Does D5100 really make a difference over D3100?

Started Dec 7, 2011 | Discussions
sandy
Regular MemberPosts: 140
Like?
Does D5100 really make a difference over D3100?
Dec 7, 2011

I'm upgrading from a P&S to a DSLR & have moderate skill levels in photographing & editing. I have decided to choose between Nikon D3100 & D5100.

Want to know if D5100 would make some real difference over D3100 in practical terms - I.e., in terms of picture quality. The better zoom on LCD view finder is supposed to help manual focusing better. Is it true? And is the video quality much better? Any other features that may matter to decide which way to go?

D5100 costs about $200 more than D3100. Thinking whether it is worth going for it.

Any suggestions please?

Nikon D3100 Nikon D5100
If you believe there are incorrect tags, please send us this post using our feedback form.
Frida
Regular MemberPosts: 259
Like?
Re: Does D5100 really make a difference over D3100?
In reply to sandy, Dec 7, 2011

sandy wrote:

Want to know if D5100 would make some real difference over D3100 in practical terms - I.e., in terms of picture quality.

Nope. For that matter, there's a negligible difference between either camera and a D40 (for example) in terms of picture quality.

The better zoom on LCD view finder is supposed to help manual focusing better. Is it true?

I don't know. Personally, when I focus manually, I use the rangefinder function, which is faster, more discreet, and available on both cameras.

And is the video quality much better? Any other features that may matter to decide which way to go?

You get 30fps in 1080 with the D5100, and 24fps with the D3100. I never use video, so that's a wash for me. Personally, the only reason I'd go for the D5100 over the D3100 would be because it reaches one stop farther in ISO. However, that still wasn't worth the price hike to me, so I went with the D3100.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
2005magnum
Veteran MemberPosts: 4,473
Like?
Re: Does D5100 really make a difference over D3100?
In reply to Frida, Dec 7, 2011

The difference in image quality is very small to the point that you will not see any real difference on your screen or in print. Obsessive/Compulsive Pixel Peepers will tell you there is a difference. I did upgrade to the D5100 because I wanted the LCD (much higher resolution and articulated) for interior shots and the occasional get down in the dirt flower shot or the above the crowd shot. Also, the D5100 has a much more in depth menu with the ability to make a few more subtle changes in the camera. You cannot go wrong with either camera.
--
http://digitalphotonut.zenfolio.com/

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
blue_cheese
Senior MemberPosts: 1,404
Like?
Re: Does D5100 really make a difference over D3100?
In reply to sandy, Dec 7, 2011

I have a D3100 and looked into upgrading to a D5100 when it came out. In terms of picture quality there is little practical difference, and even less noticeable difference.

You will have between a stop or two of more usable DR if you want to postprocess due to the better sensor on the D5100, but again it is not a make it or break it difference. That extra stop or two is full of enogh noise that you may want to keep the shadows right where they belong... the blacks.

In general IMO for the small price differrence if buying new , you get more value with the D5100. If I was in your situation (ie the D5100 was available when I got my camera) I would have bought it, but I do not consider it an upgrade.

Along with the slightly better sensor, there are a number of body features that all combined justify what is fairly small difference IMO.

  • The higher resolution articulating screen is a good "nice to have" feature. In general you will find the LCD less improtant than you think. "Live view" is a fairly broken in terms of you actually seeng what you will get when comparing to a P&S. However you need to use the LCD when shooting videos, and the better LCD on the D5100 helps for that as well as setting up awkward held shots.

  • Exposure bracketing may or may not be important to you

  • A few more menu options for setting up the shot, ie the AF release mode (shutter vs focus lock), the D3100 does not have that and you will have a hard time getting it to fire unless it is either focused or you shut off the AF.

  • some extra buttons.

  • some extra connectors (external mike, etc...)

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Reilly Diefenbach
Senior MemberPosts: 8,038Gear list
Like?
Re: Does D5100 really make a difference over D3100?
In reply to sandy, Dec 7, 2011

Recommend the D5100. It's the most picture quality for the money you can get. If you put a 35 or 50mm on it, it will blow you away!

