Nikon D5100 vs Canon T3i (600D)

by Enche Tjin on April 11, 2011

Nikon D5100 and Canon T3i (600D) are both DSLR cameras designed for amateur photographers. It is a step up from entry-level/beginner cameras. These cameras are intended for people who wants better quality images (similar or like pro cameras) but don’t want to spend a lot of money to get pro cameras.


Nikon D5100

In 2011, Nikon – Canon rivalry continue and D5100 and T3i (600D) reflects how tight the competition are. Both are selling at the same price and have many similar features.

Canon T3i and Nikon D5100 inherit their image sensors from higher quality cameras: Canon 7D and Nikon D7000, so you can expect similar to those higher-end cameras. Image quality wise, they are almost equal. Nikon D5100 tends to keep detail and better in high ISO than Canon T3i.

Some of their similarities:

  • 3″ hi-res LCD sensor
  • Able to shoot around 3.5-4 fps continuously
  • Record FULL HD video 1080p
  • Side-Swivel LCD screen
  • Pentamirror viewfinder
  • Almost the same size and weight
  • Perform very good in high ISO up to ISO 3200

However, Canon T3i is better in many areas.


Canon T3i / 600D

Although both cameras has 3″ LCD screen, Canon T3i is better because it has 3:2 orientation which is better for still photographers. Canon T3i also has more dedicated buttons and also Q menu which is very helpful for changing setting quickly. Canon T3i also has built-in auto focus motor which make it compatible with all Canon EF and EF-S lenses. However, Nikon D5100 does not has built-in auto focus motor, therefore, you probably want Nikon AF-S or AF-I or other lens with built-in AF motor if not then you only able to manual focus. Also, Canon 600D is equipped with Integrated Speedlite Transmitter which is a wireless flash/speedlite controller.

Maybe I sound biased, but for those reasons, Canon T3i is better than D5100, especially if they are selling in the same price. Nikon D5100 is of course way better than Nikon D3100 or its predecessor D5000, but still short when compared to Canon T3i.

I hope this information help you on choosing your new cameras.

Features Canon T3i (600D) Nikon D5100
Image 18 MP 16 MP
Auto Focus 9 AF points 11 AF points
Video FULL HD 1080p FULL HD 1080p
LCD Screen 3″ 1 million dots 3:2 vari-angle lcd screen 3″ 920k swivel LCD screen
Size and weight 5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in.

(133 x 100 x 80 mm)

20.1 oz (570 g) body only

5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1 in.

(128 x 97 x 79 mm) 19.9 oz (565 g) include batteries

ISO up to 12800, recommended up to 1600 up to 25600, recommended up to 1600
Build Quality Plastic Plastic
Continuous shooting max 3.7 fps max 4 fps
Price $899 $899
Related Post:

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

circu April 19, 2011 at 2:00 am

I agree about the T3i ultimately being a better choice (for some, including me) than the 5100. One thing no review seems to be mentioning is the presence of a Depth Of Field Preview button on the T3i lacking on the 5100. For me this was a key feature. Also full exposure control in video. At this stage I consider video auto-focus more a gimmick. Any video made with an eye to good quality is going to be done using manual focus. The auto-focus can make one a bit seasick looking at it!

J P Collins April 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm
rates the Nikon D5100 superior in listed specific features
T3i loses to the D5100 >> 69 vs 92 (their rating system)

Nikon D5100 has ::
>Significantly lower noise at high ISO 1,183 ISO vs 793 ISO The D5100 has a slight edge (0.6 f-stops) in low noise, high ISO performance
>Much better color depth 23.5 bits vs 22.1 bits Distinguishes more than 2.5x more colors
>Much more dynamic range 13.6 EV vs 11.5 EV 2.1 f-stops more dynamic range
>Video autofocus Contrast detection vs none> Automatically focuses shooting video
> Has in-camera HDR Combines multiple exposures to capture high dynamic range
>Larger sensor APS-C 23.6×15.6mm vs APS-C 22.3×14.9mm More than 10% larger sensor
>Better boost ISO 25,600 ISO vs 12,800 ISO The D5100’s boost ISO is 1 f-stop better
>Longer battery life 660 shots vs 550 shots- 20% more shots per battery charge
>More focus points 11 vs 9
>Smaller 127×96x78 mm vs 133×99x79 mm Around 10% smaller
>Shoots slightly faster 4 fps vs 3.7 fps Around 10% faster continuous shooting

Seashell May 13, 2011 at 10:49 am

The field performance is the key to proof which one is better. But i believe, since the 550D, 600D and D60 build on the same technology with minor enhancement, D5100 will win the competition. High ISO on D5100 is better, not only from the noise, but also the retained detail.

I’m buying DSLR for still picture, and never use or need DOF Preview, video is just plus point for DSLR. About no build in motor, this is not weaknesses of the camera, because this is intended by the designer and manufacturer for some reason.

3:2 orientation, who said this is better ? i don’t think so, picture can be easily resized or cropped for that purpose. For integrated wireless controller, i also don’t even care of, nikon CLS is way better than Canon.

Autofocus on movie may be sound a little gimmick, but that’s technology development, that someday will be made close to perfect.

Leave a Comment

Previous post: Nikon D5100 vs Nikon D5000

Next post: Sigma 85mm f/1.4 HSM impression