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View Full Version : Help! New to DSLRs...which camera would you buy?


BoogasMom
05-04-2011, 07:51 AM
Okay, so it's possible that this question has been asked before, but I can't seem to find a thread specifically about these two cameras.....so I'm starting one. Please forgive me if there is one out there comparing these two cameras and feel free to post the link within this thread. :goodvibes

I am new to DSLRs and I have narrowed down my search to two. The first is the Nikon D3100 and the second is the Nikon D5000. My instinct is to go with the D3100 simply based on the higher megapixels, but am I missing something? What would you do????

Gianna'sPapa
05-04-2011, 09:04 AM
I'm not a Nikon shooter, but I took a quick look at a comparison on dpreview.com. The 3100 is Nikon's entry level camera. It appears the 5000 is being replaced by the 5100 which is a 16mp camera. There is more to DSLR's than mp. The 3100 has a fixed screen and the 5000/5100 has articulated. On the 5100, the screen has been increased to 3" the same as the 3100's fixed screen. The ISO range is greatly increased on the 5100 over both the 3100 and 5000. It appears (maybe a Nikon shooter can clarify) that the 5100 is using the same 16mp sensor that is used in the D7000 and also the Pentax K5 (which I am familar with). If it is, then it has arguably one of the best sensors on the market. If it was me and my choices were the cameras we've discussed and money was not an issue, I would go with the 5100. Being another brand of camera shooter, I would be remiss in not asking if you have looked at all the brands and handled the cameras. All the manufacturers are putting out quality products and many times it comes down to ergonomics and feel of the camera.

BoogasMom
05-04-2011, 10:17 AM
You sound very educated on the subject of cameras. Thank you for your response.

To answer your question, I have not ruled out any other manufacturer's cameras. The only things I am positive about are that the camera needs to be an "entry level" DSLR because of the stage of photography I am at AND because of the types of pictures that I am interested in taking and I know my budget is also one of an "entry level" DSLR. :)

Which other manufacturers are suggested that I look at? I am going to the store on my lunch break and handle some of them to see what fits my hands the best. I am just confused as to what features that I should look for and guess I'm too hung up on the MP number???

zackiedawg
05-04-2011, 10:18 AM
Indeed, just to verify, the Nikon D5100 is using the same Sony 16MP sensor used in the Sony A580, Nikon D7000 & Pentax K5. It's a very good sensor.

The 3100 and 5000 use the previous 14MP Sony sensor, which itself is a very solid sensor and excellent performer - so it isn't a slouch by any measure - you can shoot well up to ISO3200-6400 and still get usable results.

You already pointed out the primary body differences between the 3100 & 5000 - I'm not sure if the OP is considering the better 5100 - my guess is the price range of the 3100 & 5000 was a fair bit lower than the 5100, and that's what the OP was comparing. The 3100 is technically a newer camera than the D5000...though not by a full model year. Small body differences like the flip out LCD and a few deeper menu functions and such are what differentiate them. Both the 3100 and 5000 are considered entry-level Nikons, both lack the in-body focus motor of the higher-end models and so have the same lens limitations. Both would very likely perform well beyond the needs of an average photographer new to DSLRs. Note that most photographers never come close to pushing a DSLR to its limits, so really any DSLR, even the most entry level one, can perform well enough for 90% of the shooters out there. Only once you get into the small enthusiast photographer group do minor differences in specifications or abilities really start to become important. Your average shooter doesn't shoot handheld by candlelight in a coal mine, or shoot sideline at a football game with a 1000mm lens, or shoot running cheetahs at dusk on safari in Kenya from the back of a moving Land Rover. Most of the features and abilities many of us gush over wouldn't honestly be needed or accessed by the average shooter, so don't worry too much about not getting a 'good enough' DSLR - if you take travel shots, family shots, and the occasional shot that a P&S cannot do well such as a running child or dark interior, any DSLR can handle this, and the lens you use will be a bigger factor than the small differences between two similar models or two equal-priced brands.

BoogasMom
05-04-2011, 10:24 AM
Indeed, just to verify, the Nikon D5100 is using the same Sony 16MP sensor used in the Sony A580, Nikon D7000 & Pentax K5. It's a very good sensor.

The 3100 and 5000 use the previous 14MP Sony sensor, which itself is a very solid sensor and excellent performer - so it isn't a slouch by any measure - you can shoot well up to ISO3200-6400 and still get usable results.

You already pointed out the primary body differences between the 3100 & 5000 - I'm not sure if the OP is considering the better 5100 - my guess is the price range of the 3100 & 5000 was a fair bit lower than the 5100, and that's what the OP was comparing. The 3100 is technically a newer camera than the D5000...though not by a full model year. Small body differences like the flip out LCD and a few deeper menu functions and such are what differentiate them. Both the 3100 and 5000 are considered entry-level Nikons, both lack the in-body focus motor of the higher-end models and so have the same lens limitations. Both would very likely perform well beyond the needs of an average photographer new to DSLRs. Note that most photographers never come close to pushing a DSLR to its limits, so really any DSLR, even the most entry level one, can perform well enough for 90% of the shooters out there. Only once you get into the small enthusiast photographer group do minor differences in specifications or abilities really start to become important. Your average shooter doesn't shoot handheld by candlelight in a coal mine, or shoot sideline at a football game with a 1000mm lens, or shoot running cheetahs at dusk on safari in Kenya from the back of a moving Land Rover. Most of the features and abilities many of us gush over wouldn't honestly be needed or accessed by the average shooter, so don't worry too much about not getting a 'good enough' DSLR - if you take travel shots, family shots, and the occasional shot that a P&S cannot do well such as a running child or dark interior, any DSLR can handle this, and the lens you use will be a bigger factor than the small differences between two similar models or two equal-priced brands.

