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Canon SL1 vs Nikon D3200

The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (called Canon 100D in some regions) and the Nikon D3200 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2013 and April 2012. 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 24.1 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon SL1 versus Nikon D3200
Canon SL1 Nikon D3200
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
17.9 MP, APS-C Sensor 24.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-12,800 (100 - 25,600) ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 12,800)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 1040k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
4.9 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
380 shots per battery charge540 shots per battery charge
117 x 91 x 69 mm, 407 g 125 x 96 x 77 mm, 505 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 and the Nikon D3200? 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.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon SL1 and the Nikon D3200. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The SL1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the D3200 is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, red).

Size Canon SL1 vs Nikon D3200
Compare SL1 versus D3200 top
Comparison SL1 or D3200 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3200 is notably larger (13 percent) than the Canon SL1. Moreover, the D3200 is markedly heavier (24 percent) than the SL1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SL1 nor the D3200 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 (SL1) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3200).

Concerning battery life, the SL1 gets 380 shots out of its LP-E12 battery, while the D3200 can take 540 images on a single charge of its EN-EL14 power pack.

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.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon SL1 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 n Mar 2013 549i
 
Nikon D3200 125 mm 96 mm 77 mm 505 g 540 n Apr 2012 599i
 
Canon T100 129 mm 102 mm 77 mm 436 g 500 n Feb 2018 399 i
 
Canon SL2 122 mm 93 mm 70 mm 453 g 650 n Jun 2017 549i
 
Canon T6 129 mm 101 mm 78 mm 485 g 500 n Mar 2016 449i
 
Canon M10 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 301 g 255 n Oct 2015 499i
 
Canon T5 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449i
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
 
Canon T5i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649i
 
Canon M 109 mm 66 mm 32 mm 298 g 230 n Jul 2012 599i
 
Canon T4i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon T3i 133 mm 100 mm 80 mm 570 g 440 n Feb 2011 599i
 
Nikon D5600 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 465 g 970 n Nov 2016 699 i
 
Nikon D3400 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 n Aug 2016 499i
 
Nikon D3300 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 430 g 700 n Jan 2014 499i
 
Nikon D5300 125 mm 98 mm 76 mm 480 g 600 n Oct 2013 799i
 
Nikon D3100 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 n Aug 2010 599i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SL1 was somewhat cheaper (by 8 percent) than the D3200 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.

Sensor comparison

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. 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 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 D3200 is 8 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (SL1) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Canon SL1 and Nikon D3200 sensor measures

With 24.1MP, the D3200 offers a higher resolution than the SL1 (17.9MP), but the D3200 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.85μm versus 4.31μm for the SL1). It is noteworthy in this context that the SL1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the D3200, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3200 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3200 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20 inches or 76.4 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16 inches or 61.1 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.1 x 13.3 inches or 50.9 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SL1 are 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.

The SL1 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.

The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3200 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-12800.

SL1 versus D3200 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D3200 offers substantially better image quality than the SL1 (overall score 18 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.3 bits higher color depth, 1.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Canon SL1 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363
 
Nikon D3200 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.2113181
 
Canon T100 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.469563
 
Canon SL2 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.4104179
 
Canon T6 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p........
 
Canon M10 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.475365
 
Canon T5 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
 
Canon T5i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
 
Canon M APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
 
Canon T3i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.579365
 
Nikon D5600 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684
 
Nikon D3400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
 
Nikon D3300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The SL1 and the D3200 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 SL1 has a higher magnification than the one of the D3200 (0.54x vs 0.53x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SL1, the Nikon D3200, and comparable cameras.

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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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Canon SL1optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.9 Y n
 
Nikon D3200optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Canon T100optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon SL2optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon T6optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon M10none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.6 Y n
 
Canon T5optical n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon G16optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
 
Canon T5ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon Mnone n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.3 n n
 
Canon T4ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon T3ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
 
Nikon D5600optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3400optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3300optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5300optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The SL1 has a touchscreen, while the D3200 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SL1 and the D3200 write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.

Connectivity comparison

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 Rebel SL1 and Nikon D3200 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Canon SL1YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3200YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon T100Ymonomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Canon SL2YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Canon T6Ymonomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Canon M10-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Canon T5Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon G16Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Canon T5iYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon MYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon T4iYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon T3iYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5600YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Nikon D3400Ymonomono--mini2.0--Y
 
Nikon D3300YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5300YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---

Both the SL1 and the D3200 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3200 was replaced by the Nikon D3300, while the SL1 was followed by the Canon SL2. 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.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SL1 or the Nikon D3200 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel SL1:

  • Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.54x vs 0.53x).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 921k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.9 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (117x91mm vs 125x96mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 98g or 19 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 11 months after the D3200).

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3200:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24.1 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 16%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (18 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.3 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.9 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (540 versus 380) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2012).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL1 comes out slightly ahead of the D3200 (8 : 7 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

SL1 08:07 D3200

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SL1 and the Nikon D3200 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the SL1 and the D3200 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon SL1+78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549i
 
Nikon D3200+ +73/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599i
 
Canon T100o..3.5/5..3.5/5 Feb 2018 399 i
 
Canon SL2+ +78/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2017 549i
 
Canon T6o73/1004/53.5/54/5 Mar 2016 449i
 
Canon M10......o4/5 Oct 2015 499i
 
Canon T5+..4/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
 
Canon G16+..4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
 
Canon T5i..76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649i
 
Canon M+..4/53.5/54/5 Jul 2012 599i
 
Canon T4i+ +77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon T3io77/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2011 599i
 
Nikon D5600..79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i
 
Nikon D3400+76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499i
 
Nikon D3300+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499i
 
Nikon D5300+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799i
 
Nikon D3100+ +72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated 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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon SL1:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D3200:
Check Ebay offers

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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon SL1 vs Nikon D3200

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Canon SL1 Nikon D3200
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date March 2013 April 2012
    Launch Price USD 549 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Canon SL1 Nikon D3200
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 23.2 x 15.4 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 357.28 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 27.8 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 17.9 Megapixels 24.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3456 pixels 6016 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.31 μm 3.85 μm
    Pixel Density 5.39 MP/cm2 6.74 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 25,600 ISO 100 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 5 EXPEED 3
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 63 81
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.8 24.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.3 13.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 843 1131
    Screen Specs Canon SL1 Nikon D3200
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.54x 0.53x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon SL1 Nikon D3200
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 4.9 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations100 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 UHS-I UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Canon SL1 Nikon D3200
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon SL1 Nikon D3200
    Battery Type LP-E12 EN-EL14
    Battery Life (CIPA)380 shots per charge540 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 117 x 91 x 69 mm
    (4.6 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
    125 x 96 x 77 mm
    (4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 407 g (14.4 oz) 505 g (17.8 oz)

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