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Nikon D3400 versus Canon 550D

The Nikon D3400 and the Canon EOS 550D (labelled Canon T2i in some countries) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2016 and February 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 17.9 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Nikon D3400 vs Canon 550D

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D3400 and the Canon 550D 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. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the D3400 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Nikon D3400 vs Canon 550D
Compare D3400 versus 550D top
Compare D3400 and 550D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 550D is somewhat larger (4 percent) than the Nikon D3400. Moreover, the 550D is markedly heavier (19 percent) than the D3400. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3400 nor the 550D 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3400) and the Canon EF Lens Catalog (550D).

Concerning battery life, the D3400 gets 1200 shots out of its EN-EL14a battery, while the 550D can take 440 images on a single charge of its LP-E8 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Nikon D3400» 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 n Aug 2016 499- i Nikon D3400
Canon 550D« 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.7 oz 440 n Feb 2010 699- i Canon 550D
Canon SL2« » 4.8 in 3.7 in 2.8 in 16.0 oz 650 n Jun 2017 549 i i Canon SL2
Canon 750D« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 440 n Feb 2015 749- i Canon 750D
Canon 700D« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 n Mar 2013 649- i Canon 700D
Canon 650D« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.3 oz 440 n Jun 2012 849- i Canon 650D
Canon 600D« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.1 oz 440 n Feb 2011 599- i Canon 600D
Canon 500D« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799- i Canon 500D
Nikon D3500« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 12.9 oz 1550 n Aug 2018 429 i i Nikon D3500
Nikon D5600« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 16.4 oz 970 n Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
Nikon D500« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
Nikon D5500« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 14.8 oz 820 n Jan 2015 899- i Nikon D5500
Nikon D7200« » 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1110 Y Mar 2015 1,199- i Nikon D7200
Nikon D3300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.2 oz 700 n Jan 2014 499- i Nikon D3300
Nikon D5300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 16.9 oz 600 n Oct 2013 799- i Nikon D5300
Nikon D3200« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 540 n Apr 2012 599- i Nikon D3200
Nikon D5200« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 500 n Nov 2012 749- i Nikon D5200

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. 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 D3400 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 29 percent) than the 550D, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Nikon D3400 vs Canon 550D

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 more expensive and 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 550D is 10 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.5 (D3400) and 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Nikon D3400 and Canon 550D sensor measures

With 24MP, the D3400 offers a higher resolution than the 550D (17.9MP), but the D3400 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 4.31μm for the 550D). However, the D3400 is a somewhat more recent model (by 6 years and 6 months) than the 550D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D3400 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

D3400 versus 550D MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the D3400 provides substantially higher image quality than the 550D, with an overall score that is 20 points higher. This advantage is based on 2.7 bits higher color depth, 2.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Nikon D3400» APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286Nikon D3400
Canon 550D« APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466Canon 550D
Canon SL2« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.4104179Canon SL2
Canon 750D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p22.712.091971Canon 750D
Canon 700D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161Canon 700D
Canon 650D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262Canon 650D
Canon 600D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.579365Canon 600D
Canon 500D« » APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363Canon 500D
Nikon D3500« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Nikon D3500
Nikon D5600« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684Nikon D5600
Nikon D500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483Nikon D500
Nikon D5500« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0143884Nikon D5500
Nikon D7200« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.514.6133387Nikon D7200
Nikon D3300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582Nikon D3300
Nikon D5300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883Nikon D5300
Nikon D3200« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.2113181Nikon D3200
Nikon D5200« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.213.9128484Nikon D5200

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the D3400 provides a higher frame rate than the 550D. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Nikon D3400 vs Canon 550D

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D3400 and the 550D 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D3400 and Canon 550D in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Nikon D3400»optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D3400
Canon 550D«optical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 3.7 Y n Canon 550D
Canon SL2« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon SL2
Canon 750D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon 750D
Canon 700D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon 700D
Canon 650D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon 650D
Canon 600D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel n 4000 3.7 Y n Canon 600D
Canon 500D« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.4 Y n Canon 500D
Nikon D3500« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D3500
Nikon D5600« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5600
Nikon D500« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n Nikon D500
Nikon D5500« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5500
Nikon D7200« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n Nikon D7200
Nikon D3300« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D3300
Nikon D5300« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5300
Nikon D3200« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n Nikon D3200
Nikon D5200« »optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5200

Both the D3400 and the 550D write their imaging data to SDXC cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Nikon D3400»Ymonomono--mini2.0Y-YNikon D3400
Canon 550D«Ystereo-Y-mini2.0---Canon 550D
Canon SL2« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon SL2
Canon 750D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Canon 750D
Canon 700D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 700D
Canon 650D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 650D
Canon 600D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 600D
Canon 500D« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Canon 500D
Nikon D3500« »Ymonomono--mini2.0Y-YNikon D3500
Nikon D5600« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYNikon D5600
Nikon D500« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D500
Nikon D5500« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Nikon D5500
Nikon D7200« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Nikon D7200
Nikon D3300« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D3300
Nikon D5300« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Nikon D5300
Nikon D3200« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D3200
Nikon D5200« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D5200

Both the D3400 and the 550D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 550D was replaced by the Canon 600D, while the D3400 was followed by the Nikon D3500.

Review summary: Nikon D3400 vs Canon 550D

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D3400 and the Canon 550D? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3400:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 17.9MP) with a 16% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (20 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2.7 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2.4 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 85g or 16 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1200 versus 440) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (29 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years and 6 months of technical progress since the 550D launch.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 550D:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 921k dots).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2010).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3400 is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 4 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.

D3400 14:04 550D

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D3400 or the 550D. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Nikon D3400»Rec76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499- i Nikon D3400
Canon 550D«HiRec77/1004/55/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699- i Canon 550D
Canon SL2« »HiRec78/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2017 549 i i Canon SL2
Canon 750D« »-75/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749- i Canon 750D
Canon 700D« »-76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649- i Canon 700D
Canon 650D« »HiRec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849- i Canon 650D
Canon 600D« »rev77/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2011 599- i Canon 600D
Canon 500D« »HiRec74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799- i Canon 500D
Nikon D3500« »--4/5-4.5/5 Aug 2018 429 i i Nikon D3500
Nikon D5600« »-79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
Nikon D500« »HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
Nikon D5500« »Rec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jan 2015 899- i Nikon D5500
Nikon D7200« »HiRec84/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Mar 2015 1,199- i Nikon D7200
Nikon D3300« »Rec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499- i Nikon D3300
Nikon D5300« »HiRec79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799- i Nikon D5300
Nikon D3200« »HiRec73/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599- i Nikon D3200
Nikon D5200« »HiRec79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2012 749- i Nikon D5200

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 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 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. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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