Canon 600D vs Nikon D5100

UPDATE: NEW comparison of the Canon 650D vs Nikon D5200 here

Both Canon and Nikon have refreshed their compact DSLR lineup, and new entrants to the market might find themselves confronted with the choice between these two particular models. Indeed, old shooters such as myself feel rather compelled by both the feature set and competitive pricing. The two cameras have much in common, including similar megapixel counts, twist and swivel screens, HD video recording, and pricing in the same $800 ballpark. Let’s take a closer look at what these models have to offer…

Which one takes the cake? Read on to find out…

Sensor: Nikon boasts a 16mp sensor which some say is the king of APS-C in the D7000. That being said, the 18mp sensor in the Canon (also seen in the 7D, 550D, and 60D) is no slouch either. High ISO comparisons between the two can be seen here. Both are great, but I think the Nikon has a bit more detail and less smudging. Make your own judgements.

Video: Both offer HD video recording, but only Nikon offers autofocus during recording. To be fair though, as we tested it in the D3100 and D7000, it fidgety, and appears to be the same in the D5100. The 600D boasts the same features as the Canon 60D, including fine control of audio levels, more manual controls, and digital zoom capabilities. Meanwhile Nikon has a nice new stereo microphone specifically for HDSLR filming. Despite the Nikon’s autofocus, we’ll give Canon the edge here.

LCD: Both offer a tilt and swivel screen, and Nikon has finally implemented a horizontally hinged LCD (the vertical design on the D5000 was rather awkward) But the Canon boasts slightly higher resolution at 1,040,000 pixels. It’s viewfinder also offers slightly higher magnification, at .85x vs .78x.

Body/Ergonomics: Both are basically the same size and weight. Nikon has a beefier (and many would say) more comfortable grip. Canon has more direct controls, with external buttons for WB & ISO, but the Nikon has more quick movie mode access. Here’s a side by side shot of the two, including the Panasonic Lumix G2 for good measure.

Price: Nikon sells for $799 and Canon sells for $849 (both body only). Not the cheapest of the lineup, but certainly not the most expensive compact SLRs either, with the 60D, D90, and D7000 slotting in right above them.

Extras: Nikon offers optional GPS tagging. Canon offers wireless flash control, video editing, and a digital zoom option.

Conclusion: Both of these cameras are rather enticing, and pack a heavy punch in a compact DSLR body. It’s nice to see features trickling down into lower level cameras, such as wireless flash control and fine audio control (on the Canon) and the sensor and autofocus capabilities (on the Nikon). Indeed, as a “veteran” DSLR user, these cameras are enticing to me as a backup option, and for those times when I want something small and lighter. However, for the new DLSR user, they are both fine choices, and we think you couldn’t go wrong with either one.

Here’s an in-depth video comparison from DPC which throws the Canon 60D into the mix…

For a more complete assessment both cameras, please see the reviews here on

Canon 600D

Nikon D5100


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  • Osang

    Nice review. Maybe I’ll go with Nikon because it’s much cheaper. A difference of $50.

  • Cristi

    I have the Nikon D5100 and I’m very pleased with it. I’m a former Canon 350D user, so this camera is way better, however I would also like to test a Canon 60D just to see the real differences in image quality and ease of use. What I don’t really like about the D5100 is the iso noise in low iso modes and the blur on the video while moving the camera.

  • The A-Team

    Hi Osang, Is $50 really that much of a difference? Now that the D5100 review has been published on dpreview, I’d encourage you to take a look!

    Cristi, enjoy your new camera. I’m sure you’ll learn to work around it’s shortcomings.

  • Brenda

    Thanks for the great review. I am trying to decide between the Nikon D5100, the Canon 600D and the Canon 60D. The shop assistant I just spoke to has advised me to go with the Nikon, although I really liked the look of the 60D. His thinking is that Nikon’s mid-range lenses are a better quality, and, according to him, Canon’s after-sales service here in SA is not as good as Nikon’s, which I agree is an important consideration. So, any thoughts on the D5100 vs the 60D?

  • The A-Team

    Hi Brenda, that’s a tough comparison to make. The 60D has the same internal guts and IQ as the 600D, in a slightly more robust and ergonomically friendly body. You’re certainly getting a few more features there too. It’s a slightly higher category of camera, although the image quality you get from the D5100 will certainly not disappoint. Try them both out, and see which one fits your hands/budget best :)

  • Brenda

    Thanks! Bought the D5100 eventually, and I am thrilled with it. The quality is great, especially at high ISO, and the colour is phenomenal.

