The new Nikon D3100 vs D3000 vs D5000

Price Comparison (as of 9/26/11): D3100 is $529 (big drop from $600) at Amazon and the D5100 is $759


Update 5/09/2011: D5100 was announced at the beginning of April. See what’s new and some of my thoughts at this post: Nikon D5100 DSLR – What’s New and Impressions

The new D3100 really shakes up Nikon’s lineup of lower priced DSLRs. In my previous comparison between the D90, D5000 and D3000 I had a hard time recommending the D3000 and the extra money was well spent on the D5000. The D3100 changes this recommendation.

Major revisions to the D3100:

  • New 14MP CMOS sensor – big improvement over the D3000’s ancient CCD sensor
  • 1080p24 video – nonexistent on the D3000 and better than the D5000 and D90
  • Autofocus while recording a movie – a first on any Nikon DSLR, before you had to lock focus before recording and tweak it manually
  • Live view mode – brought over with the video features
  • Automatic chromatic aberration correction – This is big, fixes fringing in your pictures before they are saved, previously only on the D90 and D5000
  • Customizable function button

The D5000 is essentially obsolete now. The D3100 and D5000 have comparable sensors now and the inclusion of better video capability makes the decision between the D3100 and D5000 simple; until the D5000 is updated just get the D3100.

A lot of features from the D90 have been pushed down to the lower price points and the one thing that really sets the two consumer segments apart is the inclusion of an AF motor on D90. If you are going to use lenses without built in AF motors then the D90 (or it’s soon to be announced replacement) is still your only choice. If I was just starting out though, I wouldn’t hesitate to get the D3100 which beats the D5000 in bang for your buck.

You can get the Nikon D3100 from Amazon at a very competitive price.

92 Replies to “The new Nikon D3100 vs D3000 vs D5000”

  1. How can you say that the D5000 is so much better than the D3100 when you haven’t had it in your hands. No one should buy a DSLR for video. What makes the D3100 better than the D5000? Bigger screen, 2 more mega pixels, better video and dedicated shooting button….. That is not enough to say that it is a better choice. Those things are minimal. It is slower than the D5000 which is huge for may people. How well does it perform in low light? This is the biggest for me.

  2. I guess someone should tell Chase Jarvis that nobody should use a DSLR to shoot video: http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2010/09/nikon-d7000/. For that 1/1000 chance that I do want to shoot video, I’d rather get it for free on my DSLR than buy and lug around another camera.

    If the drop from 4fps to 3fps is a deal breaker than by all means get the D5000. If high fps is important to you as a shooter than I’d be surprised the D5000 qualifies as adequate. If I shot sports then the D300/D7000 would be the lowest thing I’d consider. This article is meant for people who would have trouble deciphering the major differences between models in Nikon’s consumer DSLR range.

    High ISO noise will be on par or better than the D5000 because of the inclusion of the new Expeed2 chip and new sensor. The low light performance gained from moving to a CMOS sensor from a CCD sensor is significant. This was the case with my upgrade from the D70 to D90.

    If I was buying my first DSLR, had a budget under $1000 and was trying to decide between the old D5000 and new D3100, I would choose the D3100. My opinion, nothing more. The D3000 was a woefully inadequate release and the D3100 corrects that. The D7000 moves the D90 position towards the D300 and the eventual D5000 upgrade will move that position towards the D90. In other words, we’re getting more for our money after each generation of cameras.

  3. thank you andrew, i wasnt sure between those 2 camaras even reading a lot of reviews on the net. I have decided buying the 3100 just after reading your comments. AND the model 3100 only weights 500 g !!!!
    regards

  4. I for one am going to go for the D5000. The 2mp doesn´t matter one bit for me. And the decreased speed for multishot is a setback. (D5000 4fps continously, D3100 3fps continously, conclusion: D5000 33% faster). On the contrary to what Andrew described I heard the D3100 doesn´t perform quite as well as the D5000 when it comes to shooting in poor lighting conditions, im not sure on what foot to stand when it comes to this question.

    The lower weight is definately no good thing when it comes to DSLR. And the movie thing really shouldn´t persuade anyone to buy a DSLR.

    Also i have come to like theese tilt screens.

    Na, for me it´s the D5000.

