Canon 600D vs Nikon D3100
The Canon EOS 600D (called Canon T3i in some regions) and the Nikon D3100 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2011 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 17.9 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.
|Canon 600D||Nikon D3100|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|17.9 MP, APS-C Sensor||14.2 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||1080/24p Video|
|ISO 100-6400 (100-12800)||ISO 100-3200 (100-12800)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 1040k dots||3.0" LCD, 230k dots|
|Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3.7 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|440 shots per battery charge||550 shots per battery charge|
|133 x 100 x 80 mm, 570 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 600D 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 physical size and weight of the Canon 600D and the Nikon D3100 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D3100 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the 600D 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 (10 percent) than the Canon 600D. Moreover, the D3100 is markedly lighter (11 percent) than the 600D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 600D 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 (600D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3100).
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Canon 600D»||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599||Canon 600D|
|Nikon D3100«||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599||Nikon D3100|
|Canon 77D« »||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||540 g||600||n||Feb 2017||899||Canon 77D|
|Canon 760D« »||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649||Canon 760D|
|Canon 1200D« »||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449||Canon 1200D|
|Canon 100D« »||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549||Canon 100D|
|Canon 700D« »||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649||Canon 700D|
|Canon 650D« »||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849||Canon 650D|
|Canon M« »||109 mm||66 mm||32 mm||298 g||230||n||Jul 2012||599||Canon M|
|Canon 1100D« »||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449||Canon 1100D|
|Canon 550D« »||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699||Canon 550D|
|Canon 500D« »||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799||Canon 500D|
|Nikon D3200« »||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599||Nikon D3200|
|Nikon D5100« »||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749||Nikon D5100|
|Nikon D3000« »||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000« »||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D40« »||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||470||n||Nov 2006||499||Nikon D40|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the 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 7 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (600D) 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 600D offers a higher resolution of 17.9 megapixels, compared with 14.2 MP of the Nikon D3100. 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 4.31μm versus 5.01μm for the D3100). However, it should be noted that the 600D is a somewhat more recent model (by 5 months) than the D3100, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 600D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 600D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 17.3 inch or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 13.8 inch or 52.7 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 11.5 inch or 43.9 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3100 are 23 x 15.4 inch or 58.5 x 39 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 12.3 inch or 46.8 x 31.2 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 10.2 inch or 39 x 26 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 600D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. 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.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Canon 600D||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||793||65||Canon 600D|
|Nikon D3100||APS-C||14.2||4608||3072||1080/24p||22.5||11.3||919||67||Nikon D3100|
|Canon 77D||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.6||13.3||971||78||Canon 77D|
|Canon 760D||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/30p||22.6||12.0||915||70||Canon 760D|
|Canon 1200D||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.9||11.3||724||63||Canon 1200D|
|Canon 100D||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.8||11.3||843||63||Canon 100D|
|Canon 700D||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||681||61||Canon 700D|
|Canon 650D||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||722||62||Canon 650D|
|Canon M||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.2||827||65||Canon M|
|Canon 1100D||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||720/30p||21.9||11.0||755||62||Canon 1100D|
|Canon 550D||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||784||66||Canon 550D|
|Canon 500D||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||1080/20p||21.7||11.5||663||63||Canon 500D|
|Nikon D3200||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/30p||24.1||13.2||1131||81||Nikon D3200|
|Nikon D5100||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.5||13.6||1183||80||Nikon D5100|
|Nikon D3000||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.3||11.1||563||62||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||868||72||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D40||APS-C||6.0||3008||2000||none||21.0||11.0||561||56||Nikon D40|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the 600D provides a higher frame rate than the D3100. It can shoot video footage at 1080/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 600D 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%), as well as the same magnification (0.53x). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 600D and Nikon D3100 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Canon 600D||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon 600D|
|Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D3100|
|Canon 77D||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n||Canon 77D|
|Canon 760D||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 760D|
|Canon 1200D||optical||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon 1200D|
|Canon 100D||optical||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.9||Y||n||Canon 100D|
|Canon 700D||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 700D|
|Canon 650D||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 650D|
|Canon M||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.3||n||n||Canon M|
|Canon 1100D||optical||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon 1100D|
|Canon 550D||optical||n||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon 550D|
|Canon 500D||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4||Y||n||Canon 500D|
|Nikon D3200||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D3200|
|Nikon D5100||optical||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D5100|
|Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7||230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D40||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n||Nikon D40|
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 600D and the D3100 write their files to 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 600D and Nikon D3100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon 600D||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 600D|
|Nikon D3100||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3100|
|Canon 77D||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Canon 77D|
|Canon 760D||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon 760D|
|Canon 1200D||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1200D|
|Canon 100D||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 100D|
|Canon 700D||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 700D|
|Canon 650D||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 650D|
|Canon M||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon M|
|Canon 1100D||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1100D|
|Canon 550D||Y||stereo||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 550D|
|Canon 500D||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 500D|
|Nikon D3200||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3200|
|Nikon D5100||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5100|
|Nikon D3000||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D40||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D40|
It is notable that the 600D has a microphone port, which is missing on the D3100. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Both the 600D and the D3100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3100 was replaced by the Nikon D3200, while the 600D was followed by the Canon 650D. 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 600D and the Nikon D3100? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 600D:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 14.2MP) with a 12% higher linear resolution.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p versus 1080/24p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.7 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 5 months after the D3100).
Advantages of the Nikon D3100:
- More compact: Is smaller (124x96mm vs 133x100mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 65g or 11 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (550 versus 440) out of a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2010).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 600D is the clear winner of the match-up (8 : 4 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 600D 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 600D and the D3100 in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? 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.
Specifications: Canon 600D 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 600D||Nikon D3100|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2011||August 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 600D||Nikon D3100|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||23.1 x 15.4 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||355.74 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||27.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||14.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||4608 x 3072 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||5.01 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||3.98 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-6400 ISO||100-3200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-12800 ISO||100-12800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||EXPEED 2|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||65||67|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||22.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||11.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||793||919|
|Screen Specs||Canon 600D||Nikon D3100|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 600D||Nikon D3100|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.7 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||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 600D||Nikon D3100|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 600D||Nikon D3100|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440 shots per charge||550 shots per charge|
133 x 100 x 80 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
124 x 96 x 75 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||570 g (20.1 oz)||505 g (17.8 oz)|
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