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  1. #1
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    Nikon D3100 or D5100?

    I've decided to buy a DSLR, a Nikon. Either the D3100 or D5100, I'm leaning more toward the D5100. I know they are both considered entry level cameras, I like the D5100 I can grow more with, I don't want something that will be too difficult to use. So I haven't exactly made up my mind on which one. I've been looking on Ebay and some sites like Cameta Camera. Any Nikon users out there that can offer some advice? Thank you

  2. #2
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    Like you said they are both entry level cameras. I own neither, but I have used a D3100 (teaching a friend how to get into photography) and you can't go wrong with it or the 5100 as far as image quality goes. Looking at the specs the D5100 is faster (4 fps vs 3 fps), goes higher in ISO (though you'll probably never go that high up) and has a few more video modes. Not a big deal overall.

    Both cameras are small so that's going to be nice on a ride. The main thing about entry level cameras is that you'll have to use the menus more to change settings. I started with a Nikon D50 and after 2 or so years what drove me towards getting something more "pro" was that you have more buttons on the body and therefor can be faster.

  3. #3
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    Are you looking to get the "older" model to save money vs the D3200 or D5200?

    Either way, I would say get the most you can for your budget level, since it's something you'll have for a while. Nikon has also released the D7100, so you might be able to get into a D7000 if you find the right seller.
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  4. #4
    saddlemeat
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    The D5100 has a swing out rotating lcd screen, nice for video and increased shooting angles. Limited to AF-S lenses, unlike the D7000.
    A Useful Bear is a handy thing.

  5. #5
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    Go D5100! The D3100 has the auto focus motor in lens limiting the lenses you can use to 3.

    The D5100 has the auto focus motor in the body so lens options are limitless.

  6. #6
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    The 5100 is a great camera. Just bought one for my wife and I have played with it a bit. It can do anything you need until you need a full frame camera.

  7. #7
    saddlemeat
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    According to Nikon the D5100 (also D5000, D5200) uses only AF-S lenses.
    A Useful Bear is a handy thing.

  8. #8
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    Re: Nikon D3100 or D5100?

    Pretty sure you can use af-s and af-i if you want auto focus and about any other lens if want manual focus.

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  9. #9
    Clyde on a mission!
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrwplsn View Post
    Go D5100! The D3100 has the auto focus motor in lens limiting the lenses you can use to 3.

    The D5100 has the auto focus motor in the body so lens options are limitless.
    More like 300 to be honest.

    List of Nikon F-mount lenses with integrated autofocus motors - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia has a list of roughly 200 different lenses that all work with the D3100 and has autofocus.

    On top of that you can use every other F-mount lens too, you just have to focus manually.

    And while we are at it, the D5100 doesn't have a build in focus motor so it's "limited" to exactly the same number of lenses the D3100 is.

    As for whether to get the D3100 or the D5100 it won't really matter on the pictures you're able to take. The D5100 has slightly better stats but the difference is small and won't make a difference. The advantages of the D5100 is that it has a flip out screen (if you like that sort of stuff), a microphone input for better sound quality on videos and the ability to do "frame shots" if you want to do HDR shots. If any of that is important to you, get the D5100.

    As for image quality it depends much more on the lens you attach and your skills as a photographer. If you take crappy pictures with the D3100 you're taking crappy pictures with the D5100 too. It's like cooking with a wooden spoon rather than a plastic one, it won't matter which you use, it's all up to the choice of ingredients and the skill of the cook, rather than the equipment.

    Focus on what lenses to get and pick the camera you can get the best deal on unless you specifically know that you need the flip out screen, external mic or the ability to do HDR shots. Then put all your effort into learning how to photograph, no picture ever gets better than the skill of the person operating the camera.

    On a local forum for photographers they have a sub section for pictures taken with cell phones. The guys there take some amazing photos with their crappy cell phone cameras, proving that it's all about skill, not equipment. Meanwhile I still take boring, unimaginative pictures with my DSLR and quality lens..

  10. #10
    saddlemeat
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    Sandrenseren- Well said! If you have an eye the camera is secondary, as we see all the time in this forum.
    A Useful Bear is a handy thing.

  11. #11
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    The difference between the two is fairly negligible. If you have a bit more money, then consider investing in a D7100. It has a faster frame rate and great high-iso performance which will help you stop the action at the peak moment. Also, the controls are layed out a bit more professionally which may make it better to upgrade from in the future. Enjoy whatever you end up with though, and a D5100 is a sweet camera, as is the 3100!
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  12. #12
    saddlemeat
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    The D5100 will be plenty to start with. I really liked the D5000 for the swing out screen, it makes low or high camera angles easy and quick. I have to replace it now and decided to go full format this time, mostly for better wide lens campatibility. You can get a refurb 5100 very reasonably and the kit lens will be fine to start with.
    A Useful Bear is a handy thing.

  13. #13
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    if you can wait a bit longer, wait for the nikon D5300 which will be hitting the states soon. it is not available here just yet, but i work for a company that creates 3D mapping rigs (similar but better than what you see on the google streetview cars) and we modify D5100's for use on our rigs. we ust got our hands on a 5300 and its a definite improvement in terms of useability in my opinion. the 5300 is pretty much the same camera with a better interface. good luck.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by LONO100 View Post
    if you can wait a bit longer, wait for the nikon D5300 which will be hitting the states soon. it is not available here just yet, but i work for a company that creates 3D mapping rigs (similar but better than what you see on the google streetview cars) and we modify D5100's for use on our rigs. we ust got our hands on a 5300 and its a definite improvement in terms of useability in my opinion. the 5300 is pretty much the same camera with a better interface. good luck.
    D5200, sorry for the typo!

  15. #15
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    Correct, D5100 does not have an internal focusing motor. The D5100 sensor is better than the D3100, it's the same sensor used on the D7000 body. So it's ISO capabilities are decent. You can hit 1600 ISO till you start to notice noise in the image.

    HOWEVER, the D3100 is an excellent entry level camera body, it's firmware is solid and its guide mode really helps when trying to understand different settings. And as mentioned before, it's a light small compact DSLR. I currently own a D600, however I still own the D3100 to take with me on rides and will install a decent fast f/2.8 macro lens along with a speed light.

    The price of a D3100 new today is awesome. although you can purchase a D5100 for an excellent price as well considering the release of the 5200.

  16. #16
    saddlemeat
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    This is a killer deal from a reputable dealer for anyone thinking about a d5100. Lot of bang for the buck...

    Used Nikon D5100 Digital SLR Camera With 18-55mm VR 25478B B&H
    A Useful Bear is a handy thing.

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