  5. My choice is a little dificult between the d3100,d300,d5000. Video is not so important to me as quality pics and speed i also intend to use probably two lenses as my first chouce will be 24-105 as fast as i can afford please comment openly as i only want to purchase 1 time only and i am progressing from print film thanks

  6. I have a Panasonic Lumix Z28 and it takes outstanding photos. I am into Landscape (Nature) photography.. Seascapes, light houses, sun sets, Mountain Ranges, flowers, rainbow’s. The Lumix with it’s Lyca lens has exceeded my expectations. I have also heard the difference between the TOP Dog bridge camera (Point and shoot) and the least of the SLR’s is the difference between night and day. Is that really true??? I bought a refurbished Nikon D3000 from Adorama in early Spring to use in the Texas Hill Country. It has been a TOTAL WASTE it shuts off after 3 seconds.. and the pictures are weird. Not true to color at all yellowish even. I asume this “camera” is NOT Truly representative of Nikon??? I expect more from an SLR than what this “camera” has given me!!! I know Canon and Nikon produce good quality. So either I have it on a wrong setting, or this “camera” is FLAWED!?! I am planning a big trip in the Spring up the Callifornia and Oregon Coast and to Mount Rainier and back down thru Colorado. I hope to have a GOOD and FUNCTIONAL SLR by January that delivers the photos that I have seen other’s display- the quality. Now here is the deal- I have planned to make a donation of a camera to this person I know , I was planning to buy them a digital point and shoot valued at roughly 300-350 dollars. But maybe I should get this camera (my Nikon D3000) inspected and repaired and give that to her, and buy me either a Nikon D3100 or D5000…
    Should I repair and keep my D3000, or Buy one of the above mentioned cameras?? (I already planned to bestow a new camera on this other person) so that affords me a unique opportunity to correct my S-T-U-P-I-D MISTAKE this Spring of buying a Refurbshed SLR from a Third Rate camera store. I must never do THAT again!!
    What is the difference between a CMOS and ccd sensor?? (The difference between night and day??)

    Will a fully functional Nikon S3100 0r D5000 take substancially BETTER photos than the much celebrated Panasonic Lumix Z28?? (It is the King of the Point and Shoot to be sure!!) (At least in my opinion)
    I had contiplated either buying the NEW repplacement for my existing Panasonic Lumix or the Nikon SLR…

    The D3100 and D5000 have a CMOS Sensor don’t they . (So does the NEW Panasonic Lumic, but the sensor is still smaller than even the Nikon D3000 regardless.

    What I require of my NEXT camera is Super CRISP Clear, beautiful photos that captures the outdoor scenes I take with GREAT detail and DEEP RICH C-O-L-O-R!!!

    So which should I choose:
    a.)Nikon D3100, B.) Nikon D5000, C.) Panasonic Lumix

    Rodger Goolsby
    Dallas, TEXAS
    Fiercewaverider@aol.com
    (If anyone has an e-mail address that they would be wiling to share. I could send over some of these photos that I took down in the TEXAS Hill Country with my disappointing new refurbished Nikon D3000 and perhaps you might know if it is just on a wrong setting?)

  7. I’m having D5000 right now, and if you ask me to change it with the new D3100, I would say 100% no, cos the D5000 are faster at continuous shoot, 4 fps compare to D3100 – 3fps, man, that’s a whole different level to me.
    Try to do some research on more professional DSLR, watch their specs, believe me, they have more fps.

    And one more thing that’s important to me, using D5000, you can rotate the LCD too, enable you to take photo from extreme angle (high or low), it really really helps.

  8. This post is meant for people who are brand new to DSLR’s and are trying to decide between Nikon’s lower priced cameras. For someone just starting out the difference between 3 and 4 FPS is negligible. I’d be willing to hear where that extra 1 FPS would be a game changer.

    The rotating LCD adds no value to me. It adds some convenience in a few situations at the cost of increased fragility. If I had the D5000 the screen would be locked in place 99.9% of the time.

    The 1080p video on the D3100 beats the D5000’s 720p and some people would value that more than 1 FPS and flip out LCD screen. The smaller size of the D3100 might be a plus for most people too.

    So for someone starting out I still recommend the D3100 over the D5000. For someone already experienced with a DSLR I would recommend neither. I can’t use either camera because I now have lenses that do not have built in AF motors.

  9. I recently purchased a new nikon d3100. I am very happy with my purchase and am still learning about all of its variouse functions. I am brand new to photography and am completely stoked about making this my new hobby. I have the original lens and bought a zoom with the package deal offerd. I have one question about lenses with this type of camera. Can I use a lense that is manual focus??? Or is there a way to do that with these lenses that I’m not understanding???

