Nikon D5300 vs Canon EOS 70D vs Canon Rebel T3i / 600D

January 26, 2014

Nikon D5300 banner

In this article I will compare the new Nikon D5300 DSLR versus two very popular DSLRs, the Canon EOS 70D and the Canon Rebel T3i / EOS 600D.  I’m pretty sure that you are interested to know how this new next-gen model stands against those two. The T3i was announced two years ago, yet it’s still one of the most popular, if not the most popular DSLR cameras to date (at least if you take a look at Amazon’s DSLR top seller’s list). The 70D was announced on July 2 2013, so it’s still a fresh model.

About Pricing, Before we get Started

The camera price obviously plays a significant factor in people’s decision. If we take a look at Amazon.com prices for those three cameras (body only), we can see that the Canon 70D is the most expensive one at ~$1200.  Nikon D5300 at the second place at ~$800 and Canon T3i which is the cheapest one for $500 — all for body only.

So we can see a big step in price between those three models. That’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Some people prefer buying the cheapest camera and invest more money on the lens.  Many people realize that the difference in image quality and advanced features don’t always justify the higher price — at least for their specific usage. On the other hand, some people are searching to upgrade to a more advanced camera and all the goodies that it brings with it, especially a new model that brings improved performance, image quality and features in many cases.

So it really boils down to your personal preference and budget.  Will the D5300 convince us to buy it over the T3i this year and how it compared to the mid-range 70D? — there are many questions that need to be answered, and hopefully after reading this comparison review you’ll get a much better understanding of the differences, con and pros of those three cameras.

This is also a good place to eliminate a camera that might be out of your budget. If the 70D is too expensive, you need to pay more attention to the differences between the D5300 and T3i.  As you’ll soon see, the D5300 certainly brings new improvements that make it very attractive in the entry-level category, but not just.

This comparison will give emphasize on the D5300. So let’s get to know the new Nikon D5300 better and see what goodies lies within.

Nikon D5300 Key Features

Nikon D5300 (gray) with the 18-55mm kit lens

Nikon D5300 (gray color model) with the 18-55mm kit lens

The Nikon D5300 is as of the time of writing, its latest DSLR camera.  It replaces the D5200 which was announced on November 2012 and brings lots of new improvements, including newly developed sensor without low-pass filter, EXPEED 4 image processor, larger viewfinder, 1080p60 video recording, WiFi, GPS and more. For a complete list of the differences, please visit Nikon D5300 vs D5200 comparison page.

The Nikon D5300 is an upper entry-level DSLR camera. Which means that it sits above the Nikon D3300 which costs ~$650 (visit this page for update price), but that’s for the camera plus a 18-55mm lens. The D5300 with the 18-55mm kit lens will cost you around $900, $250 more expensive than the D3300.  For around $1100 (as of the time of writing), you can buy the D5300 plus the 18-140mm kit lens (which I think it’s an amazing lens in my opinion) — this is around $100 less than the Canon 70D body. If the Nikon D5300 can offer advanced features that the 70D has or don’t have, some people might be convinced to buy the D5300 instead of the 70D – yep, it’s not science fiction, it’s all about features, image quality, handling and compatible accessories.

The D5300 still looks very similar to the D5200, but Nikon did some minor improvements by adding more grip areas at the back and left side.  It’s also being offered in a unique gray color as well as black and red. The D5300 is built with Carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic, so it’s more durable than its predecessor that uses only polycarbonate body.

The D5300 features a newly developed 24.2 million pixels APS-C image sensor. It’s not the first time we see such a high resolution sensor on entry-level cameras, some people think (including myself), that this resolution is too high. I personally prefer a camera with 12MP but superb high ISO performance in return. Having said that, sensor’s image quality always improve in each generation, and once you mount a fast lens on this camera you probably won’t need to shoot above ISO 1600 in most cases. Low light shooters will certainly prefer a camera that has less resolution in favor of better high ISO performance.

