Canon 850D vs Nikon D3100
The Canon EOS 850D (called Canon T8i in some regions) and the Nikon D3100 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2020 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 24 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 850D 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 850D and the Nikon D3100. 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.
The D3100 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the 850D 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 (12 percent) than the Canon 850D. Moreover, the D3100 is slightly lighter (2 percent) than the 850D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 850D 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 (850D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3100).
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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon 850D||131 mm||103 mm||76 mm||515 g||800||n||Feb 2020||749|
|2.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|3.||Canon RP||133 mm||85 mm||70 mm||485 g||250||n||Feb 2019||1,299|
|4.||Canon 250D||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||449 g||1070||n||Apr 2019||599|
|5.||Canon G5 X Mark II||111 mm||61 mm||46 mm||340 g||230||n||Jul 2019||899|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark III||105 mm||61 mm||41 mm||304 g||235||n||Jul 2019||749|
|7.||Canon 2000D||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||475 g||500||n||Feb 2018||449|
|8.||Canon 77D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||540 g||600||n||Feb 2017||899|
|9.||Canon 200D||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|10.||Canon 800D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||532 g||600||n||Feb 2017||749|
|11.||Canon 750D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|12.||Canon 760D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|13.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|14.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|15.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|16.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|17.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D3100 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the 850D, 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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 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 D3100 is 7 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (850D) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 850D offers a higher resolution of 24 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 3.72μm versus 5.01μm for the D3100). However, it should be noted that the 850D is much more recent (by 9 years and 5 months) than the D3100, 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 850D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 850D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3100 are 23 x 15.4 inches or 58.5 x 39 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 12.3 inches or 46.8 x 31.2 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 10.2 inches or 39 x 26 cm for excellent quality prints.
The 850D has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS 850D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 100-51200. 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 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|3.||Canon RP||Full Frame||26.2||6240||4160||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Canon G5 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
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, but the 850D provides a higher video resolution than the D3100. It can shoot video footage at 4K/24p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 850D 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%), but the viewfinder of the D3100 has a higher magnification than the one of the 850D (0.53x vs 0.51x), 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 850D and Nikon D3100 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|5.||Canon G5 X Mark II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||30||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark III||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||30||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The 850D has a touchscreen, while the D3100 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The 850D has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the D3100 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Canon 850D has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 850D and the D3100 write their files to SDXC cards. The 850D supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D3100 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 850D and Nikon D3100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|5.||Canon G5 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark III||-||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
It is notable that the 850D 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.
The 850D is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the D3100 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D3100 was succeeded by the Nikon D3200. 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 the Canon 850D better than the Nikon D3100 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 850D:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 14.2MP) with a 30% higher linear resolution.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/24p vs 1080/24p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- 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.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (800 versus 550) on a single battery charge.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 9 years and 5 months of technical progress since the D3100 launch.
Advantages of the Nikon D3100:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.53x vs 0.51x).
- More compact: Is smaller (124x96mm vs 131x103mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2010).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 850D is the clear winner of the match-up (15 : 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 850D 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 850D or the D3100. 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 why expert reviews 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.
|1.||Canon 850D||4/5||+||80/100||4/5||3.5/5||Feb 2020||749|
|2.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|3.||Canon RP||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||1,299|
|4.||Canon 250D||..||o||79/100||4/5||4/5||Apr 2019||599|
|5.||Canon G5 X Mark II||4/5||+||82/100||..||4/5||Jul 2019||899|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark III||..||+ +||81/100||4/5||..||Jul 2019||749|
|7.||Canon 2000D||..||o||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||449|
|8.||Canon 77D||4.5/5||..||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||899|
|9.||Canon 200D||4/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|10.||Canon 800D||4.5/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||749|
|11.||Canon 750D||5/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|12.||Canon 760D||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|13.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|14.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|15.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|16.||Nikon D3000||..||+||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|17.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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
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.
Specifications: Canon 850D 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 850D||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 2020||August 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 749||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 850D||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||24 Megapixels||14.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4608 x 3072 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.72 μm||5.01 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.22 MP/cm2||3.98 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/24p Video||1080/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 8||EXPEED 2|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||67|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||11.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||919|
|Screen Specs||Canon 850D||Nikon D3100|
|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||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 850D||Nikon D3100|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||7.5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|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||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 850D||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||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Canon 850D||Nikon D3100|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||800 shots per charge||550 shots per charge|
131 x 103 x 76 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
124 x 96 x 75 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||515 g (18.2 oz)||505 g (17.8 oz)|
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