NEX vs. D5100 vs. D3100

Started May 20, 2012 | Discussions
azteca
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NEX vs. D5100 vs. D3100
May 20, 2012

Hello All,

I am seeking advice on which camera to get that will help me learn about photography. I am torn between the NEX5n and the D3100 & D5100. Keep in mind that this would be my first DSLR. I guess it's safe to call the NEX5n a DSLR?

I like the fact that the NEX5n is compact and it would be easy to haul it around.

I like the D5100 and D3100 being I would be able to use these two lenses AF-S 35/1.8 and the AF-S 60/2.8 lenses. Yes, I am looking at economical but also considered very good lenses.

Let me know what you think.

Thanks.

SQLGuy
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Re: NEX vs. D5100 vs. D3100
In reply to azteca, May 20, 2012

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1042&message=40441367

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justmeMN
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Re: NEX vs. D5100 vs. D3100
In reply to azteca, May 20, 2012

With DSLRs, viewfinders are standard equipment. With the Sony NEX 5N, a viewfinder is an additional $350, a clip-on.

Users of Nikon (and Canon) DSLRs have more lenses to choose from than users of NEX cameras.

NEX have small bodies, but their lenses are still big, like a DSLR.

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kcamacho11
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Re: NEX vs. D5100 vs. D3100
In reply to SQLGuy, May 20, 2012

Quick question, why are you considering the D3100 when the new D3200 has been announced? The D3200 has 24MP compared to 14.2 MP from the D3100, better high ISO performance, and better resolution LCD screen.

Keep in mind that the 5N's sensor is the same as the D7000, which is superior to the D3100 and D3200 for high ISO capabilities, yet the D5100 shares the same sensor as the D7000 and 5N.

In the end, it all depends what you want and what your needs are.

The D3100/D3200/D5100 have way more variety of lens you can use on them, but the cameras are larger and weigh more.

The NEX-5N has nowhere near the amount of lens available as the Nikons, but it is smaller in size, lighter and will output the same, if not, better image quality than those cameras.

Personally, I am all about size and weight. I sold my D7000 and purchased an NEX-7. I couldn't possibly be any happier. I am amazed with this NEX-7's ability to take such amazing pictures, video and do so much considering the size of this camera. Right now I just have the kit 18-55 lens along with the 55-210, yet it suffices for the type photos I take.

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normsmith
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Re: NEX vs. D5100 vs. D3100
In reply to azteca, May 20, 2012

All are nice cameras.

The D5100 has a nicer sensor than the D3100

Both the D5100 and D3100 have built in optical viewfinders and flash

The Nex is potentialy more portable and has a nice sensor that is in the same ball park as the D5100

The D5100 has more external control than both the D3100 and the Nex

The Nikon DSLR's have access to a wider range of native lenses and accessories if that is important (though the Sony range will grow).

The D3100 is entry level, specifically aimed at new owners, having a sort of tutorial layout to settings.

the Nex can take a pancake lens, making for a superb travel camera and street photography camera.

the Nex 5 and D5100 are noted for their High ISO capability

they all feel quite different in the hand and you would be advise to handle them before buying. If I were choosing today, I would narrow the choice down to D5100 and the Nex 5n, though within a tighter budget there are good prices on the D3100 as the new D3200 hits the shelves.

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Erational
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Re: NEX vs. D5100 vs. D3100
In reply to justmeMN, May 20, 2012

I got rid of my Nikon D5100 for the NEX 5N. I was not happy with the Nikons output in JPEG or raw. Faces had a strange "mask" over them, interior shots were unusable, and images were never very sharp, no matter what lens I used. I found that i could get by framing w just the LCD of the NEX. 5N. If you insist on getting a Nikon, explore the new D3200.

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gfrensen
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Re: NEX vs. D5100 vs. D3100
In reply to azteca, May 20, 2012

You tell that you want to learn about photography, so there are some things you need to learn like
1. How to frame a pictuture (using the "golden rule")
2. How does apperture affect on my pictures?
3. How does exposuretime affect my pictures
4. How does focussing affect my pictures?

All this can be done with all the cameras you mention in your post.

Most important when learning photography is making a lot of pictures in a lo of circumstances. So taking your camera with you a lot is very important! Look at the cameras and ask yourself: what camera will I take with me? The Nikon, or the Nex?