On the positive side, when shooting at low ISO, you get a very detailed image.  This is a sensor that will compliment Nikkor excellent lenses, but especially those tack-sharp prime lenses like the 50mm f/1.4G and other Nikkor prime lenses. If you enjoy editing your photos in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5, you will love this high resolution, as it gives you more cropping space to play with when editing your images.

The most important thing about this new sensor is that it lacks the anti-aliasing filter, also referred to as optical low-pass filter or OLPF in short. This means that the camera will give you slightly sharper images, but at the expense of sensitivity to moiré which leads to false color artifacts in images. The good news is that many who already shooting with DSLR cameras with their OLPF omitted, reported that they rarely encountered moiré in their photos.  If you want to learn more about moire, I recommend reading this answer on photo.stackexchange.com.

Nikon D5300 rear side

Nikon D5300 (black model) rear side

This is not the first camera that has its anti-aliasing filter removed, we also have the Nikon D800E, Ricoh GR, Sony Alpha 7R, Nikon D7100 and others. It starts with a trend in professional DSLR cameras and moved down to entry-level cameras. Why no give everyone the option to enjoy a sharper image, considering that people are likely to see the moiré effect. It especially true when the camera has moire reduction algorithms in-camera, and can the effect can be reduces in photo editing software. However, learning about the cause of this effect can help you prevent it in the first place. Just Google this term and you’ll find plenty of useful guides about it. This is out of the scope for this review.

Other features include EXPEED 4 image processor, which offers faster processing power and noise reduction algorithms. A Multi-CAM 4800DX 39 AF points sensor (9 cross-type). This is the same AF sensor used on the previous model the D5200 and the same one that is incorporated n the Nikon D7000. The Nikon D7100 uses the Multi-CAM 3500DX autofocus sensor module with 51 focus points, which is more advanced than the D5300 one. So for you, this means super fast AF performance, and I mean it. You’ll be amazed how the AF sensor performs, even with the kit lens. It’s a professional grade AF performance in an entry-level camera, especially useful for subject tracking. I had the chance to shoot with the D7000 a lot, and nothing can explain how fast the AF is until you tried it yourself.

The D5300 also has a larger viewfinder compared to the D5200, offers both 12 bit and 14 bit raw compression, has 1080p60 (progressive frames, not 60i interlaced) video recording, built-in WiFi and built-in GPS receiver which gives you the option to automatically geotag your images, as well as use the WiFi with an app (for Android and iOS) to remote control your camera from your mobile phone or tablet device (e.g. iPhone, iPad, iPod) and easily share high-quality images with your friends.

At the back you’ll find as expected a 3.2″ 1037K-dots fully articulated LCD (180 degrees horizontally, 270 degrees vertically), unfortunately this is not a touch display. The battery life also improved (600 shots CIPA). So all in all, the Nikon D5300 is a remarkable modern entry-level DSLR camera that due to its wide range of features, might also be favorite among enthusiast who previously considered buying the Nikon D7000 or one of Canon’s mid-range DSLRs.

Nikon D5300 Cons

sad face smileySo any cons you ask? — well, it doesn’t do high speed sync, so it might not be suitable for some professional works like shooting with a flash in daylight. You might need to use a ND filter to reduce the amount of light to get a well exposed shot. The GPS and Wi-Fi consume lots of power, so it can degrade the battery life quite a bit. The D5300 don’t have an official battery grip, although there is a 3rd party one that I think that is compatible with the D5300 as well if I am not wrong.  The camera also doesn’t feature AF fine-tuning, lack an internal AF motor and lacks touchscreen.

Even with its great new features, I wouldn’t upgrade my D5200 to this model. Having said that, this is one of the most attractive entry-level DSLR cameras to-date, even when compared to the Nikon D7100 (it’s cost ~$350 less than the D7100).

*The cons that I mentioned might not seems like cons to you, and it really depends what are you looking for in your next / new DSLR camera.

