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)

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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.
Buy the Nikon D5300 from B&H Photo Video by clicking here



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