D3100 vs D5200

Started May 15, 2013 | Questions
biggdave
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D3100 vs D5200
May 15, 2013

Is there enough of a difference to warrant the upgrade? I am a noob/amateur/enthusiast who is already seen the limits of the 3100, I don't have enough money for the 7100, but was curious about this upgrade. My focus is night photography and time lapse (both of which i am  learning involves a little more than what I have)

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toomanycanons
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Re: D3100 vs D5200
In reply to biggdave, May 15, 2013

biggdave wrote:

Is there enough of a difference to warrant the upgrade? I am a noob/amateur/enthusiast who is already seen the limits of the 3100, I don't have enough money for the 7100, but was curious about this upgrade. My focus is night photography and time lapse (both of which i am  learning involves a little more than what I have)

Thanks

So, as an official "noob" what have you found to be the D3100's limitations?  As far as a new camera, get a refurb D5100.

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trumpyman
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Get the D5200
In reply to toomanycanons, May 15, 2013

Its a great camera and would better than the 5100.The focus system and sensor alone make it a better buy than the 5100.

Thnx Paul

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blue_cheese
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Nooo
In reply to biggdave, May 15, 2013

biggdave wrote:

Is there enough of a difference to warrant the upgrade? I am a noob/amateur/enthusiast who is already seen the limits of the 3100, I don't have enough money for the 7100, but was curious about this upgrade. My focus is night photography and time lapse (both of which i am  learning involves a little more than what I have)

Thanks

If you truly are "seeing the limits of the 3100" then in all likelihood you are seeing body/de-featuring limits rather than sensor and AF, I am sorry to ruffle the feathers of some, but the D5100/D5200 is more or less the same body with a few minor additions that I am not sure would warrant and upgrade (ie higher res LCD, swivel screen, bracketing), you are still missing 100% viewfinder coverage, large viewfinder, CLS commander, and other key features.

The D5200 does have a slightly better sensor (and it really is slightly if the extra 1/2 stop of light and 24MP matter to you), but you will easily find that ISO performance difference is not night and day to justify the cost, you would be better served with a faster lens that gains you at least a stop or two.

What you gain in cropping ability from the higher MP, will also find that the higher MP count will increase noise levels at 1:1, and will demand more from your lenses and technique.

A case can be made for the AF system on the D5200, however that depends on what you do, a recent thread here asked and it seems a significant number shoot in single point AF-C anyway so the number of focus points would have limited benefit to such shooters if you are one of them.

The DR on the D5200 is also significantly better, but again may not necessarily matter to you for your style of shooting, to take advantage of the increased DR you should be shooting in NEF and post processing a lot, if you expose properly the difference between the two cameras should not be that big, you would see increased pulling ability of shadows (of about 2.5stops, albeit it will have significant noise levels (and possibly banding as some have suggested), in such situations you probably want to re-visit your exposure methods.

I am an owner of a D3100 and am pretty sure that the D5200 is not necessarily a worthwhile upgrade for the needs you describe. If you are looking for a more capable camera, consider D7000/7100, if you are looking for a more capable sensor look at a D600 (or wait for one more generation of DX, seems to be a rule of thumb to skip one generation for DX and I am starting to see why)

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Imamul89
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Re: D3100 vs D5200
In reply to biggdave, May 15, 2013

biggdave wrote:

Is there enough of a difference to warrant the upgrade? I am a noob/amateur/enthusiast who is already seen the limits of the 3100, I don't have enough money for the 7100, but was curious about this upgrade. My focus is night photography and time lapse (both of which i am  learning involves a little more than what I have)

Thanks

Why do you think that D3100 isn't adequate for your work? Is it the features, or the AF system or the lower megapixel count?

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GerardHaines
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Re: Get the D5200
In reply to trumpyman, May 15, 2013

I think it can be debated how much better the 24MP sensor is than the D5100's...but I agree the autofocus system is better.  But the OP would be well served to seriously consider the D5100 to save some money for other accessories and give up very little IMO.

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RobCMad
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Re: Get the D5200
In reply to GerardHaines, May 15, 2013

He would save even more money by sticking with his D3100.

