Main Feature Differences Between The Nikon D3200 and D5100

Both the Nikon D3200 and the D5100 are DSLR cameras aimed at the novice to mid level user taking a significant step from entry level DLSR photography to the more advanced digital SLR world. If you have your heart set on buying a Nikon, whether it be because you have used other Nikon cameras or simply because of their reputation,  then it can be quite perplexing to make that final decision between the d3200 vs d5100, as there are quite a few camera that could suit your needs.

As already stated, the D3200 and D5100 are geared and equipped for the mid level DSLR user. But apart from the price difference there are some things that you should be aware of before making a purchase. The following table shows a comparison of the D3200 vs the D5100, and as we will discuss below, there are not many differences. 

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Nikon D3200 vs D5100 comparison table:

Nikon D3200
Nikon D5100
Resolution Megapixel 24.2 MP 16.2 MP
Weight 505 g 560 g
Screen Resolution 920,000 pixels 920,000 pixels
Highest ISO 6,400 6,400
Frames Per Second 4 fps 4 fps
RAW Image Size 20 MB 16 MB
JPED Fine Image Size 10 MB 6 MB

 

While the differences are subtle some of these are deciding factors for most people that want to buy or upgrade a DSLR. Ultimately you have to weigh it up against the price, and if you continue reading I will tell you how to make a decision that suits you.

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Nikon D3200 vs D5100 – Which One Should You Buy?

 

In the below blog posts I go into some detail why I went for the D3200 over the D5100. This is of course just my personal opinion, based on my circumstances, and there certainly are very good reasons to choose the D5100. But if you are interested in finding out more about the d3200 vs d5100, then keep on reading.

The main differences between the two DSLRs are listed below, but I would also like to share with you the opinion of someone else in this great youtube clip that gives a close up view of the two cameras.

 

She makes some very good points that all could very well persuade you to go for the D5100. Bottom line is that I don’t think you will be disappointed either way, they are both excellent cameras with all the features that you would need to take some truly great photos.

For me it ultimately came down to the sensor capacity being more of a deciding factor than the swivel display, since these were the only two major differences that influenced my current skills.

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What Might Influence Your Decision Between A Nikon D3200 And D5100

Most people look at the sensor resolution first, and it is an important factor. While the D3200 has a full 8 more Megapixels, you do need to keep in mind that this will increase the file size when shooting in RAW and fine JPG format quite a lot. This means that you may need larger memory cards and possibly more hard drive space on your computer; factor this in when choosing between the d3200 vs d5100.

Weight is also quite important, especially if you are used to light weight compact digital cameras or entry level DSLRs that are usually very light. Most people also use their cameras mainly on vacations when traveling light is often quite important, making the D3200 the better option.

The screen resolution on the two cameras is the same, which means that there has been a significant upgrade from the D3100 to the D3200.  But there is one very unique features on the D5100, which is its movable swivel display. This allows you to fold out the display and turn it almost any direction. One of my earlier compact digital cameras was a Nikon Coolpix 8700, which also had such a display, and I must say that it came in very handy in many situations, e.g. shooting over people or objects, or taking pictures at very low level to the ground.

The frames per second value on both cameras is the same at 4 fps, which is a pretty good feature for a reasonably priced camera. But keep in mind that depending on how fast your memory card is, this speed can quite considerably slow down once the in camera buffer has been exhausted and the camera has to wait until the file has been written to the memory card.

So you might think what is the point in comparing the d3200 vs d5100 when there really are very few differences, and you do have a point. However, the decision process can be even more difficult when there are few difference including the price.

 

What I bought and why I did so

After a lot of deliberation I decided that the difference in megapixels was a real factor for my usage, as I really want to be able to print out large canvases with, which is better achieved with 24.2 MP. The swivel screen did draw me to the Nikon D5100, which I had been used to with a Nikon Coolpix 8700.

Based on this I decided that it was worth the extra $50 to have a higher resolution and not have a swivel display. At the time that I bought the D3200 the price difference was about $50 and to this day I cannot say that I regret my decision. The higher resolution really comes to use for portraits I take of my kids and A3 size prints look fantastic.

Where Did I Buy The Camera

After shopping around a little bit on the Internet, I decided to go with Amazon. First of all they were among the cheapest, and at the time I think there was only about $10 to $15 between the cheapest ranking websites. My past experience with Amazon has always been good, with orders shipping fast and secure, and most importantly they have free shipping for orders over a certain, quite low, total value.

Nikon D3200 User Experience

As already mentioned I am a hobby photographer, so I didn’t even look at the more professional or semi-professional cameras that Nikon has to offer, for me it came down to the d3200 vs d5100. Some of the features that are available on more advanced Nikon cameras are extremely specific, and with my current ability and photographic know how I don’t think that any of those advanced features would be used.

I predominantly use my camera at weekends and when on vacation with my family. As I have two young children I do tend to take quite a lot of photos, especially portraits, and I have found the 4 frames per second more than enough to capture the often elicit and fast movements of babies and toddlers.

What I miss On The D3200

The only thing that I have come to miss on the Nikon D3200, which a lot of other cameras including the D5100 have, is exposure bracketing. What this feature does is take 3 images, with one additional image taken with a positive, and one with a negative exposure compensation value. The benefit of this is two fold. First, if you have situations where the lighting is a bit difficult to read, this increases your chances of getting a well exposed image. Secondly, High Dynamic Range (HDR) images have become quite popular and there are quite a few software products that allow you to combine several images with different exposure settings into one, thus giving you correctly exposed shadow and highlight areas.

The other thing that I have found a bit annoying is that when you record video with the camera, which you can do at HD resolution, the audio recording does pick up the noise that the attached lens makes when it is focusing. I have found this a bit distracting, but as I don’t record much video with my DSLR it is something that I can live with.

A friend of mine has a Nikon D3100 and I noticed that it has a very handy switch to change from single to continuous exposure drive mode just behind the shutter release button. It also has a really practical live view switch at the back of the camera, but these are just minor things.

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