  • TJ

    Well after reading the review both of the camera are GOOD. But i have been taking photos for 4 years already my first camera was a 20D and december 2010 i bought the new canon 60D and it’s very nice photo taken and i got some nice video also.. One thing i can say is, that is not the camera that taking the picture is the person who is using it because i know a good friend of mine that has a 20D from 5 years ago and is still using it. I always take picture in manual mode so i can experience every shoot. as all of you know you have a Automatic mode but with that you won’t learn how to take photo..

  • Espana

    I purchased this camera for three main reasons its RAW capablities the 14.7 megapixels it offers and the Leica lens. It has a few nice options, one which I particularly like is the SCN mode for low light portraits. It has a delayed double flash which allows you to balance ambient light with the flash for a more pleasing look.

  • lanso

    which of the two is better for wildlife photography?? please suggest:-)

  • The A-Team

    Hi Lanso, I think both will serve you well for wildlife photography, but Canon seems to have a more extensive and affordable range of super telephoto lenses useful for shooting wildlife ($$$). If you’re on a budget, then both have a good range of affordable telephoto lenses, such as their respective 70-300s, the Canon 55-250, and the Nikon 55-300. It’s a toss-up either way :)

  • jayz

    i wanted to kno weather to go for canon 600d or nikon 5100..
    i dont want to compromise on the color quality so please suggest me the better option of the two..
    m intrested in macro photography so ur suggestion for a suitable camera other den the two will be appreciated..

  • The A-Team

    Hi Jay-Z (nice albums btw ;) – Both cameras will give you good/great color. If you are interested in macro photography, perhaps you should focus on lens choices. Take notice of the new NIkon 40mm macro lens: Canon also has a good 60mm EF-S and of course the dreamy new 100mm IS L. Macro extension tubes are also pretty cheap.

  • jayz

    thanx.. a-team…
    i’ll probably end up buying nikon together with the AF-S DX Micro Nikkor lens..
    thanx again

  • Moemen

    I was going to go for Nikon, then I knew that it doesn’t have a built in focus motor… yet after a little bit of search, nearly all Nikkor lenses have an internal motor, so probably I’ll go with Nikon… plus the price is great here in Egypt compared to Canon.

    Thanks A-Team ;)

  • simple99

    i like to disagree with people just for fun but your style makes that hard

  • Shriram

    can any1 help me in suggestin as which 1 is best to buy in one mind……i am bit confused as both r almost same in level…..soo kindly suggest me :)

  • mN

    Thx A-Team! I just bought Nikon D5100 and absolutely delighted that image quality and easy of usage. For me, I’d recommend D5100, it’s really amazing camera for normal users

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  • Bernice

    I love taking editorial/fashion photographs. I also love taking close-up shots of anything. I was thinking the 5100 but for some reason my mind keeps telling me to try the canon. I currently have a nikon d40 and I am so ready for an upgrade.

    I want a camera that is in my price range and that takes very good quality pictures.

    Please help me decide :)

  • Brenda

    @Bernice – why change to Canon when you already have lenses for Nikon? I bought the D5100 and have been extremely happy with it. However, my photography is progressing and if I had to make this decision again, I would buy the D7000. Although more expensive, there are a few features that make the D7000 a better buy, aside from the obvious differences like shutter speed, frames per second, and ISO. The two main criteria which set the D7000 apart are both related to flash photography. Firstly, if you like to use off-camera flash, there is no commander function built into the D5100, but there is on the D7000. So I have had to buy a flash to function as a commander unit, and an additional flash as my off-camera flash. Secondly, there is no high-speed flash sync on the D5100 but there is on the D7000. Unlike the Canon, where you set it up on the flash unit, Nikon sets this up on the camera itself. So if you have a great fast portrait lens and you’re shooting in bright sunlight and want to use fill-in flash, you are restricted to a max shutter speed of 1/200. That’s a bit of a pain when you want to open the lens right up to 1.4 or whatever your max aperture is. However, if those two limitations aren’t a problem for you, the D5100 is a SUPERB camera. I am still amazed at the quality of this camera at high ISO!

  • The A-Team

    @ Brenda – Surely the D7000 is a good choice over the D5100. But if you want to get into flash photography, you don’t need to get a master flash as commander, simply get a set of our Trigmasters for about $50 to use with your existing flash :)

  • bazil

    iam confused , please i need help , which one has great picture quality than the other ,,
    A- Team ,, if you would chose one , then which one you would chose and why ? give me honest answer please …

  • Mahfuz

    I am really very confused with this two models. I want to have both good image quality and video quality as well. I also want to shoot telephoto and good image stabilization. So which one will be better ?