  10. Rick,

    You can actually use any Nikon lens on the D3100 as far as I know, even pre-AI stuff from the 60’s and 70’s. You obviously won’t have autofocus, but you also lose metering capability so you’ll have to manually set your exposure in the M mode. The exception is AF and AF-D lenses, like the 50mm f/1.8, where you will still get metering. Other lens brands with Nikon mounts should be fine too.

  11. Thats great info Andrew, I’m happy to know this, it opens my options some. I was begining to believe that all of the auto everything on this camera was going to really limit my options. I am very new to dslr cameras and have alot to learn.

  12. ok………i want to buy my first dslr,i don’t have any experience with dslr,leave the tehnical details,which do you recomend D3000,D3100 or D5000???

  13. Hello everyone,

    I went through all the posts above, since I am also in a similar fix between d3100 and d5000! I am doing an extensive research prior to buying any of them, both online and offline, since I want to make this a one-time investment.

    I am an amateur photographer, depending mainly on what-I-see over geeky jargons and specs while shooting. I mainly tend to shoot portraits and landscapes with some macro. For me low light shooting is an imperative requirement and probably that’s the reason why I am inclining to Nikon over Canon, because of the former’s better higher ISO performance. Video shooting is not at all a priority for me, since I strongly believe that is NOT the reason why one uses a SLR cam. SLR is for capturing the moment as-the-eyes-see-it. Fullstop. Well that’s my personal view.

    Saying all these and going through the previous discussion, I think the main discriminator for either of the models are:
    1. FPS bursts – As already someone has mentioned, I do not think this should matter too much for an entry level DSLR where the user expectedly wouldn’t be much of an action photographer.
    2. Active D lightning – Not sure how much of a differentiator that is.If anyone can help me understand that?
    3. CMOS chip photosensitive area – Here I think the image sensor is bit larger in d5000. Apart from better shallow depth photography and post processing in software, how important advantageous is that?
    4. Effective pixels – Pixels are more in d3100, but again if you are not going to take a magnified print, that really wouldn’t matter. In that case I believe the good ol’ film prints still do a better job!
    5. Pricing – As of date Dec 2010, d3100 is cheaper in my country India.

    Finally, I reiterate the eternal fact, good photography depends more on the EYES of the two systems; user’s eye, ie, aesthetics and the camera’s eye, ie, the lens.

    Any comments/replies/corrections would be highly appreciated :-)

  14. Sutana,

    Sounds like you’ve got it figured out. I’ll just add on to your points with some of my thoughts:

    1. If speed really is important then you have to pay for it. This has always been the case when it comes to camera bodies.

    2. I still don’t know if I like Active D lighting. I usually have it off and just pay attention to my composition and lighting.

    3. The new CMOS sensor in the D3100 is practically the same as the D5000’s and D90’s. The noise on the old CCD sensors was very non-monochromatic and hard to correct. The noise on the CMOS sensor is monochromatic and much more pleasing. This is a huge plus and I’m no longer reluctant to shoot at ISO 1600 like I was on the D70.

    4. Pixel count doesn’t really matter unless you are trying to print posters. Biggest I’ve ever printed is 8″ x 12″ and they look great.

    5. The D5000 isn’t too old and it already needs a refresh. The D3100 is directly competing with its older brother and winning.

    Video: While I don’t have much use for video on a DSLR either, it is a compelling feature for people looking to move on from a point and shoot. High end DSLRs like the Canon 7D are being used to shoot TV shows and movies. Considering this is now included on DSLR bodies for free I don’t see how it hurts.

    And the person behind the camera matters more than the equipment. A good photographer can make good photos with a crappy camera. It is much harder for a crappy photographer to make good photos with a good camera. That’s probably why most of my shots are distinctly average.

  15. Hi,

    I would like to particulalry comment on the difference between CCD and CMOS sensor.

    CCD sensors, when fabricated properly will give much superior image quality than CMOS. This is the reason that CCD is used in some of the exclusive models of high end DSLRs manufactured by Mamiya. CCD sensors are used for superior image quality. CMOS (also know known APS) are meant for the secondary usage where image quality is secondary like mobile phones, security cams, webcams, etc.