These are exactly the types of shots I will be taking. I have two boys who are active in sports and I'm really tired of blurry baseball and swimming shots and not being able to shoot well at games that occur at dusk and beyond with my P&S.

With all that being said, is there any other "less expensive" model DSLR camera that I should consider with the addition of another lens to it?

zackiedawg
05-04-2011, 10:26 AM
Which other manufacturers are suggested that I look at? I am going to the store on my lunch break and handle some of them to see what fits my hands the best. I am just confused as to what features that I should look for and guess I'm too hung up on the MP number???

Sorry, my response was typed about the time you were posting your second reply, so I didn't address any of your second question...my own input here would be to consider them all. Honestly, that's not a blow-off or standardized response - it's true - it doesn't matter whether you go with Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus - all make good cameras and better cameras, all will easily meet your needs, and all will give you room to grow and learn.

Depending on if you have a 'hard' budget number, I'd say look at: the two Nikons you mentioned, or the D5100 if it fits within your budget as it has some nice improvements over the other two; the Canon T2 or T3 - the T3 is a nice improvement, but the T2 is still plenty capable; the Sony A500/550 if you can find them on closeout - like the D5000 and D3100 these are last-years' models and share the same sensor, otherwise look at the A33 or A560/580 if those two fit the budget; Pentax KX (along with the Sony A500 & Nikon D5000, this too shares last year's Sony sensor and would meet your needs well) or the newer KR. Possible other considerations might be the mirrorless cameras, if you want to go smaller or lighter but still have interchangeable lenses - look at Panasonic GH or GF1, Olympus Pen EP-L1, or Sony NEX3 or NEX5.

Don't worry about megapixels or brand name - both are the least important factors for entry-level DSLR needs. Worry about ergonomics - how they feel in your hand - control layout. Sensor-wise, any of the above will be as close as not to equal - all good in low light and with decent dynamic range - maybe some other features might be worth considering if they are important to you, such as video specifications or abilities, live view systems and abilities, stabilization types or in-body systems, or special features like built-in HDR, panorama, stacking, bracketing, etc.

cadek
05-04-2011, 10:48 AM
I'm new to the DSLR world too, so I can't offer much advice. I recently bought the Canon T3i. I think it's a great entry level camera, as others have mentioned. Sadly I haven't made the time to play with it as much as I should. :sad2: I do like the live view option. Coming from a point and shoot it's nice to have that option. I believe it has an on camera guide that tells you a little about each setting. I love the HD video, but I'm not sure how good the sound is. I've only tried that once.

I can't say that it is better than other cameras and that is why I chose it. I just prefer Canon. :confused3

When I am thinking about buying something, I usually drive myself nuts reading the reviews on Amazon.

Sorry I'm not much help, but just wanted to mention that camera.

Gianna'sPapa
05-04-2011, 10:48 AM
Sorry, my response was typed about the time you were posting your second reply, so I didn't address any of your second question...my own input here would be to consider them all. Honestly, that's not a blow-off or standardized response - it's true - it doesn't matter whether you go with Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus - all make good cameras and better cameras, all will easily meet your needs, and all will give you room to grow and learn.

Depending on if you have a 'hard' budget number, I'd say look at: the two Nikons you mentioned, or the D5100 if it fits within your budget as it has some nice improvements over the other two; the Canon T2 or T3 - the T3 is a nice improvement, but the T2 is still plenty capable; the Sony A500/550 if you can find them on closeout - like the D5000 and D3100 these are last-years' models and share the same sensor, otherwise look at the A33 or A560/580 if those two fit the budget; Pentax KX (along with the Sony A500 & Nikon D5000, this too shares last year's Sony sensor and would meet your needs well) or the newer KR. Possible other considerations might be the mirrorless cameras, if you want to go smaller or lighter but still have interchangeable lenses - look at Panasonic GH or GF1, Olympus Pen EP-L1, or Sony NEX3 or NEX5.

Don't worry about megapixels or brand name - both are the least important factors for entry-level DSLR needs. Worry about ergonomics - how they feel in your hand - control layout. Sensor-wise, any of the above will be as close as not to equal - all good in low light and with decent dynamic range - maybe some other features might be worth considering if they are important to you, such as video specifications or abilities, live view systems and abilities, stabilization types or in-body systems, or special features like built-in HDR, panorama, stacking, bracketing, etc.

:thumbsup2 I was hoping you were going to jump in here!

BoogasMom
05-05-2011, 12:00 PM
Thanks to everyone for your responses/advice. I went out last night and looked at some of my options in person. I decided finally on the Nikon 3100 and bought it. I love it so far!! Now on to research larger zoom lenses as the next purchase! :rotfl:

Gianna'sPapa
05-05-2011, 12:17 PM
Congratulations. Let the fun begin. I'm sure many here will help spend your money!:rotfl2: