Canon 550D versus Nikon D5100
The Canon EOS 550D (called Canon XS in some regions) and the Nikon D5100 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2010 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 17.9 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 16.1 MP.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 550D and the Nikon D5100. 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. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the 550D – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D5100 is considerably smaller (98 percent) than the Canon 550D. However, the D5200 is markedly heavier (6 percent) than the 550D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 550D nor the D5200 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (550D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D5200).
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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Canon 550D (⇒ rgt)||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||no||2010||699||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5100 (⇒ lft)||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||no||2011||749||discont.||check|
|Canon 750D (⇒ lft | rgt)||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||no||2015||749||discont.||check|
|Canon 760D (⇒ lft | rgt)||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||no||2015||849||discont.||check|
|Canon 1200D (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||no||2014||449||discont.||check|
|Canon 700D (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||no||2013||649||discont.||check|
|Canon 650D (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||no||2012||849||discont.||check|
|Canon 600D (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||no||2011||599||discont.||check|
|Canon 1100D (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||no||2011||449||discont.||check|
|Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||no||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Canon 450D (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||no||2008||799||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||no||2016||699||latest||check|
|Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||no||2013||799||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||no||2012||749||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||no||2010||599||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||no||2009||749||discont.||check|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 550D was somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the D5200 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color depth than smaller pixels 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 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 D5200 is 12 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.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 550D offers a higher resolution of 17.9 megapixel, compared with 16.1 MP of the Nikon D5100. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 4.80μm for the D5200). Moreover, it should be noted that the D5200 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 1 month) than the 550D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 D5200 offers substantially better image quality than the 550D (overall score 14 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 2.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Canon 550D (⇒ rgt)||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||784||66|
|Nikon D5100 (⇒ lft)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.5||13.6||1183||80|
|Canon 750D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||22.7||12.0||919||71|
|Canon 760D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/30p||22.6||12.0||915||70|
|Canon 1200D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.9||11.3||724||63|
|Canon 700D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||681||61|
|Canon 650D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||722||62|
|Canon 600D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||793||65|
|Canon 1100D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||720/30p||21.9||11.0||755||62|
|Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||1080/20p||21.7||11.5||663||63|
|Canon 450D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||no||21.9||10.8||692||61|
|Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||14.0||1306||84|
|Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.0||13.9||1338||83|
|Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60i||24.2||13.9||1284||84|
|Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||14.2||4608||3072||1080/24p||22.5||11.3||919||67|
|Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||868||72|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. 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).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 550D and the D5200 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 550D and Nikon D5100 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.
|Canon 550D (⇒ rgt)||optical||no||3.0||1040||fixed||no||4000||3.7||YES||no|
|Nikon D5100 (⇒ lft)||optical||no||3.0||921||swivel||no||4000||4.0||12||no|
|Canon 750D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Canon 760D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Canon 1200D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||460||fixed||no||4000||3.0||9.2||no|
|Canon 700D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||4000||5.0||13||no|
|Canon 650D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3||1040||swivel||YES||4000||5.0||YES||no|
|Canon 600D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3||1040||swivel||no||4000||3.7||YES||no|
|Canon 1100D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||9.2||no|
|Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||4000||3.4||YES||no|
|Canon 450D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||230||fixed||no||4000||3.5||YES||no|
|Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.2||1037||swivel||YES||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.2||1037||swivel||no||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||921||swivel||no||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||12||no|
|Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||230||full-flex||no||4000||4.0||17||no|
Both the 550D and the D5200 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The 550D was replaced by the Canon 600D, while the D5200 was followed by the Nikon D5200.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 550D better than the Nikon D5100 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 550D:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 16.1MP) with a 5% higher linear resolution.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 921k dots).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2010).
Advantages of the Nikon D5100:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 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 (2.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
- More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More compact: Is smaller (128x97mm vs 129x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (660 versus 440) out of a single battery charge.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 1 month) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D5200 is the clear winner of the contest (8 : 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.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 550D and the D5200 in practical situations. 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. This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Canon 550D (⇒ rgt)||88/100 HiRec||77/100 Gold||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2010||699||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5100 (⇒ lft)||86/100 HiRec||76/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2011||749||discont.||check|
|Canon 750D (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2015||749||discont.||check|
|Canon 760D (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||77/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2015||849||discont.||check|
|Canon 1200D (⇒ lft | rgt)||4/5||-||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||2014||449||discont.||check|
|Canon 700D (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||76/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||649||discont.||check|
|Canon 650D (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||77/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2012||849||discont.||check|
|Canon 600D (⇒ lft | rgt)||reviewed||77/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2011||599||discont.||check|
|Canon 1100D (⇒ lft | rgt)||80/100||69/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||2011||449||discont.||check|
|Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||74/100 HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Canon 450D (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||HiRec||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2008||799||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||2016||699||latest||check|
|Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||799||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2012||749||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||84/100 HiRec||72/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2010||599||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||75/100 HiRec||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||749||discont.||check|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.
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