Canon SX50 vs Nikon D3100
The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and the Nikon D3100 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2012 and August 2010. The SX50 is a fixed lens compact, while the D3100 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX50) and an APS-C (D3100) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12 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.
|Canon SX50||Nikon D3100|
|Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5||Nikon F mount lenses|
|12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor||14.2 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/24p Video||1080/24p Video|
|ISO 80-6400||ISO 100-3200 (100-12800)|
|Electronic viewfinder (202k dots)||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 461k dots||3.0" LCD, 230k dots|
|Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|2.2 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|315 shots per battery charge||550 shots per battery charge|
|123 x 87 x 106 mm, 595 g||124 x 96 x 75 mm, 505 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 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 physical size and weight of the Canon SX50 and the Nikon D3100 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D3100 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the SX50 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 D3100 is notably larger (11 percent) than the Canon SX50. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX50 nor the D3100 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX50 has a lens built in, whereas the D3100 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D3100 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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 SX50»||4.8 in||3.4 in||4.2 in||21.0 oz||315||n||Sep 2012||429||Canon SX50|
|Nikon D3100«||4.9 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||17.8 oz||550||n||Aug 2010||599||Nikon D3100|
|Canon SX60« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||4.5 in||22.9 oz||340||n||Sep 2014||549||Canon SX60|
|Canon G16« »||4.3 in||3.0 in||1.6 in||12.6 oz||360||n||Aug 2013||549||Canon G16|
|Canon S120« »||3.9 in||2.3 in||1.1 in||7.7 oz||230||n||Aug 2013||449||Canon S120|
|Canon G1 X« »||4.6 in||3.2 in||2.6 in||18.8 oz||250||n||Jan 2012||799||Canon G1 X|
|Canon G15« »||4.2 in||3.0 in||1.6 in||12.4 oz||350||n||Sep 2012||499||Canon G15|
|Canon SX40« »||4.8 in||3.6 in||4.3 in||21.2 oz||380||n||Sep 2011||429||Canon SX40|
|Canon SX30« »||4.8 in||3.6 in||4.3 in||21.2 oz||370||n||Sep 2010||429||Canon SX30|
|Canon SX20« »||4.8 in||3.5 in||3.4 in||21.2 oz||..||n||Aug 2009||399||Canon SX20|
|Canon SX10« »||4.8 in||3.5 in||3.4 in||21.2 oz||..||n||Sep 2008||399||Canon SX10|
|Nikon D3200« »||4.9 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||17.8 oz||540||n||Apr 2012||599||Nikon D3200|
|Nikon D5100« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.8 oz||660||n||Apr 2011||749||Nikon D5100|
|Nikon D7000« »||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||27.5 oz||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D3000« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Jul 2009||599||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000« »||5.0 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||20.8 oz||510||n||Apr 2009||749||Nikon D5000|
|Panasonic FZ150« »||4.9 in||3.2 in||3.6 in||18.6 oz||410||n||Aug 2011||499||Panasonic FZ150|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SX50 was launched at a lower price than the D3100, despite having a lens built in. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 SX50 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Nikon D3100 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D3100 is 1171 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.5. The sensor in the SX50 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D3100 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 14.2MP, the D3100 offers a higher resolution than the SX50 (12MP), but the D3100 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.01μm versus 1.53μm for the SX50) due to its larger sensor. However, the SX50 is a much more recent model (by 2 years) than the D3100, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3100 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 15.4 inch or 58.5 x 39 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 12.3 inch or 46.8 x 31.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 10.2 inch or 39 x 26 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SX50 are 20 x 15 inch or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inch or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inch or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 6400. 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.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 D3100 offers substantially better image quality than the SX50 (overall score 20 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.2 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.4 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.