 

D5300 vs 70D vs T3i / 600D

As you read above, there is little to complain about the D5300 if at all. Nikon came with a superb model that will appeal to both novice photographers and enthusiast alike. Now you don’t need to break your head about getting a cheap body in order to save for a lens, the price is just right and you get a lot in return for your investment – excellent value!

All said and done, we want to know how the D5300 compared to two of Canon’s popular DSLR cameras, the EOS 70D and Rebel T3i.  In the next comparison table you’ll be represented with the specs and feature differences between those two model and get to understand what makes each camera better. I also adding side notes to further explain the differences where I see appropriate — So let’s begin!

Nikon D5300, Canon Rebel T3i and Canon EOS 70D size comparison

Nikon D5300 (left), Canon Rebel T3i and Canon EOS 70D size comparison (via camerasize.com)

Nikon D5300Canon Rebel T3i (600D)Canon EOS 70D
AnnouncedOctober 17, 2013February 7, 2011July 2, 2013
The D5300 is the newest camera of the three. If you are choosing between those three cameras, you probably shouldn't be concerned about new model announcement, as the 70D won't get any update soon and if you pick the T3i over the T4i/T5i, one of the reasons to do so is for its attractive price tag and wasn't convince to pay more for the newer replacements that came along after the T3i.
Build QualityCarbon-fibre-reinforced thermoplastics/polymer

(instead of metal chassis and polycarbonate - weight less, but maintains high durability)
PolycarbonatePolycarbonate
All three have polycarbonate bodies. The D5300 might be more durable due to the use of Carbon-fibre, but I am not an expert on this, and it might give you extra durability (check this post on dpreview for more information.
Weather SealingNoNoYes

(equivalent weather sealing to the EOS 1N film; water and dust resistant )
The 70D is the only one that offers moderate weather sealing (see this image on dpreview).

I wouldn't risk it shooting in the rain, but I assume that it will survive water drops and splashes if those accidentally happen.

There are some people who used the 70D in light rain and under freezing temperatures and said that no harm was done to the camera - but would you risk yours?

If you have more information about it, please don't hesitate and share your information in the comment section below.
Dimensions125 x 98 x 76 mm (4.92 x 3.86 x 2.99″)133 x 100 x 80 mm (5.24 x 3.94 x 3.15″)139 x 104 x 79 mm (5.47 x 4.11 x 3.09″)
Weight480 g (1.06 lb / 16.93 oz)570 g (1.26 lb / 20.11 oz)755 g (1.66 lb / 26.63 oz)
The D5300 is significantly lighter and smaller than the 70D, kind of a compact DSLR but still noticeably larger than the Canon Rebel SL1 as you can see on camerasize.com comparison which I linked above.

In terms of design, the 70D just enjoy a large top monochrome LCD which can help save battery when shooting without the LCD so you can change the settings on the fly and verify them on the top screen.

The D5300 now has the a GPS bulge at the top-right side. The D5300 and 70D have larger grips compare to the relatively small on of the T3i.

The 70D as a mid-range DSLR offers more buttons for fast access to frequently used functions (e.g. ISO,Drive, AF mode, etc.) compare to the other two models. This is one reason why enthusiasts might prefer getting the more expensive models, because those cameras gives them more control over the camera settings without going through the menu settings using the rear LCD display.

The 70D is heavier and larger , but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Some photographers intend to use long and heavy lenses and even with an external flash mounted on top, having a bigger and heavier DSLR can better balance the weight and give better handling when shooting handheld.

If you have large hands you also find the 70D better. I remember buying a battery grip for my Canon 600D because I didn't find it comfortable enough, but I have large hands.
Official Battery Grip3rd party - check out the Xit Pro Mult-Power Battery grip which is compatible with the D5100, D5200 and D5300Both official (Canon BG-E8) and 3rd party (e.g. Maxsima, Neewer)Both official (BG-E14) and 3rd party
Image ProcessorEXPEED 4DIGIC 4DIGIC 5+
The T3i uses an older generation image processor which is less powerful and advanced than the new generation ones that is used on the 70D and D5300.