    Do you know the technology used in Hubble Telescope?

    I am not saying D3000 is a superior camera just because it comes with a CCD sensor. Beacause the sensor, even though CCD, is not optimized enough to give good performence in low light conditions at higher ISOs.

    However, today, in the day where most of the people get wowed by 3200 ISO, 1080 HD and LiveView, CMOS can be the only solution to thier desires.

    Imagine a good quality DSLR with no video capability, ISO not more than 800, no live view but excellent image quality, I guess there will be hardly any takers even from semi-serious, semi-professional group, forget the people moving to DSLR from poin-and-shoot.

    Extraordinary features in a CMOS based DSLR comes at the cost of Image Quality whereas for CCD the greater image quality comes at the cost of unavailbility of eye-catching features like Video, higher ISOs.

    Do we know that the best DSLRs produced by Mamiya and Leica are CCD based and often come with a maximum ISO range of 800. Although these are all $10K models but will these attract common people even if the prices were $1K?

  16. Hello!, thanks for the comparison.
    I bought a D3000 kit not knowing the huge difference between D3100 and D3000, and I am definitively disappointed.
    I do not like the user interface, and I suspect the D3100 is as bad, though, so, I am not convinced it’s a good idea to upgrade

  17. Eduardo,

    The interface on most low end DSLR’s leave something to be desired. Buttons and dials have to be omitted because of their smaller size, but also to reduce perceived complexity. Someone starting out is mostly going to shoot the camera in AUTO and can get by accessing settings on the LCD. I assume that’s the aspect of the user interface you’re referring to?

  18. Because I am new to the dslr cameras I am still wrestling with all the different settings for the aperature and shutter speeds, understanding the purpose for the changes still alludes me. I will eventually understand it all. I just dont want to be the typical point and shoot automatic guy.My nikon d3100 has alot of options that I would like to explore with my new hobby

  19. Hello ,
    Firstly although an amateur, I’m not new to photography, so i know more than the basics of it.
    Secondly although this would be my first dslr I’ve used a bunch of ’em so i don’t really need things like guidance modes e.t.c
    Thirdly i’m not interested in faster fps or even video recording (if i would use it my handycam wouldn’t be lying around in the darkest corners of my cupboard). What i need is greater flexibility (e.g better flash options or braketing e.t.c)and shortcuts (e.g assignable buttons e.t.c). Along with these i need low high iso noise and good detailed pictures.
    Fourthly keeping these demands in mind which camera is better for me Nikon D3100 or Nikon D5000 (these are the only two cameras which fit my budget). I would highly appreciate any comments/suggestions/corrections e.t.c
    Thankyou

  20. im planning to buy a dslr and im choosing from d3100 or d5000. im not really into the video but more the the picture quality, please help me decide. and how much would d5000 cost compared to the d3100? im 16years old and this is gonna be my first dslr, i hope you could help me with the advices that u may offer. and by the way, i know nothing yet about dslr’s, i have been researching though.

  21. Not a fan of that 3100… But I recently got my Nikon D5000 kit lens and after a month of using it. I thought of getting the D90 instead. I haven’t actually tried to use a D90 but with it’s other features that a D5000 doesn’t have, I think it is okay for an upgrade. I am planning to sell my D5000, do you think it’s worth it?

  22. Very good points and all of them touch on what I’m thinking. I’ll be doing a lot of interior shooting so to me the lens is more important, I do though want a camera that shoot really sharp photos. For me each shot is thought befor hand because I use them in my Camera Ready Ads. My questions. I was 100% behind the D5000, and now I’m not so sure. If i’m going to spend the $500+ I want to be 100% sure. HELP!!

  23. I have recently been given an opportunity to purchase a DSLR camera, but price is a huge factor in my decision. I can’t afford to make a mistake with my purchase. I currently have a Sony DSC-H5 Super Steadyshot (7.2 mp, 12x zoom) and while it takes some decent p/s photographs and video, I desire something more. A couple years ago I took a digital photography class because I thought if I knew how to use the manual settings, I could unlock the depth of the camera. Ha! I quickly found out that the camera wasn’t quite what the class was meant for, yet I was able to use and learn the manual settings, composition, etc. I also learned that I was not satisfied with the level of manual settings…I wanted to go deeper. Over the past 2 years I look at, touch, drool over DSLR’s whenever I see one and yet, no matter how many times I read a review, I become more and more confused or disappointed. When I have just enough money to buy something, I read that it doesn’t take good action shots. My daughter is a dancer and I want to catch her in the air….good quality, clear, focused and usually with bursts. I also want to capture my children’s faces clearly and learn to take decent candid shots where maybe, just maybe, one a year can be used to capture their growth. Obviously, I am a beginner DSLR user. I know a bit about Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, White balance, Composition, etc.

