Nikon D3300 vs D5300 vs Canon Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D Comparison

May 5, 2014

Canon Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D, Nikon D5300 and Nikon D3300 side by side banner

In this article I will compare the Nikon D3300 vs Nikon D5300, and Canon Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D.  I’m sure that many of you are quite confused which camera to buy if that’s your first DSLR. The Nikon D3300 was announced on January 7 2014, and it’s as of the time of writing, it’s Nikon’s latest entry-level DSLR, replacing the excellent D3200.  I had a chance to shoot with the D3200 quite a lot, and find this camera an excellent choice for beginners and enthusiasts alike.

Having said that, for $250 you get the more advanced D5300 or buy the Canon Rebel SL1 which costs about the same as the D3300.  Knowing and understanding the key differences between the three cameras will help you rest assured that you are picking the camera that is right for you specific shooting habits.

Entry-level vs Upper Entry-level DSLRs

Before I move on talking about the three cameras and comparing them side by side, let me throw a few words.  If you look at both Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras, you can see that there are two entry-level camera categories: the most basic entry-level DSLRs, which are the cheapest you can find in each each company DSLR camera’s lineup. Above these, you can find an upper entry-level DSLR cameras that costs more and offer some extra features.

The most basic entry-level DSLRs offers the best value for those who just need a versatile interchangeable lens digital camera that can take gorgeous photos. DSLRs have many benefits over point-and-shoot cameras, including better image quality, better high ISO performance, better background blur (shallow depth of field), faster and more accurate AF performance, better ergonomics,  more complimentary accessories, special lenses, etc.

You can enjoy all the benefits even while using the most basic camera. The performance and features improve as you pay more. This doesn’t necessarily means that if you pay more for the upper entry-level model you’ll get a better camera, because the “better” camera is the one that has those features that you actually going to take advantage off.

Why pay more for features that you don’t need? — Furthermore, you can use that extra money to buy extra accessories (e.g. external flash, battery grip) or a second lens. So for example, if you are debating between the Nikon D3300 and the D5300 (the more expensive camera), make sure that you not just understand the differences, but also know whether you intend to use those features in a reasonable time frame.

So without further ado, let’s start with a short introduction to each camera and later we’ll take a closer look at those three excellent DSLR cameras, the Nikon D5300, D3300 and Canon Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D.

Nikon D3300

The Nikon D3300 was announced on January 7, 2014. It’s an entry-level DSLR camera that sits below the D5300.  Nikon didn’t change too much on the outside, and most of the changes were made inside.

Nikon D3300 vs D3200 side by side

Nikon D3300 vs D3200 side by side - size comparison (via

The first and one of the important changes is a new 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with no- anti-aliasing filter. This is a relatively new trend, where camera manufacturers are developing both professional and lower-end models that lack the optical low pass filter. This Anti Aliasing filter is used to reduce the occurrence of moiré  in certain type of photos and in videos as well. However, this filter does slightly reduce the potential of the amount of details that the sensor can capture. Therefore by having this OLPF removed, the sensor will be able to squeeze out more information from the scene. The difference is not huge, and in almost all cases you should make sure that you have a high quality lens to get the best resolution. Don’t build too high hopes about having a huge difference, just expect a slight edge in terms of details and know that the camera will be less resistant to moiré patterns an false colors.

If you want to know more about the role of the optical low pass filter, moire and false colors, I recommend reading this article on website.

*video by TheCameraStoreTV

The Nikon D3300 also gets the new EXPEED 4 image processor (compared to EXPEED 3 on the D3200). This processor provided faster performance, improved noise-removal and AF algorithms among others.   The sensor and image processor are the two key hardware components that have a direct impact on image quality and image rendering characteristics.   The D3300 utilizes an APS-C size sensor, which is much larger than the sensor on your mobile phone or compact digital camera. This means that you’ll enjoy a much better low-light performance, have the ability (with the right lens) to completely throw the background out of focus, get more accurate colors, better color gradation, much less noise and overall improved speed of operation when interacting with your camera.