For example, the D5300 needs the EXPEED 4 in order to process the 1080p60 (60 progressive frames) in video recording and be able to shoot at 5fps in full resolution.
Sensor24.2MP (effective)
23.5x15.6 mm
APS-C CMOS

No OLPF
18.0 (effective)
22.3x14.9 mm
APS-C CMOS

With OLPF
20.2MP (effective)
22.5x15.0 mm
APS-C CMOS

With OLPF

Dual Pixel CMOS AF
(see AF section)
Pixel Density3.92 microns4.30 microns4.11 microns
The D5300 is the only model in our comparison to have its optical low-pass filter removed, which should give the camera extra sharpness. This is not a huge difference, but after observing many photos with cameras that lacks the OLPF, I can say in quite confident that there is a different, and it's mostly visible when viewing images at 100% full scale, not visible in scaled down images. Furthermore, the moire wasn't an issue for me, but there are some occasions that it will be visible in the image, and it depends on the subjects you are shooting. I recommend reading more about it and see how it fits your shooting style. For general photography and for beginners, I wouldn't worry about it at all.

You can also see that the D5300 due to its higher resolution and roughly same sensor size has smaller pixels due to higher pixel density. This should give the Canons a slight edge when shooting at high ISO. Having said that, the sensor technology and image processor also matters here, so we need to inspect some sample images and compare them in order to see which one performs better in that matter.
ISO100 - 12800
(25600 with boost)
100 - 6400
(up to 25600 with boost)
100 - 12800
(25600 with boost)
AutofocusMulti-CAM 4800DX autofocus sensor

39-AF points (9 cross-type)

Working range: 1 - 19 EV
9-AF points (f/5.6 center cross-type; extra sensitivity at f/2.8)

Working range: -0.5 -18 EV
19-AF points (all cross-type; extra sensitivity at f/2.8 at center)
Working range: 1-20 EV

Dual Pixel CMOS AF

(Phase-detection +
Contrast-detection AF)
The T3i doesn't feature the Hybrid AF (Dual Pixel CMOS AF) which found on the 70D and T5i nor the Hybrid AF II found in the SL1 (the latest version of the Hybrid AF). So you don't get to enjoy phase-detection in Live View and video recording, which should improve subject tracking speed and accuracy, especially when the subject moves away or towards the camera. Whether on the 70D you do get to enjoy this feature which should give you improved AF performance when shooting in Live View or when recording videos.

I don't see this as a big disadvantage for videos because I personally like shooting with manual focus when recording video, but I can understand that for many people this isn't convenient and that's why Canon invented the Hybrid AF.

The Nikon D5300 has more AF points, but the 70D have the advantage of all its AF points being cross-type, which improves AF performance when shooting vertically.(when the detail in the image being focused is parallel to the sensor's non cross-type sensor). This helps improved the AF accuracy.

For subject tracking I personally prefer higher AF points that scattered evenly across the frame. That helps the camera to detect the moving subject faster as it enters the frame and moves across it.

All in all, it's great seeing such a high performing AF sensor on an entry-level model.
LCD3.2"
1037K-dots
Fully articulated LCD
Not Touch Screen
3.0"
1040K-dots
Fully articulated LCD
Not Touch Screen
3.0"
1040K-dots
Fully articulated LCD
Touch Screen
All three cameras offer a large high-res vari-angle display. The 70D however is the only one to offer a touch sensitive panel that makes it easier to change camera settings and seamless control over navigation and image preview layout using just your fingers instead of the navigation buttons (although those are available for you as well).

Beginners will certainly find it useful, especially for those who are used to shoot with their mobile phones. This is why I was quite disappointed that Nikon didn't add the touchscreen to the D5300 as well.