    Also, is it true that you should NEVER buy a camera for video? I heard one or both suffer. You can’t get a good clear photo and expect to have good quality video…and vice versa. True?

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!! BTW- I really only have about $700 to spend.

    Thanks!!!!

  24. Lorri,

    Sounds like you are ready to step up from your Sony. I was running into the same limitations with a Canon point and shoot in 2005 when I decided to buy a Nikon D70. Compared to when I bought you can get way more camera for about half the price.

    With a $700 budget you are looking at the Nikon D3100, Nikon D5000, Canon Ti1, Sony A330 or Olympus E-620. If I had to choose I would narrow it down to the Nikon D3100 and Canon Ti1 and overall I like the D3100 better for $50 less. The D3100 is $600 at Amazon right now.

    For kids in general a DSLR is great. The quick autofocus and nearly nonexistent shutter lag when taking each shot really helps. For your daughter’s dancing you’ll have the option of cranking up the ISO to help speed up the shutter and freeze action without flash. As long as you aren’t in really really low light you should be able to maintain a high enough shutter. Whenever my family gets together I’m the designated kid photographer.

    If you go with the Nikon, keep the 35mm f/1.8 in mind. It is a very good lens for the money and the f/1.8 aperture lets you get in even more light and control depth of field.

    Video on the DSLR is a pretty new development and it’s been implemented without sacrificing the photo capabilities of the camera. Once they added live view it was pretty easy to add video. On point and shoots I wouldn’t say video compromised photo capability, the photo capability is poor to begin with.

    Let me know if you have any questions, more than happy to help.

  25. Andrew,

    Thanks for your informative reply. Wow..what an experience I have had since I posted the other day. After a week of scouring various stores and reading reviews, I decided to go into a local camera shop to see what deals they had going on and to see if I could actually hold a camera without a theft sensor on it. Well, let me say I have had a sour experience.

    Hubby and I went into Inkleys (Ritz Camera) where a nice salesman helped answer my questions. They no longer sell Canon’s at that store, so we decided on the Nikon D3000, mainly due to it’s $499 price and even though we knew Walmart had the same one for $399, we figured buying one from a reputable camera store would be best. The salesman ended up taking the one I was testing and went into the back room. I immediately told my husband that I was hoping he wasn’t giving me that one. When the salesman returned carrying a Nikon box my husband asked and he said they didn’t have any in stock and this was the last one. My red flag went up, but I stuffed it down because I didn’t want to seem fickle. Once I was home and removed the contents, everything seemed in order…except for a funny looking ziplock bag with a USB cord inside. I then went over the contents in the manual and realized the only thing “missing” was the piece that fits in where an external flash would mount. I called to report it missing and they said I could come in and get one…if he could find it. Later on, after taking about 7 photos, I tried to upload them to my Mac and found the USB cord was not even the right one. It was a mini USB and not the one that came with (or fits in) the Nikon D3000. Needless to say, I was a bit irked. Again, I stuffed it inside because my husband just wants me to be happy after 3 years of drooling over every DSLR I saw. I didn’t want to disappoint him.

    About 3 AM my eyes popped open and I remembered what my digital photography teacher once told us. I somehow remembered his lecture on checking shutter clicks (actuations). I researched what I needed (at 3 am) and downloaded the software. In the morning I found a proper USB cable and was able to retrieve my photos off the Nikon. The last photo I took showed as 618 photo actuations.

    So hubby and I went to the camera store to get the little plastic piece and a new USB cable and to talk to the manager about the 618 shutter clicks so far. He seemed pretty concerned that it had so many already and offered me either a 10% discount on the used camera or a new camera from a local store (about 45 min away). We chose the new camera and left to go do other shopping. We never got a call back, so we decided to stop in about 4 hours later. The manager couldn’t get ahold of anyone at the other store nor the person who was bringing it to his store. We waited another hour and I started to get very irritated. I seriously thought my first DSLR experience was going to be this fantastic, perfect moment and they completely soured the experience. My husband had to go to work so we asked for a full refund.

