Nikon D3200 vs D5100: Which Camera Is Better?
If you are in a hurry! here is a quick comparison of Nikon D5100 vs Nikon D3200.
128 x 97 x 79mm
125 x 96 x 77mm
100 - 6400 (boosted to 25600)
100 - 6400 (boosted to 12800)
1920 x 1080 px
1920 x 1080 px
Max frame rate
Wi-Fi & GPS
If you are in the market for a new camera, there are a lot of specifications you need to go through to understand which camera is better. It doesn’t mean that you would get a better camera if you go for a bigger series.
For example, choosing the Nikon D5X series over D3X doesn’t necessarily mean that it is better since most of the newer series in the same price range are outdated.
However, in this detailed comparison, we will put Nikon D5100 vs D3200 head-to-head and find out which camera you should buy.
Nikon is a Japanese multinational corporation widely known for its imaging products, such as optics and cameras. They are one of the oldest companies in the imaging and video business, operating for more than one century.
They’ve built their reputation by manufacturing durable and high-quality products that followed the latest technology trends, all coming at the best price. Over the years, they’ve built some innovative products that are pushing the limits of technology.
If you decide to go with Nikon, you can expect nothing less than perfection.
Even though the D5 series is a bit more advanced than the D3 series, these models are still beginner-friendly and a great way to start your photography career.
The D5100 comes with a sensor without a low-pass filter, which is an excellent feature for a DSLR since it allows you to capture moments in more detail.
In terms of design, the D5100 features the same signature robust design that Nikon is known for. The shell of the D5100 is made using monocoque constructions, which means that it is made from a single piece of material. This means that the camera feels tougher and light since fewer screws are holding it together.
The D5100 has a small body providing a tight grip and making handling much easier.
The D5100 comes with a 3-inch LCD non-touch sensitive display that pops out of the body and can swivel around in different angles.
Unfortunately, the D5100 comes with an older generation of image-processing engine EXPEED 2, which is not as fast as the latest cameras with EXPEED 4.
Surprisingly, the DX-format CMOS sensor on the D5100 can be found in more professional cameras like the D7000. Additionally, the D5100 comes with a 16.2-megapixel, which is not the best class in the category but still provides an excellent picture quality with high pixel density.
In terms of video quality, the D5100 can shoot Full HD (1920x1080) at 30,25 or 24frames per second.
On the other hand, we have the lower generation but newer Nikon D3200. This is a beginner-friendly camera that features a compact design, and it is lighter than most of its competitors.
As an improvement, the D3200 shoots with a 24.2MP, which is crucial for improving the pixel density and overall image quality, visible on large-format prints.
In terms of design, the D3200 comes in the signature Nikon design, and it is available in two different colors (black or red).
Unfortunately, the D3200 comes with a fixed 3-inch LCD and has few extra buttons on the left side on display to improve the device’s usability.
The D3200 comes with an APS-C sensor and a more advanced image processing engine EXPEED 3. This means there is more noise reduction, improved processing speed, and color
Like most DSLRs, the D3200 can shoot at full HD (1920 x 1080p) at different frames. You will be glad to hear that this camera can also shoot 720p with 60fps, which is better for shooting a slow-motion video.
Overall, it is a great beginner-friendly camera with improved technology that will increase your final product quality.
Nikon D5100 vs D3200 - Face-To-Face
To the naked eye, both cameras look identical. They have the same monocoque construction standards, which means they are tough and will last for a lifetime.
In terms of size, the D3200 is slightly more compact than the D5100 but not something that is noticeable. In fact, the D3200 is only 3% larger than the D5100, which doesn’t make a big difference.
However, the D5100 is 55 grams heavier than the D3200, which is noticeable, especially if you are using the camera for a long time. Neither model is water-sealed, so you have to be careful in specific weather conditions.
Like most Nikon cameras, they have the same lens mount, so you will be able to use your previous model’s lenses.
The most significant difference in terms of design is the LCD. As we mentioned, the D5100 comes with an LCD that pops out of the body and can swivel around to get an odd-angle image or video.
On the other hand, the D3200 comes with the same 3-inch size display, but it is fixed to the body.
Winner: Nikon D5100
One of the essential parts of the camera is the sensor that determines the image quality. Larger sensors tend to have a better pixel density, improved low-light sensitivity, a more comprehensive dynamic range, and a rich color-depth.
In this situation, both cameras come with the same APS-C sensor, but they are slightly different in size. The sensor area on the Nikon D5100 is 4 percent bigger. Other than that, they have the same format factor of 1.5 and the native aspect ratio of 3:2.
Having an excellent sensor quality must be backed up by a powerful chip that will process every image or video.
In this case, the D3200 has a more advanced image processing engine, the EXPEED 3, compared to the EXPEED 2 on the D5100. This means that the D3200 has better noise-reduction features, improved color correction, and faster processing speed than the D5100.
Winner: Nikon D3200
Pixel Quality and Sensitivity
If you are concerned about image resolution, you should go with the Nikon D3200 since it comes with 24.1 megapixels than the 16.1 megapixels of the Nikon D5100.
