Canon SL1 vs Nikon D4
The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (called Canon 100D in some regions) and the Nikon D4 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2013 and January 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (SL1) and a full frame (D4) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 16.2 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 Rebel SL1 and the Nikon D4? 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 SL1 and the Nikon D4 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The SL1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the D4 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 D4 is considerably larger (136 percent) than the Canon SL1. Moreover, the D4 is substantially heavier (229 percent) than the SL1. It is noteworthy in this context that the D4 is splash and dust-proof, while the SL1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (SL1) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D4).
Concerning battery life, the SL1 gets 380 shots out of its LP-E12 battery, while the D4 can take 2600 images on a single charge of its EN-EL18 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D4 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the SL1, there are third party battery grips available as optional accessories (see here on eBay).
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 SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|2.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|3.||Canon T100||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon SL2||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|5.||Canon T6||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||485 g||500||n||Mar 2016||449|
|6.||Canon M10||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499|
|7.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|8.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|9.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|10.||Canon M||109 mm||66 mm||32 mm||298 g||230||n||Jul 2012||599|
|11.||Canon T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|12.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|13.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|14.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|15.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|16.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|17.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|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 SL1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 91 percent) than the D4, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SL1 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D4 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D4 is 159 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. 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 SL1 offers a higher resolution of 17.9 megapixels, compared with 16.2 MP of the Nikon D4. 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 7.29μm for the D4). However, it should be noted that the SL1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 2 months) than the D4, 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 SL1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SL1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D4 are 24.6 x 16.4 inches or 62.6 x 41.7 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.3 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.8 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 D4 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D4 offers substantially better image quality than the SL1 (overall score 26 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.9 bits higher color depth, 1.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|2.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|13.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|14.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|15.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|16.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|17.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. 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).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The SL1 and the D4 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 viewfinder in the D4 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the SL1 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D4 has a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.54x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SL1 and Nikon D4 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon SL1||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.9||Y||n|
|2.||Nikon D4||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|3.||Canon T100||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon SL2||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|5.||Canon T6||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|6.||Canon M10||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.6||Y||n|
|7.||Canon T5||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|8.||Canon G16||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.2||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon T5i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|10.||Canon M||none||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.3||n||n|
|11.||Canon T4i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|12.||Canon T3i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D5||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||fixed||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|14.||Nikon D4S||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|15.||Nikon Df||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||n|
|16.||Nikon D3S||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|17.||Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SL1 has one, while the D4 does not. While the built-in flash of the SL1 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D4 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.
The SL1 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D4 uses Compact Flash or XQD cards. The D4 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the SL1 only has one slot.
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 D4 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon SL1||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D4||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon T100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon SL2||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon T6||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon M10||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon T5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon G16||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|9.||Canon T5i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon M||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon T4i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon T3i||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D4S||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon Df||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D3S||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Nikon D3||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the D4 has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The SL1 lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D4 (unlike the SL1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the SL1 and the D4 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D4 was replaced by the Nikon D4S, 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.
So how do things add up? Is the Canon SL1 better than the Nikon D4 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel SL1:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 16.2MP) with a 5% higher linear resolution.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- 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.
- More compact: Is smaller (117x91mm vs 160x157mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 933g or 70 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (91 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 2 months after the D4).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D4:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (26 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.9 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.8 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.54x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 4.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (2600 versus 380) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2012).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D4 is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 9 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. 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 SL1 and the Nikon D4 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SL1 or the D4. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
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], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 SL1||4/5||+||..||78/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|2.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|3.||Canon T100||..||o||3/5||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon SL2||4/5||+ +||4/5||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|5.||Canon T6||4/5||o||4/5||73/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2016||449|
|6.||Canon M10||..||..||..||..||..||4/5||Oct 2015||499|
|7.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|8.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|9.||Canon T5i||..||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|10.||Canon M||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2012||599|
|11.||Canon T4i||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|12.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|13.||Nikon D5||..||..||4/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|14.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|15.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|16.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|17.||Nikon D3||..||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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 SL1 vs Nikon D4
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 SL1||Nikon D4|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2013||January 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 549||USD 5,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SL1||Nikon D4|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||36.0 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||860.4 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||16.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||4928 x 3280 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||7.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||1.88 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 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5||EXPEED 3|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||89|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.8||24.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||13.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||843||2965|
|Screen Specs||Canon SL1||Nikon D4|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SL1||Nikon D4|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4.9 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||400 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or XQD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SL1||Nikon D4|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon SL1||Nikon D4|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||380 shots per charge||2600 shots per charge|
117 x 91 x 69 mm
(4.6 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
160 x 157 x 91 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.6 in)
|Camera Weight||407 g (14.4 oz)||1340 g (47.3 oz)|
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