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Canon SX530 vs Nikon D3100

The Canon PowerShot SX530 HS and the Nikon D3100 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2015 and August 2010. The SX530 is a fixed lens compact, while the D3100 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX530) and an APS-C (D3100) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.9 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.

Headline Specifications
Canon SX530
versus
Nikon D3100
Canon SX530   Nikon D3100
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 Nikon F mount lenses
15.9 MP – 1/2.3" sensor 14.2 MP – APS-C sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/24p Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 100-3,200 (100 - 12,800)
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD – 461k dots 3.0" LCD – 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1.6 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
210 shots per battery charge550 shots per battery charge
120 x 82 x 92 mm, 442 g 124 x 96 x 75 mm, 505 g
Canon SX530:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D3100:
Check Ebay offers

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX530 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.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon SX530 and the Nikon D3100 is provided 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The D3100 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the SX530 is only available in black.

Size Canon SX530 vs Nikon D3100
Compare SX530 versus D3100 top
Comparison SX530 or D3100 rear

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 (21 percent) than the Canon SX530. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX530 nor the D3100 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX530 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.

Concerning battery life, the SX530 gets 210 shots out of its NB-6LH battery, while the D3100 can take 550 images on a single charge of its EN-EL14 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX530 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 210 n Jan 2015 429i
2.
 
Nikon D3100 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 n Aug 2010 599i
3.
 
Canon T6 129 mm 101 mm 78 mm 485 g 500 n Mar 2016 449i
4.
 
Canon SX540 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 205 n Jan 2016 399 i
5.
 
Canon SX720 110 mm 64 mm 36 mm 270 g 250 n Feb 2016 379i
6.
 
Canon SX520 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 441 g 210 n Jul 2014 399i
7.
 
Canon SX700 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 250 n Feb 2014 349i
8.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549i
9.
 
Canon T5 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449i
10.
 
Nikon L840 113 mm 78 mm 96 mm 538 g 590 n Feb 2015 299i
11.
 
Nikon D3200 125 mm 96 mm 77 mm 505 g 540 n Apr 2012 599i
12.
 
Nikon D5100 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 n Apr 2011 749i
13.
 
Nikon D7000 132 mm 105 mm 77 mm 780 g 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499i
14.
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599i
15.
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749i
16.
 
Panasonic FZ100 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 540 g 410 n Jul 2010 499i
17.
 
Sony HX90V 102 mm 58 mm 36 mm 245 g 360 n Apr 2015 429 i
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

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 SX530 was launched at a lower price than the D3100, despite having a lens built in. 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 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX530 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 SX530 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D3100 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Canon SX530 and Nikon D3100 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX530 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 14.2 MP of the Nikon D3100. 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 1.33μm versus 5.01μm for the D3100). However, it should be noted that the SX530 is much more recent (by 4 years and 4 months) than the D3100, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the SX530 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The Canon PowerShot SX530 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. 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.

SX530 versus D3100 MP

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"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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
1.
 
Canon SX530 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p20.211.671247
2.
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
3.
 
Canon T6 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.612.9149779
4.
 
Canon SX540 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.311.780648
5.
 
Canon SX720 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.311.881748
6.
 
Canon SX520 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p20.111.567246
7.
 
Canon SX700 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p20.111.462945
8.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
9.
 
Canon T5 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
10.
 
Nikon L840 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60i20.211.672147
11.
 
Nikon D3200 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.2113181
12.
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380
13.
 
Nikon D7000 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/24p23.513.9116780
14.
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
15.
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
16.
 
Panasonic FZ100 1/2.3 14.0 4320 32401080/60i19.410.730639
17.
 
Sony HX90V 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36721080/60p20.211.673847
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the SX530 provides a higher frame rate than the D3100. It can shoot video footage at 1080/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/24p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D3100 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX530 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SX530 and Nikon D3100 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon SX530none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6/s Y Y
2.
 
Nikon D3100optical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
3.
 
