FZ200 VS Nikon D5100

Started Nov 17, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Buzz Lightyear
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FZ200 VS Nikon D5100
Nov 17, 2012

I've had my FZ200 for 3 months now.  It's taken me a while to learn the best settings for consistent image quality, but I am often amazed at what great photos this camera takes -- in spite of what some people criticize as its "pin-head" sensor.  While it may outperform other cameras in its class (see DPReview's just posted review on the FZ200!), I also understand its limitations, especially with regard to high ISO, low-light situations when matched against something like a larger APS-C sensor type camera.  Wanting to enlarge my photographic options, I decided to buy a DSLR as a second "tool".  I recently picked up a used Nikon D5100 (with the 18-55mm kit lens) and have been using it this past week.  Now the D5100 is, according to reviews, supposed to be a very capable "consumer/enthusiast" DSLR camera.  It incorporates the same sensor as the Nikon pro-level D7000 -- which is somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 times larger than my FZ200 -- so I have been anxiously testing its capabilities to see how it compares to some of my best FZ200 photos.  I have not had the opportunity to use the Nikon in low-light/high ISO situations yet, so my comparisons so far just involve shots taken in good, outdoor light -- where the FZ200 performs best anyway.  That being a given -- I am still amazed how well the FZ200 images hold up against the mighty Nikon!  I am admittedly still learning how to use the Nikon, but I am posting below two representative shots of what I consider the best samples of both cameras:

FZ200

D5100

Now what is interesting, is that the FZ200 photo was actually a long exposure, taken in a low light condition - while the D5100 shot was taken obviously in full sunlight.  To me, the detail and fine resolution between the two images is equivalent.  Based on what I was expecting from a mid-size DSLR, I have already been surprised (perhaps even a bit disappointed) that the Nikon IQ isn't necesssarily better just because of its larger sensor.  I'm sure there are many more challenges I have yet to put the Nikon through to really test its full capabilities, but this past week has shown me what a wonderful camera I have in the FZ200.  While the FZ200 lacks some of the extended range of aperture and shutter features that come with the D5100, it is a much easier camera to set up and shoot.  The menus are much simpler to call up and navigate.  The D5100's video output is, however, a disappointment compared the the FZ200 -- and I'm not even referring to the FZ200's high speed feature.  I've not met a DSLR yet that can match the video capabilities of even a Sony or Panasonic bridge camera.

I am not saying that I am disappointed with my D5100.  I've already seen what a great camera it really is and I am looking forward to using more of its capabilities.  What this past week has shown me, however, is that I am fortunate to also own a Panasonic FZ200.  Now I really understand why DPReview has given it a "Gold" award!  I am a happy camper.   (But also a bit poorer...this photography bug can get expensive!).

 Buzz Lightyear's gear list:Buzz Lightyear's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Nikon D7100 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D +1 more
Nikon D5100 Nikon D7000 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200
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