Nikon D3100 vs Panasonic LX100
The Nikon D3100 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2010 and September 2014. The D3100 is a DSLR, while the LX100 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D3100) and a Four Thirds (LX100) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 14.2 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12.7 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 Nikon D3100 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100? 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 Nikon D3100 and the Panasonic LX100 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side 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 LX100 is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic LX100 is considerably smaller (36 percent) than the Nikon D3100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3100 nor the LX100 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the LX100 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 want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Nikon D3100||4.9 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||17.8 oz||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|Panasonic LX100||4.5 in||2.6 in||2.2 in||13.9 oz||300||n||Sep 2014||899|
|Canon G1 X Mark II||4.6 in||2.9 in||2.6 in||19.5 oz||240||n||Feb 2014||799|
|Nikon D3200||4.9 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||17.8 oz||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|Nikon D5100||5.0 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.8 oz||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|Nikon D7000||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||27.5 oz||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|Nikon D3000||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|Nikon D5000||5.0 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||20.8 oz||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|Nikon D60||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|Nikon D40X||4.9 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|Nikon D40||4.9 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|Panasonic LX100 II||4.5 in||2.6 in||2.6 in||13.8 oz||300||n||Aug 2018||999|
|Panasonic FZ1000||5.4 in||3.9 in||5.2 in||29.3 oz||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|Panasonic G6||4.8 in||3.3 in||2.8 in||13.8 oz||340||n||Apr 2013||599|
|Panasonic GM1||3.9 in||2.2 in||1.2 in||7.2 oz||230||n||Oct 2013||749|
|Sony NEX-5N||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.5 oz||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-C3||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||7.9 oz||400||n||Jun 2011||599|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D3100 features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic LX100 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the LX100 is 48 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.2. The sensor in the D3100 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the LX100 offers a 4:3 aspect. The LX100 has the particularity of featuring a switch that allows to toggle between multiple aspect ratios, while maintaining the same field of view and full image resolution.
With 14.2MP, the D3100 offers a higher resolution than the LX100 (12.7MP), but the D3100 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.01μm versus 3.82μm for the LX100) due to its larger sensor. However, the LX100 is a much more recent model (by 4 years) than the D3100, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
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 inches or 58.5 x 39 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 12.3 inches or 46.8 x 31.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 10.2 inches or 39 x 26 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic LX100 are 20.6 x 15.4 inches or 52.2 x 39.2 cm for good quality, 16.4 x 12.4 inches or 41.8 x 31.4 cm for very good quality, and 13.7 x 10.3 inches or 34.8 x 26.1 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D3100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Panasonic LX100||Four Thirds||12.7||4112||3088||4K/30p||22.3||12.5||553||67|
|Canon G1 X Mark II||1.5-inch||13.0||4160||3120||1080/30p||21.5||10.8||581||58|
|Panasonic LX100 II||Four Thirds||16.8||4736||3552||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|Panasonic GM1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||22.3||11.7||660||66|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the LX100 provides a better video resolution than the D3100. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the LX100 has an electronic viewfinder (2764k dots), while the D3100 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the LX100 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D3100 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the LX100 has a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.53x), 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 Nikon D3100 and Panasonic LX100 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Canon G1 X Mark II||optional||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||5.2||Y||Y|
|Panasonic LX100 II||2764||n||3.0||1240||fixed||Y||1/4000s||11.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D3100 has one, while the LX100 does not. While the built-in flash of the D3100 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the LX100 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Panasonic LX100 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the D3100 and the LX100 write their files to SDXC cards. The LX100 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D3100 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 Nikon D3100 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Canon G1 X Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Panasonic LX100 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
It is notable that the LX100 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D3100 does not provide wifi capability.
The LX100 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the D3100 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D3100 was succeeded by the Nikon D3200. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Panasonic websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D3100 better than the Panasonic LX100 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Nikon D3100:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (14.2 vs 12.7MP) with a 8% higher linear resolution.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (550 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2010).
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100:
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
- Flexible image proportions: Has a multi-aspect sensor that allows for alternative image shapes.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/24p).
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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 0.53x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D3100 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (115x66mm vs 124x96mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the D3100).
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the D3100 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the LX100 is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 7 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 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 Nikon D3100 and the Panasonic LX100 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D3100 or the LX100 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.
|Nikon D3100||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|Panasonic LX100||+ +||85/100||5/5||4/5||5/5||Sep 2014||899|
|Canon G1 X Mark II||+||77/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||799|
|Nikon D3200||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|Nikon D5100||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|Nikon D7000||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|Nikon D3000||+||72/100||4/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|Nikon D5000||+ +||75/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|Nikon D60||80/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|Nikon D40X||79/100||+ +||4/5||o||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|Nikon D40||81/100||+ +||o||5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|Panasonic LX100 II||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||999|
|Panasonic FZ1000||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|Panasonic G6||+ +||..||5/5||..||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599|
|Panasonic GM1||+||78/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||749|
|Sony NEX-5N||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-C3||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1D Mark II vs Nikon D3100
- Canon 1D X vs Panasonic LX100
- Fujifilm X-A3 vs Panasonic LX100
- Fujifilm X-T20 vs Nikon D3100
- Nikon D3100 vs Olympus E-PL1
- Nikon D3100 vs Panasonic LX100 II
- Nikon D3100 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Nikon D3100 vs Sony RX100 III
- Nikon D7500 vs Panasonic LX100
- Nikon Df vs Panasonic LX100
- Olympus E-M5 II vs Panasonic LX100
- Panasonic GX800 vs Panasonic LX100
Specifications: Nikon D3100 vs Panasonic LX100
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||Nikon D3100||Panasonic LX100|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||24-75mm f/1.7-2.8|
|Launch Date||August 2010||September 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 899|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3100||Panasonic LX100|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.1 x 15.4 mm||15.7 x 11.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||355.74 mm2||185.26 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27.8 mm||19.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||14.2 Megapixels||12.7 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3072 pixels||4112 x 3088 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.01 μm||3.82 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.98 MP/cm2||6.85 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/24p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 2||Venus|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||67||67|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.5||22.3|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||919||553|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3100||Panasonic LX100|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2764k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3100||Panasonic LX100|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3100||Panasonic LX100|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3100||Panasonic LX100|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||550 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
124 x 96 x 75 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
115 x 66 x 55 mm
(4.5 x 2.6 x 2.2 in)
|Camera Weight||505 g (17.8 oz)||393 g (13.9 oz)|
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