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GlennW
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Re: D3100 vs D5200
In reply to biggdave, May 15, 2013

biggdave wrote:

Is there enough of a difference to warrant the upgrade? I am a noob/amateur/enthusiast who is already seen the limits of the 3100, I don't have enough money for the 7100, but was curious about this upgrade. My focus is night photography and time lapse (both of which i am  learning involves a little more than what I have)

Thanks

If you don't have enough $$ for a D7100, your best bet would be to invest in a fine collection of good glass.

http://10rate.com/best-nikon-lens-reviews/

Here is a list of 10 best Nikon mostly DX to consider.

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toomanycanons
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Re: D3100 vs D5200
In reply to GlennW, May 16, 2013

I just bought a D3100 for an "in the car" DSLR and am trying to find out if it is the equal to my D5100.  So far (excluding exposure bracketing and other missing tweaks in the menus) I suspect it doesn't have quite the dynamic range and has more blown out highlights.

After all, the D3100's sensor is rated 67 on DxO (hey, the same as the Canon 7D!) while the D5100 is rated 80.  And I love my D5100.  I know it will get the shot.  I'm not so sure about the D3100, but I'm far from a "noob" and have pretty discriminating tastes.  I just don't know what the OP of this thread finds limiting.

So far the D3100 has definitely replaced the P7100 I had for awhile as my "in the car" camera.  Duh!

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biggdave
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Re: D3100 vs D5200
In reply to biggdave, May 16, 2013

Thank you for all of your input. I think that I am curious if the updated sensor is all that much better, I seem to get a lot of noise with this camera, and having eyes that aren't what they used to be the screen leaves a lot to be desired. I would like the capability to use bracketing, and wonder if I would benefit from the higher ISO. It would also be nice to have more presets built in to the camera.

With all that being said, it just seems to me that the quality of the shots I get could be better, and I also understand OE has a big hand in it. The reason for the upgrade is that at this time I have a little extra money and will most likely not upgrade for a long time, too many other hobbies. I do have the 70-300, and just ordered the 35 1.8, so I do have some extras.

I looked at the 5100, but since it has the same sensor, I didn't know if that was much of an upgrade

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AdamT
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Re: D3100 vs D5200
In reply to toomanycanons, May 16, 2013

After all, the D3100's sensor is rated 67 on DxO (hey, the same as the Canon 7D!) while the D5100 is rated 80.

That just underlines what a load of Bollox DXO is - their ratings rarely relate to real life experiences, IMO that site does more harm than good because people take it as Gospel - the sensor tests don`t even include resolution ..

On the D3100 note, the sensor is capable as is the JPG engine, the only serious issues I`ve found with that series of cameras up to the D5100 are the lack of body motor and hit & miss AF even on just the centre point, though sample variation plays a massive part here - same goes for the D80/90 too.

The real biggie the D5200 will get the OP is a proper AF system, CAM1000 should have departed this world with the 10Mp D80 , even the D90 should have had better.

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Shunda77
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Re: D3100 vs D5200
In reply to biggdave, May 16, 2013

biggdave wrote:


I looked at the 5100, but since it has the same sensor, I didn't know if that was much of an upgrade

The D5100 doesn't have the same sensor as the D3100, it has the same sensor as the D7000!

The D5100 has better image quality than the D3100, so it would still be an upgrade over the D3100.

The 16mp sensor is somewhat of a benchmark in sensor evolution, even the new 24mp sensors are only slightly better in some areas, and actually worse in others (dynamic range, shadow banding).

The D5100 represents a heck of a lot of camera for the money now, and it is ideal for what you want to use it for.

People keep going on about the better AF in the D5200, but it's only "better" in very specific circumstances.

I guarantee you that very few people use those 39 points in a way that makes any real difference to their photography.

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dougster1979
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Re: D3100 vs D5200
In reply to AdamT, May 16, 2013

Have a look on flickr. Its the best way to compare overall  image quality, have a look at a good selection of pics from the D3100 and the D5200. I personally think there is a huge difference, i am very impressed with the 24mp sensor(D3200,D5200 and D7100).The 39 autofocus and tilt screen would also be valuable reasons to upgrade.

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dougster1979
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Re: D3100 vs D5200
In reply to dougster1979, May 16, 2013

This is in reply to the original post...

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GerardHaines
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Re: Get the D5200
In reply to RobCMad, May 16, 2013

And he could get a much better camera with the D5100.

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GerardHaines
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Re: D3100 vs D5200
In reply to Shunda77, May 16, 2013

Shunda77 wrote:

biggdave wrote:


I looked at the 5100, but since it has the same sensor, I didn't know if that was much of an upgrade

The D5100 doesn't have the same sensor as the D3100, it has the same sensor as the D7000!

The D5100 has better image quality than the D3100, so it would still be an upgrade over the D3100.

The 16mp sensor is somewhat of a benchmark in sensor evolution, even the new 24mp sensors are only slightly better in some areas, and actually worse in others (dynamic range, shadow banding).

The D5100 represents a heck of a lot of camera for the money now, and it is ideal for what you want to use it for.

People keep going on about the better AF in the D5200, but it's only "better" in very specific circumstances.

I guarantee you that very few people use those 39 points in a way that makes any real difference to their photography.

+1 on every point.

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ed2002
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Re: Get the D5200
In reply to GerardHaines, May 16, 2013

Why is the 5100 much better than the 3100?  Its the same sensor, and most of the same features.  The biggest thing is a tilting lcd.

The 5200 adds a new sensor which should be better for night photography, and an intervalometer for time lapse.  It also has better metering and focusing than the 5100.

I would say save the money until there is a real need to upgrade, but if you are upgrading get the 5200.

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Donald M Mackinnon
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10 times- Its not the same sensor
In reply to ed2002, May 16, 2013

Its not the same sensor Its not the same sensor Its not the same sensor Its not the same sensor

Its not the same sensor Its not the same sensor Its not the same sensor Its not the same sensor

Its not the same sensor Its not the same sensor

If it was the D3100 would have blown everyone out the water when it was launched.

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GerardHaines
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Re: Get the D5200
In reply to ed2002, May 16, 2013

ed2002 wrote:

Why is the 5100 much better than the 3100?  Its the same sensor, and most of the same features.  The biggest thing is a tilting lcd.

The 5200 adds a new sensor which should be better for night photography, and an intervalometer for time lapse.  It also has better metering and focusing than the 5100.

I would say save the money until there is a real need to upgrade, but if you are upgrading get the 5200.

Why do people keep saying it's the same sensor?  It's not -- there's not arguement that the D5100's 16.1MP sensor is superior to the D3100's 14.2MP.  I suggest you get to know the cameras you're talking about.

There have been a lot of reports of the D5200's (and D7100's) sensor having more noise at higher ISO's, which is to be expected with 24MP jammed on a DX sensor.  So I don't know how much better it would prove to be for night photography in comparison to the D5100.

While I'll allow the D5200 has a better AF system and will have better resolution, I stand by the D5100 being the better purchase and is a definate upgrade over the D3100.

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toomanycanons
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Re: D3100 vs D5200
In reply to biggdave, May 16, 2013

biggdave wrote:

Thank you for all of your input. I think that I am curious if the updated sensor is all that much better, I seem to get a lot of noise with this camera, and having eyes that aren't what they used to be the screen leaves a lot to be desired. I would like the capability to use bracketing, and wonder if I would benefit from the higher ISO. It would also be nice to have more presets built in to the camera.

With all that being said, it just seems to me that the quality of the shots I get could be better, and I also understand OE has a big hand in it. The reason for the upgrade is that at this time I have a little extra money and will most likely not upgrade for a long time, too many other hobbies. I do have the 70-300, and just ordered the 35 1.8, so I do have some extras.

I looked at the 5100, but since it has the same sensor, I didn't know if that was much of an upgrade

And when you looked at the D5100 you saw that it doesn't have the same sensor, right?  Wait...

I now own both a D3100 and a D5100.  The noise levels on the D3100 are surprisingly low.  If you think its noise levels are objectionably high you may never be happy with anything other than maybe a D4.  There's great noise reducing software out there.

Bracketing, yes, I miss that on the D3100.  Presets?  I never use presets.

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