    So….as I wait for the bank to return the $598 transaction to our card, I have a few days to make a better decision and to ask another question. I know you suggested I go for the D3100 because it fit my $700 budget, but tell me what your opinion is on the Canon Rebel XS (can’t find the XSi anywhere). If I was planning on settling on the $399 Walmart Canon XS (due to price and it being my first DSLR) before I entered Inkleys and subsequently purchased the Nikon D3000 (which I did like..alot!), in your expertise….is it worth the extra $150-250 dollars to buy the Nikon D3100? I’m willing to buy the D3100…I found it at Best Buy and Sam’s Club for $599.

    Also, are there specific dates to look for Nikon rebates? If they are coming soon I may just wait to see what deal I can get.

    Sorry if it’s all jumbled. Thanks for all your help!

    Did that make any sense? I sure hope so!

  26. Hi Andrew,

    Really good article you’ve got here. I was going to opt for the Nikon D3000 when I read this. I should tell you, I’m a complete photography n00b.
    If you compare the D3000 with the D3100, which is likely to produce better images?
    And as Lorri asked, is it worth the extra $150 to go for the D3100?

  27. Sid,

    I think the D3100 is worth the extra money. The D3000 uses an old CCD sensor and the D3100 uses a CMOS sensor similar to the one in the D5000/D90. The D3100 will perform better at higher ISO’s even with 4 extra megapixels. The built in chromatic abberation correction (purple fringing) will also help image quality which is missing on the D3000. You also get live view and 1080p video and the controls have been improved.

    The D3100 inherited a lot of features from the D90 while the D3000 is just a slight upgrade from the D40/D50/D60 line.

  28. Lorri,

    Sorry to hear about your experience at your local Ritz Camera dealer. There use to be good mom and pop shops out there, but with the move to digital I think they’re slowly dying out. Chains like Ritz can’t compete on price because of their volume, but should hopefully try and make it up with better customer service. Doesn’t seem like that’s the case in your situation.

    I’d much rather buy a camera at a large retailer like Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Costco, Amazon or Walmart because of price and their fairly good return policies.

    See my response to Sid above this comment on the D3000 vs D3100. I do think the D3100 is worth the extra money. If it was a difference of $250 then it might be a different conclusion for someone just starting out.

    The Canon XS is an option if you can get it for $400 as it is a good camera. You always have to balance newer technology and price. The XS is already 2.5 years old and its price reflects that. None of these cameras are really better or worse than each other, it’s just a matter of how much technology you want to buy. If you spend less now then it might make an upgrade in 2 or 3 years less painful. If you’re going to hold onto the camera for at least 4 years I’d say spend a little extra.

    Since you’ve already had the D3000 in your hands and you know you like it, the D3100 is probably a safe choice.

  29. I need to know which camera people who shoot fast action sports…ice hockey, bmx racing, etc., would prefer…the D3100 or the D5000? I am leaning towards the 5000…can’t really afford the 7000! Anyone got experience shooting in these venues that can help?

  30. Elaine,

    The D3100 and D5000 are practically the same except the D5000 has one extra frame per second at 4 FPS. That can be helpful as long as you can get your shutter faster than 1/200 second. That’s going to be dependent on your lighting and lens. Pros are using expensive glass like the Nikon/Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 or some exotic prime to gather lots of light. Luckily there are lower cost alternatives like the Sigma and Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 or the discontinued Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 (I see some copies on eBay right now).

    Just so we’re on the same page about apertures; aperture is described by an f-stop, f/2.8 for example. The lower the number the larger the opening in the lens to collect more light. f/1.4 is considered very fast because you get more light and can maintain a faster shutter speed. f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, and f/22 are the standard full stops. Each step up will halve the shutter speed.

    The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens won’t have enough reach unless the action is right up in your face (getting close in on the opposite boards would be out of the question). The Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 (or 55-300) would give you more reach, but is going to be too slow as you start to zoom in. In an indoor rink I’d estimate that shooting at ISO 1600 with f/2.8 gets you 1/250 second. f/4 would drop that to 1/125 and f/5.6 would drop it to 1/60. That’s a very big difference if you’re trying to catch a player coming down the ice or a rider going off a jump.

