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Nikon D3100 vs D90 Comparison

Storage & Battery

Nikon D3100

Nikon D3100

Nikon D90

Nikon D90
Nikon D3100
Nikon D90
Refers to the year this camera was officially made available for sale.
Announcement Date
Refers to the date the manufacturer publicly announced the upcoming release and general specs of this camera.
October 01, 2010
August 27, 2008
Camera Type
Camera Size
Camera Weight

The Nikon D90 edges out the Nikon D3100 with a score of 44/100 compared to 41/100. Both cameras are DSLRs, announced in 2008 and 2010, respectively. They share similar dimensions, with the D3100 measuring 124 x 96 x 75mm and weighing 505g, while the D90 is slightly larger at 132 x 103 x 77mm and heavier at 703g.

The D90’s higher score reveals its superiority in certain aspects. It was initially more expensive, launching at $1235 compared to the D3100’s $699. This price difference suggests the D90 offers more advanced features or better performance.

However, the D3100 has its advantages as well. It is smaller and lighter than the D90, making it more convenient for travel or extended use. Furthermore, its later release date implies it may have some updated technology compared to the D90.

Taking these factors into account, the Nikon D90’s higher score indicates it is a better camera in some aspects, while the Nikon D3100 offers advantages in size and weight for those prioritizing portability.

Nikon D3100 vs D90 Overview and Optics

The Nikon D90 wins in the optics comparison with a score of 46/100, while the Nikon D3100 scores 41/100. Both cameras share some common specifications, such as the CMOS sensor type, APS-C sensor size, Nikon F DX lens mount, and the lack of image stabilization. However, there are key differences between them that contribute to the D90’s higher score.

The Nikon D90 has a shooting speed of 4.5 frames per second, which is faster than the D3100’s 3 frames per second. This allows the D90 to capture fast-moving subjects more efficiently, making it a better choice for action and sports photography. Moreover, the D90 has a higher DXOMARK score for its sensor at 73, compared to the D3100’s score of 67. This means that the D90’s sensor provides better overall image quality, including better dynamic range, color depth, and low-light performance.

On the other hand, the Nikon D3100 has a higher megapixel count at 14.8, compared to the D90’s 12.3 megapixels. This allows the D3100 to capture more detailed images, which can be advantageous for large prints and cropping. Additionally, the D3100 features a newer Expeed 2 processor, which provides faster image processing and better noise reduction compared to the D90’s Expeed processor.

Taking these factors into account, the Nikon D90 is the better camera in terms of optics due to its faster shooting speed and superior sensor performance. However, the Nikon D3100 still offers advantages in terms of megapixel count and processing power, making it a viable option for certain photographers. Ultimately, the choice between these two cameras depends on the specific needs and priorities of the user.

The higher the number of megapixels, the more detail the cameras sensor can capture.
14.8 MP
12.3 MP
Image Resolution
Image resolution is measured in pixels and megapixels, width by height. The higher the number, the higher its resolution.
4608 x 3072 px
4288 x 2848 px
Sensor Type
The camera sensor captures light and records the image. Sensors vary in physical size, the number of pixels, and quality.
Sensor Size
The sensor size contributes to the overall quality as well as the dynamic and tonal range a camera can capture. As a rule of thumb, the more surface there is to read the light, the more information it will capture.
15.4 x 23.1 mm
15.8 x 23.6 mm
Sensor Format
Refers to the most commonly used sensor sizes.
Frame Rate
The number of sequential frames per second the camera can write to the memory card when shooting in burst or continuous mode.
3 fps
4.5 fps
Lens Mount
The lens mount will tell you what type of lens range you can fit onto the camera body. Often the same camera company will have different lens ranges for different cameras.
Nikon F DX
Nikon F DX
Image Processor
The image processor in the camera converts the information collected on the sensor for digital storage on the memory card.
Expeed 2
Aspect Ratio
The aspect ratio refers to the proportional difference between width and height. The most popular aspect ratios are 3:2 and 4:3.
Minimum ISO (Native)
Refers to the lowest native (or 'base') ISO setting. Lower ISO are less sensitive to light but make a cleaner image.
Maximum ISO (Native)
Refers to the highest native (or 'base') ISO setting. Higher ISO is necessary for low-light situations or night photography, but higher ISOs often introduce grain or noise.
Minimum ISO (Expanded)
Expanded (or extended) ISO is a digitally enhanced feature available on some cameras. It allows you to push beyond the native ISO range if necessary.
Maximum ISO (Expanded)
Expanded (or extended) ISO is a digitally enhanced feature available on some cameras. It allows you to push beyond the native ISO range if necessary.
Minimum Shutter Speed
The minimum shutter speed will tell you the longest exposure your camera can take without using an external accessory.
30 s
30 s
Maximum Shutter Speed
The maximum shutter speed tells you the length inside 1 second the camera will capture. These can sometimes be extended with accessories such as extra external batteries.
1/ 4000 s
1/ 4000 s
Autofocus Points
Autofocus points show where the camera is focusing graphically as squares or brackets in Live View or on an electronic viewfinder. These points are also used for light meter readings.
In-body Stabilization
In-body Stabilization means the camera has a certain technology embedded that counteracts camera shake.
Viewfinder Type
The viewfinder type is either electronic or optical. Electronic viewfinders will have a small screen in the viewfinder. Optical viewfinders will use prisms and mirrors to look through the lens.
Optical (pentamirror)
Optical (pentaprism)

Nikon D3100 vs D90 Video Performance

In comparing the Nikon D3100 and Nikon D90, we must address their video capabilities. However, it is important to note that both cameras lack video functionality. Therefore, there is no difference between the two in terms of video capabilities. The absence of video functionality does not make one camera better than the other, as their scores reflect their overall performance, not just their video capabilities.