Higher pixel density will improve the quality of your photo. Still, it should not be a primary deciding factor since the image quality difference will be visible only on large-scale prints.
The resolution on the Nikon D3200 offers great flexibility in terms of cropping images or printing larger pictures. With that said, the D5100 still provides high-quality images with great picture density that is not noticeable on regular screens.
In terms of sensitivity range, the Nikon D3200 can be tuned from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. On the other hand, the D5100 comes with a better sensitivity range of ISO 100-6400, which can be increased to ISO 100-25600.
Winner: Nikon D3200
Battery life is an important part of your DSLR. Fortunately, both cameras have a decent battery life, which is enough to last for a few days depending on the usage.
Both cameras have the same EN-EL 14 Lithium-Ion battery, which is a great performer in DSLR’s.
However, the D5100 has a 20% longer battery life than the D3200. The D5100 is capable of shooting around 660 shots between charges, whereas the D3200 can only shoot 540 shots.
Winner: Nikon D5100
Since we are talking about budget DSLRs, we cannot expect many connectivity options. Both cameras don’t come with built-in Wi-Fi or GPS.
However, if these features are important to you, you can purchase an external adapter that allows you to connect your camera to GPS and use geo-tag and transfer images via Wi-Fi.
Otherwise, all images or videos must be transferred via USB or memory card.
Both cameras have great image effect modes such as color selection or night vision and six types of picture controls and 19 in-camera editing capabilities to make quick adjustments to the image on your camera.
Even though the D3200 comes with the same six types of picture control, it doesn’t have in-camera editing functions. You need to transfer your images or videos on your computer and use multimedia editing software to make adjustments.
Winner: Nikon D5100
Stand Out Features Of Nikon D5100
The Nikon D5100 comes with a built-in intervalometer that enables you to capture incredible time-lapse sequences. This feature optimizes the camera for low frequency shooting to get the best result.
So, if you like to shoot time-lapse videos like sunrise or flower bloom, the D5100 is the camera to go for.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
Another great feature on the Nikon D5100 is the HDR. With this feature enabled, the camera captures not one but two images with multi-exposure every time you press the shutter button.
As a result, you’ll get high-quality pictures with higher contrast, better tones, less noise, and more detail.
The biggest advantage of the D5100 is the fully articulating screen. This gives the camera and you a lot of flexibility as a photographer since it can be titled, turned, or swiveled.
This is a significant advantage, especially for shooting and capturing angles that cannot be reached with a fixed screen.
Additionally, if you are a vlogger or streamer, you can turn the display to you to see everything that is going on. It is a selfie-friendly feature that you will definitely appreciate.
Higher Extended Maximum ISO
ISO deals with the sensor sensitivity on your DSLR to use the light that passes through the lens. The higher the ISO number, the better and clearer image quality in a low light environment.
The D5100 reaches up to 25600, which is good enough for an entry-level camera. However, higher ISO during image capture tends noise or grain to occur.
Stand Out Features of Nikon D3200
Comfortability and Handling
Since the D3200 is a very compact camera, lighter and smaller than most of its competitors, it is the perfect beginner-friendly camera if you are just starting with photography.
The camera is small and provides a tight grip so you will be able to handle long practice sessions without any discomfort.
Advanced Image Processor
Most people don’t pay attention to the image processor fitted on DSLR’s, but it is crucial for capturing high-quality images and processing them fast. Fortunately, the D2300 is equipped with the improved EXPEED 3 image processor, which is not the latest processor but still works great with the D3200.
The EXPEED 3 brings many advantages, such as faster processing speed of images or videos, improved color accuracy, and excellent noise reduction. This means that the D3200 can produce higher-quality images even compared to a DSLR with better specifications but an older image processor.
Slow Motion Video
Another great option for the D3200 is the ability to shoot 720p videos at 60fps. This feature will enable you to capture a better slow-motion video. Both cameras can shoot Full HD video at 60fps, but the D5100 720p video option can only capture at 25fps.
More: Check our details review of Nikon D7200 VS D7500 here
Even though the D3200 is an entry-level camera option, it provides incredible color depth, much better than most of its competitors, even compared to the D5100. It has a color depth of 24.1 bits, which heavily influences the camera performance, especially during portrait photography.
Which Is Better Nikon D3200 Or Nikon D5100?
Choose the Nikon D5100 if:
- You want better moire control with an anti-alias filter.
- You want a higher ISO sensitivity.
- You don’t mind the lack of Wi-fi.
- You want a swivel LCD
- You want better battery life.
Choose the Nikon D3200 if:
- You want more color depth.
- You want a more beginner-friendly camera.
- You want a more compact camera.
- You want more megapixels.
- You want a more affordable camera.
Both cameras perform great, and they offer great value for the money. However, since the D3200 came out a year after the D5100, it has more advanced technology and provides a better image quality.
Usually, DSLR cameras are rated by release date just because they are equipped with more up-to-date technology. This means that two cameras with the same specifications released on different dates will have a different image and video quality.
That’s why the D3200 should be your preferred choice when it comes to these two DSLR’s. It has a sharper image quality and more powerful image processor, but fewer integrated feature.