Which Nikon: D3100/D3200/D5100?

c57

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So after a too-long absence from photography, I'm jumping back in. I previously owned a Nikon D3100, and I loved it. I really don't have any complaints about it, but my technical ability and knowledge is still growing. This summer I'm going to England, and naturally I want a camera again! So yes, I'll be using it overseas for the usual touristy stuff, but I do want a camera that I can have for a while as my skills improve.

My options are as follows:

D3100 with 18-55 lens - $450
D3100 with 18-55 and 55-200 lenses - $500
D3200 with 18-55 lens - $500
D5100 with 18-55 lens - $600

I don't care about the articulating screen on the D5100. All things being the same, I'm looking for the best value in terms of image quality. For a poor college student does the increased image quality on the D5100 truly justify its $150 price difference compared to the D3100?
 

KmH

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The image quality of the D3200 and D5100 is virtually identical.
While the D3100 doesn't score quite as well, I would bet if you were given 3 identical scenes shot with each camera you could not pick out which scene was shot with the D3100.

DxOMark - Compare cameras side by side

I vote for - D3100 with 18-55 and 55-200 lenses - $500
 
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David8

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I agree with the previous reply. I think you're going to want that larger lens... Go with the twin lens kit.
 

hirejn

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You mean file quality. Image quality is determined by the photographer. File quality between those cameras will be a minor difference. If you think your skills command another $150 worth of camera, go for it, but if you don't have the skill more camera makes no difference. Those lenses are good choices, but if you skip the kit you can get an 18-200 giving you a nice range in one lens.
 

David8

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You mean file quality. Image quality is determined by the photographer. File quality between those cameras will be a minor difference. If you think your skills command another $150 worth of camera, go for it, but if you don't have the skill more camera makes no difference. Those lenses are good choices, but if you skip the kit you can get an 18-200 giving you a nice range in one lens.

I disagree with your final comment. Sure the 18-200 has a nice range, but has reduced IQ over the 18-55 and 55-200. It's a jack-of-all-trades master-of-none lens...
 

MartinCrabtree

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I picked up the 18-55 for $82 and the 55-200 for $60 used but mint condition. The camera cost me $344 NIB w/Nikon USA warranty. In the door for less than $500. I am one of those dragged kicking and screaming into digital photography. I am slowly beginning to appreciate the abilities of the D3100 and the lenses I have. I'll move up later when I can no longer make photographs I like with them.

The reason I bought it is my school requires a digital SLR that can be used in manual mode. Steep learning curve.
 

goodguy

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D5100 with 18-55 lens - $600

I don't care about the articulating screen on the D5100. All things being the same, I'm looking for the best value in terms of image quality. For a poor college student does the increased image quality on the D5100 truly justify its $150 price difference compared to the D3100?

To your question the answer is absolutely yes!!!
The low light abilities of the D5100 makes it well worth the extra 150$
 

coastalconn

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If I was a poor college student I would just buy a "factory Demo" aka refurb D5100 with an 18-55 from Cameta for $480 with the 1 year warranty... or the D3100 is only 360 (370 if you want a cool red camera, lol)... just saying...
 

David8

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If I was a poor college student I would just buy a "factory Demo" aka refurb D5100 with an 18-55 from Cameta for $480 with the 1 year warranty... or the D3100 is only 360 (370 if you want a cool red camera, lol)... just saying...

Ughh... Don't buy the red one...
 

CaptainNapalm

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Your 3100 with the two lenses will server you much better than the others with just the 18-55. Go for the d3100 with the 18-55 and 55-200 lenses, you'll appreciate the extra reach.

I should tell you, I've owned the d5100 and although I really liked the camera, as my skills grew, so did my demands, and I soon found myself upgrading to a d7000 which I'm extremely happy with now and likely will be for a long while. If you can find an extra few hundred bucks to spend, I'd recommend that camera instead. I'm not trying to push you into anything I'm just trying to save you money in the long run since you said it's a camera you'd like to grow into.
 

KmH

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You mean file quality. Image quality is determined by the photographer.
No, I meant what I said - image quality - and to be more specific Raw file image quality in the context of the link I provided. Photographer skill does not factor into DXO Mark's industry standard testing protocols.
 

SquarePeg

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If I was a poor college student I would just buy a "factory Demo" aka refurb D5100 with an 18-55 from Cameta for $480 with the 1 year warranty... or the D3100 is only 360 (370 if you want a cool red camera, lol)... just saying...

They just delivered my refurb 5100 from Cameta today. $400, no tax and free ship w/ the 1 year warrantly (thanks for the tip on that in the other thread). Shutter count 1038. It looks mint and still has that new camera smell. Everything seems to be working fine. Can't wait to get out there and use it! BTW, I am not a poor college student! Just a frugal new englander who now has extra cash for some other equipment!
 

DarkShadow

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I Just picked Up a D3100, with the 18-55 kit.My D7000 is borked and off to nikon land for repairs under warranty.Here is a picture I took today in raw with the D3100 w !8-55.
 

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TheLost

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Refurbished D3100 w/18-55mm lens = $349
Refurbished 55-200VR = $134
Total: $483

Money left over for a bag...
 

SquarePeg

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