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
tyb
tyb
Senior MemberPosts: 2,620Gear list
Like?
Re: Does D5100 really make a difference over D3100?
In reply to sandy, Dec 7, 2011

Better sensor probably one stop low light performance ( priceless if you shoot in low light)

Nice articulated screen ( Priceless if you shoot above your head )

Better video
Faster frame rate
A few more pixels.

 tyb's gear list:tyb's gear list
Nikon D3S Nikon 1 J1 Nikon D4 Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR +13 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
kgbruce01
Senior MemberPosts: 1,245
Like?
d3100 vs d5100 - overlooking the obvious...
In reply to sandy, Dec 7, 2011

... and that is consumerism. If you choose the d3100, you will always wonder what the d5100 would have been like. You may even blame bad pictures on it. Save the hassle, spend a little more now, and be satisfied.

A good photographer that has solid skills and experience can make great pictures with either. Good luck!

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
ShirleyGS
Contributing MemberPosts: 527Gear list
Like?
Re: d3100 vs d5100 - overlooking the obvious...
In reply to kgbruce01, Dec 7, 2011

Sandy, I bought the D3100 last January and sold it in June. Not that there was anything wrong with it. After reading about the D5100 I decided to buy it instead. The lcd has much better resolution, and has bracketing, articulating screen, a better sensor (like the D7000); and the D5100 has 16 mp instead of 14mp in the D3100 (however, this was not of primary concern). I am glad I bought the D5100.

Whatever you buy, the D3100 or the D5100 you will be getting a good camera. This my first experience with DSLRs.
Shirley
--
Fujifilm F30 Canon G10 Nikon D40 Nikon D5100

 ShirleyGS's gear list:ShirleyGS's gear list
Nikon D5100 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
GlennW
Senior MemberPosts: 1,298Gear list
Like?
Re: Does D5100 really make a difference over D3100?
In reply to sandy, Dec 8, 2011

The main question is how much difference $200 makes in your wallet? D3100 is fine for a new DSLR shooter. D5100 is a little bit better. Depends on how & how often you use it. There are some features where the D5100 is a step better than the D3100.

Both start with the same 18-55 VR kit lens. For $199 you can add a 35 1.8G lens. For $219 you can have a 50 1.8G lens. For $279 you can have a 40 2.8G macro lens. Good glass for a low price so you can go out & have fun making pictures. You may start with the auto settings & scene modes before moving on to other settings as you learn to use the camera for different subjects. A lot depends on what kind of shooting you like to do.

 GlennW's gear list:GlennW's gear list
Nikon D5100 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G ED VR +4 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
countrybutterfly
Regular MemberPosts: 485
Like?
Re: Does D5100 really make a difference over D3100?
In reply to Frida, Dec 8, 2011

Frida wrote:

sandy wrote:

Want to know if D5100 would make some real difference over D3100 in practical terms - I.e., in terms of picture quality.

Nope. For that matter, there's a negligible difference between either camera and a D40 (for example) in terms of picture quality.

The better zoom on LCD view finder is supposed to help manual focusing better. Is it true?

I don't know. Personally, when I focus manually, I use the rangefinder function, which is faster, more discreet, and available on both cameras.

And is the video quality much better? Any other features that may matter to decide which way to go?

You get 30fps in 1080 with the D5100, and 24fps with the D3100. I never use video, so that's a wash for me. Personally, the only reason I'd go for the D5100 over the D3100 would be because it reaches one stop farther in ISO. However, that still wasn't worth the price hike to me, so I went with the D3100.

I would have to disagree. I bought a D3100 as my first DSLR. Then the D5100 came out and HHGREG had it on sale for $719. I put my D3100 on ebay and bought the D5100. All in All only paid about $150 to upgrade. Very happy I did. The noise on the D5100 is finer, smaller grain, just looks better period. The Dynamic range is better, slightly less blown highlights and way better shadow detail. The 14-bit raw and better color depth make a difference too. The LCD is so much clearer. And articulates. It takes pictures slightly faster. More megapixels and detail. Bracketing and built in HDR. And you can see the photos just look better. Is it night and day, no. Is it noticeable?? YES. Especially at High Iso. And that doesn't include the improvements on video which are huge..

