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Nikon D3100, D3200 and D5100 -- What's the difference?

Nikon D3100, D3200 and D5100 Comparison

With the recent release of the Nikon D3200 a lot of customers are wondering how it fits into the current lineup of Nikon digital SLR cameras. The first question most customers have are, "Is the Nikon D3100 being replaced?" No. The Nikon D3100 is Nikon's entry level digital SLR at an entry level price tag. Right now, including instant savings, the Nikon D3100 is selling for only $549.95, and that's including an 18-55mm VR lens. The Nikon D3200 is being pegged also as an entry-level camera, but with the horsepower of a higher-resolution 24.2MP image sensor. The current price of the Nikon D3200 is $699.95, including an 18-55mm VR lens.

Perhaps the bigger mystery surrounds the Nikon D5100. The base price of the Nikon D5100 is higher than the Nikon D3200. The D5100 currently rings up with a base price of $849.95. There is currently an instant savings on the Nikon D5100, however; which puts the D5100 at the same price as the Nikon D3200--$699.95. So, the question we've been receiving is, "If both the Nikon D5100 and D3200 are the same price, what camera should I get?" This is a difficult question to answer with one sweeping response. It depends. Some people will be instantly drawn to the higher-resolution of the Nikon D3200. Others will hesitate and wonder what else is under the hood? For those who are looking for a more detailed comparison, we offer the following information. We hope this helps.

The Nikon D5100 and D3200 both have:

  • Up to 4 frames-per-second continuous shooting
  • 11 auto-focus points
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • 3" 921,000 dot monitor (D5100 screen can flip out)
  • 1/4,000 to 30 second shutter speeds

The Nikon D3200 has a ~24MP image sensor with EXPEED 3 processing, and the Nikon D5100 has a ~16MP image sensor with EXPEED 2 processing.

The Nikon D3200 offers on-screen audio levels as well as the ability to shoot 1280x720 HD video at 60 frames-per-second.

The Nikon D3200 shoots 12-bit RAW, and has a estimated battery life of 540 shots. The Nikon D5100 shoots 14-bit RAW files, and has an estimated battery life of 660 shots.

The Nikon D5100 has a more customize-able "Active D-Lighting", whereas the Nikon D3200 is either On or Off.

The Nikon D5100 has an ISO range that is expandable to 25,600, and the Nikon D3200 is half that at 12,800. The D5100 also offers 1/3 stop ISO increments.

The Nikon D5100 features a greater range of scene modes as well as "Effects" that can work in both stills and video.

The Nikon D5100 features the ability to create a multiple exposure image, and also offers in-camera HDR (high dynamic range).

The Nikon D5100 offers interval timer shooting in-camera, and also features a full Custom Settings menu. The D3200 has some custom settings that may be set in the Setup menu.

As you can see, the Nikon D5100 features an all-around more advanced experience than the D3200. For the more advanced user who doesn't require the higher resolution of the Nikon D3200, it is likely they'll gravitate towards the D5100.

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