Canon M50 vs Nikon D3100
The Canon EOS M50 and the Nikon D3100 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2018 and August 2010. The M50 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the D3100 is a DSLR. Both cameras 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 M50 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 M50 and the Nikon D3100. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M50 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the D3100 is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, red).
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 larger (17 percent) than the Canon M50. Moreover, the D3100 is markedly heavier (29 percent) than the M50. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M50 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon M50||4.6 in||3.5 in||2.3 in||13.8 oz||235||n||Feb 2018||779|
|2.||Nikon D3100||4.9 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||17.8 oz||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||4.6 in||3.5 in||2.3 in||13.7 oz||305||n||Oct 2020||599|
|4.||Canon SL3||4.8 in||3.7 in||2.8 in||15.8 oz||1070||n||Apr 2019||599|
|5.||Canon M6 Mark II||4.7 in||2.8 in||1.9 in||14.4 oz||305||n||Aug 2019||849|
|6.||Canon T7||5.1 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||16.8 oz||500||n||Feb 2018||449|
|7.||Canon M6||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.8 in||13.8 oz||295||n||Feb 2017||779|
|8.||Canon M100||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.4 in||10.7 oz||295||n||Aug 2017||499|
|9.||Canon SL2||4.8 in||3.7 in||2.8 in||16.0 oz||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|10.||Canon T7i||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||18.8 oz||600||n||Feb 2017||749|
|11.||Canon M5||4.6 in||3.5 in||2.4 in||15.1 oz||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|12.||Canon M3||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.7 in||12.9 oz||250||n||Feb 2015||679|
|13.||Nikon D3200||4.9 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||17.8 oz||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|14.||Nikon D5100||5.0 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.8 oz||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|15.||Nikon D7000||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||27.5 oz||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|16.||Nikon D3000||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|17.||Nikon D5000||5.0 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||20.8 oz||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.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D3100 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 23 percent) than the M50, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
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 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 (M50) 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 M50 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 M50 is much more recent (by 7 years and 6 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 M50 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M50 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 M50 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS M50 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Canon M6 Mark II||APS-C||32.3||6960||4640||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the M50 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 range of features. For example, the M50 has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the D3100 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon M50, the Nikon D3100, and comparable cameras.
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|5.||Canon M6 Mark II||optional||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||14.0||Y||n|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The M50 has a touchscreen, while the D3100 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The M50 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 M50 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 M50 and the D3100 write their files to SDXC cards. The M50 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 M50 and Nikon D3100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Canon M6 Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
It is notable that the M50 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 M50 and the D3100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3100 was replaced by the Nikon D3200, while the M50 was followed by the Canon M50 Mark II. 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 is the bottom line? Is the Canon M50 better than the Nikon D3100 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS M50:
- 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 framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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 (10 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (116x88mm vs 124x96mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 115g or 23 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- 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 7 years and 6 months of technical progress since the D3100 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3100:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (550 versus 235) out of a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (23 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2010).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M50 is the clear winner of the match-up (18 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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 M50 and the Nikon D3100 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings 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 M50 or the D3100. 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], 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 M50||..||+||79/100||..||3.5/5||Feb 2018||779|
|2.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||..||..||..||..||..||Oct 2020||599|
|4.||Canon SL3||..||o||79/100||4/5||4/5||Apr 2019||599|
|5.||Canon M6 Mark II||..||+||85/100||4/5||4/5||Aug 2019||849|
|6.||Canon T7||..||o||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||449|
|7.||Canon M6||..||..||80/100||4/5||4/5||Feb 2017||779|
|8.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499|
|9.||Canon SL2||4/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|10.||Canon T7i||4.5/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||749|
|11.||Canon M5||4/5||+||82/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|12.||Canon M3||4/5||o||75/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||679|
|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.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon M50 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 M50||Nikon D3100|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF-M mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2018||August 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 779||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon M50||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 M50||Nikon D3100|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||95%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots|
|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 M50||Nikon D3100|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||10 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 M50||Nikon D3100|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro 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 M50||Nikon D3100|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||235 shots per charge||550 shots per charge|
116 x 88 x 59 mm
(4.6 x 3.5 x 2.3 in)
124 x 96 x 75 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||390 g (13.8 oz)||505 g (17.8 oz)|
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