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

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Nikon D3100

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Nikon D3100

Tie
     
 

Reasons to buy the Sony Alpha DSLR-A550

Screen resolution
High resolution screen
921k dots
Image stabilization
Image stabilization
Sensor shift
Live view
Has live view
Preview your photos
Continuous shooting
Rapid fire
7 fps
 

Reasons to buy the Nikon D3100

Movie format
Full HD
1080p @ 24fps
Live view
Has live view
Preview your photos
Startup delay
Almost no delay when powering up
400 ms startup delay
Movie continuous focus
Movie continuous focus
Makes it easy to get in-focus movies
 
Differences | Recommendations | Cast your vote | Similarities | Competitors | Appearance | Discussion

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
Color depth Better color depth 22.5 bits vs 21.9 bits
Help
Distinguishes 0.6 more bits of color
Autofocus Video autofocus Contrast detection vs None
Help
Automatically focuses shooting video
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
Size Much smaller 124x96x73 mm vs 137x104x84 mm
Help
Around 30% smaller
Lens availability Significantly more lenses available 205 lenses vs 123 lenses
Help
Around 70% more lenses available
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
Weight Lighter 505 g vs 632 g
Help
More than 20% lighter
Startup delay Slightly less startup delay 400 ms vs 500 ms
Help
20% less delay when turning on
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
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More than 4x higher resolution screen
Image stabilization Image stabilization Sensor shift vs None
Help
Helps eliminate blur caused by small camera movements
HDR Has in-camera HDR Yes vs No
Help
Combines multiple exposures to capture high dynamic range
Dynamic range More dynamic range 11.8 EV vs 11.3 EV
Help
0.5 f-stops more dynamic range
Continuous shooting Shoots significantly faster 7 fps vs 3 fps
Help
Around 2.5x faster continuous shooting
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 Much 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
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
Storage slots Has more storage slots 2 vs 1
Help
More slots allows storing more images without switching memory cards
Sensor size Larger sensor APS-C 23.4x15.6mm vs APS-C 23.1x15.4mm
Help
Almost the same
Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 Learn more about
the Sony DSLR-A550
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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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        55 Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 Sony Alpha DSLR-A550

        similarities

        Compared to recent entry-level DSLRs

        Common Strengths Common Weaknesses
        Startup delay Minimal startup delay Help
        D3100:400 ms
        DSLR-A550:500 ms
        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
        Autofocus Lacks video autofocus Help
        D3100:Contrast detection
        DSLR-A550:None
        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

        dxomark

        DXOMark

        competitors

        Shared Competitors

        Advantages

        Disadvantages

        Nikon D3200

        Nikon D3200

        Entry-level DSLR

        $329 - $567 body only

        $477 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
        Nikon D5100

        Nikon D5100

        Entry-level DSLR

        $352 - $415 body only

        $495 - $797 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 - $774 body only

        $200 - $729 with 18-55mm lens

        True resolution Takes slightly higher resolution photos
        External mic jack Has an external mic jack
        Thickness Is thicker
        Weight Is slightly heavier
        Nikon D90

        Nikon D90

        Entry-level DSLR

        $689 - $929 body only

        $850 - $940 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
        Nikon D5200

        Nikon D5200

        Entry-level DSLR

        $597 body only

        $697 with 18-55mm lens

        Low light performance Is significantly less noisy at high ISO
        Overall image quality Has much better image quality
        Lowest price Is significantly more expensive
        Thickness Is thicker
        Canon EOS Rebel T1i

        Canon Rebel T1i

        Entry-level DSLR

        $800 body only

        $756 with 18-55mm lens

        Size Is slightly smaller
        Thickness Is thinner
        Lowest price Is significantly more expensive
        Sensor size Has a slightly smaller sensor
        Sony Alpha ILC-3000

        Sony Alpha ILC-3000

        Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

        Low light performance Is slightly less noisy at high ISO
        Overall image quality Has significantly better image quality
        Sensor cleaning Lacks a self cleaning sensor
        Viewfinder Has a lower quality type of viewfinder

        Nikon D3100 Competitors

        Advantages

        Disadvantages

        Canon Rebel T3

        Canon Rebel T3

        Entry-level DSLR

        $290 - $370 body only

        $399 - $499 with 18-55mm lens

        Battery life Longer battery life
        Viewfinder size Larger viewfinder
        Movie format Lower resolution movies
        Screen size Significantly smaller screen
        Canon EOS Rebel T5

        Canon EOS Rebel T5

        Entry-level DSLR

        $599 - $849 body only

        $499 - $550 with 18-55mm lens

        Screen resolution Higher resolution screen
        True resolution Higher true resolution
        Low light performance More noise at high ISO
        Color depth Worse color depth
        Nikon D3300

        Nikon D3300

        Entry-level DSLR

        $597 with 18-55mm lens

        Low light performance Significantly lower noise at high ISO
        Overall image quality Significantly better image quality
        Startup delay Much more startup delay
        Lowest price Significantly more expensive

        Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 Competitors

        Advantages

        Disadvantages

        Sony Alpha DSLR-A580

        Sony Alpha DSLR-A580

        Entry-level DSLR

        $749 body only

        $849 with 18-55mm lens

        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-A700

        Sony Alpha DSLR-A700

        Entry-level DSLR

        Autofocus Faster autofocus
        Color depth Better color depth
        Live view No live view
        Low light performance More noise at high ISO
        Sony SLT-A55

        Sony SLT-A55

        Entry-level DSLR

        $699 body only

        $799 with 18-55mm lens

        Movie format Shoots movies
        Autofocus Video autofocus
        Battery life Much shorter battery life
        Viewfinder Has a digital viewfinder
        Sony Alpha DSLR-A350

        Sony Alpha DSLR-A350

        Entry-level DSLR

        Color depth Better color depth
        Size Much smaller
        Screen resolution Much lower resolution screen
        Screen size Significantly smaller screen

        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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