Specifications: Canon 550D vs Nikon D3200
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 550D||Nikon D3200|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2010||April 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 699||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 550D||Nikon D3200|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||23.2 x 15.4 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||357.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||27.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||24.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||6016 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||3.85 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||6.74 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||EXPEED 3|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||81|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||24.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||13.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||784||1131|
|Screen Specs||Canon 550D||Nikon D3200|
|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||1040k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 550D||Nikon D3200|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.7 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 550D||Nikon D3200|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 550D||Nikon D3200|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440 shots per charge||540 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
125 x 96 x 77 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||530 g (18.7 oz)||505 g (17.8 oz)|
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