On the video side on the D3100 if you panned at all the screen had severe jelo effect. Which meant all you could record was a moving picture. On the D5100 theres barely any jelo effect. Also you can do more FPS& all kinds on effects like selective color. I can tell you the effects arent much on photos but on video its huge because if you wanted to add the effects later it takes forever to render the changes.

For $200 EASILY get the D5100 you wont regret it. No brainer.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
NoFunBen
Contributing MemberPosts: 579
Like?
better lenses make a difference +1
In reply to GlennW, Dec 8, 2011

look at more lenses.
the 3 i would suggest first

GlennW wrote:

Both start with the same 18-55 VR kit lens. For $199 you can add a 35 1.8G lens. For $219 you can have a 50 1.8G lens. For $279 you can have a 40 2.8G macro lens. Good glass for a low price so you can go out & have fun making pictures. You may start with the auto settings & scene modes before moving on to other settings as you learn to use the camera for different subjects. A lot depends on what kind of shooting you like to do.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
jquagga
Contributing MemberPosts: 595
Like?
Re: d3100 vs d5100 - overlooking the obvious...
In reply to kgbruce01, Dec 8, 2011

I don't know; I think that sort of falls down at some point. You'll always be wanting something the "next model up has". I went with the D5100 over the D3100 as I like playing with HDR so bracketing makes that easier. I also believe it has a better sensor than the D3100. However now I wish I had FP sync, the ability to enter lens data, a commander module in body, etc. That would require the D7000 and the next model up. That's endless.

I love my D5100 and certainly recommend it. I'm sure a D3100 is a fine camera as well and $200 would cover some accessories. You could get the 35mm f/1.8 lens or pick up a flash (well not a SB-700 or something but a SB-400 or 3rd party flash) with that money.

They'll always be something better and you may want it. But the entry level is a very sensible place to start.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
eddyshoots
Senior MemberPosts: 2,174
Like?
Re: Does D5100 really make a difference over D3100?
In reply to sandy, Dec 8, 2011

sandy wrote:

I'm upgrading from a P&S to a DSLR & have moderate skill levels in photographing & editing. I have decided to choose between Nikon D3100 & D5100.

Why? Chances are you are not yet knowledgeable enough to narrow the choices down to just the two which is reaffirmed by the fact that you are here looking for suggestions. Depending on what you intend to use this camera for and what your expectations are, quite possibly neither camera is the best choice for you.

Want to know if D5100 would make some real difference over D3100 in practical terms - I.e., in terms of picture quality.

While the D5100 will score slightly better on many fronts, you will probably not notice any difference between the cameras image wise. You will notice a difference between any of the modern DSLRs and your point and shoots.

The better zoom on LCD view finder is supposed to help manual focusing better. Is it true?

The better LCDs on some cameras can be nice but I wouldn't go out of my way to get one. I've shot with cameras with good LCDs and crappy little ones and to be honest, it doesn't much affect the experience or the results.

As for live view manual focus, it can be handy for static scenes when you have lots of time to get perfect focus. I would be more excited about the articulated screen than more resolution for shooting things like waterfalls where the camera might be set up at an awkward angle.

And is the video quality much better? Any other features that may matter to decide which way to go?

I have zero interest in video so I'll leave the answer here to others.

D5100 costs about $200 more than D3100. Thinking whether it is worth going for it.

Again, it depends on what you want to do with the camera, what kind of budget you have for this purchase. There are many factors that will determine the best camera for you, none of which have been addressed here in this thread.

If you are on a super tight budget, starving student status. Then your best bet would be some used camera like a D40 or D50 which you can pick up on craigslist for as little as $175. These cameras will take great images (better than your point and shoot), they only give up a bit of high ISO to the newest cameras. If cash poor, buy one of these used cameras and spend some money on a nicer lens (Tamron or Sigma 17-50 comes to mind).