|Canon SX50||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||20.3||11.2||179||47||Canon SX50|
|Nikon D3100||APS-C||14.2||4608||3072||1080/24p||22.5||11.3||919||67||Nikon D3100|
|Canon SX60||1/2.3||14.2||4608||3072||1080/60p||19.2||10.8||127||39||Canon SX60|
|Canon G16||1/1.7||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||21.0||11.7||230||54||Canon G16|
|Canon S120||1/1.7||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||21.3||11.9||246||56||Canon S120|
|Canon G1 X||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60||Canon G1 X|
|Canon G15||1/1.7||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||19.9||11.5||165||46||Canon G15|
|Canon SX40||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||..||..||..||..||Canon SX40|
|Canon SX30||1/2.3||14.0||4320||3240||720/30p||..||..||..||..||Canon SX30|
|Canon SX20||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||..||..||..||..||Canon SX20|
|Canon SX10||1/2.3||10.0||3648||2736||480/30p||..||..||..||..||Canon SX10|
|Nikon D3200||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/30p||24.1||13.2||1131||81||Nikon D3200|
|Nikon D5100||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.5||13.6||1183||80||Nikon D5100|
|Nikon D7000||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||10800/24p||23.5||13.9||1167||80||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D3000||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.3||11.1||563||62||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||868||72||Nikon D5000|
|Panasonic FZ150||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||19.4||10.9||132||40||Panasonic FZ150|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/24p).
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the SX50 has an electronic viewfinder (202k 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SX50 and Nikon D3100 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Canon SX50||202||n||3.0||461||swivel||n||1/2000s||2.2||Y||Y||Canon SX50|
|Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D3100|
|Canon SX60||922||n||3.0||922||swivel||n||1/2000s||6.4||Y||Y||Canon SX60|
|Canon G16||optical||n||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.2||Y||Y||Canon G16|
|Canon S120||none||n||3.0||922||fixed||Y||1/2000s||12.1||Y||Y||Canon S120|
|Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0||922||Swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9||Y||Y||Canon G1 X|
|Canon G15||optical||n||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.1||Y||Y||Canon G15|
|Canon SX40||202||n||2.7||230||swivel||n||1/3200s||10.3||Y||Y||Canon SX40|
|Canon SX30||202||n||2.7||230||swivel||n||1/3200s||0.6||Y||Y||Canon SX30|
|Canon SX20||202||n||2.5||230||swivel||n||1/3200s||0.7||Y||Y||Canon SX20|
|Canon SX10||202||n||2.5||230||swivel||n||1/3200s||0.7||Y||Y||Canon SX10|
|Nikon D3200||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D3200|
|Nikon D5100||optical||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D5100|
|Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7||230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D5000|
|Panasonic FZ150||202||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/2000s||12.0||Y||Y||Panasonic FZ150|
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX50 and the D3100 write their files to SDXC 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 PowerShot SX50 HS and Nikon D3100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon SX50||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon SX50|
|Nikon D3100||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3100|
|Canon SX60||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon SX60|
|Canon G16||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Canon G16|
|Canon S120||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Canon S120|
|Canon G1 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon G1 X|
|Canon G15||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon G15|
|Canon SX40||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||YES||2.0||-||-||-||Canon SX40|
|Canon SX30||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||YES||2.0||-||-||-||Canon SX30|
|Canon SX20||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||YES||2.0||-||-||-||Canon SX20|
|Canon SX10||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon SX10|
|Nikon D3200||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3200|
|Nikon D5100||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5100|
|Nikon D7000||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D3000||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5000|
|Panasonic FZ150||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic FZ150|
Both the SX50 and the D3100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3100 was replaced by the Nikon D3200, while the SX50 was followed by the Canon SX60. 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 SX50 or the Nikon D3100 – 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.
Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS:
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (461k vs 230k dots).
- 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.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D3100 requires a separate lens.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years of technical progress since the D3100 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3100:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (14.2 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 11%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (20 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.2 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 2.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (550 versus 315) out of a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2010).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3100 emerges as the winner of the match-up (10 : 8 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 SX50 and the Nikon D3100 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the SX50 and the D3100 in practical situations. 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 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.
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon SX50 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 SX50||Nikon D3100|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2012||August 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 429||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX50||Nikon D3100|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||23.1 x 15.4 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||355.74 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||27.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||14.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||4608 x 3072 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.53 μm||5.01 μm|
|Pixel Density||42.74 MP/cm2||3.98 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/24p Video||1080/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||80-6400 ISO||100-3200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100-12800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5||EXPEED 2|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||47||67|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.3||22.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.2||11.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||179||919|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX50||Nikon D3100|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||95%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||202k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||461k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX50||Nikon D3100|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||2.2 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|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||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX50||Nikon D3100|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon SX50||Nikon D3100|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||315 shots per charge||550 shots per charge|
123 x 87 x 106 mm
(4.8 x 3.4 x 4.2 in)
124 x 96 x 75 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||595 g (21.0 oz)||505 g (17.8 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.