The Nikon D3300 also brings 5 fps continuous shooting speed (very respectable for an entry-level DSLR),  1080p60/30/24 Full HD video recording with full-time autofocus and monaural sound, WU-1a wireless adapter compatibility, 11-point autofocus system for fast and responsive subject tracking performance, built-in special effects, guide mode for beginners and all in a compact and lightweight body.

The D3300 has a built-in flash and a hot-shoe to which you can connect and external flash and other compatible accessories. At the back of the camera you can find a 921K-dots fixed LCD display and eye-level optical viewfinder.

Nikon has improved the D3300 over the D3200 by also adding extra grip for the thumb at the back and  improved the back rounded navigation button. Compared to the D3200,  Nikon also added buit-in HDR,  added 60fps FHD video recording frame-rate, added in-camera panorama function, increased the viewfinder size a bit, improved the burst speed by 1 fps, battery life has been vastly improved. and all this in a slightly smaller and lighter body.

The D3300 has gotten very good reviews over many camera review’s websites. Those mentioned its good image quality and high ISO performance, small and compact body, decent burst speed and value for the money. On the other hand, it would have been nice to have a built-in WiFi, as so many mirrorless cameras already have this features. Overall, there is a little to complain about this camera. Entry-level DSLR cameras have been vastly improved over the years, inheriting more features from mid-range models, and the D3300 certainly gives a lot in return for your investment.

Nikon D5300

The Nikon D5300 was announced on October 17, 2013. The D5300 sits above D3300 in Nikon’s DSLR camera lineup and costs around $250 more than the D3300.   Upper entry-level models are the first to inherit some of the features of their prosumer siblings.  A camera like the D5300 is aimed for both beginners and enthusiasts on a tight budget, and those who might prefer investing more money on the lens or an extra lens instead of a more powerful and advanced camera body (e.g. D7100).

Nikon D5300 and D3300 side by side

Nikon D5300 and D3300 side by side, size comparison (via

The D5300 features a 24.2-megapixel image sensor and EXPEED 4 image processor.  Like the D3300, the D5300 also lacks an optical low-pass filter, which should boost the capabilities of the sensor of gathering more details from the scene. I personally prefer having less pixels in favor of better low-light performance, but it seems like Nikon knows that having more pixels will help to sell more of these cameras. If it was 10 years back I would probably be worried some, but sensor technologies have vastly improved, and there are more cheaper and faster lenses available. This allows photographers to capture very high-resolution image with less impact on image quality as was in the past. This always improved and will continue to improve in each iteration of new camera models.

The D5300 is about the same size as the D3300 and there are a few differences that Nikon put into this model. Unlike the D3300 that has a fixed rear LCD, the Nikon D5300 features a 3.2″ 1037K-dots vari-angle (fully articulated) LCD display.  Because of that, the D4200 doesn’t have any buttons at the left side of the camera like the D3300. Those buttons moved to the rear-top and right side part of the camera. I personally prefer this arrangement and find it easier when operating the camera one-handed.

*video by CameraRec Toby

Nikon also added an extra grip on the front-left side, which is handy when holding the camera down and navigating throw the LCD, not that useful with shooting.

The D5300 emphasize is on both stills and video shooting. It’s probably The camera to offer the best value for those who care about video quality and features. It can shoot Full HD videos at 60,50,30,25,24p (depends if its PAL or NTSC model), it has a built-in stereo microphone instead of the monaural one on the D3300. You can also connect and external microphone to the mic input port and adjust its sensitivity in-camera. The built-in stereo mic (and the option to connect an external mic) mic, the vari-angle LCD,  1080p60 video recording, and the ability to stream full HD videos onto an external storage device (Clean HDMI) — all these makes the D5300 a very good choice for enthusiasts videographers. In fact, the D5300 was the first Nikon DSLR to offer 1080p60 (progressive frames, not interlaced) — the D3300 came after the D5300 and offered this as well.

On the other hand, I found the absence of an AA filter a little problematic for video shooters.