Then, when you learning it might be a good thing to have lenses that offer you full manual control over apperture and focussing. The Nex can adapt a lot of very good (or very cheap) lenses with manual apperture and focussing (not focussing by wire as in the most modern lenses)

But the most important thing about the camera you will buy is ergonomics. Do you like the feel of the camera in your hands? Are you pleased with the way the camera has to be opperated? Go for the camera you like best, and remember the things above...

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kcamacho11
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Re: NEX vs. D5100 vs. D3100
In reply to Erational, May 20, 2012

Erational wrote:

I got rid of my Nikon D5100 for the NEX 5N. I was not happy with the Nikons output in JPEG or raw. Faces had a strange "mask" over them, interior shots were unusable, and images were never very sharp, no matter what lens I used. I found that i could get by framing w just the LCD of the NEX. 5N. If you insist on getting a Nikon, explore the new D3200.

To the original poster, please do not listen to what this person posted (no offense).

But if you had those issues with your Nikon:

a) you do not know how to properly take pictures
b) your D5100 had a problem and needed to be sent to Nikon
c) you are Sony biased and want to convince anyone of buying a Sony

I have used everything from a D3100, D5000, D5100, D7000 to a D700.

I can personally tell you, that the D5100 I used did not have ANY of the issues mentioned above, and the jpegs it took were sharp and clear whether it was indoors or outdoors.

As stated above, if it's about size, weight and having a smaller camera that can take DSLR quality pictures....cannot go wrong with the NEX cameras.

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win39
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D5100, no question
In reply to azteca, May 20, 2012

The NEX is pretty much like operating a point and shoot. The D3100 is Nikon's answer for a transition from a point and shoot. If you really want to learn photography, I would get the D5100. It is the most like a camera that would be used by a person who understands photography. It will teach you the most.

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headofdestiny
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Re: D5100, no question
In reply to win39, May 20, 2012

win39 wrote:

The NEX is pretty much like operating a point and shoot. The D3100 is Nikon's answer for a transition from a point and shoot. If you really want to learn photography, I would get the D5100. It is the most like a camera that would be used by a person who understands photography. It will teach you the most.

That's total bs. Use the camera in A, M or S mode, and shooting the Nex is like shooting any other camera.

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edwardaneal
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important
In reply to headofdestiny, May 20, 2012

I have looked at each of the replies up until this point and one very important thing I havent seen asked is What do you want to shoot???

If you will be mostly shooting static subject such a posed people shots and landscapes the NEX-5n will do as good if not better than either of the DSLR's you listed, but, and it's a big But, if you want to shoot action such as sports or running kids the phase detect auto focus used in the DSLr's will will lock and track the moving subjects much better. As much as I love my NEX cameras I can tell you if I shot action I would be shooting with a Canon or Nikon DSLR and not my NEX.

So tell us what do you plan of taking pictures of??

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azteca
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Re: important
In reply to edwardaneal, May 20, 2012

Mainly landscapes, portraits, and candid pictures of people. That's what I like to to pictures of.

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normsmith
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Re: important
In reply to azteca, May 20, 2012

candid pictures of people

then the Nex it is then

check out the Nikon 1 series (J1 and V1) it has a silent electronic shutter

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edwardaneal
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Re: important
In reply to azteca, May 20, 2012

if this is what you shoot I think the NEX would be the better choice. For portraits & landscapes it will be as good and probably better than the D5100 or D3100 and for candids it will have a huge advantage in being smaller and much more discreet. In the past I have noticed that bringing a large DSLR up to your eye to shoot can kill any chance of getting shots of people without them knowing. With the NEX people are more relaxed and you can also flip up the LCD and shoot from the waist and they wont even know you are taking a picture. Personally I think the NEX cameras are just about the best candid cameras made

JMO

azteca wrote:

Mainly landscapes, portraits, and candid pictures of people. That's what I like to to pictures of.

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azteca
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Re: important
In reply to azteca, May 21, 2012

azteca wrote:

Mainly landscapes, portraits, and candid pictures of people. That's what I like to to pictures of.

Will the kit lens be good enough for what I want to do? Or should I consider a prime for portraits?

And thanks for all of the responses. I appreciate it!!!

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swixtwix
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Re: important
In reply to azteca, May 21, 2012

The kit lens performs well and will be "versatile". Since most P&S have variable zoom, you'll miss that the most with a fixed prime lens.

