We would all love to produce consistent professional-quality images, but doesn't that require the appropriate, and very expensive, gear? Not at all, says Tim Coleman, as he explains why Canon's EOS 1100D and Nikon's D3100 entry-level DSLRs could save you thousands of pounds
For professional use, the Canon EOS 1100D and Nikon D3100 offer virtually the same size sensors with fairly similar resolution to each of the company’s current high-end APS-C counterparts, the EOS 7D and D7000 respectively. Spending a little extra on better quality optics to go with the body makes a huge difference and gives pleasing image quality. Still-life, macro, portraiture and documentary photographers will be happy pairing one of these cameras with a dedicated lens, such as Canon’s 50mm f/1.2 or Nikon’s 50mm f/1.4.
The core of these cameras – the imaging sensor – virtually matches higher specified models. Therefore, if image quality is your primary concern and you do not often shoot high-speed action scenes, you may do just as well to buy the 1100D or D3100. With the extra money saved, the best choice is to buy a couple of good lenses to use with either of these cameras.
Nikon’s D3100 boasts the more impressive specification of the two models here, featuring 1080p video with continuous contrast AF, a higher resolution at 14.2 million pixels and a smaller body with a larger screen. Furthermore, it looks sleeker and feels more solid than the Canon EOS 1100D.
While many of the specifications favour the Nikon D3100, the decision is not quite as simple. Canon’s EOS 1100D sports many additional features, including exposure bracketing, depth of field preview, a built-in motor for full compatibility with all Canon’s AF lenses, and it is bundled with the ever-impressive Digital Photo Professional raw editing and conversion software. There is an extra outlay of around £130 for Nikon’s Capture NX2 software raw editing software. If it is a matter of cost, the raw software and lens compatibility perhaps makes the 1100D a better option in the long run.
In terms of which camera excels where, the D3100 is a better option for those new to photography and offers a great feel for the DLSR system. For those already familiar with more highly specified models, the 1100D provides a few features that are lacking in the D3100. If you can pair the 1100D with a good lens, get over the rather cheapish feel of the camera and appreciate it simply for achieving good-quality images for less cost, then it is a great option.