I'm hoping to get some experienced advice in a certain matter. I will be attending the Illinois Institute of Art for a B.F.A. in Digital Photography soon. I've been researching my camera options - both in stores and online. I have obtained opinions from instructors, employees at camera stores and many online reviews, rants, raves, etc. And yet, I still can't narrow down which camera to purchase. I am stuck between the D5100 and the D3100.
I was just in a camera store, and the employee explained to me I am better off buying the D3100 because the body is cheaper, and he would suggest putting money toward lenses instead of a more expensive body. He also said the differences between the D5100 and the D3100 are minimal and, in my case, won't make a real difference.
While trying to balance cost and quality - I'm finding it very difficult to find a middle ground. I don't plan on using video, so there's that. Just as I think I know which one or the other that I'm going to buy, I read something that puts me off for another few days. I don't claim to be an expert photographer yet, but I am quite skilled with a point and shoot. I know the basic differences of the D5100 and the D3100 (fps, etc) but I cannot tell if one or the other is impractical to last me 2 years of photography classes? Could anyone offer me solid evidence to make my choice?
Since my father was a photo instructor at a few of the photography schools in Chicago, I just felt a need to at least reply to your post.
First, I think that the employee who gave you his advice was earnest and correct. You can do almost everything with the D3100 that you can do with the D5100, and since it will be your first DSLR, there is no reason to spend the extra more money for a D5100. I have a D3s and a D3100 for my travel camera, and I can tell you that the D3100 is a very good camera.
Second, after you have gained some experience and learned the "ropes" you may want to get a different and more advanced camera, so why spend the extra money on your first camera.
I'm sure that Marty will weigh-in on this one too, because we have both dealt with Central Camera in Chicago on Wabash at Jackson.
If you want any additional information, please fee free to send me an email.
Does your father teach anymore? I'll be going to the Ai in Schaumburg but I'm a short way from downtown. I'll be sure to check out the camera shop you mentioned. I was referred to Helix Camera but have yet to visit there.
Sun 26-Feb-12 04:33 AM | edited Sun 26-Feb-12 10:41 PM by jpFoto
No, my father does not teach anymore.
As for camera stores, and although Marty and I have great memories of the "old" Central, I just stopped in there, and it didn't appear to me to be the same pro shop that it used to be, although I have no doubt that the personnel and service is just as good as it always was. Helix and Calumet may be better bets these days, so don't make a special trip.
Keep us posted on your experiences with your photography classes.
Welcome to Nikonians! Both bodies are extremely capable. In fact more capable in many regards than even the Pro film bodies of 20 years ago. You have been given excellent advise. The main advantage the D5100 has over the D 3100 is about a 2/3rd stop of high ISO performance. That said, for shooting indoor sports in most situations, 2/3rds of a stop won't be enough to make a meaningful difference. Camera bodies come and go ( which is much more true of DSLR's with about a two year production cycle than it was for film bodies with about an 8 year production cycle), Glass is a lifetime investment. The D3100 should serve you very well for the next two years and beyond. Remember that its not the camera that makes the image, it is the one standing behind the camera. Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!