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Canon 600D versus Nikon D5100

The Canon EOS 600D (called Canon T3i in some regions) and the Nikon D5100 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2011 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. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 600D vs Nikon D5100

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 600D and the Nikon D5100. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 600D – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 600D vs Nikon D5100
Compare 600D versus D5200 top
Compare 600D and D5200 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D5100 is notably smaller (7 percent) than the Canon 600D. Moreover, the D5200 is slightly lighter (2 percent) than the 600D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 600D 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 (600D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D5200).

Concerning battery life, the 600D gets 440 shots out of its LP-E8 battery, while the D5200 can take 660 images on a single charge of its EN-EL14 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, 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 camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 600D» 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.1 oz 440 n Feb 2011 599- i Canon 600D
Nikon D5100« 5.0 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.8 oz 660 n Apr 2011 749- i Nikon D5100
Canon 77D« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 19.0 oz 600 n Feb 2017 899 i i Canon 77D
Canon M10« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.4 in 10.6 oz 255 n Oct 2015 499- i Canon M10
Canon 1200D« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 16.9 oz 500 n Feb 2014 449- i Canon 1200D
Canon 100D« » 4.6 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 14.4 oz 380 n Mar 2013 549- i Canon 100D
Canon 700D« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 n Mar 2013 649- i Canon 700D
Canon 650D« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.3 oz 440 n Jun 2012 849- i Canon 650D
Canon M« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.3 in 10.5 oz 230 n Jul 2012 599- i Canon M
Canon 1100D« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 17.5 oz 700 n Feb 2011 449- i Canon 1100D
Canon 550D« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.7 oz 440 n Feb 2010 699- i Canon 550D
Canon 500D« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799- i Canon 500D
Nikon D5600« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 16.4 oz 970 n Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
Nikon D5300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 16.9 oz 600 n Oct 2013 799- i Nikon D5300
Nikon D5200« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 500 n Nov 2012 749- i Nikon D5200
Nikon D3100« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 550 n Aug 2010 599- i Nikon D3100
Nikon D5000« » 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749- i Nikon D5000

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 600D was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the D5200, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 600D vs Nikon D5100

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 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 D5200 is 12 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.

Canon 600D and Nikon D5100 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 600D 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). It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.

600D versus D5200 MP

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 D5200 offers substantially better image quality than the 600D (overall score 15 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon 600D» APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.579365Canon 600D
Nikon D5100« APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380Nikon D5100
Canon 77D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.397178Canon 77D
Canon M10« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.475365Canon M10
Canon 1200D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463Canon 1200D
Canon 100D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363Canon 100D
Canon 700D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161Canon 700D
Canon 650D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262Canon 650D
Canon M« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765Canon M
Canon 1100D« » APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562Canon 1100D
Canon 550D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466Canon 550D
Canon 500D« » APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363Canon 500D
Nikon D5600« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684Nikon D5600
Nikon D5300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883Nikon D5300
Nikon D5200« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.213.9128484Nikon D5200
Nikon D3100« » APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967Nikon D3100
Nikon D5000« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872Nikon D5000

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).

 

Feature comparison: Canon 600D vs Nikon D5100

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 600D 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 600D, the Nikon D5100, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or in the dpreview camera hub.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon 600D»optical n 3.0 1040 swivel n 4000 3.7 Y n Canon 600D
Nikon D5100«optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 4.0 Y n Nikon D5100
Canon 77D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.0 Y n Canon 77D
Canon M10« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 4.6 Y n Canon M10
Canon 1200D« »optical n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 1200D
Canon 100D« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.9 Y n Canon 100D
Canon 700D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon 700D
Canon 650D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon 650D
Canon M« »- n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.3 n n Canon M
Canon 1100D« »optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 1100D
Canon 550D« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 3.7 Y n Canon 550D
Canon 500D« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.4 Y n Canon 500D
Nikon D5600« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5600
Nikon D5300« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5300
Nikon D5200« »optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5200
Nikon D3100« »optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D3100
Nikon D5000« »optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 4000 4.0 Y n Nikon D5000

Both the 600D and the D5200 write their imaging data to SDXC cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Canon 600D»YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 600D
Nikon D5100«YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D5100
Canon 77D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon 77D
Canon M10« »-stereomono--mini2.0YY-Canon M10
Canon 1200D« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Canon 1200D
Canon 100D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 100D
Canon 700D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 700D
Canon 650D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 650D
Canon M« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon M
Canon 1100D« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Canon 1100D
Canon 550D« »Ystereo-Y-mini2.0---Canon 550D
Canon 500D« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Canon 500D
Nikon D5600« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYNikon D5600
Nikon D5300« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Nikon D5300
Nikon D5200« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D5200
Nikon D3100« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D3100
Nikon D5000« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D5000

Both the 600D and the D5200 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 600D was replaced by the Canon 650D, while the D5200 was followed by the Nikon D5200.

Review summary: Canon 600D vs Nikon D5100

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 600D and the Nikon D5100? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 600D:

  • 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 affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D5100:

  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 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).
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (660 versus 440) out of a single battery charge.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D5200 emerges as the winner of the match-up (5 : 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.

600D 03:05 D5200

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 600D or the D5200 handle or 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. This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 600D»rev77/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2011 599- i Canon 600D
Nikon D5100«HiRec76/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749- i Nikon D5100
Canon 77D« »-82/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 899 i i Canon 77D
Canon M10« »---rev4/5 Oct 2015 499- i Canon M10
Canon 1200D« »Rec-4/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449- i Canon 1200D
Canon 100D« »Rec78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549- i Canon 100D
Canon 700D« »-76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649- i Canon 700D
Canon 650D« »HiRec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849- i Canon 650D
Canon M« »Rec-4/53.5/54/5 Jul 2012 599- i Canon M
Canon 1100D« »80/10069/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449- i Canon 1100D
Canon 550D« »HiRec77/1004/55/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699- i Canon 550D
Canon 500D« »HiRec74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799- i Canon 500D
Nikon D5600« »-79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
Nikon D5300« »HiRec79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799- i Nikon D5300
Nikon D5200« »HiRec79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2012 749- i Nikon D5200
Nikon D3100« »HiRec72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599- i Nikon D3100
Nikon D5000« »HiRec75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749- i Nikon D5000

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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

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. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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