If you are looking to get serious with your photography you must consider compatibility. The two cameras you mention do not have in-body focus motors or AI indexing...they don't play well with older lens designs. AF and AFD lenses won't focus which sucks as there are some terrific bargains out there with these types of lenses. AI lenses won't meter. The two cameras in question have limited flash functionality too. They can't use the Nikon flashes in high speed FP mode which is important for some creative shooting in bright ambient light. Nor can they command these same flashes remotely using the on board flash. When one buys a DSLR, it's part of a system...it doesn't make a lot of sense to eliminate much of that system before you even walk out of the store.

In some cases a non-Nikon choice might be the best. Canon has some terrific cameras and lenses, plus they don't have as many of the lens compatibility issues that Nikon does. Smaller photographic players such as Sony and Pentax (Ricoh) sometimes offer more camera for less money than the big guys. Pentax cameras have the best system compatibility for lenses. Sony has some innovative technologies that should be looked at. Plus, as you don't have a DSLR legacy maybe one of the mirrorless systems might fit your photographic intentions better than any DSLR...Sony NEX or Olympus PEN cameras can sometimes be had much less expensively than DSLRs.

Any suggestions please?

Don't be hasty with your decision. I'd recommend that you really try to figure out what you want to shoot. What photographically moves you? Is it wildlife? Street photography? Studio portraits? Just friends and family?

Are you obsessive? will you dig through manuals and websites until you understand everything you can about DSLR photography? Or are you just going to want to point the camera and get good images?

Once you answer these types of questions you will be able to narrow down your buying choices. Until then, you might as well just flip a coin, you are not going to get a lot of useful answers here.

Be wary of the poster that posts in a thread that they own camera ABC, it's great! you should get one too! This board is full of folks that seem to get off by convincing others to get the same gear that they own...I don't understand it but I do recognize it when I see it. Use caution when accepting free advice (mine included) it's often not worth what you pay for it.

-- hide signature --

eddyshoots

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Rajeshb
Contributing MemberPosts: 819
Like?
Re: Does D5100 really make a difference over D3100?
In reply to sandy, Dec 8, 2011

depends on your skill and your intended use.

I'm not bothered about video or any extra features. But after using D7000, I will pay more that $200 for that sensor. But as I told, it depends on your usage. I shoot landscape. that's why I love the extra DR, shadow lifting capability etc. Are you that demanding? and don't believe all these marginal image quality difference with D40. I used the same 6 MP sensor in D50 for 4 years and skipped 2 generations of sensor (10 MP CCD and 12 MP CMOS) and upgraded to D7000. the difference is huge in everything.

Rajesh
--
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rajesh_b/

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
I Beam
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,010Gear list
Like?
D5100 Advantage Not Mentioned Yet
In reply to Rajeshb, Dec 8, 2011

I replaced a stolen D40 with a D3100. After 6 months I exchanged the D3100 for a D5100.

One unexpected bonus of getting the D5100 is that the matrix metering is far better than the D3100. The D3100 tended to blow highlights and I was usually dialling some negative EV. The metering on the D5100 is more conservative and it can be relied on in most situations.

The LCD on the D3100 is pretty dire. I don't use live view so it didn't matter to me too much but it makes the camera a lot less enjoyable to use.

All round the D5100 is just a bit better than the D3100. I think for a beginner the better metering of the D5100 would make a big difference.

Regards

Paul

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
sandy
Regular MemberPosts: 140
Like?
Re: D5100 Advantage Not Mentioned Yet
In reply to I Beam, Dec 9, 2011

After considering with due diligence, I decided to go with D 3100 for the time being.

There is a package on Costco which includes the body with 18-55 Nikkor VR kit lens & 55-200mm Nikkor VR lens for $700 + Tax $63.

May be a 50mm 1.4 lens will be more useful but expensive; beyond my budget right now.

