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Nikon D5100 versus Canon G1 X

The Nikon D5100 and the Canon PowerShot G1 X are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2011 and January 2012. The D5200 is a DSLR, while the G1X is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D5200) and an 1.5-inch (G1X) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 16.1 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 14.2 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 D5100 vs Canon G1 X

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D5100 and the Canon G1 X is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the D5200 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Nikon D5100 vs Canon G1 X
D5200 versus G1X top view
D5200 and G1X rear side
Body view (D5200 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon G1 X is notably smaller (24 percent) than the Nikon D5100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D5200 nor the G1X are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the G1X has a lens build in, whereas the D5200 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can find an overview of optics for the D5200 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the D5200 gets 660 shots out of its EN-EL14 battery, while the G1X can take 250 images on a single charge of its NB-10L power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Nikon D5100 (⇒ rgt) 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 no 2011 749discont. check
Canon G1 X (⇒ lft) 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 no 2012 799discont. check
Canon G1 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 no 2014 799 latest check
Canon G16 (⇒ lft | rgt) 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 no 2013 549 latest check
Canon 650D (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 no 2012 849discont. check
Canon 1100D (⇒ lft | rgt) 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 no 2011 449discont. check
Canon 550D (⇒ lft | rgt) 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 no 2010 699discont. check
Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt) 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 no 2009 799discont. check
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 465 g 970 no 2016 699 latest check
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 420 g 820 no 2015 899discont. check
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 125 mm 98 mm 76 mm 480 g 600 no 2013 799discont. check
Nikon D3200 (⇒ lft | rgt) 125 mm 96 mm 77 mm 505 g 540 no 2012 599discont. check
Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt) 129 mm 98 mm 78 mm 555 g 500 no 2012 749discont. check
Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 132 mm 105 mm 77 mm 780 g 1050 YES 2010 1,499discont. check
Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 no 2010 599discont. check
Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 no 2009 749discont. check

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. 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 D5100 vs Canon G1 X

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 Nikon D5100 features an APS-C sensor and the Canon G1 X an 1.5-inch sensor. The sensor area in the G1X is 29 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.85. The sensor in the D5200 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the G1X offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D5100 and Canon G1 X sensor measures
Sensor size

With 16.1MP, the D5200 offers a higher resolution than the G1X (14.2MP), but the D5200 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.80μm versus 4.30μm for the G1X) due to its larger sensor. However, the G1X is a somewhat more recent model (by 9 months) than the D5200, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

D5200 versus G1X MP
Sensor resolution

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 review, the D5200 provides substantially higher image quality than the G1X, with an overall score that is 20 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.8 bits higher color depth, 2.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.9 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 Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Nikon D5100 (⇒ rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3264 1080/30p 23.5 13.6 1183 80
Canon G1 X (⇒ lft) 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 3264 1080/24p 21.7 10.8 644 60
Canon G1 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 3120 1080/30p 21.5 10.8 581 58
Canon G16 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1/1.7 12.0 4000 3000 1080/60p 21.0 11.7 230 54
Canon 650D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 21.7 11.2 722 62
Canon 1100D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 12.2 4272 2848 720/30p 21.9 11.0 755 62
Canon 550D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.1 11.5 784 66
Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 15.1 4752 3168 1080/20p 21.7 11.5 663 63
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.1 14.0 1306 84
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.1 14.0 1438 84
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.0 13.9 1338 83
Nikon D3200 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.1 6016 4000 1080/30p 24.1 13.2 1131 81
Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60i 24.2 13.9 1284 84
Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3264 10800/24p 23.5 13.9 1167 80
Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 14.2 4608 3072 1080/24p 22.5 11.3 919 67
Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 12.2 4288 2848 720/24p 22.7 12.5 868 72

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the D5200 provides a higher frame rate than the G1X. It can shoot video footage at 1080/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/24p.

Feature comparison: Nikon D5100 vs Canon G1 X

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D5200 and the G1X 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D5100 and Canon G1 X along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Nikon D5100 (⇒ rgt) optical no 3.0 921 swivel no 4000 4.0 12 no
Canon G1 X (⇒ lft) optical no 3.0 922 Swivel no 4000 1.9 7 YES
Canon G1 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 5.2 6.8 YES
Canon G16 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 922 fixed no 4000 2.2 7 YES
Canon 650D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 YES no
Canon 1100D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 230 fixed no 4000 3.0 9.2 no
Canon 550D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 fixed no 4000 3.7 YES no
Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 920 fixed no 4000 3.4 YES no
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.2 1037 swivel YES 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.2 1037 swivel YES 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.2 1037 swivel no 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D3200 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 4.0 12 no
Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 swivel no 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 921 fixed no 8000 6.0 12 no
Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 230 fixed no 4000 3.0 12 no
Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 230 full-flex no 4000 4.0 17 no

Both the D5200 and the G1X have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D5200 was replaced by the Nikon D5200, while the G1X was followed by the Canon G1X Mark II.

Review summary: Nikon D5100 vs Canon G1 X

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D5100 or the Canon G1 X – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


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Advantages of the Nikon D5100:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (16.1 vs 14.2MP) with a 9% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (20 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.8 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2.8 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.9 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p versus 1080/24p).
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 1.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (660 versus 250) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2011).

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Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot G1 X:

  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D5200 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (117x81mm vs 128x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens build in (unlike the D5200).
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (9 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D5200 is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 5 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

D5200 11:05 G1X

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D5200 or the G1X handle or 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 expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
.com
dp
review
.com
ephoto
zine
.com
imaging
resource
.com
photography
blog
.com
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Nikon D5100 (⇒ rgt) 86/100 HiRec 76/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2011 749discont. check
Canon G1 X (⇒ lft) 79/100 Rec 76/100 Silver 4/5 4/5 4.5/5 2012 799discont. check
Canon G1 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 77/100 Silver 4/5 4/5 4.5/5 2014 799 latest check
Canon G16 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 549 latest check
Canon 650D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 849discont. check
Canon 1100D (⇒ lft | rgt) 80/100 69/100 4/5 4/5 4.5/5 2011 449discont. check
Canon 550D (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec 77/100 Gold 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2010 699discont. check
Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec 74/100 HiRec 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2009 799discont. check
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4/5 2016 699 latest check
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 899discont. check
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 799discont. check
Nikon D3200 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 73/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 599discont. check
Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 749discont. check
Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 80/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2010 1,499discont. check
Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 84/100 HiRec 72/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2010 599discont. check
Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec 75/100 HiRec 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2009 749discont. check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.


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. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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