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Nikon D3100 vs D5200

The Nikon D3100 and the Nikon D5200 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2010 and November 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The D3100 has a resolution of 14.2 megapixels, whereas the D5200 provides 24 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D3100 versus Nikon D5200
Nikon D3100 Nikon D5200
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
14.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 24 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/24p Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 100-3,200 (100 - 12,800) ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 25,600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
550 shots per battery charge500 shots per battery charge
124 x 96 x 75 mm, 505 g 129 x 98 x 78 mm, 555 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3100 and the Nikon D5200? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D3100 and the Nikon D5200. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, red).

Size Nikon D3100 vs Nikon D5200
Compare D3100 versus D5200 top
Comparison D3100 or D5200 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D5200 is notably larger (6 percent) than the Nikon D3100. Moreover, the D5200 is markedly heavier (10 percent) than the D3100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3100 nor the D5200 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D3100 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 550 n Aug 2010 599i
 
Nikon D5200 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 500 n Nov 2012 749i
 
Nikon D5600 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 16.4 oz 970 n Nov 2016 699 i
 
Nikon D3300 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.2 oz 700 n Jan 2014 499i
 
Nikon D5300 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 16.9 oz 600 n Oct 2013 799i
 
Nikon D3200 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 540 n Apr 2012 599i
 
Nikon D5100 5.0 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.8 oz 660 n Apr 2011 749i
 
Nikon D7000 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 27.5 oz 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499i
 
Nikon D3000 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 18.9 oz 500 n Jul 2009 599i
 
Nikon D5000 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D60 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 500 n Jan 2008 629i
 
Nikon D40X 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 520 n Mar 2007 729i
 
Nikon D40 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 470 n Nov 2006 499i
 
Sony NEX-5N 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.5 oz 460 n Aug 2011 699i
 
Sony NEX-C3 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 7.9 oz 400 n Jun 2011 599i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The D3100 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the D5200, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D5200 is 3 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, the D5200 uses a more advanced image processing engine (EXPEED 3) than the D3100 (EXPEED 2), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Nikon D3100 and Nikon D5200 sensor measures

With 24MP, the D5200 offers a higher resolution than the D3100 (14.2MP), but the D5200 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 5.01μm for the D3100). Yet, the D5200 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 2 months) than the D3100, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D5200 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D5200 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3100 are 23 x 15.4 inches or 58.5 x 39 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 12.3 inches or 46.8 x 31.2 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 10.2 inches or 39 x 26 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D3100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D5200 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.

D3100 versus D5200 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D5200 offers substantially better image quality than the D3100 (overall score 17 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.7 bits higher color depth, 2.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
 
Nikon D5200 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.213.9128484
 
Nikon D5600 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684
 
Nikon D3300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883
 
Nikon D3200 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.2113181
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380
 
Nikon D7000 APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
 
Sony NEX-5N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.612.7107977
 
Sony NEX-C3 APS-C 16.0 4912 3264720/30p22.712.2108373

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the D5200 provides a faster frame rate than the D3100. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the D3100 is limited to 1080/24p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D3100 and the D5200 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the D3100 has a higher magnification than the one of the D5200 (0.53x vs 0.51x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D3100 and Nikon D5200 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5200optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5600optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3300optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5300optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3200optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5100optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D7000optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D60optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Sony NEX-5Noptional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n
 
Sony NEX-C3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n n
The D5200 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the D3100 does not have a selfie-screen.

The Nikon D5200 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the D3100 and the D5200 write their files to SDXC cards. The D5200 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D3100 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

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Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D3100 and Nikon D5200 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5200YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5600YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Nikon D3300YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5300YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Nikon D3200YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5100YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D7000YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3000Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D60Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D40XY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---
 
Sony NEX-5NYstereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-C3Ystereomono--mini2.0---

It is notable that the D5200 has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The D3100 does not feature such a mic input.

Both the D3100 and the D5200 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3100 was replaced by the Nikon D3200, while the D5200 was followed by the Nikon D5300. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D3100 and the Nikon D5200? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3100:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.53x vs 0.51x).
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2010).


Advantages of the Nikon D5200:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 14.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 30%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.7 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (EXPEED 3 vs EXPEED 2).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/24p).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 2 months of technical progress since the D3100 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D5200 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 3 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D3100 03:15 D5200

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D3100 and the Nikon D5200 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D3100 and the D5200 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D3100+ +72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599i
 
Nikon D5200+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2012 749i
 
Nikon D5600..79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i
 
Nikon D3300+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499i
 
Nikon D5300+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799i
 
Nikon D3200+ +73/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599i
 
Nikon D5100+ +76/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749i
 
Nikon D7000..80/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499i
 
Nikon D3000+72/1004/53.5/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599i
 
Nikon D5000+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D6080/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Jan 2008 629i
 
Nikon D40X79/100+ +4/5o4/5 Mar 2007 729i
 
Nikon D4081/100+ +o5/54.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
 
Sony NEX-5N+ +79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2011 699i
 
Sony NEX-C3+ +74/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Nikon D3100:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D5200:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D3100 vs Nikon D5200

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon D3100 Nikon D5200
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2010 November 2012
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Nikon D3100 Nikon D5200
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.1 x 15.4 mm 23.5 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 355.74 mm2 366.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 27.8 mm 28.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 14.2 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3072 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.01 μm 3.91 μm
    Pixel Density 3.98 MP/cm2 6.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/24p Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    Image Processor EXPEED 2 EXPEED 3
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 67 84
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.5 24.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.3 13.9
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 919 1284
    Screen Specs Nikon D3100 Nikon D5200
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x 0.51x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D3100 Nikon D5200
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D3100 Nikon D5200
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D3100 Nikon D5200
    Battery Type EN-EL14 EN-EL14
    Battery Life (CIPA)550 shots per charge500 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 124 x 96 x 75 mm
    (4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
    129 x 98 x 78 mm
    (5.1 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 505 g (17.8 oz) 555 g (19.6 oz)

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