The D5300 is also more “connected”, featuring both GPS for auto geotagging and built-in WiFi. This means that you don’t need to buy a separate Wi-Fi adapter to transfer images to your mobile device or your home computer. Other features include an eye-level optical viewfinder (pentamirror, not the more expensive pentaprism), 5 fps burst speed, AE bracketing and WB bracketing (not available on the D3300), improved battery life over the previous model, timelapse recording, pop-up flash and 39 focus points (including 9 cross-type sensor), which make it a better tool for shooting fast-moving subjects than the D3300.

The D5300 is more advanced, more connected, provides better image quality, better HDSLR functionality, but at a more expensive price over the D3300.

Canon Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D

The Canon Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D was announced on March 21, 2014, so it’s the oldest camera among three.  The Canon Rebel SL1 as it’s own unique appeal, and that’s its small size. The SL1 / 100D is really a small DSLR camera. It’s 7.3mm shorter, 8.2mm narrower  and 6.6mm slimmer than the D5300. It also weights 73 grams less than the D5300.

Canon Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D vs Nikon D5300 size comparison

Canon Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D vs Nikon D5300 size comparison

The question is whether the difference in size has any significance to you. If you want a small interchangeable lens camera, and prefer buying the smallest, you can go with the Panasonic Lumix GM1 for example, which is much smaller than the SL1 — just to keep things in perspective.

Panasonic Lumix GM1 vs Canon Rebel SL1 size comparison

Panasonic Lumix GM1 vs Canon Rebel SL1 size comparison

Having a smaller camera have several advantages: it’s more portable and therefore easier to carry around, it attracts less attention, you can put it in a smaller camera bag or a regular women bag for example, it’s easier to operate with on hand and more comfortable for people with small hands. The thing is that the difference between the D5300 and the SL1 is not even close to the difference between the SL1 and the GM1. Either way, you’ll need to buy a camera bag to carry this camera, and don’t forget the lens(es) as well.  This however might look less threatening to people who are checking the camera at the photo store, and for those who come from point-and-shoot.

Some people see the smaller size as a disadvantage. You have a more portable camera, but you gain less grip, the camera provided less balance when using long and heavy lenses and/or with extra accessories (e.g. external flash / mic). I personally always bought a battery grip when I was shooting with Canon’s entry-level cameras. It just felt much more comfortable, and at least for me, a larger camera felt more comfortable, much more comfortable in fact. Something to consider before giving the size that much weight.

*video by dpreview

Size aside, the Rebel SL1 comes with a 18MP CMOS APS-C sensor and DIGIC 5 image process (previous generation, latest is DIGIC 6), 3 burst speed, Hybrid CMSO AF II which delivers accurate AF tracking performance for both stills, Live View and video shooting.  It has a touch-sensitive 3.0″ 1040K-dots, anti-smudge coated fixed LCD display.  It records videos at Full HD 1080p30,25,24,  has lots of creative filters to play with, feature guide and Basic+ function that makes it easier for beginner to learn all the camera functions helps beginner, improved optimization for STM lenses, stereo mic jack, etc.

The Canon Rebel SL1 should appeal to beginners whom are searching for an entry-level camera that offers very good image quality, large arsenal of built-in features, great HD video recording features and all in a small camera body. The SL1 is the equivalent to the D3300 on Nikon’s side. If you are planning to buy the D3300, make sure you give a good deal of attention to the differences between those two cameras (I will provide them for you later on this article).

The SL1 already won Dpreview Gold Award, stating its live view and movie performance, small body and responsive touchscreen. Canon gave a good deal of attention of making this camera an attractive HDSLR for novice photographers and videographers. No doubt that for its price, the SL1 / 100D does offer a great value.


D3300 vs D5300 vs Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D

If you read everything so far, you know that we have three excellent entry-level cameras, ones that already have gotten very positive reviews on major camera review websites. Nevertheless, I’m sure that many of you are still very confused and still have problem to decide which camera to buy. The goal is to understand the key differences, as well as some of the differences that you are not familiar with technically, that in order to gain knowledge that will help you understand the cons and pros of each camera versus the others.

In this section I will give you all that information, talking about the difference in more-depth. Pay a close attention to the differences at areas of importance to you.