The great thing about having a vari-angle LCD is that it makes it easier to shoot images overhead and below the wasitline, especially useful when recording videos.
ViewfinderOptical (pentamirror)
Coverage: 95%
Magnification: 0.82x
(0.54x equiv.)
Optical (pentamirror)
Coverage: 95%
Magnification: 0.85x
(0.53x equiv.)
Optical (pentaprism)
Coverage: 98%
Magnification: 0.95x
(0.59x equiv.)
The Canon EOS 600D / Rebel T3i have a larger and better viewfinder, utilizing petaprism which is a solid glass compared to mirrors with the pentamirror. You get a larger and slightly brighter view of the scene. It's not a huge advantage but having a larger viewfinder, a higher quality one and a higher coverage is preferred among enthusiast. The reason for that is that most people compose their photos using the OVF rather than the rear LCD display, and the larger the magnification and the coverage are, the better the overall experience and visual understanding of the scene as it will be captured in the final image.
Shutter Speed30 - 1/4000 sec30 - 1/4000 sec30 - 1/8000 sec
The Canon EOS 70D offers 1/8000 sec shutter speed, one stop faster than the T3i and D5300. This allows photographers to have better control over the exposure and have better capabilities for freezing the subjects when shooting fast moving subjects. In some cases it might prevent you from using an Neutral density (ND) filter, but in most cases people prefer having 1/8000 sec for stopping subjects that move fast across the frame (e.g. birds, racing cars, surfing, etc.).

For most people 1/4000 sec is enough and will satisfy most of your needs for fast action shooting.
Pop-up FlashYes (12m)Yes (13m)Yes (12m)
Flash X Sync Speed
(fastest shutter speed, that
can be synchronize with
the flash)
1/200 sec1/200 sec1/250 sec
Burst Speedup to 5 fpsup to 3.7 fpsup to 7 fps
70D offers the fastest burst which make it more suitable for sport photography and fast action shooters in general.
Exposure Compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±2 (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)±2 (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)±3 (2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
Video Recording
(NTSC)
1080p60
10080p30
1080p24

Stereo mic
3.5mm mic input
No headphone jack
10080p30
1080p24

Stereo mic
3.5mm mic input
No headphone jack
10080p30
1080p24

Stereo mic
3.5mm mic input
No headphone jack
Non of the three features headphone jack, but all three have a mic input that helps to dramatically improve the sound quality by attaching a high-fidelity external stereo microphone. There are many type of mics on the market that suits different types of sound recording angles and distances.

The Nikon D5300 is the only camera that can also record Full HD videos at 60p. And yes, it's 60p progressive frames NOT 60i interlaced frames.

In simple words, this means higher quality is all the information is recorded per frame, instead of 60i which is processed from 30p and each frame is split to odd and even frames and output as 60 frames per second videos, with each frame having half of the amount of details from the original 30p recording.

This also put the D5300 in good position against some compact system cameras like the Panasonic and Sony ones that also offer 1080p60 video recording function.
Wi-FiBuilt-inoptional (via Wi-Fi cards)Built-in
The T3i lacks built-in Wi-Fi. Both the Nikon D5300 and Canon EOS 70D come with built-in Wi-Fi transmitter (IEEE 802.11b/g) that together with a compatible app for an Android or iOS mobile phone or tablet, will give you the option for remote shooting and easy and quick photo sharing.
GPSBuilt-inNoneOptional (Canon GP-E2)
The D5300 is the only camera in our comparison to feature built-in GPS which automatically geotag location data in the image metadata..

This data can be later used by mobile apps, software and photo sharing website to display, organize and manage your photos based on the location and time that they were shot.

The GP-E1 and GP-E2 GPS receivers are not compatible with the T3i. At least that's what it written on Canon's official pages for those two accessories. The GP-E1 is compatible with the Canon 1D X and EOS-1D C and the GP-E2 is compatible with the 1D X, 5D Mark III, 7D, 70D, 6D, T4i, T5i, EOS M and SL1.
Battery Life
(CIPA)
600 shots440 shots920 shots
The Nikon D5300 has very good battery life considering its small size and its compatible with both the EN-EL14a and EN-EL14 batteries.

