Canon T3 vs Nikon D4
The Canon EOS Rebel T3 (called Canon 1100D in some regions) and the Nikon D4 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2011 and January 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (T3) and a full frame (D4) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 16.2 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 EOS Rebel T3 and the Nikon D4? 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 T3 and the Nikon D4 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D4 is considerably larger (93 percent) than the Canon T3. Moreover, the D4 is substantially heavier (171 percent) than the T3. It is noteworthy in this context that the D4 is splash and dust-proof, while the T3 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 (T3) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D4).
Concerning battery life, the T3 gets 700 shots out of its LP-E10 battery, while the D4 can take 2600 images on a single charge of its EN-EL18 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D4 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the T3, there are third party battery grips available as optional accessories (see here on ebay).
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 T3||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon T100||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon G1 X||117 mm||81 mm||65 mm||534 g||250||n||Jan 2012||799||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon SX50||123 mm||87 mm||106 mm||595 g||315||n||Sep 2012||429||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon XS||126 mm||98 mm||65 mm||502 g||500||n||Jun 2008||449||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon XSi||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199||ebay.com|
|17.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 markedly lower price (by 93 percent) than the D4, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 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 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the 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 T3 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D4 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D4 is 166 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 16.2MP, the D4 offers a higher resolution than the T3 (12.2MP), but the D4 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.29μm versus 5.15μm for the T3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D4 is a somewhat more recent model (by 10 months) than the T3, 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 D4 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D4 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.4 inches or 62.6 x 41.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon T3 are 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.3 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.1 x 11.4 inches or 43.4 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.2 x 9.5 inches 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 D4 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the D4 offers substantially better image quality than the T3 (overall score 27 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.8 bits higher color depth, 2.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2 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.
|2.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|5.||Canon G1 X||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60|
|13.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|14.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|15.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|16.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|17.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the D4 provides a better video resolution than the T3. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/30p, while the Canon is limited to 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The T3 and the D4 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 D4 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the T3 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D4 has a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.50x), 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 T3 and Nikon D4 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon T3||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Nikon D4||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Canon T100||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon T5||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon SX50||202||n||3.0 / 461||swivel||n||1/2000s||2.2/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon T4i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Canon T3i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|9.||Canon T2i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|10.||Canon XS||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Canon XSi||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|12.||Canon XTi||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D5||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||fixed||Y||1/8000s||14.0/s||n||n|
|14.||Nikon D4S||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|15.||Nikon Df||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||n|
|16.||Nikon D3S||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|17.||Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The T3 has one, while the D4 does not. While the built-in flash of the T3 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D4 has 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 T3 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D4 uses Compact Flash or XQD cards. The D4 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the T3 only has one slot.
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 D4 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon T3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D4||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon T100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon T5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon G1 X||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon SX50||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon T4i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon T3i||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon T2i||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon XS||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon XSi||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon XTi||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D4S||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon Df||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D3S||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Nikon D3||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the D4 has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The T3 lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D4 (unlike the T3) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the T3 and the D4 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The T3 was replaced by the Canon T5, while the D4 was followed by the Nikon D4S. Further information on the features and operation of the T3 and D4 can be found, respectively, in the Canon T3 Manual (free pdf) or the online Nikon D4 Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon T3 better than the Nikon D4 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel T3:
- More compact: Is smaller (130x100mm vs 160x157mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 845g or 63 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 (93 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2011).
Advantages of the Nikon D4:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (16.2 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 15%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (27 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.8 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/30p vs 720/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- 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 (0.70x vs 0.50x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (2600 versus 700) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- 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.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (10 months) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D4 is the clear winner of the contest (22 : 5 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. 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 T3 and the Nikon D4 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 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 T3 or the D4. 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 table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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 T3||..||80/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon T100||..||o||3/5||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon G1 X||5/5||+||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||799||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon SX50||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||429||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon T4i||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon T2i||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon XS||..||82/100||..||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2008||449||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon XSi||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D5||..||..||4/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199||ebay.com|
|17.||Nikon D3||..||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes 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.
Specifications: Canon T3 vs Nikon D4
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 D4|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2011||January 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 449||USD 5,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon T3||Nikon D4|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.0 x 14.7 mm||36.0 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||323.4 mm2||860.4 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.5 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||16.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4272 x 2848 pixels||4928 x 3280 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.15 μm||7.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.76 MP/cm2||1.88 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||EXPEED 3|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||62||89|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.9||24.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.0||13.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||755||2965|
|Screen Specs||Canon T3||Nikon D4|
|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||2.7inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon T3||Nikon D4|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||400 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or XQD cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon T3||Nikon D4|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon T3||Nikon D4|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||700 shots per charge||2600 shots per charge|
130 x 100 x 78 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
160 x 157 x 91 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.6 in)
|Camera Weight||495 g (17.5 oz)||1340 g (47.3 oz)|
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