    I have an another question and that is 18 – 135mm lens has more zoom ratio than 70 – 300mm lens. Which lens will give more wide angle and more magnification???

    Please explain me in details …

  • The A-Team

    Hi Mahfuz, The 18-135mm will of course give a wider angle, and the 70-300 will of course give more magnification. I’d say get both and you will have a very wide range!

  • Magayaki

    I want to take good landscape photos.Please recommend the the better one for my purporse.

  • amit

    I want to buy a camera, but confuse in nikon d5100 vs canon 550d, for me photo and video quality both are important.. so plz help…

  • The A-Team

    Hi Magasaki, both cameras will take great landscape photos. Both have a tilt/swivel screen which I think is useful for landscape. You’ll really want to look at your lens options for landscape. I find my Canon 10-22 works like a charm. The new Nikon 10-24mm is nice but is not cheap. However, I don’t think you could go wrong with either one.

  • The A-Team

    Hello Amit, flip a coin, and good luck! You’ll win either way…

  • Vorxian

    Many thanks for a great review, and even more salute for an impartial and yet neutral standpoint. I personally have a 5100 as I tried every camera in Jessops and for fitting the price range and general feel of the camera decided the 5100 just ‘felt right’. My friend has the Canon, and to be honest both cameras produce amazing results – Photography is artwork with both of these choices.

  • amit

    hi a-team, finally tell me canon 550 d or nikon d 5100 which is best, and video quality is very important to me, so plz let me know which i need to buy..

  • The A-Team

    Hi Amit, I would definitely choose the D5100 over the 550D. It has a better sensor with lower noise. However if you consider the 600D instead, you can’t go wrong with either one.

  • rai

    i m very confunsed in these two models.
    D5100 is better or what?600d is said to be made of plastic

    i dont have much concern on videos, i want images to be good

  • The A-Team

    HI Rai, I wouldn’t worry about the build quality of these two cameras – they are both made of plastic and both about the same. And how often do you hear of cameras cracking or breaking anyways? If anything, I think the plastic shell makes it lighter, and maybe even provides some impact absorption abilities when dropped…maybe ;)

  • Arie

    Hi A-Team, i’m looking for good result for pictures and video. I heard that canon give better result in video but nikon give superb result in photo. In video, nikon’s autofocus would give headache because we cannot control it, not like in canon. Now i really confuse, because using video and taking pictures would be 50-50 for me. Before now i only use pocket camera so this will be my first dlsr.


  • delene

    hiya.. i’m 14 and have been doing photography for about 5 months now, so i guess i’m a beginner. i currently have a nikon coolpix p500 which is a basic point and shoot camera which i bought without much knowledge on cameras or photography. However now i’m more fully aware of camera’s potentials, i’m looking for the next camera up and these two both match the price range i’m aiming for. I was originally going to go for the nikon yet the canon made me think twice hence why i’m on here really. I do a bit of macro photography, which my current camera isn’t really designed for and the rest varies really, whether it be of the moon or sun setting, water, birds and all sorts to be fair. i’m not looking for anything in particular from a camera but these both stand out to me, i just require the camera that fits my needs i guess, y’know best for what i usually take pictures of. i dont know if this helped that much but yeah. thanks alot! this’d also be my first dslr.

  • The A-Team

    Hi Delene, you might consider waiting for the new Canon 650D. It should be coming out soon. If you want to do macro photography with a DSLC, you’ll need a dedicated macro lens. The 60 2.8 is good for EF-S, and you can’t go wrong with the 100 2.8 either. Let us know what you go with!

  • Andy

    AH i want to get serious in photography As well cinematography so which 1 should i prefer canon 600D or D5100??.

  • The A-Team

    Both cameras are great. The D5100 gives arguably better image quality while the 600D gives arguably better video quality. You might also check out the new 650D…

  • Sudarsan

    My main attack is on whether I should buy the Canon 600D or Nikon 5100d as the only difference seems to be of it having an autofocus built in…

  • The A-Team

    Sudarsan, now I believe your question might be the 650D vs D5200! And both of them have a bit of autofocus built in…

  • Sudarsan

    Hi..I’m reading reviews of the Nikon D5100 and while I see that it’s a wonderful camera, the camera does not have a focus motor (like, for example, the D7000 which has a built-in AF motor).
    In practical terms though, what does that mean? I wanted to kno weather to go for canon 600d or nikon 5100..or NIkon 5200..

  • Shrey Rawat

    Hey, i just happen to see this amazing vfx film shot on canon 600D, this clarify that its a powerful camera, no doubt \m/

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