Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)

Started May 23, 2012 | Discussions
davek57
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Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
May 23, 2012

Please share your thoughts on whether you'd buy a Nikon D90 or D5100. Both have been on the market a while, and their quirks are probably well documented.

I generally use my SLR for outdoor photography (nature, time exposures) and some indoor work (workplace 'grip and grin' photos, team shots). Also, occasional video that would benefit from a faster frame rate than my D5000 can produce.

Thank you.

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David K.
'Happy To Be Here.'
Rochester NY USA

Nikon D5000 Nikon D5100 Nikon D90
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RobertLaw
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to davek57, May 23, 2012

I believe the D90 has the same video frame rate that the D5000 has. The D90 is a more prosumer type camera than the D5100 is. The added mexapixels on the D5100 are not that significant in most cases.

I think it boils down to megapixels and video vs. more on camera controls.

As a way of disclosure, I have the D90 and am very happy with it.
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toomanycanons
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to davek57, May 23, 2012

Neither have "quirks". Both are still competent. What, the D5100 is suddenly "old tech" because it's been out a year?

davek57 wrote:

Please share your thoughts on whether you'd buy a Nikon D90 or D5100. Both have been on the market a while, and their quirks are probably well documented.

I generally use my SLR for outdoor photography (nature, time exposures) and some indoor work (workplace 'grip and grin' photos, team shots). Also, occasional video that would benefit from a faster frame rate than my D5000 can produce.

Thank you.

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David K.
'Happy To Be Here.'
Rochester NY USA

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nfpotter
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to davek57, May 23, 2012

davek57 wrote:

Please share your thoughts on whether you'd buy a Nikon D90 or D5100. Both have been on the market a while, and their quirks are probably well documented.

I generally use my SLR for outdoor photography (nature, time exposures) and some indoor work (workplace 'grip and grin' photos, team shots). Also, occasional video that would benefit from a faster frame rate than my D5000 can produce.

Thank you.

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David K.
'Happy To Be Here.'
Rochester NY USA

For me, the decision would be based on 2 main factors:

-Do I want/need a camera with an internal focus motor, so that I can use lenses that don't have their own (there are MANY great ones that can be had for cheap)? If yes, the D5100 doesn't cut it, so I'd get a D90, BUT - I'd actually get a D7000 instead. The D7000 smokes the D90 in every single aspect, period.

-Do I want/need a camera with a good set of external controls, so that I'm not menu-diving a lot? If yes, same answer as above.

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Mid-Town_Guy
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to davek57, May 23, 2012

Was in the same situation before. I bought a D90. I had the D3000 and what bothered me about it the most was a lack of external controls. The top LCD & 2 control dials for quick setting changes on the D90 makes a world of difference (to me anyways). It also has a screw motor drive as well as the ability to operate off camera flashes..

Tough choice... the 5100 has a great sensor and a flip screen

Good luck!!

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inlawbiker
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to davek57, May 23, 2012

I know they cost about the same, I picked the D5100 because -

  • I'm sharing it with my wife, she prefers the auto modes and smaller body. Smaller is better for me too.

  • We use it a indoors often. The sensor is awesome.

  • 4fps is good enough.

  • AF-S lenses cover our needs.

All things equal ... if I were using it mostly outdoors by myself more often I'd probably get the D90. Actually it would probably be a D300s.

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Reilly Diefenbach
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to davek57, May 23, 2012

I generally use my SLR for outdoor photography (nature, time exposures) and some indoor work (workplace 'grip and grin' photos, team shots).

Advantage D5100 with higher resolution, lower noise, satin smooth IQ at ISO 100, better high ISO too.

Also, occasional video that would benefit from a faster frame rate than my D5000 can produce.

The D90 video is bad. The D5100 is pretty good.

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Barry Fitzgerald
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to davek57, May 23, 2012

The D90 won't be your first choice for video, it has it but it's merely "ok" I've only used it a few times it's not bad for non serious work but the newer models do better here no question.

Personally I have no interest in the D5100 some do and that's great but for me it's quite basic and does not add much over the D3100 or D3200. I would hope Nikon would make a D90s, but that seems unlikely to happen. Or they could do a Pentax K-30 and beef up the D5200 to a genuine mid level body and that means a proper viewfinder and more on body controls and not firmware crippling stuff either.

