Canon SL1 vs Nikon D780
The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (called Canon 100D in some regions) and the Nikon D780 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2013 and January 2020. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (SL1) and a full frame (D780) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24.3 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 D780? 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 D780 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 D780 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 D780 is considerably larger (57 percent) than the Canon SL1. Moreover, the D780 is substantially heavier (106 percent) than the SL1. It is noteworthy in this context that the D780 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 (D780).
Concerning battery life, the SL1 gets 380 shots out of its LP-E12 battery, while the D780 can take 2260 images on a single charge of its EN-EL15b power pack. The power pack in the D780 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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 SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|2.||Nikon D780||144 mm||116 mm||76 mm||840 g||2260||Y||Jan 2020||2,299|
|3.||Canon T100||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|5.||Canon SL2||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|6.||Canon T6||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||485 g||500||n||Mar 2016||449|
|7.||Canon M10||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499|
|8.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|9.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|10.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|11.||Canon M||109 mm||66 mm||32 mm||298 g||230||n||Jul 2012||599|
|12.||Canon T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|13.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|14.||Nikon D6||160 mm||163 mm||92 mm||1270 g||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|15.||Nikon Z6 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||410||Y||Oct 2020||1,999|
|16.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|17.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The SL1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 76 percent) than the D780, 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 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 generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 D780 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D780 is 158 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.
With 24.3MP, the D780 offers a higher resolution than the SL1 (17.9MP), but the D780 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 4.31μm for the SL1) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D780 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 9 months) than the SL1, and its sensor will 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 D780 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D780 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.1 inches or 76.8 x 51.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 40.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 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 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 D780 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
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 |
|2.||Nikon D780||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|14.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Nikon Z6 II||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|16.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|17.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
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 D780 provides a better video resolution than the SL1. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The SL1 and the D780 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 D780 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 D780 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SL1 and Nikon D780 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|15.||Nikon Z6 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SL1 has one, while the D780 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 D780 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 SL1 and the D780 write their files to SDXC cards. The D780 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the SL1 only has one slot. The D780 supports UHS-II cards (on both slots), while the SL1 can use UHS-I 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 Rebel SL1 and Nikon D780 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Nikon Z6 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
It is notable that the D780 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the SL1 does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D780 (unlike the SL1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The D780 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the SL1 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the SL1 was succeeded 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? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SL1 or the Nikon D780 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel SL1:
- More compact: Is smaller (117x91mm vs 144x116mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 433g or 52 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 (76 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2013).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D780:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.3 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 17%.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- 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.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 1040k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 4.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (2260 versus 380) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- 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.
- 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 9 months of technical progress since the SL1 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D780 is the clear winner of the contest (26 : 5 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 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 SL1 and the Nikon D780 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SL1 or the D780 perform in practice. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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 SL1||4/5||+||78/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|2.||Nikon D780||5/5||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2020||2,299|
|3.||Canon T100||..||o||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|5.||Canon SL2||4/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|6.||Canon T6||4/5||o||73/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2016||449|
|7.||Canon M10||..||..||..||..||4/5||Oct 2015||499|
|8.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|9.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|10.||Canon T5i||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|11.||Canon M||3/5||+||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2012||599|
|12.||Canon T4i||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|13.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|14.||Nikon D6||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|15.||Nikon Z6 II||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||1,999|
|16.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|17.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|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. 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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 SL1 vs Nikon D780
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 D780|
|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 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 549||USD 2,299|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SL1||Nikon D780|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||35.9 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||858.01 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||43.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||24.3 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||6048 x 4024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||2.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5||EXPEED 6|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.8||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||843||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon SL1||Nikon D780|
|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||2359k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SL1||Nikon D780|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4.9 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||Dual UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SL1||Nikon D780|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon SL1||Nikon D780|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||380 shots per charge||2260 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
117 x 91 x 69 mm
(4.6 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
144 x 116 x 76 mm
(5.7 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||407 g (14.4 oz)||840 g (29.6 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.