Indicates if this camera is capable of recording video.
Time-Lapse Built In
A built in time-lapse mode will allow continuous shooting throughout a prolonged period of time to be compressed into a sped up video.

Nikon D3100 vs D90 Features and Benefits

The Nikon D90 wins in the features category with a score of 41/100, compared to the Nikon D3100’s score of 36/100. Both cameras share several specifications, such as a 3-inch screen size, lack of touchscreen, flip screen, GPS, WIFI, and Bluetooth.

The Nikon D90 is superior to the D3100 in terms of screen resolution, boasting 920,000 dots compared to the D3100’s 230,000 dots. This higher resolution provides clearer and sharper images on the camera’s screen, allowing photographers to better review their shots and make necessary adjustments.

Though the Nikon D3100 has a lower feature score, it does not possess any specific advantages over the D90 in this comparison. Both cameras lack modern features such as touchscreens, flip screens, GPS, WIFI, and Bluetooth, which are now common in newer camera models. The D3100’s lower score is due to its inferior screen resolution.

Considering the features of both cameras, the Nikon D90 is the better choice for photographers who prioritize screen resolution and image clarity. The D3100, however, does not offer any unique advantages in this comparison. It is essential for potential buyers to consider other aspects such as general specifications, optics, and video capabilities when making a decision between these two cameras. Ultimately, the Nikon D90’s higher feature score reflects its superiority in terms of screen resolution, making it the preferable choice in this category.

Built-in Flash
A built-in flash will often be positioned right above the lens. This will automatically pop up when you activate it.
External Flash
External flashes are often connected through a hot shoe at the top of a camera, or a cable at the side of the camera.
GPS features in a camera will include location metadata to each of your photographs.
Weather Sealing
Weather sealing capabilities will give you more confidence when shooting in unfavourable conditions.
Screen Type
Touch Screen
Touchscreen allows you to change camera settings and access menus with a swipe of your finger, instead of using buttons.
Screen Size
Screen Resolution
Screen dots indicate the resolution of the LCD screen by including each sub pixel.
230,000 dots
920,000 dots
Flip Screen
A flip screen (or articulating screen) is a second screen which can flip out from the side or top of the camera. This rotating screen allows you more freedom to take photos at different angles.
Live View
Live View feature allows you to see a continuous live video of what is being seen through your lens.
Bluetooth capabilities allow you wireless control of your camera with other external devices.

Nikon D3100 vs D90 Storage and Battery

The Nikon D3100 outperforms the Nikon D90 in storage and battery with a score of 53/100 compared to the D90’s 37/100. Both cameras have one memory card slot and do not support USB charging. They also share compatibility with SD and SDHC memory cards.

The D3100 surpasses the D90 in two key aspects: battery life and memory card compatibility. The D3100’s battery life of 4500 shots is significantly longer than the D90’s 850 shots, making it more convenient for extended use. Additionally, the D3100 is compatible with SDXC memory cards, providing users with more storage options compared to the D90, which only accepts SD and SDHC cards.

While the D90 falls short in these areas, it does share some common ground with the D3100 in terms of storage and battery specifications. However, the D3100’s superior battery life and expanded memory card compatibility make it a better choice for those prioritizing these features.

Storage and Battery
Storage and Battery
Memory Card
Dual Memory Card Slots
Battery Type
Battery Life
Approximately how long this cameras battery will last measured by how many photographs you will be able to take.
4,500 shots
850 shots
USB Charging
Sensor scores tested by DXOMARK
Overall Score
DXOMARK overall sensor score.
Portrait (Color Depth)
As described by DXOMARK 'The Portrait score in our camera sensor reviews defines color depth performance and its unit is a number of bits. A color depth of 22 bits is excellent; differences below 1 bit are barely noticeable.'
22.5 bits
22.7 bits
Landscape (Dynamic Range)
As described by DXOMARK 'The Landscape score in our camera sensor tests defines the maximum dynamic range of the camera sensor and its unit is an exposure value (EV). A value of 12 EV is excellent with differences below 0.5 EV usually not noticeable.'
11.3 EVs
12.5 EVs
Sports (Low-Light ISO)
Described by DXOMARK as 'The maximal value of ISO sensitivity needed to reach a given value of Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR). The greater the value, the better'

Nikon D3100 vs D90 – Our Verdict

Are you still undecided about which camera is right for you? Have a look at these popular comparisons that feature the Nikon D3100 or the Nikon D90:

User Scores
B&H photo video
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