Nikon D3100 vs. Nikon D5100

What's the Difference?

The Nikon D3100 and Nikon D5100 are both entry-level DSLR cameras that offer excellent image quality and user-friendly features. The D3100 is a slightly older model, released in 2010, while the D5100 was released in 2011. The D5100 offers a higher resolution sensor, with 16.2 megapixels compared to the D3100's 14.2 megapixels. Additionally, the D5100 has a swivel LCD screen, allowing for more flexible shooting angles. Both cameras have similar ISO ranges and autofocus systems, but the D5100 has a higher maximum ISO sensitivity. Overall, the D5100 offers some improvements over the D3100, but both cameras are great options for beginners or enthusiasts looking for a reliable and affordable DSLR.


AttributeNikon D3100Nikon D5100
Resolution14.2 MP16.2 MP
Image SensorCMOSCMOS
ISO Range100-3200 (expandable to 12800)100-6400 (expandable to 25600)
Autofocus Points1111
Video Resolution1080p1080p
LCD Screen Size3.0 inches3.0 inches
Battery Life550 shots660 shots

Further Detail


When it comes to entry-level DSLR cameras, Nikon has been a popular choice among photography enthusiasts. The Nikon D3100 and Nikon D5100 are two models that have gained significant attention in the market. Both cameras offer excellent image quality, user-friendly features, and versatility. In this article, we will compare the attributes of the Nikon D3100 and Nikon D5100 to help you make an informed decision about which camera suits your needs.

Design and Build Quality

The Nikon D3100 and Nikon D5100 share a similar design language with a sturdy build quality. However, the D5100 has a slightly larger and heavier body compared to the D3100. This can be attributed to the D5100's articulating screen, which allows for more flexible shooting angles. On the other hand, the D3100 is more compact and lightweight, making it easier to carry around for extended periods.

Both cameras feature a comfortable grip, ensuring a secure hold while shooting. The button layout on both models is intuitive and user-friendly, allowing for quick access to essential settings. However, the D5100 offers a dedicated mode dial, providing direct access to various shooting modes, while the D3100 relies on a combination of buttons and menus for mode selection.

Image Quality

When it comes to image quality, both the Nikon D3100 and Nikon D5100 deliver exceptional results. They feature a 14.2-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor, which produces sharp and detailed images with vibrant colors. The image processing engine in both cameras ensures accurate color reproduction and low noise levels, even in low-light conditions.

However, the D5100 has an edge over the D3100 in terms of ISO performance. It offers a wider ISO range of 100-6400, expandable up to 25600, allowing for better low-light performance and reduced noise in high ISO settings. The D3100, on the other hand, has a native ISO range of 100-3200, expandable up to 12800.

Both cameras support RAW image capture, providing greater flexibility in post-processing. Additionally, they offer various picture control settings, allowing users to customize the look and feel of their images according to their preferences.

Autofocus and Performance

When it comes to autofocus performance, the Nikon D5100 takes the lead. It features a 11-point autofocus system, including a cross-type sensor in the center, which ensures fast and accurate focusing. The D3100, on the other hand, has a 11-point autofocus system without a cross-type sensor, which may result in slightly slower focusing in certain situations.

In terms of continuous shooting speed, the D5100 offers a faster burst rate of 4 frames per second, compared to the D3100's 3 frames per second. This can be advantageous for capturing fast-moving subjects or sports photography. Both cameras have a decent buffer capacity, allowing for a good number of continuous shots before the buffer fills up.

Both the D3100 and D5100 feature a built-in pop-up flash, which comes in handy for low-light situations or fill-in flash. They also support external flash units, providing more advanced lighting options for photographers who require additional control over their lighting setups.

Video Capabilities

Both the Nikon D3100 and Nikon D5100 offer video recording capabilities, allowing users to capture high-definition videos. However, the D5100 has a slight advantage in this aspect. It can record full HD videos at 1080p resolution, while the D3100 is limited to 720p HD videos.

Furthermore, the D5100 offers more advanced video features, such as manual exposure control, external microphone input, and continuous autofocus during video recording. These features make the D5100 a better choice for videographers or those who prioritize video capabilities.

Additional Features

Both cameras come with a range of additional features that enhance the overall shooting experience. They offer built-in image stabilization, which helps reduce camera shake and allows for sharper handheld shots. Additionally, they have a built-in dust reduction system, which vibrates the sensor to remove any dust particles that may affect image quality.

The D5100 has an articulating screen, which can be tilted and swiveled for shooting from various angles, including self-portraits or high/low-angle shots. This feature adds versatility to the camera and makes it easier to compose shots in challenging situations. The D3100, on the other hand, has a fixed screen.

Both cameras have an optical viewfinder, which provides a clear and real-time view of the scene. However, the D5100 offers a slightly larger viewfinder with 95% coverage, compared to the D3100's 92% coverage. This means that the D5100 provides a more accurate representation of the final image.


After comparing the attributes of the Nikon D3100 and Nikon D5100, it is clear that both cameras offer excellent image quality, user-friendly features, and versatility. The D5100 has some advantages over the D3100, such as a wider ISO range, better autofocus performance, faster burst rate, and advanced video capabilities. However, the D3100 is more compact, lightweight, and budget-friendly, making it a great option for beginners or those on a tight budget.

Ultimately, the choice between the Nikon D3100 and Nikon D5100 depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you prioritize advanced features and better performance, the D5100 is the way to go. However, if portability and affordability are more important to you, the D3100 is a solid choice. Whichever camera you choose, both the D3100 and D5100 will undoubtedly help you capture stunning images and embark on your photography journey.

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