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Nikon D5100 Digital SLR Camera vs D3100

Updated on April 10, 2012
Nikon D5100 DSLR
Nikon D5100 DSLR

The Nikon D5100 digital SLR camera offers some new features that improve the design of the D3100. One area that Nikon made huge improvements with their new D5100 vs the D3100 is the high definition video recording. The camera display screen is also more advanced on the new camera. Many of the best features of the D3100 were kept the same, all with only a 3.7 ounce increase in the camera weight. Why fix what isn't broken? Here are some of the upgrades with the new Nikon D5100 camera.

New Screen

The D5100 features a new flip screen. The D3100 screen is fixed to the camera body. The D5100 screen can flip up and swivel to almost any angle. This is a great feature, but for camera users who are worried about damaging the camera the new screen may cause anxiety. While the new screen monitor size stays the same the resolution was improved to over 900,000 dots from 230,000 dots. The viewing angle is also improved to 170 degrees. Overall, the screen is a big improvement, particularly when shooting video. Since most camera shots typically use the viewfinder, the new screen will not matter as much for users who only plan to use the camera for photos.

High Definition Video Improvements

Shooting video on the D5100 is the greatest improvement compared to the D3100. The new camera is now as good or better than a good quality HD video camera. Previously, I always carried around my Sony HD camcorder and my D3100. Now with better video control, the only camera I need is the Nikon.

The largest improvement is with the image stabilizing and auto focus of the video. For those familiar with the D3100, shooting video required constant readjustment of the focus by pressing the shutter release button. Now this is all automatic, and since the Nikon has an incredible CMOS sensor and a better lens, the Sony camcorder video is now a distant second place.

The D5100 also now features full 1080p high definition video, shooting 30 frames per second. This is a big improvement from the D3100's 24 frames per second. The video is now smooth and ready for a large flat panel TV. A small item was also added for video that will be huge for some. An external mic mini-pin jack was added for those who want to add an external microphone for their video.

New DX Sensor

The DX CMOS sensor on the Nikon D5100 is also improved vs the D3100. The new camera features 16.9M total pixels, which is an increase from 14.8M pixels. The RAW format is also improved to the new 14-bit recording. This new camera body allows a top continuous image shots of 4 full frames per second, which is one more image than the old camera. Photographers who take action shots will appreciate gaining one more photo per second. These are not huge improvements over the D3100, but both cameras feature the new generation of CMOS sensor which is a huge improvement over the old D90 cameras.

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