Thanks every body for your responses which seem to touch the whole spectrum.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
gatorowl
Contributing MemberPosts: 710Gear list
Like?
Re: Does D5100 really make a difference over D3100?
In reply to eddyshoots, Dec 9, 2011

I really enjoyed eddyshoots response. It kind of reminds me of a law professor who--by the time he finishes grilling a student--has the student questioning whether the world is round or flat.

The OP has limited her choices to either of Nikon's low-end models. Given the complexity of choices, there is nothing wrong with that. There is no perfect camera, and great pictures can be taken with any of the DSLRs from the leading camera companies, so why question this decision?

I'd argue that the OP is plenty knowledgeable to narrow down her choice. Both cameras are manufactured by a reputable company with a long history of excellence in photography, both cameras take excellent pictures, and they're in his/her price range. At this point, deciding whether the extra features in the D5100 are worth it is the logical next step. Works for me!

I suspect the OP may not know what she will shoot. Fortunately, the decision isn't equivalent to choosing the right/perfect college. She doesn't need to know that in advance. All entry-level cameras do about the same thing. If she develops a desire to do something that her camera is incapable of accomplishing (e.g., HDR), she can sell it down the road losing much less than what it would have cost to rent a camera for that period. In the meantime, she would have learned a lot more about photography than she would have spending that time researching which camera is the "best".

So, with the OP having picked Nikon and deciding on one of two cameras, my advice is to pick the D5100 if your budget is big enough to purchase the camera and one or two primes. If not, get the D3100 and the primes others have recommended.

You really can't go wrong.

eddyshoots wrote:

sandy wrote:

I'm upgrading from a P&S to a DSLR & have moderate skill levels in photographing & editing. I have decided to choose between Nikon D3100 & D5100.

Why? Chances are you are not yet knowledgeable enough to narrow the choices down to just the two which is reaffirmed by the fact that you are here looking for suggestions. Depending on what you intend to use this camera for and what your expectations are, quite possibly neither camera is the best choice for you.

Want to know if D5100 would make some real difference over D3100 in practical terms - I.e., in terms of picture quality.

While the D5100 will score slightly better on many fronts, you will probably not notice any difference between the cameras image wise. You will notice a difference between any of the modern DSLRs and your point and shoots.

The better zoom on LCD view finder is supposed to help manual focusing better. Is it true?

The better LCDs on some cameras can be nice but I wouldn't go out of my way to get one. I've shot with cameras with good LCDs and crappy little ones and to be honest, it doesn't much affect the experience or the results.

As for live view manual focus, it can be handy for static scenes when you have lots of time to get perfect focus. I would be more excited about the articulated screen than more resolution for shooting things like waterfalls where the camera might be set up at an awkward angle.

And is the video quality much better? Any other features that may matter to decide which way to go?

I have zero interest in video so I'll leave the answer here to others.

D5100 costs about $200 more than D3100. Thinking whether it is worth going for it.

Again, it depends on what you want to do with the camera, what kind of budget you have for this purchase. There are many factors that will determine the best camera for you, none of which have been addressed here in this thread.

...

Any suggestions please?

Don't be hasty with your decision. I'd recommend that you really try to figure out what you want to shoot. What photographically moves you? Is it wildlife? Street photography? Studio portraits? Just friends and family?

Are you obsessive? will you dig through manuals and websites until you understand everything you can about DSLR photography? Or are you just going to want to point the camera and get good images?

Once you answer these types of questions you will be able to narrow down your buying choices. Until then, you might as well just flip a coin, you are not going to get a lot of useful answers here.

Be wary of the poster that posts in a thread that they own camera ABC, it's great! you should get one too! This board is full of folks that seem to get off by convincing others to get the same gear that they own...I don't understand it but I do recognize it when I see it. Use caution when accepting free advice (mine included) it's often not worth what you pay for it.

-- hide signature --

eddyshoots

 gatorowl's gear list:gatorowl's gear list
Nikon D800E Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EOS 100D Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM +13 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads