Upgrading from D50 to D3100 or D5100?


TPF Noob!
Apr 6, 2021
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Hi everyone,

So I found my old D50 today (it had been missing for 7 years) and it is as dead as a doornail. I'd like to upgrade and have found a D3100 and a D5100 for sale.

I would love to know how many of you think which one would be better for someone newish to photography: the D3100 or the D5100. Thank you!

Yes, budget is a consideration but just as important is:

- ease of use (especially when I'm in a hurry),

- robustness (I spend a lot of time in the desert where temps reach 40-50 degrees Celsius daily without any guarantee of air conditioning to cool the camera down),

- the sensitivity of the battery charger to power fluctuations (I rely on generator power and when it runs dirty or spikes, my laptop/phone/electrical goodies get fried. To offset this, I run surge protectors on my electronic gear, and they usually work ... usually. They've been known to fail.).

- that I only need to buy the body of either camera because I can use my D50 lens, yes?

Thank you so much for adding me to your lovely forum and I'm so sorry to bombard you all with so many quesions!

Miss Charley :)
Hello and welcome, of the two cameras you mention the D5100 would be the best choice.....
D5100 over the D3100 every day, and it will mount the lens(es) you have for your D50.
Thank you so much, Jeff15 and wfooshee - I was edging toward the D5100 and now I will take the plunge! Do you think the D5100 body will fit my existing D50 lesnses tho?
Oh! Also I have this heavy macro lens (piccie attached) which I only used once on my little D50, bit I was wondering if you have ever heard of it??


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If it mounts on the D50, it will mount on the D5100. However, that zoom lens you show will not meter on the D5100. See that notch on the rear of the barrel by the f:22 mark? The coupler for that does not exist on the D5100, so the D5100 can't read the aperture setting on the lens. Exposures would be 100% manual, you'd have to know what shutter and paerture to use together, set the shutter on the camera and set the aperture on the lens.

Also, older Nikon Auto-focus lenses that require the screw drive in the camera body will not autofocus on any of the D3X00 or D5X00 cameras, as those bodies do not have the internal focusing motor, they rely on the lens to have its own motor. If you have an AF lens with your D50, If it's AF or AF-D, it will not auto-focus on the D5100; you need AF-S lenses for that.

All these lens difficulties aside, the lenses will mount on the camera and you can shoot with them, but if it's not a CPU lens, it will not meter, and if it's not AF-S, it will not autofocus; you'll have to expose and focus manually in those cases.

If automatic use of those lenses is important to you, see if you can upgrade your budget expectations and look for a D7000, D7100, or D7200, as the D7X00 cameras have both the aperture coupling ring on the lens mount, and the focusing motor in the body. The D7X00 cameras will autoexpose with non-CPU (AI) lenses (except they removed that on the D7500 for some reason,) and will auto-focus with AF or AF-D lenses.

The question becomes, what other lenses do you have?
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Both the D3100 and D5100 are excellent options, however, seeing as you will be in a rather dusty/sandy environment, would you be able to stretch your budget to a D7100 or D7200? These offer weather sealing, which will help prevent the camera being damaged by dust/sand/rain etc.

I have D5100 also (however not my primary camera) and it's great .. with kit 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses it's superb lightweight set .. you said price matters, if you can buy a d5100 from a family or friend, go for it .. otherwise I would suggest going for 5200 or 5600 .. there should not be a very significant difference in price ..

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