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As you can see in the D3300 vs D5300 vs Rebel SL1 side by side comparison table above, there are various differences between the three cameras.  The Canon Rebel SL1 put itself in a very string position for people who now that they’ll take advantage of the hybrid AF system when shooting in Live View or in video recording. On the other hand, the D5300 has a fully articulated display, built-in stereo mic and 1080p60 option. So you need to know how to prioritize your needs if you plan to shoot lots of videos and the video functionality is of main concern.

Leaving the video aside, the Nikon D5300 will certainly grab the attention of stills shooters, especially due to its high-res sensor that lacks the OLPF, 39 AF point AF system, which is more powerful than the SL1 / 100D. Furthermore, the D5300 features a very good battery life,  fully articulated LCD, has a built-in GPS and WiFi connectivity, something that you don’t get built-in in the other cameras. On paper at least, the D5300 is the better camera for stills photographers. Having said that, let’s not forget that is also around $300 more expensive than the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D, which might put off some people due to its higher price tag.

The SL1 was intended to compete against the D3300, and it offers a very good fight I must say. I assume that a significant part of the target audience will give a good attention to the size, at least for those whom are just came from point-and-shoot. The SL1 Hybrid AF will be very useful for hobbyist who want an accurate and fast AF performance when shooting video and won’t use manual focusing.  The touchscreen and touch user interface is also an important feature, great for beginners and people whom are used shooting pictures using their mobile phone.

High ISO image quality wise, both the D5300 and D3300  shown equivalent results,  very good image quality up to ISO 1600, and even ISO 3200 was very usable with relatively clean image. The Canon Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D was behind the D5300 and the D3300 in terms of dynamic range, image resolution and noise. I personally preferred how the Nikon D5300 / D3300 image processing handled the noise, and overall the Nikon images were cleaner, around half a stop better in my observation. It’s not a huge difference, but if I take all the image quality parameters into consideration, even with the Canon’s larger pixels, the Nikon was able to offer slightly better performance.

The Canon Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D has its own appeal, certainly when it comes to pricing. If I had to pick one for myself, I would probably have gone with the Nikon D5300. I love the image quality output, the superb AF system, the articulating LCD, stereo mic for videos, built-in GPS and Wi-Fi. I think that those extra features that the D5300 offer are well worth the extra money. If I wouldn’t need any of those features, I would grabbed the D3300, as it an excellent entry-level camera that can answer all the need of a novice photographer, and even many needs of enthusiast photographers as well.

The Canon Rebel SL1 doesn’t fall that far behind the D3300 in my opinion. It has its advantages like the Hybrid AF system,  small size,  touchscreen, useful night modes, etc. However, I was more convinced by the Nikon offering regarding its two entry-level models.

It doesn’t mean that you have to make the same decision as I make. You need to take a closer look at the differences and find the features that are most important for you. All three cameras are excellent entry-level DSLR cameras, and if it’s your first DSLR, you can’t go wrong choosing either. Just make sure that you understand the differences, because you might need a specific feature that exist in one camera and not on the other cameras.

Some of my blog readers asked me about which kit lens to by at their first DSLR purchase. I personally would recommend getting the 18-55 mm Kit lens, because it’s cheap and will give you a good range to start with.  Later on, you’ll be more focused on what the exact lens type you need. If you buy a DSLR for casual shooting and you don’t see yourself spending more money on a second lens, nor you enjoy changing lenses,  I think that the Nikon 18-140mm VR lens (for the Nikon cameras)  is a great versatile walkaround lens, sharp, fast and will probably fit most situations that amateur photographers shoot — at least when thy just starting out.

On the Canon side you have the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, which is an excellent standard zoom lens, sharp, with fast and quiet focusing, lightweight and has a versatile optical zoom range with optical image stabilization.

So before finalizing your buying decision, make sure that you know which lens to buy with your camera.

Buy Nikon D3300 from B&H Photo Store

Buy Nikon D5300 from B&H Photo Store

Buy Canon Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D from B&H Photo Store


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