Comparison specifications

When it comes to a camera’s specification, we are bombarded with facts and figures. However, judging a camera’s quality correctly requires more than just examining its specification. Higher numbers do not in themselves equate to a better camera because, while some features may favour one model over another, the important thing is how they affect your photography in real terms.

  Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS 600D Canon EOS 1100D Nikon D3100  Nikon D5100 Nikon D7000
Street price (body only) £1,179 £649 £389 £389 £669 £949
Body material Magnesium alloy Polycarbonate Polycarbonate Polycarbonate Polycarbonate Magnesium alloy
Sensor APS-C 22.3×14.9mm CMOS APS-C 22.3×14.9mm CMOS APS-C 22.2×14.8mm CMOS APS-C 23.1×15.4mm CMOS APS-C 23.6×15.6mm CMOS APS-C 23.6×15.6mm CMOS
Megapixels 18 18 12.2 14.2 16.2 16.2
Output (pixels) 5184×3456 5184×3456 4272×2848 4608×3072 4928×3264 4928×3264
Sensitivity (ISO) 100-12,800 100-12,800 100-6400 100-3200 (Hi mode 6400 and 12,800) 100-6400 (Hi Mode 12,800 and 25,600) 100-6400 (Hi Mode 12,800 and 25,600)
Dynamic range (EV) 11.7 11.5 11 11.3 12.5 13.9
Metering zones 63 i-FCL 63 i-FCL 63 i-FCL 420, 3D matrix 420, 3D matrix 2016, 3D matrix
AF points (cross type) 19 (19) 9 (1) 9 (1) 11 (1) 11 (1) 39 (9)
Lens compatibility Canon EF & EF-S Canon EF & EF-S Canon EF & EF-S Nikon AF-S Nikon AF & AF-S Nikon AF & AF-S
LCD screen (type) 3in, 920,000-dot articulated 3in, 1.04-million-dot articulated 2.7in, 230,000-dot, fixed 3in, 230,000-dot, fixed 3in, 921,000-dot articulated 3in, 921,000-dot, fixed
Viewfinder Pentaprism Pentamirror Pentamirror Pentamirror Pentamirror Pentaprism
Drive (fps) 8 3.7 3  3 4 6
Movie Up to 1920x1080p at 24, 25 or 30fps 1920x1080p at 24, 25 or 30fps 1280x720p at 25 or 30fps  1920x1080p at 24fps 1920x1080p at 24, 25 or 30fps 1920x1080p at 24fps
Weight including battery and card (g) 820 610 495 505 560 780
Dimensions (mm) 146x108x74 129x98x75 130x100x78 125x97x74 128x97x79 132x105x77

Want more for your money?

so, what additional features do you get when you buy a more advanced DSLR? Well, you get a better frames per second rate (although Pentax’s K-r’s 6fps virtually matches them); more AF points, including cross-type AF points that can make for quicker AF in tricky low-light situations; and a more durable build quality. The magnesium-alloy housings of more advanced DSLRs are harder wearing and usually include weather-proofing, whereas the less expensive polycarbonate bodies do not. Then there’s direct control of wireless flash functionality; better dynamic range, although only slightly; brighter pentaprism-type viewfinders; and higher resolution LCD screens.

In practice, action photographers will appreciate faster frame rates and a more versatile AF system, together with a tougher magnesium-alloy body. However, depending on your application and whether you are likely to push your camera to its limits, you may never see the benefit of many of these additional features.