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Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D Gordon Laing, July 2011
 
 
Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D vs Nikon D3100 Real-life resolution (default settings)

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To compare real-life performance I shot the same scene with the Canon EOS T3 / 1100D and Nikon D3100 within a few moments of each other using their best-quality JPEG settings and and base sensitivities.

Both cameras were fitted with their respective kit lenses: the EF-S 18-55mm III and Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR, both set to f5.6, adjusted to deliver the same vertical field of view, and focused using Live View at the highest magnification.

The image opposite was taken with the Canon EOS T3 / 1100D at 100 ISO with an exposure of 1/640 and the lens set to 21mm f5.6; the original Large Fine JPEG measured 5.22MB. The crops below are taken from the areas marked with the red squares and presented here at 100%.

  Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D results
1 T3 / 1100D resolution vs Nikon D3100
2 T3 / 1100D resolution vs T3i / 600D
3 T3 / 1100D resolution, RAW vs JPEG
4 T3 / 1100D noise vs Nikon D3100
5 T3 / 1100D Sample images gallery


There's a two Megapixel difference between the Canon T3 / 1100D and Nikon D3100, in the latter's favour, but look closely across all four rows of crops and there's no real resolution benefit. There are noticeable differences between the photos from each camera, but these are more down to image processing style and the optical quality of their respective kit lenses.

Starting with the first row of crops, the most obvious differences are crisper details on the Canon, albeit accompanied by some coloured fringing in high contrast areas. The D3100, like most recent Nikon DSLRs, corrects coloured fringing on in-camera JPEGs automatically, delivering cleaner-looking results. Sadly none of Canon's DSLRs offer this capability, and while fringing can be effectively removed, you'll have to do it after the event on RAW files processed with your computer; you can see an example of this on my JPEG vs RAW results page.

Moving down to the second row of crops, the difference in their default image processing strategies become really apparent: the Canon is clearly applying greater sharpening and contrast than the Nikon, delivering a punchier result, albeit one which is arguably a tad over-cooked. In contrast the D3100 comes across as quite laid-back, but arguably more natural-looking. Neither is necessarily better though - it all boils down to personal preference, and both can of course be adjusted to deliver punchier or softer results.

Despite stronger processing, the Canon looks much softer than the Nikon in the third row of crops; this is due to their respective kit lenses, with the D3100's clearly out-performing the Canon here. You'll also see evidence of more fringing on the Canon sample here.

On the final row of crops, there's again no apparent benefit to the two extra Megapixels of the D3100, but look closely and the Canon image is marred by coloured fringing around certain subjects.

Ultimately while there's no discernable benefit to the D3100's extra pair of Megapixels, its in-camera reduction of fringing along with more uniform performance from its kit lens across the frame, delivers a preferred result. But if you're not pixel-peeping, or better still are using a better lens on the Canon and removing fringing from RAW files later, then there's little if any difference between these two rivals in potential image quality.

Now let's see how it compares against the next model up in the range, sporting 50% more Megapixels: Canon EOS T3 / 1100D vs EOS T3i / 600D quality.

 
 

Canon EOS T3 / 1100D (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
with Canon EF-S 18-55mm III
 
Nikon D3100 (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
with Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
     
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
     
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
     
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO


EOS T3 / 1100D results : T3 / 1100D vs D3100 res / T3 / 1100D vs T3i / 600D res
/ T3 / 1100D RAW vs JPEG / T3 / 1100D vs D3100 Noise



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