Canon SL3 vs Nikon D850
The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 (called Canon 250D in some regions) and the Nikon D850 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2019 and July 2017. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (SL3) and a full frame (D850) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 45.4 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 SL3 and the Nikon D850? 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 SL3 and the Nikon D850 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The SL3 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the D850 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 D850 is considerably larger (60 percent) than the Canon SL3. Moreover, the D850 is substantially heavier (124 percent) than the SL3. It is noteworthy in this context that the D850 is splash and dust-proof, while the SL3 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 (SL3) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D850).
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, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Canon SL3||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||449 g||1070||n||Apr 2019||599|
|Nikon D850||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Canon T8i||131 mm||103 mm||76 mm||515 g||800||n||Feb 2020||749|
|Canon M50 Mark II||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||387 g||305||n||Oct 2020||599|
|Canon M50||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||390 g||235||n||Feb 2018||779|
|Canon T7||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||475 g||500||n||Feb 2018||449|
|Canon 77D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||540 g||600||n||Feb 2017||899|
|Canon SL2||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|Canon T7i||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||532 g||600||n||Feb 2017||749|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|Canon SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999|
|Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299|
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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The SL3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 82 percent) than the D850, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SL3 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D850 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D850 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 45.4MP, the D850 offers a higher resolution than the SL3 (24MP), but the D850 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.35μm versus 3.72μm for the SL3) due to its larger sensor. However, the SL3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 8 months) than the D850, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D850 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D850 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D850 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 41.3 x 27.5 inches or 104.9 x 69.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 33 x 22 inches or 83.9 x 55.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 27.5 x 18.3 inches or 69.9 x 46.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SL3 are 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm for good quality, 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm for very good quality, and 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The SL3 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 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 D850 are ISO 64 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 32-102400.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|Canon M50 Mark II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the D850 provides a faster frame rate than the SL3. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 4K/25p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The SL3 and the D850 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 D850 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the SL3 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D850 has a higher magnification (0.75x 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 SL3 and Nikon D850 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Canon M50 Mark II||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SL3 has one, while the D850 does not. While the built-in flash of the SL3 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The SL3 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 D850 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Canon SL3 and the Nikon D850 both have 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 SL3 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D850 uses SDHC or XQD cards. The D850 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the SL3 only has one slot. The D850 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the SL3 can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).
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 SL3 and Nikon D850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Canon M50 Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the D850 has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The SL3 lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D850 (unlike the SL3) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the SL3 and the D850 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The D850 replaced the earlier Nikon D810, while the SL3 followed on from 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SL3 or the Nikon D850 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel SL3:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x93mm vs 146x124mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 556g or 55 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 (82 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 8 months after the D850).
Advantages of the Nikon D850:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (45.4 vs 24MP), which boosts linear resolution by 38%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (4K/30p versus 4K/25p).
- 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 (0.75x 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).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1840 versus 1070) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- 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 heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in July 2017).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D850 is the clear winner of the contest (23 : 9 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SL3 and the Nikon D850 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SL3 or the D850. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.
|Canon SL3||o||79/100||4/5||..||4/5||Apr 2019||599|
|Nikon D850||+ +||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Canon T8i||+||..||..||..||3.5/5||Feb 2020||749|
|Canon M50 Mark II||..||..||..||..||..||Oct 2020||599|
|Canon M50||+||79/100||..||4/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||779|
|Canon T7||o||..||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||Feb 2018||449|
|Canon 77D||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||899|
|Canon SL2||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|Canon T7i||..||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||Feb 2017||749|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon 5DS||+||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon T6s||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|Canon SL1||+||78/100||4/5||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|Canon T2i||+ +||77/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|Nikon D810||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|Nikon D800||+ +||82/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999|
|Nikon D800E||..||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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 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 your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon SL3 vs Nikon D850
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 SL3||Nikon D850|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||April 2019||July 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 3,299|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SL3||Nikon D850|
|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||24 Megapixels||45.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||8256 x 5504 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.72 μm||4.35 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.22 MP/cm2||5.30 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/25p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||64 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 51,200 ISO||32 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 8||EXPEED 5|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||100|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||26.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||14.8|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||2660|
|Screen Specs||Canon SL3||Nikon D850|
|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||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SL3||Nikon D850|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||9 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC or XQD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SL3||Nikon D850|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon SL3||Nikon D850|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1070 shots per charge||1840 shots per charge|
122 x 93 x 70 mm
(4.8 x 3.7 x 2.8 in)
146 x 124 x 79 mm
(5.7 x 4.9 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||449 g (15.8 oz)||1005 g (35.5 oz)|
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