If you've got extra cash, or if you plan to take a lot of low-light or group setting pictures, then the Sigma 19mm or 30mm would be a great addition for evening and indoor settings. Not to mention that they are also a more compact, discrete lens for candid shots. The 50mm would be worthy of consideration as well, though I find its best suited for single person portraits and a little too too zoomed in for intimate settings where you may want more people in the photo.

With regards to "learning" about photography, all the systems above will allow you to learn. You'll be able to do everything you learn on the NEX, but the Nikon's are more traditional and will have more "mentors" in general. The NEX community is growing, but nothing compared to the Nikon/Canon DSLR following.

Keep in mind that each system will have their own user interface. In my opinion, the NEX is a more digital interface which may be more suitable for folks who grew up with electronic gadgets and P&S cameras. The Nikon's are becoming more digital, but there are still a lot of dedicated buttons spread around the camera housing, which seems appealing to "traditional" photographers.

My first true DLSR was the NEX-5. I've recently purchased a NEX-7 and the tri-nav definitely is a much appreciated addition in controlling the settings. I also attribute my recent interest in photography to the tri-nav interface.

A recent experience, truly highlighted the differences in the various camera systems. I was recently asked to take a family picture during an outing. Originally the family handed me their P&S, then glancing at my N7+18-200 they said, "you're a photographer, take the DLSR". They handed me their Nikon D5100, and I was lost to how to begin setting the exposure, aperture, and the lack of "real-time" feedback of the EVF / LCD... really did me in.

I got some nice shots for the family in the end... and I learned that I really need to use my wife's Nikon more. If you want to learn about photography concepts (i.e. exposure, aperture, ISO) the NEX is a great learning tool. But if you want to learn about photography systems then a more "traditional" DSLR will cover more of a product base than the NEX. Just my opinion.

I want to close with: I love my NEX-7... to minimize the flaming

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sean lancaster
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Re: D5100, no question
In reply to headofdestiny, May 21, 2012

headofdestiny wrote:

win39 wrote:

The NEX is pretty much like operating a point and shoot. The D3100 is Nikon's answer for a transition from a point and shoot. If you really want to learn photography, I would get the D5100. It is the most like a camera that would be used by a person who understands photography. It will teach you the most.

That's total bs. Use the camera in A, M or S mode, and shooting the Nex is like shooting any other camera.

Exactly. In 2004, I bought a Nikon D70 in an effort to learn about photography. I sold it early last summer . . . and I had learned nothing. Occasionally I would get some gorgeous shots and I'd chalk it up to good photography, but it was luck. I bought a Panasonic Lumix LX5. I only had it for about a month before selling it and buying the NEX-5N right when it came out. But I learned more about photography with the little LX5 than I ever learned with the Nikon D70. The camera doesn't make a person learn photography, that's for sure. Even the little and cheap LX5 allowed me to switch to Aperture priority mode and start learning, but I quickly ran into limitations. The 5N takes me beyond the LX5 limitations, but that doesn't mean I don't think about a full frame or Zeiss manual focus lens here or there.

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laikanuki2
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Re: NEX vs. D5100 vs. D3100
In reply to azteca, May 21, 2012

If you travel a lot or you always want to have you camera with you and want the performance of a mid range DRSL, go with the Sony. The best thing I ever did was get rid of my Canon Rebel T1 and 24-105 lens and get a Sony NEX-7 What a pain that was dragging that Canon hardware around, sometimes I just did not want cart it around if I was doing a lot of walking/climbing, and that was small compared to most DSLRs. I think the size of some of the DSLRs is becoming ridiculous, they are becoming so cumbersome taking them anywhere is a joke. With airlines cracking down on carry on, enforcing the 7kg limit, carrying a huge DSLR with lenses and heavyweight tripod etc is not an option.

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Dan W
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Re: D5100, no question
In reply to headofdestiny, May 21, 2012

You're right.

There's a lot of misinformation in this thread. None of the NEX cameras is like a point and shoot, although they can be used in that way, as can a DSLR.

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Bernie Ess
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Re: NEXes are
In reply to azteca, May 21, 2012

Nex cameras are all about saving weight and size. operating them is more like compact cameras, AF is less capable and the EVF in the Nex-7 or the optional is much less satisfying and clear than an optical one.

I use my Nex-7 when I really do not have space in bag or do not want to carry a DSLR, the results from the Nex-7 are very good, very close to FF, but the shooting experience is way better with a DSLR.

If I could only have one cama, it would be a DSLR, but everybody is different.

Cheers
bernie
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