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Canon SL1 vs Nikon D3300

Adopting photography as a hobby is pretty expensive as most of the equipment costs a hefty amount of money and it will add up over time. So for starters, I would recommend getting an affordable camera that will not burn a hole in your pocket. While searching for cameras you will see that the newer models, even entry-level models, cost a small fortune, how to keep the costs low then you may ask.

Simply by buying a tried and tested camera that was released a while ago, some might think that older cameras simply don’t deliver enough image quality and performance, and they couldn’t be farther than the truth. We haven’t seen any large leap in the sensor performance in the DSLR market for a long time now and even some cameras from the mid-’00s era will deliver plenty of performance and adequate image quality.

However, you need to be a little careful when treading these waters, as some cameras can’t quite deliver. It is safe to say that the big name brands always have delivered amazing entry-level models throughout the years, especially Canon and Nikon. I have chosen two models from each that were released a few years ago but still bring a lot to the table for the entry-level and budget photographer, the Canon Rebel SL1 and the Nikon D3300.

The Canon SL1, officially known as the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 was released in March 2013, as the smallest digital Single reflex camera in the market. It still stays true to that claim, as there is no camera in the market smaller and lighter with an APS-C CMOS sensor, however, it is not just that as it boasts a good image quality and plenty of functionality in its amazingly affordable price.

On the other hand, the Nikon D3300 was released in January 2014, and it is marginally cheaper than the already affordable Canon SL1. It is also a pretty portable DSLR camera and features plenty of qualities in its small body, and as we will see it is a capable DSLR camera.

Without further ado, let’s check out what these cameras offer.

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Head To Head Comparison

Canon SL1

Canon has always managed to produce great cameras that are perfect for the entry-level market, complete with the price, functionalities, performance, and ease of use. It’s one of the best dslrs under $400, and it has a lot to offer.

The Canon SL1 is a great entry-level and affordable DSLR camera, that comes in a small form factor, the lightest and smallest in the market to be correct, and it is a pretty speedy shooter delivering everything that a beginner may want, especially for travelers.The Canon SL1 delivers plenty of performance, functionality, and on top of that, it is extremely fun to use. It comes with a good 18MP sensor, continuous shooting capabilities, a nice autofocus system and great video shooting capabilities in its ultra-portable body. On top of that, it is extremely affordable and it is a great stepping stone to the more advanced and expensive models.

As I mentioned earlier this DSLR camera is pretty small, as it measures 3.6×4.6×2.7-inches in total that is incredible and it weighs just 14-ounces complete with the battery and memory card, resulting in a perfect travel camera. In its small body, it has an optical viewfinder with 95% coverage and 0.87x magnification which is great, and it has the same lens compartment as other Canon models. However, the small body comes with a pretty shallow handgrip, which is not a pretty large problem since it is very light and you can get a secure grip easily.

The amount of controls in this tiny camera is astounding since you get the same amount of controls that are present in larger cameras, with a full range of dials and buttons. On its rear you will spot a 3-inch LCD touchscreen 1040k-dot panel, that is very sharp and colorful, however, it is a fixed one. With it, you can adjust the focus point and settings, plus on top of that, the live view mode was excellent.

The Canon SL1 has a good 9 point AF system that has a high-precision dual cross point in the center. The Hybrid CMOS AF II enhances the speeds of the autofocus and delivers great tracking performance with great precision. When it comes to performance it is still pretty fast, as it has just a 0.1-second shutter lag most of the time. It can shoot 4 frames per second in burst mode, and it doesn’t lose focus from the subject. It delivers a perfect performance with stills and doesn’t lack too far behind with moving the subject, and thanks to its phase-detect pixels it delivers a great performance in dimly lit rooms.

The Canon SL1 is equipped with an 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor and has an ISO range from 100-12,800 and is expandable up to 25,600. It delivers great performance in low ISO settings, but it starts falling behind higher you go into the ISO levels. Overall the image quality is pretty great and 18MP is plenty if you are not planning to print really large prints. It keeps the noise out of the image pretty well and it is very accurate generally.

Taking into consideration its Movie Servo AF feature, for recording videos, this camera delivers a great overall package.

Canon SL1 Sample Footage:


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Nikon D3300

Nikon has always put special attention to its entry-level cameras, and various researches have shown that most of the users will opt for the camera of the same brand after their first one, naturally if the experience was pleasant. The D3300 has been around for a very long time now, however, it is still one of the most popular and cameras in the market, for the right reasons too.

The Nikon D3300 delivers plenty of desirable qualities in the ultra-affordable package, it is cheaper than the aforementioned Canon model as well. It comes with a great CMOS DX sensor, great continuous shooting, excellent autofocus, ISO range, great display, simple controls, viewfinder, video shooting capabilities and many more, it is not surprising as to why this camera is really popular even today. Let’s take a closer look.

This is a true budget camera when you look at its price, however, it boasts a pretty sturdy build quality, mostly due to its one-piece polycarbonate construction, which makes it durable and lightweight. It is pretty compact as it measures just 4.9x3x3.9-inches in total and weighs just 15.2-ounces, not as light and small as the Canon SL1, but still pretty close. The handgrip on this camera is very good, as it is very deep and gives you a sense of security, and the leather finish with texture just ties things together for this great camera.

This DSLR camera sports some very easy to understand controls and dials, and you have to take just a small learning curve as an absolute beginner, but pretty fun overall. On the rear, you will find a 3.0-inch LCD that isn’t a touchscreen, unfortunately, but give a nice preview of your pictures as it is bright and colorful. The optical viewfinder is great as well as it delivers a 95% field of view and it is exceptionally clear and bright.

This camera comes with a nice autofocus system, with 11-point autofocus, from which one is cross-type, and they deliver an impressive performance. In addition to all this, it has an AF assist illuminator and a 3D tracking AF system, that gives it the edge over its competitors, on top of that it will teach a beginner a great deal about cameras in general. The performance was very speedy in good light conditions, as it tracked objects excellently, and in dim-lit rooms, it wasn’t very far behind.

This camera has a great sensor, to be honest, a 24.2MP CMOS DX sensor, that provides plenty of colors that pop and has an ISO range that spans from 100 to 12,800 and is expandable up to 25,600. It delivered great performance in high ISO levels, which was a little surprising, and there was just a little noise visible in the images.

It is pretty fast as well delivering 5 frames per second in burst shooting mode, and coupled with a great battery life of 700 shots, it is a dream come true for beginners.

Nikon D3300 Sample Footage:


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Canon SL1 vs Nikon D3300 Feature Comparison

  Canon SL1 Nikon D3300
Camera Type DSLR DSLR
Megapixels 18.0 24.2
ISO Range 100-12,800(25,600) 100-12,800(25,600)
Flip-Out Screen No No
Microphone Yes Yes
Viewfinder Yes Yes
Touchscreen Yes No
Video Recording Yes Yes

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It is not an easy answer to say which is the best, while both of them are pretty similar there are some differences that make one better than the other.

The Canon SL1 is the most lightweight and compact camera in the market, delivering amazing image quality, and a wide variety of controls that will teach you amazing things about photography and on top of that it has an excellent display with touch screen controls.

However, the Nikon D3300 comes with a larger sensor and pixel count resulting in more detail, and it lacks an anti-alias filter resulting in better photographs, and it is extremely easy to use. On top of all this, the Nikon D3300 is the cheapest of both, while still delivering the same, and in some aspects better performance.

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