If you spent a few moments going over the specs comparison table above, you can see what makes the Nikon D5300 such an attractive camera when compared to the 70D and T3i / 600D.

A few of the advantages that the 70D has over the D5300 are:

Hybrid AF for Live View and video recording, weather sealing, better battery life, built-in focus motor,  less shutter lag, faster burst, larger pentaprism viewfinder with better magnification, faster flash x sync speed, touch screen display, all AF points are cross-type with f/2.8 dual cross-type AF center point, official battery grip, built-in HDR (multiple exposure, up to three images), 1/8000 sec maximum shutter speed, built-in Wi-Fi (shared with the D5300), built-in lens aberration correction, multi-shot noise reduction and AF fine tuning.

For many photographers this is enough to justify the extra price and it will certainly give value for the money. The 70D also comes with loads of creative filters which you can view in Live View. The 70D however lacks AF light and uses the flash as an AF assist light.

Furthermore, the Canon EOS 70D already got very positive reviews across the web, including Dpreview Gold Award rating. This is a great camera for everyone who is searching for a fully featured HSDLR camera.  Those features might won’t worth the money if you won’t take advantage of them.

For some people the AF performance, image quality and size is what matters.  So if you wanted to know if the Nikon D5300 is better than the Canon 70D, you might be the only person to answer this question.

In favor of the D5300 are: more durable body (so it seems), much smaller and lighter body, no optical low-pass filter, more AF points (although only 9 are cross-type), 1080p60 video recording, built-in WiFi, built-in GPS, larger screen, higher resolution and cheaper price.

In terms of high ISO performance, the Canon EOS 70D produces cleaner images, around 1 to 1.5EV stop advantage in favor of the 70D.   The 70D performed better than the T3i, and therefore the T3 offered the least impressive high ISO performance, although still impressive in its own right.

If we take the pixel size into account, this just shows us how good the D5300 is in handling noise in high ISO, which is a big compliment for the Nikon D5300.

The Canon Rebel T3i / eOS 600D is much less impressive than the D5300, and I personally would pick up the D5300 over the T3i any day for its built-in GPS, Wi-Fi, better battery life, faster burst, better AF performance, higher resolution (not at the cost of lower low-light performance), no OLPF which gives it a sharpness boost, more durable body, contrast-detect AF in video recording, more cross-type AF points, smaller size and in-camera HDR. The D5300 is just a better camera.

Whether or not this worth $300 its for you to decide. I think that still, the T3i offers the best value overall, but in these days people like sharing their photos on social networks and the built-in Wi-Fi and GPS will certainly be a major factor for the targeted audience. Enthusiast will admire the AF performance, image quality, lack of OLPF and battery life.

We can see that the decision isn’t easy as expected because we are dealing with cameras with high marginal price difference. If the D5300 was priced the same as the T3i I guess that most of you would buy the D5300 without thinking twice.

For extra $300 you can but a second lens, and for some people this is more important than the added features that you get with the D5300.

Conclusion

If you want my opinion, I would buy the Nikon D5300 over the T3i / 600D, but would certainly consider the 70D if you are doing one of the two things: upgrading for an entry-level Canon camera or even from a Nikon entry-level camera (if you don’t own a large collection of Canon lenses already) or if you have a need for one or more of the features that the 70D provide that you don’t get with either the D5300 and the T3i (I’ve mentioned it above).

As long as the camera don’t prevent you for getting the results that you want, you should get the least expensive one and spend more on a better glass / secondary lens instead. That what I would do, and I bought an entry-level DSLR and the 50mm f/1.4 lens alongside the Kit lens — never regretted doing so.  Furthermore, if you intend to purchase just one lens, I recommend getting the 18-140mm kit. This is an amazing lens that will give you much better versatility compared to the 18-55mm as a general purpose lens. A lens that you probably keep on your camera most of the time, and it’s a superb walk-around lens to have – Highly Recommended!

So which one you prefer? — share your opinion in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to subscribe to our Facebook page (see top sidebar) to get updated when new articles are published.
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