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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|1.||Canon SX530||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||210||n||Jan 2015||429||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon T6||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||485 g||500||n||Mar 2016||449||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon SX540||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||205||n||Jan 2016||399||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon SX720||110 mm||64 mm||36 mm||270 g||250||n||Feb 2016||379||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon SX520||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||441 g||210||n||Jul 2014||399||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon SX700||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||250||n||Feb 2014||349||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon SX60||128 mm||93 mm||114 mm||650 g||340||n||Sep 2014||549||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon L840||113 mm||78 mm||96 mm||538 g||590||n||Feb 2015||299||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic FZ100||124 mm||82 mm||92 mm||540 g||410||n||Jul 2010||499||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony HX90V||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||360||n||Apr 2015||429||ebay.com|
|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.
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.
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.
In terms of underlying technology, the SX530 is build around a BSI-CMOS sensor, while the D3100 uses a CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
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.
|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.
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.
|1.||Canon SX530||none||n||3.0 / 461||fixed||n||1/2000s||1.6/s||Y||Y|
|2.||Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|3.||Canon T6||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon SX540||none||n||3.0 / 461||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon SX720||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon SX520||none||n||3.0 / 461||fixed||n||1/2000s||1.6/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon SX700||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||8.5/s||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon SX60||922||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||n||1/2000s||6.4/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon T5||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon L840||none||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.4/s||Y||Y|
|11.||Nikon D3200||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D5100||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7 / 230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|16.||Panasonic FZ100||202||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||n||1/2000s||11.0/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony HX90V||638||n||3.0 / 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.
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.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon SX530||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|2.||Nikon D3100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon T6||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon SX540||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon SX720||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon SX520||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon SX700||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Canon SX60||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Canon T5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon L840||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Nikon D3200||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D5100||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D7000||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D3000||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D5000||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Panasonic FZ100||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony HX90V||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
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 features and operation of the SX530 and D3100 can be found, respectively, in the Canon SX530 Manual (free pdf) or the online Nikon D3100 Manual.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|1.||Canon SX530||..||+ +||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2015||429||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon T6||4/5||o||4/5||73/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2016||449||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon SX540||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jan 2016||399||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon SX720||..||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||379||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon SX520||..||+||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jul 2014||399||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon SX700||..||+ +||..||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2014||349||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon SX60||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon L840||..||+ +||..||..||3.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||299||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||..||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D3000||..||+||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic FZ100||..||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2010||499||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony HX90V||4/5||+ +||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||429||ebay.com|
|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.
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 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 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||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%|
|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|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||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 Life (CIPA)||210 shots per charge||550 shots per charge|
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)|
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