In short I'd pick a D90 every day of the week over the D5100, if Nikon addressed the lack of basic stuff on the D5200 it might be worth a look. We merely speculate on that as we don't know Nikon's plans for the model range in APS-C

If Nikon shoved a 16mp CMOS in the D90 and threw a few more x type AF sensors in there and a tad more fps, tweak a few bits etc they'd have a killer camera that would be a hot seller no question.

D90 and D5100 cost about the same for the outlay (which is quite modest really) you get a lot more camera with the D90

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williamj1
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to davek57, May 23, 2012

Was in the same position, but in the end bought a D90 (just on sunday there).

See my thread here which discusses this extensively, a good read for sure ...

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1034&thread=41368694

I was really tied between the D5100 and D90.

In the end though, I realised that really they are totally different cameras, and it just depends what you need.
They both take absolutely fantastic photos, and are both well designed.

It was my conclusion however that the D5100 was for the more amatuer photographer, the D90 being for those looking to get serious for the first time.

Have you held both of them? This for me was very apparent just holding them. The D90 is a much much bigger beast, in terms of size and weight (not too heavy, but noticeably more so than the D5100).

The D5100 for example, has lots of features which I would now call gimmicky, for example ...

  • effects mode on the dial

  • HD video actually, its a nice feature but not necessary for me, fun sure

  • tilt screen

  • big colourful settings and menus

The D90 on the other hand has ...

  • a built in AF motor (huge selling point for me)

  • two control wheels, and the ability to change just about every important setting without looking out of the viewfinder

  • Pentaprism Viewfinder (bigger image, brighter, 96% coverage)

  • depth of field preview button

  • faster FPS

  • bigger battery

  • ability to act as a wireless flash commander

My point? The D5100 features are clearly aimed at fun, whereas the D90 features are aimed at more serious photography. Which suits you more, I don't know. But it was my conclusion that the D90 was more of an upgrade for me, coming from a D40. I still think the D5100 isn't an upgrade as such, in terms of progressing and improving my photography. Rather just a new iteration of my older model, with new, modern features like HD video.

Something else that I think is important to consider is if you are going to invest in lenses long term and crucially, which ones? Because I knew I was immediately going to buy a 50mm F1.8 prime lens with my new camera purchase. While the D90 was more to begin with, with the D90 as it has the focus meter built in, I could get the Nikon 50mm F1.8 AF-D which is only £90. If I had got the D5100, I'd have had to get the AF-S version which is £200. So immediately, I recouped the cost of the more expensive body, and actually saved.

See my thread which pretty much discussed my entire thought process. Hope this helps The best thing I can recommend is just to really think it through. Think about what you are going to use them for, what features you want and how your needs / skills will change in the future. Personally, I will keep a camera for a good 3/4 years. So I wanted something I could grow into, and learn. Rather than just a new version of mine. Also its really important to try holding them both. Because they feel totally different as I say, the D5100 being smaller and lighter and feeling it. The D90 feels much more substantial. It's the superior camera in terms of control and image controls. Whether you need this, I can't decide.
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nfpotter
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to Barry Fitzgerald, May 23, 2012

Barry Fitzgerald wrote:

If Nikon shoved a 16mp CMOS in the D90 and threw a few more x type AF sensors in there and a tad more fps, tweak a few bits etc they'd have a killer camera that would be a hot seller no question.

They did. It's called the D7000, lol.

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Barry Fitzgerald
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to nfpotter, May 23, 2012

nfpotter wrote:

Barry Fitzgerald wrote:

If Nikon shoved a 16mp CMOS in the D90 and threw a few more x type AF sensors in there and a tad more fps, tweak a few bits etc they'd have a killer camera that would be a hot seller no question.

They did. It's called the D7000, lol.

At the D90's price I would add
D7k was a LOT more expensive than the D90 at launch
D90 was actually cheaper than the D80's first to market price

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Deleted1929
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to davek57, May 23, 2012

Please share your thoughts on whether you'd buy a Nikon D90 or D5100.

I think what I'd buy should not affect you at all.

Both have been on the market a while, and their quirks are probably well documented.

And both still do their job well, as does my even older Fuji S3 Pro. Age does not mean the cameras are somehow less effective than they were.

Also, occasional video that would benefit from a faster frame rate than my D5000 can produce.

As this seems to be your only real issue the solution is a a camera with whatever frame rate you think you need. That might be a dedicated video camera.

