Canon T3 vs Nikon D3100
The Canon EOS Rebel T3 (called Canon 1100D in some regions) and the Nikon D3100 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2011 and August 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12.2 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 T3||Nikon D3100|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor||14.2 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|720/30p Video||1080/24p Video|
|ISO 100-6400||ISO 100-3200 (100-12800)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|2.7" LCD, 230k dots||3.0" LCD, 230k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|700 shots per battery charge||550 shots per battery charge|
|130 x 100 x 78 mm, 495 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 EOS Rebel T3 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 T3 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D3100 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the T3 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 smaller (8 percent) than the Canon T3. However, the D3100 is slightly heavier (2 percent) than the T3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the T3 nor the D3100 are weather-sealed.
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. Yet, since both cameras are based around an APS-C sensor, their respective lenses will tend to have similar dimensions and heft. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (T3) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3100).
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, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Canon T3»||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449||Canon T3|
|Nikon D3100«||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599||Nikon D3100|
|Canon T100« »||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399||Canon T100|
|Canon T5« »||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449||Canon T5|
|Canon G1 X« »||117 mm||81 mm||65 mm||534 g||250||n||Jan 2012||799||Canon G1 X|
|Canon SX50« »||123 mm||87 mm||106 mm||595 g||315||n||Sep 2012||429||Canon SX50|
|Canon T4i« »||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849||Canon T4i|
|Canon T3i« »||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599||Canon T3i|
|Canon T2i« »||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699||Canon T2i|
|Canon XS« »||126 mm||98 mm||65 mm||502 g||500||n||Jun 2008||449||Canon XS|
|Canon XSi« »||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799||Canon XSi|
|Canon XTi« »||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799||Canon XTi|
|Nikon D3200« »||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599||Nikon D3200|
|Nikon D5100« »||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749||Nikon D5100|
|Nikon D7000« »||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D3000« »||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000« »||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749||Nikon D5000|
|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 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 T3 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the D3100, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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 size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D3100 is 10 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (T3) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 14.2MP, the D3100 offers a higher resolution than the T3 (12.2MP), but the D3100 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.01μm versus 5.15μm for the T3). It is noteworthy in this context that the T3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 5 months) than the D3100, and its sensor might 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 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 T3 are 21.4 x 14.2 inch or 54.3 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.1 x 11.4 inch or 43.4 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.2 x 9.5 inch or 36.2 x 24.1 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS Rebel T3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 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 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D3100 has a markedly higher DXO score than the T3 (overall score 5 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 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 T3||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||720/30p||21.9||11.0||755||62||Canon T3|
|Nikon D3100||APS-C||14.2||4608||3072||1080/24p||22.5||11.3||919||67||Nikon D3100|
|Canon T100||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.9||11.4||695||63||Canon T100|
|Canon T5||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.9||11.3||724||63||Canon T5|
|Canon G1 X||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60||Canon G1 X|
|Canon SX50||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||20.3||11.2||179||47||Canon SX50|
|Canon T4i||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||722||62||Canon T4i|
|Canon T3i||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||793||65||Canon T3i|
|Canon T2i||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||784||66||Canon T2i|
|Canon XS||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||none||..||..||..||..||Canon XS|
|Canon XSi||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||none||21.9||10.8||692||61||Canon XSi|
|Canon XTi||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.1||11.0||664||62||Canon XTi|
|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|
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 D3100 provides a better video resolution than the T3. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/24p, while the Canon is limited to 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The T3 and the D3100 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the D3100 has a higher magnification than the one of the T3 (0.53x vs 0.50x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon T3, the Nikon D3100, and comparable cameras.
|Canon T3||optical||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon T3|
|Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D3100|
|Canon T100||optical||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon T100|
|Canon T5||optical||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon T5|
|Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0||922||Swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9||Y||Y||Canon G1 X|
|Canon SX50||202||n||3.0||461||swivel||n||1/2000s||2.2||Y||Y||Canon SX50|
|Canon T4i||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon T4i|
|Canon T3i||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon T3i|
|Canon T2i||optical||n||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon T2i|
|Canon XS||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon XS|
|Canon XSi||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Canon XSi|
|Canon XTi||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon XTi|
|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|
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the T3 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 EOS Rebel T3 and Nikon D3100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon T3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T3|
|Nikon D3100||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3100|
|Canon T100||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon T100|
|Canon T5||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T5|
|Canon G1 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon G1 X|
|Canon SX50||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon SX50|
|Canon T4i||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T4i|
|Canon T3i||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T3i|
|Canon T2i||Y||stereo||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T2i|
|Canon XS||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon XS|
|Canon XSi||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon XSi|
|Canon XTi||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon XTi|
|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|
Both the T3 and the D3100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3100 was replaced by the Nikon D3200, while the T3 was followed by the Canon T5. 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? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon T3 and the Nikon D3100? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel T3:
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (700 versus 550) on a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 5 months after the D3100).
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3100:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (14.2 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 8%.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/24p vs 720/30p).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.53x vs 0.50x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2010).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D3100 emerges as the winner of the match-up (6 : 3 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 T3 and the Nikon D3100 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the T3 and the D3100 in practical situations. 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 hands-on reviews by experts 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 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3100
- Canon 1Ds vs Canon T3
- Canon M100 vs Nikon D3100
- Canon RP vs Canon T3
- Canon SX740 vs Nikon D3100
- Canon T3 vs Fujifilm XP140
- Canon T3 vs Olympus E-P3
- Canon T3 vs Panasonic GX850
- Leica CL vs Nikon D3100
- Leica V-LUX Typ 114 vs Nikon D3100
- Nikon D3100 vs Nikon D3X
- Nikon D3100 vs Nikon D750
Specifications: Canon T3 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 T3||Nikon D3100|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2011||August 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 449||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon T3||Nikon D3100|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.0 x 14.7 mm||23.1 x 15.4 mm|
|Sensor Area||323.4 mm2||355.74 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.5 mm||27.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||14.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4272 x 2848 pixels||4608 x 3072 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.15 μm||5.01 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.76 MP/cm2||3.98 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||1080/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-6400 ISO||100-3200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100-12800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||EXPEED 2|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||62||67|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.9||22.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.0||11.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||755||919|
|Screen Specs||Canon T3||Nikon D3100|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon T3||Nikon D3100|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|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 T3||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 T3||Nikon D3100|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||700 shots per charge||550 shots per charge|
130 x 100 x 78 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
124 x 96 x 75 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||495 g (17.5 oz)||505 g (17.8 oz)|
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