Updated (March, 2012): Compare the Nikon D3200 vs Sony Alpha DSLR-A550

Sony Alpha DSLR-A550

Tie
Sony Alpha DSLR-A550

56

vs

Nikon D3100

54

Nikon D3100

Tie
     

Reasons to buy the Sony Alpha DSLR-A550

High resolution screen
Screen resolution
921k dots
Image stabilization
Image stabilization
Sensor shift
Rapid fire
Continuous shooting
7 fps
Flip-out screen
Screen flips out
Great for movies
 

Reasons to buy the Nikon D3100

Movie format
Full HD
1080p @ 24fps
Movie continuous focus
Movie continuous focus
Makes it easy to get in-focus movies
Badge
Autofocuses shooting video
Contrast detection
Size
Really small
Prosumer size 124x96x73 mm
 

differences

Advantages of the Nikon D3100

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Movie format
Shoots movies
1080p @ 24fps vs None
Help
Shoots Full HD (1080p) video as well as still pictures
Autofocus
Faster autofocus
Phase detection vs Contrast detection
Help
Catch candid moments easily
Autofocus
Video autofocus
Contrast detection vs None
Help
Automatically focuses shooting video
Color depth
Better color depth
22.5 bits vs 21.9 bits
Help
Distinguishes 0.6 more bits of color
Low light performance
Lower noise at high ISO
919 ISO vs 807 ISO
Help
The D3100 has a slight edge (0.2 f-stops) in low noise, high ISO performance
Lens availability
Significantly more lenses available
205 lenses vs 123 lenses
Help
Around 70% more lenses available
Size
Much smaller
124x96x73 mm vs 137x104x84 mm
Help
Around 30% smaller
Light sensitivity (boost)
Has boost ISO
12,800 ISO vs None
Help
Allows taking photos in darker situations, often at the cost of additional noise in the image
Thickness
Much thinner
2.9" vs 3.3"
Help
More than 10% thinner
Overall image quality
Slightly better image quality
67.0 vs 66.0
Help
Almost the same
Lowest price
Significantly cheaper
$272.29 vs $600.00
Help
The best price we've seen is $328 cheaper (2.2x less)
Startup delay
Slightly less startup delay
400 ms vs 500 ms
Help
20% less delay when turning on
Weight
Lighter
505 g vs 632 g
Help
More than 20% lighter
Nikon D3100 Learn more about
the Nikon D3100

Advantages of the Sony DSLR-A550

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Screen resolution
Much higher resolution screen
921k dots vs 230k dots
Help
More than 4x higher resolution screen
Continuous shooting
Shoots much faster
7 fps vs 3 fps
Help
Around 2.5x faster continuous shooting
HDR
Has in-camera HDR
Yes vs No
Help
Combines multiple exposures to capture high dynamic range
Image stabilization
Image stabilization
Sensor shift vs None
Help
Helps eliminate blur caused by small camera movements
Dynamic range
More dynamic range
11.8 EV vs 11.3 EV
Help
0.5 f-stops more dynamic range
Screen flips out
Has a flip-out screen
Yes vs No
Help
Flip-out screens can be helpful when composing tricky shots or taking movies
Battery life
Significantly longer battery life
950 shots vs 550 shots
Help
More than 70% more shots per battery charge
Shutter lag
Significantly less shutter lag
184 ms vs 279 ms
Help
More than 30% less delay when taking photos
Storage slots
Has more storage slots
2 vs 1
Help
More slots allows storing more images without switching memory cards
Light sensitivity
Better maximum light sensitivity
12,800 ISO vs 3,200 ISO
Help
The DSLR-A550's maximum light sensitivity is 2 f-stops better
Sensor size
Larger sensor
APS-C 23.4x15.6mm vs APS-C 23.1x15.4mm
Help
Almost the same
Viewfinder size
Slightly larger viewfinder
0.52x vs 0.51x
Help
Almost the same
Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 Learn more about
the Sony DSLR-A550
vs

recommendations

Which camera do we recommend? Relative to the best recent entry-level DSLRs, and ignoring price

Nikon D3100 Nikon D3100 54
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      Color
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        56 Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 Sony Alpha DSLR-A550
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              similarities