Canon T6optical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
4.
 
Canon SX540none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 5.9/s Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX720none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 5.9/s Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX520none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6/s Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX700none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 8.5/s Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX60922 n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4/s Y Y
9.
 
Canon T5optical n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
10.
 
Nikon L840none n3.0 / 921 tilting n 1/4000s 7.4/s Y Y
11.
 
Nikon D3200optical n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
12.
 
Nikon D5100optical n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
13.
 
Nikon D7000optical Y3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0/s Y n
14.
 
Nikon D3000optical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
15.
 
Nikon D5000optical n2.7 / 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
16.
 
Panasonic FZ100202 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/2000s 11.0/s Y Y
17.
 
Sony HX90V638 n3.0 / 921 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0/s Y Y
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX530 and the D3100 write their files to SDXC cards.

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 PowerShot SX530 HS and Nikon D3100 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon SX530-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
2.
 
Nikon D3100Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon T6Ymono / mono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon SX540-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon SX720-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon SX520-stereo / mono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon SX700-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
8.
 
Canon SX60Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
9.
 
Canon T5Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Nikon L840-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
11.
 
Nikon D3200Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D5100Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D7000Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D3000Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D5000Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic FZ100Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Sony HX90V-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-

It is notable that the SX530 offers wifi support, while the D3100 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the SX530 and the D3100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3100 was replaced by the Nikon D3200, while the SX530 was followed by the Canon SX540. 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon SX530 better than the Nikon D3100 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p versus 1080/24p).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (461k vs 230k dots).
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D3100 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (120x82mm vs 124x96mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D3100).
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 4 months of technical progress since the D3100 launch.

ilogo

Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3100:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • 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.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 1.6 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 210) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2010).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D3100 comes out slightly ahead of the SX530 (12 : 11 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.

SX530 11:12 D3100

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX530 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SX530 or the D3100. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX530..+ +....4/54/5 Jan 2015 429i
2.
 
Nikon D31005/5+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599i
3.
 
Canon T64/5o4/573/1004/54/5 Mar 2016 449i
4.
 
Canon SX540............ Jan 2016 399 i
5.
 
Canon SX720..+....4/54.5/5 Feb 2016 379i
6.
 
Canon SX520..+....3.5/53.5/5 Jul 2014 399i
7.
 
Canon SX700..+ +....4/54/5 Feb 2014 349i
8.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549i
9.
 
Canon T53/5+....4/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
10.
 
Nikon L840..+ +....3.5/54/5 Feb 2015 299i
11.
 
Nikon D32005/5+ +..73/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599i
12.
 
Nikon D51005/5+ +..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749i
13.
 
Nikon D70004/5....80/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499i
14.
 
Nikon D3000..+..72/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599i
15.
 
Nikon D5000..+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
16.
 
Panasonic FZ100..+....4.5/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499i
17.
 
Sony HX90V4/5+ +....4/54.5/5 Apr 2015 429 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon SX530:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D3100:
Check Ebay offers

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 make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon SX530 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 Specifications
    Camera Model Canon SX530 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 January 2015 August 2010
    Launch Price USD 429 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Canon SX530 Nikon D3100
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 5.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 15.9 Megapixels 14.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3456 pixels 4608 x 3072 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.33 μm 5.01 μm
    Pixel Density 56.73 MP/cm2 3.98 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/24p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4+ EXPEED 2
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 67
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 22.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 11.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 919
    Screen Specs Canon SX530 Nikon D3100
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX530 Nikon D3100
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1.6 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-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 SX530 Nikon D3100
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in no NFC
    Body Specs Canon SX530 Nikon D3100
    Battery Type NB-6LH EN-EL14
    Battery Life (CIPA)210 shots per charge550 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 120 x 82 x 92 mm
    (4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
    124 x 96 x 75 mm
    (4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 442 g (15.6 oz) 505 g (17.8 oz)
    Canon SX530:
    Check Ebay offers
    Nikon D3100:
    Check Ebay offers

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