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Reilly Diefenbach
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to davek57, May 23, 2012

Just so you know, OP. Your thread is just the sort where everyone who owns a D90 will hop on and state that all the features it has over the D5100 are absolutely essential. One or two of those features might actually be necessary to you, you'll have to make the call. But if your priority is image quality to rival the big stuff, the D5100 is your man. I don't own either camera and therefore can maintain a godlike objectivity :^)

They are both excellent still cameras, but the video on the older model is simply unwatchable.

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nfpotter
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to Barry Fitzgerald, May 23, 2012

Barry Fitzgerald wrote:

nfpotter wrote:

Barry Fitzgerald wrote:

If Nikon shoved a 16mp CMOS in the D90 and threw a few more x type AF sensors in there and a tad more fps, tweak a few bits etc they'd have a killer camera that would be a hot seller no question.

They did. It's called the D7000, lol.

At the D90's price I would add
D7k was a LOT more expensive than the D90 at launch
D90 was actually cheaper than the D80's first to market price

Very true!

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brokensocialscenester
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to davek57, May 23, 2012

D90 for sure. We're considering picking one up as a backup to our D700s. We'd not consider the D5100 as a backup because it lacks a focusing motor, which means it wouldn't AF any of our AF-D lenses.
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bhD7000
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How many pictures do you take?
In reply to nfpotter, May 23, 2012

nfpotter wrote:

-Do I want/need a camera with a good set of external controls, so that I'm not menu-diving a lot? If yes, same answer as above.

This is a big factor to many people unless you are very casual, not in a hurry, etc. and have lots of time to go in and out of the menus. Go to a store, handle the cameras (or similar) in a way that matches your shooting style. Pay attention to all the settings you would normally make and see if they are available on the D5100 vs D90.

I have a D7000 and rarely have to use the menus thanks to programmable buttons and user controls. I loathed the menu diving on my D50 - slows every thing down too much - and you miss shots as conditions change. Also, video is good IF you don't need to autofocus; the LV focus is slow and does not work well enough - it hunts way too much.

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MRM4350
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to Reilly Diefenbach, May 23, 2012

Reilly Diefenbach wrote:

They are both excellent still cameras, but the video on the older model is simply unwatchable.

Your opinion, not fact. I have a D90 and a D7000, the video from either is very "watchable" on my HD television.

If video were of real importance to me I would get a video camera. I would simply choose a D90 over any of Nikon's D3x00, and D5x00 models.
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Jakes
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to davek57, May 23, 2012

I have both. The D90 is a really good dust collector. I grab the D5100 for most eveything , although either will do about anything I do. My only non-afs lenses are both macro lenses and I'm gonna manuallyl focus those whichever camera I choose.
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toomanycanons
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to brokensocialscenester, May 23, 2012

All of my lenses focus on their own so they all work on my D5100.

Menu-diving, love it or hate it. I actually am quite comfortable with it. It's intuitive, nearly as fast as having a multitude of buttons to push. Heck, I even was comfortable with my D40 "back in the day". I love the "half shutter button push to bring up the LCD".

Top LCD? Don't need it.

Lightweight "plasticky" body? My favorite!

All of this adds up to, when I looked at buying a D5000 and a D5100, I was able to judge them on their competency as regards to IQ. And so far my D5000 is basically the same as my long departed D90 and my D5100 is a joy to use.

I'd pick up another D40 if it only had Auto Exposure Bracketing.

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williamj1
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Re: Now that they're aging (D90 vs. D5100)
In reply to MRM4350, May 23, 2012

I agree. If all you want is video mounted on a tripod of something moving at a set focal distance e.g. cars passing on a road, a flower moving in the wind etc, then really the video quality is quite good on the D90, especially with a nice lens to get a good depth of field.

It only becomes a problem when you want to shoot something moving like a someone playing tennis. The D5100 would arguably perform better in this situation. But (not being biased) the D5100 still wouldn't produce video quality I would be happy with. Firstly, while it has continues AF, that inevitably means moments where it does an entire focus loop mid video to get focus, and secondly, you get that god awful focusing noise mid video which I loathe with a passion.

All in all, if you are serious at all about video you won't be using ANY consumer Nikon. Personally, video is an added touch, not a consideration in a camera, where my focus is on image NOT video quality.
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