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Canon Rebel T2i (550D) vs. Nikon D3100

Updated on June 5, 2013

Canon T2i or Nikon D3100

Canon Rebel T2i / 550D or Nikon D3100 ?
Canon Rebel T2i / 550D or Nikon D3100 ?

Canon Rebel T2i (with HD Video) or Nikon D3100 ?

Cannon Rebel T2i / 550D with HD Video or Nikon D3100

Canon and Nikon have been the frontrunners in camera and lens technology since the dawn of photography. Both companies sell millions of dollars worth of digital cameras and lenses year on year with their top of the range optics and cutting edge sensor technology.

Which do you get? This can be a tricky decision and whichever you go for you can be sure that you will be choosing quality which speaks for itself. It really comes down to personal preference but just as one person will tell you to buy Nikon another will tell you to buy Canon. It's just that close a call!

So what about these two?

The Canon EOS Rebel T2i (550D) vs. Nikon D3100 -

Firstly I think it is important to point out that irrespective of which manufacturer or body kit you chose, neither camera will perform to its fullest with cheap lenses or in the hands of someone who does not know how to take photos. In photography more than more than anywhere else, it is how well you can use your camera that counts, not the camera nor the number megapixels.

On paper the Nikon D3100 would be better pitted against the EOS 1000D as an entry level DSLR, however as the 1000D cannot shoot video the only alternative closest comparison to be made is with the Canon 550D. So here we go.

Canon T2i / 550D Excellent Tech Video

Canon or Nikon

Nikon D3100 + 18 - 55mm lens
Nikon D3100 + 18 - 55mm lens


The battle for megapixels goes on with the Canon sporting an 18MP CMOS chip and the Nikon coming in with a 14MP CMOS processor. Do not let the higher megapixel rating fool you though. Unless you are planning on blowing your photos up to poster size it will not make any difference to the quality of your photos and with a price difference of about $150-200 in favour of the Nikon, the cheaper D3100 remains a great choice for stills. That is unless video is important to you...


HD video is where the $200 premium for the Canon becomes justifiable. It trounces the D3100 outright. The rolling shutter problem with the Nikon’s HD video makes the quality simply terrible when compared to the Canon 550D. Low frame rate and high shutter speeds on the D3100 make the video jumpy and lose all fluidity. The D3100 is also advertised as having tracking focus while filming, which does not really work.

All it means is that when either you or your subject is moving while rolling, the shutter sound gets recorded, and with no external microphone jacks there is no way of getting away from the noisy AF. On top of which any movement filmed comes out as wobbly, with people and objects bending horizontally as you move the camera. As far as audio recording goes, the Nikon D3100 can only record in mono, so no stereo quality sound either.

Video quality on the 550D however is impeccable, offering the same quality as its semi-pro older brother, the EOS 7D. HD video comes in full 1080p at 24, 25 and 30 fps, and 720p movies at 50 or 60fps, giving your recordings that much vaunted “film look”. It also offers a Movie Crop mode (not available on even the 7D) that allows you to film the central 640x480 pixels for a highly magnified view.

LCD Screen

At 3” in diameter both the D3100 and Rebel T2i have decent size LCD screens but the Canon trumps the Nikon in terms of pixel density at 1m pixels against 230k. At first glance this may not seem a big deal but it is important to be able to check the photo’s clarity the moment you’ve taken the shot.


The latest sensor technology is used on both these cameras, meaning that in terms of still photography they are about level pegging and will both take great pictures. Arguably, the ISO noise artefacts and colour degradation on the Canon are slightly higher than on the Nikon at maximum ISO speed (boost to 12,800 for both) but any difference is more or less unnoticeable at lower levels.


The Nikon carries an EXPEED 2 processor while the Canon uses the 2008 DIGIC-4 processor, both of which power higher grade DSLRs and should perform fairly similarly even if the Nikon processor is newer than the Canon’s.

Burst mode

In burst mode the Rebel T2i can take an impressive 3.7fps equating to 34 jpegs or 6 RAW shots in a row while the D3100 tops its continuous shot mode at 3 fps.


The viewfinder on both cameras is the same at 95%. A shame that you can’t be sure quite what you’re fitting into your photo but for an entry-level DSLR one cannot expect full frame coverage.

The verdict:

If you want good video go for the Rebel T2i, if you want excellent quality pictures and aren’t bothered by video pay less for the Nikon and use the $200 saved to invest in gear. (Or a camcorder)

It is also worth noting that Canon and Nikon are primarily lens companies and not camera companies and while there is nothing wrong with Tamrac or Sigma lenses, it is a shame to see good cameras with cheap lenses on them. Canon in particular as, unlike Nikon cameras, their image stabilizer is located in the lens.

Happy snapping!


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Look forward to looking into your web page repeatedly.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Where can I find out maximum number of pic and video info held on varius HD cards? At the highest quality settings for both.

    • JapanGulu profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      depends where you are buying from.... Online is always cheapest and the average price is around £400 I guess.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      how much is the canon d3100?

    • JapanGulu profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks for your comment Bloggify. I was in the process of updating anyway ;) Hopefully now there's a bit more detail for people to be better able to make their choice.

    • Bloggify profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi JG - thanks for the tips on the Canon Rebel T2i and Nikon D3100 cameras ! IMHO the hub could do with a bit more technical detail e.g. some specifications and some more pics of the cameras :-)


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