              Compared to recent entry-level DSLRs

              Common Strengths
              Startup delay Minimal startup delay Help
              D3100:400 ms
              DSLR-A550:500 ms
              Common Weaknesses
              Fastest shutter speed Slow max shutter speed Help
              1/4000 of a second
              Light sensitivity (boost) One has boost ISO Help
              D3100:12,800 ISO
              DSLR-A550:None
              Viewfinder coverage Below average viewfinder coverage Help
              95%
              True resolution Capture low resolution images Help
              D3100:14.2 MP
              DSLR-A550:14 MP
              Viewfinder size Below average viewfinder size Help
              D3100:0.51x
              DSLR-A550:0.52x
              Weather sealed Neither is weather sealed Help
              Need to shelter it from weather
              Panorama Neither camera stitches together panoramas Help
              You could stitch photos in post
              Movie format One shoots movies Help
              D3100:1080p @ 24fps
              DSLR-A550:None
              Overall image quality Low image quality Help
              D3100:67.0
              DSLR-A550:66.0
              Dynamic range Poor dynamic range Help
              D3100:11.3 EV
              DSLR-A550:11.8 EV
              Low light performance Above average noise at high ISO Help
              D3100:919 ISO
              DSLR-A550:807 ISO

              dxomark

              DXOMark

              competitors

              Shared Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Nikon D3200

              Nikon D3200

              Entry-level DSLR

              $319 - $527 body only

              $389 - $447 with 18-55mm lens

              Low light performance Is slightly less noisy at high ISO
              Overall image quality Has significantly better image quality
              Thickness Is thicker
              Shutter lag Has significantly more shutter lag
              Canon EOS Rebel T5

              Canon EOS Rebel T5

              Entry-level DSLR

              $449 - $450 with 18-55mm lens

              True resolution Takes slightly higher resolution photos
              Lowest price Is slightly more expensive
              Thickness Is thicker
              Nikon D5100

              Nikon D5100

              Entry-level DSLR

              $360 - $378 body only

              $429 - $499 with 18-55mm lens

              Low light performance Is slightly less noisy at high ISO
              Overall image quality Has significantly better image quality
              Thickness Is thicker
              Size Is slightly larger
              Canon Rebel T3i

              Canon Rebel T3i

              Entry-level DSLR

              $499 - $550 body only

              $549 - $630 with 18-55mm lens

              True resolution Takes slightly higher resolution photos
              External mic jack Has an external mic jack
              Lowest price Is slightly more expensive
              Thickness Is thicker
              Nikon D3300

              Nikon D3300

              Entry-level DSLR

              $439 - $497 with 18-55mm lens

              Low light performance Is significantly less noisy at high ISO
              Overall image quality Has significantly better image quality
              Lowest price Is slightly more expensive
              Nikon D90

              Nikon D90

              Entry-level DSLR

              $790 body only

              $900 - $1,079 with 18-105mm lens

              Overall image quality Has slightly better image quality
              Dynamic range Has slightly wider dynamic range
              Lowest price Is significantly more expensive
              Thickness Is thicker
              Canon EOS Rebel T2i

              Canon Rebel T2i

              Entry-level DSLR

              $600 with 18-55mm lens

              True resolution Takes slightly higher resolution photos
              External mic jack Has an external mic jack
              Lowest price Is significantly more expensive
              Sensor size Has a slightly smaller sensor

              Nikon D3100 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Canon Rebel T3

              Canon Rebel T3

              Entry-level DSLR

              $389 - $418 body only

              $399 - $520 with 18-55mm lens

              Battery life Longer battery life
              Viewfinder size Larger viewfinder
              Movie format Lower resolution movies
              Screen size Significantly smaller screen

              Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Sony SLT-A55

              Sony SLT-A55

              Entry-level DSLR

              $530 body only

              Movie format Shoots movies
              Viewfinder size Much larger viewfinder
              Battery life Much shorter battery life
              Viewfinder Has a digital viewfinder
              Sony Alpha DSLR-A580

              Sony Alpha DSLR-A580

              Entry-level DSLR

              Movie format Shoots movies
              Overall image quality Significantly better image quality
              Shutter lag Significantly more shutter lag
              Startup delay More startup delay
              Sony Alpha DSLR-A500

              Sony Alpha DSLR-A500

              Entry-level DSLR

              Autofocus Faster autofocus
              Battery life Slightly longer battery life
              Screen resolution Much lower resolution screen
              Continuous shooting Shoots significantly slower

              appearance

              Nikon D3100 Sony Alpha DSLR-A550
              Nikon D3100 Sony Alpha DSLR-A550
              Nikon D3100 Sony Alpha DSLR-A550

              discussion

              Nikon D3100
              D3100
              Nikon

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              Sony Alpha DSLR-A550
              Alpha DSLR-A550
              Sony

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