What are the advantages of moving from a Canon 550D(Rebel T2i) to Nikon D5100 ?

I purchased a Canon 550D a month ago with a 18-55 kit lens, even before I could become a pro, I am getting an opportunity to replace it with a Nikon D5100 at no extra cost. Not to mention I wasn't very happy with the photographs output that I got but I wouldn't blame the camera as I haven't explored it in detail.

Please don't compare the Nikon vs Canon ideology, I am interested in comparing only these two models with the same kit lens.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate the wish to avoid a brand war, but the primary difference is the system. The particular differences between these models is basically "six of one, half dozen of the other". \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Jan 14, 2012 at 18:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ The answers to How much do lens lineups vary across platforms? and What are the differences between E-TTL, i-TTL, and P-TTL? may help you consider some of the important system differences. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Jan 14, 2012 at 21:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ If your photos suck, it's usually either you or the lens. But with a recent DSLR it's usually not the camera. I have a 550d too and it works fine - even with 18-55 IS kit lens. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 14, 2012 at 22:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThiefMaster - That is pretty harsh, especially after the poster even said they aren't happy BUT they wouldn't blame the camera because they are still starting out. I think the main idea here is that we all know both cameras are capable machines, but for someone new to photography does the D5100 have any advantages? \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Jan 14, 2012 at 22:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @dpollitt: It wasn't meant to be. I mainly wanted to express that switching bodies is usually not really improving things while improving the own knowledge or getting a better lens have a better chance to do so. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 14, 2012 at 23:50

3 Answers 3

  • D5100 was released in 2011, the 550D in 2010
  • D5100 will shoot 4 frames per second, the 55D 3.7 fps
  • D5100 has a slightly larger sensor (23.6 × 15.6 mm vs 22.3 x 14.9 mm)
  • D5100 has 16 MP sensor vs 18 MP for the Canon
  • D5100 does not have an AF motor, so will not use the full range of Nikon lenses (will only AF with the newer AF-S lenses)
  • D5100 has a reticulating LCD (flips out) which you might find useful, or not
  • D5100 has 11 AF points vs. 9 for the 550D
  • D5100 has in-camera HDR (a cool feature I didn't know existed, not sure how well it actually works!)
  • I have read (inconclusive) suggestions that the D5100 has less noise at high ISO (you would need to look on dpreview and similar sites and compare test shots yourself, it's somewhat subjective)

I'm not sure any of these are really vitally important. The D5100 is a newer camera, so you should expect it to be incrementally better than the older 550D.

I would listen to the advice in the comments that you are buying into a system/brand, at least once you buy another lens, a flash etc. Makes it expensive to ditch that to switch back to the other brand. So you are locking yourself in somewhat, so beware of going one way or the other based on a few differences between these two cameras.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The 550D does NOT have a built-in AF motor. No Canon DSLR does. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Jan 14, 2012 at 23:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ My mistake. Nikon has some lenses with built-in motors, the rest rely on AF motors in the body. You're right, Canon has the motors in all its lenses. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeW
    Jan 14, 2012 at 23:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Now that I read through the numbers, I think you are comparing with the 500D (T1i) not the 550D (T2i). It should be 18 MP, 3.7 FPS and Released in 2010. BTW, the D5100 HDR feature works reasonably, at least better than others I tried. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Jan 15, 2012 at 0:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ It appears you are right, will update! \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeW
    Jan 15, 2012 at 2:08

Did you try simply comparing them? As you can see, they are pretty much the same. So the main difference is the future lenses you can get for them and that that see this question.

The last issue is of ergonomics and that is a personal matter. For going from Canon to Nikon you have to re-learn things, even the zoom and EC buttons turn the opposite way. The D5100's interface is particularly minimal, so you have to use the menu more often.


You can just check the comparison on Sortable

I found this quite handy and no chance of personal bias.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Page not found. But why do you think there's no chance of personal bias? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Feb 15, 2013 at 13:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm i donno why the link messed up. i corrected that. \$\endgroup\$
    – kmonsoor
    Feb 16, 2013 at 9:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, but why do you think there's no chance of personal bias? That page is full of out of out-of-context quotes from reviews. It also declares an absolute "winner", presumably reflecting the personal biases of the site's programmer. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Feb 16, 2013 at 15:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ It also puts a lot of weight on the DxO Mark score, which is an entire discussion in and of itself! \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Feb 18, 2013 at 19:47

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