Canon T3 vs Nikon D80
The Canon EOS Rebel T3 (called Canon 1100D in some regions) and the Nikon D80 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2011 and August 2006. 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 10 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 D80? 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 D80 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D80 is somewhat larger (5 percent) than the Canon T3. Moreover, the D80 is substantially heavier (35 percent) than the T3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the T3 nor the D80 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 (D80).
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon T3||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|2.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|3.||Canon T100||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|5.||Canon G1 X||117 mm||81 mm||65 mm||534 g||250||n||Jan 2012||799|
|6.||Canon SX50||123 mm||87 mm||106 mm||595 g||315||n||Sep 2012||429|
|7.||Canon T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|8.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|9.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|10.||Canon XS||126 mm||98 mm||65 mm||502 g||500||n||Jun 2008||449|
|11.||Canon XSi||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799|
|12.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|13.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|14.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|15.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|16.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|17.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|Notes: 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 55 percent) than the D80, 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 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D80 is 15 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.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon T3 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the Nikon D80. 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 5.15μm versus 6.11μm for the D80). However, it should be noted that the T3 is much more recent (by 4 years and 6 months) than the D80, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Canon T3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the T3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.3 x 36.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17.1 x 11.4 inches or 43.4 x 28.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.2 x 9.5 inches or 36.2 x 24.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D80 are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.2 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.5 x 10.4 inches or 39.3 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 12.9 x 8.6 inches or 32.8 x 21.9 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 D80 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|5.||Canon G1 X||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60|
|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. The T3 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D80 does not. The highest resolution format that the T3 can use is 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The T3 and the D80 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 D80 has a higher magnification than the one of the T3 (0.62x 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 D80 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||Y||n|
|2.||Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|3.||Canon T100||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon T5||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|5.||Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon SX50||202||n||3.0 / 461||swivel||n||1/2000s||2.2||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon T4i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|8.||Canon T3i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n|
|9.||Canon T2i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n|
|10.||Canon XS||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|11.||Canon XSi||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n|
|12.||Canon XTi||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D90||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|17.||Nikon D70s||optical||n||2.0 / 130||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||Y||n|
The T3 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D80 uses SDHC 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 D80 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 D80||Y||- / -||-||-||-||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 D3000||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D90||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D300||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D2Xs||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Nikon D70s||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the T3 and the D80 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D80 was replaced by the Nikon D90, 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 is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon T3 and the Nikon D80? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel T3:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.2 vs 10MP) with a 10% higher linear resolution.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/30p movies.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 173g or 26 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (700 versus 600) on a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (55 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 6 months of technical progress since the D80 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D80:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.62x vs 0.50x).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2006).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the T3 is the clear winner of the match-up (8 : 2 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 D80 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the T3 or the D80 perform in practice. 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|
|2.||Nikon D80||..||+||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|3.||Canon T100||..||o||3/5||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|5.||Canon G1 X||5/5||+||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||799|
|6.||Canon SX50||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||429|
|7.||Canon T4i||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|8.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|9.||Canon T2i||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|10.||Canon XS||..||82/100||..||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2008||449|
|11.||Canon XSi||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799|
|12.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|13.||Nikon D3000||..||+||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|14.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|15.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|16.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|17.||Nikon D70s||..||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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? 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 D80
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 D80|
|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 2006|
|Launch Price||USD 449||USD 999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon T3||Nikon D80|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.0 x 14.7 mm||23.6 x 15.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||323.4 mm2||372.88 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.5 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||10 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4272 x 2848 pixels||3872 x 2592 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.15 μm||6.11 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.76 MP/cm2||2.69 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||62||61|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.9||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.0||11.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||755||524|
|Screen Specs||Canon T3||Nikon D80|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon T3||Nikon D80|
|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||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon T3||Nikon D80|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon T3||Nikon D80|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||700 shots per charge||600 shots per charge|
130 x 100 x 78 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
132 x 103 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||495 g (17.5 oz)||668 g (23.6 oz)|
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