    I’ve shot a group of friends playing broomball at a local rink with my 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 and I was struggling. Even with ISO between 1600-3200 my shots were underexposed if I tried forcing the shutter to 1/250. I could have lowered it, but then motion blur would have started kicking in. I don’t think I even bothered sharing those photos with anyone.

    Low light action (pretty much everything not in sunlight) is just one of those things that’s flat out hard. Pros can throw thousands of dollars into their gear, but we don’t really have that luxury. The D5000 would be up to the job, but it would make a big difference if you could swing one of the constant f/2.8 lenses.

    Here are the two lenses I mentioned. The Sigma seems to have better autofocus capability and the Tamron has slightly better image quality.

    Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG HSM II Macro Zoom Lens for Nikon

    Tamron AF 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD IF Lens with Built in Motor for Nikon

  31. I am new to SLR world. Presently i am using sony cd mavica 500. This camera is really good. I am planning to buy new SLR. I have read comparisions between d5000 and d3100. d3100 have hd movie recording feature. But When we compare picture quality which one is best? I am looking for a good picture quality.

  32. Nurul,

    If you took the same picture with both cameras and the same lens you wouldn’t see any noticeable difference. They are very similar cameras except for a few small things like the 1080p video on the D3100 or the flip out screen on the D5000. The D3100 is smaller and lighter which will be more like your Sony. Picture quality will be very good compared to point and shoots and their smaller sensors. Shooting at a higher ISO will be much better as well.

  33. Thanks for your reply Andrew. I think there are some differences between these two cameras like d5000 have 19 auto exposure scene modes where as d3100 have only 6. And also d3100 have automatic image sensor cleaning. what is this? Generally i capture landscapes, portraits and some in house moments like my sons activities etc. Which one do you suggest. At his time this is one time investment for me.

  34. Nurul,

    The scene modes are useless for the most part and I recommend new shooters avoid them so don’t worry about those. You’ll want to use the Program (P), Aperture priority (A) and Shutter priority (S) modes nearly all the time. 90% of the time I’m in P.

    The sensor cleaning uses ultrasonic vibrations to help keep dust off the sensor. If something gets on the sensor while changing lenses you can lock up the mirror and use a hand blower (no compressed air!) to blow it out.

    Shooting indoors can be helped with a wide aperture lens like the 35mm f/1.8, cranking up the ISO, using flash or a combination of each to help get a balance subject and ambient exposure. The popup flash works, but the ability to bounce or diffuse the light really helps. The SB-400 allows bouncing and the SB-600 would allow bouncing and diffusion. You could even make your own diffuser to put on the popup flash.

    The D3100 has a slight lead in my book and it is a little cheaper (here in the US). It’s a good camera that will last you many years.

  35. Hello Andrew,
    Thanks for your help…I think I am leaning toward the d5000 just for the increased speed and I don’t really care about the video, wish they would make a camera that is JUST a camera!! I have been struggling with the lens issue as well as I know I need the lower f but I also think the 200 isn’t close enough so I was leaning towards the Nikon 70-300 mm VR which I think is f 4-5.6. Do you think I would be better off with the lower f lens with less zoom capability?
    Elaine

  36. Elaine,

    I would lean towards a lower minimum f-stop over additional zoom. You also have to factor in the DX crop factor where that 70-200mm becomes a 105-300mm in 35mm terms. That gives you a bit more reach. If you still aren’t close enough then you do have the option of cropping a bit. I’d rather have to crop a photo a little than throw it away because my subject is blurry.

  37. Hi, so ive been interested in photography since a very young age.
    At the moment i have a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38
    Its just a digital camera with the look of an SLR, dont get me wrong i love it (at times. It fails miserably with low lighting.) but i want to move higher and really get into it.
    Im currently studying graphic design and i use photography a lot in my projects.
    So i dont stick to one style i want a camera that will enable me to explore the posibilities and effects that i can create.

    Ive beel currently looking at the Nikon d3100, d5000.
    I also looked at the Canon 500d.
    Ive explored right through the internet to see if theres any answer as to which is better, Ive been in shops and all i got was “The Nikon d3100 is the same as the Canon 500d” I mean, im a first time buyer and the guy did nothing to help me.

    Id like to stick to these cameras as so far i have been told they are the most ideal ones to get.

    I was just wondering if someone can please please help me and just give me a straight answer as to which is better? IM GOING CRAZY HERE

    :) thanks

  38. Andrew,

    Thank you for all your help. We recently purchased the Nikon D3100 and I’m very happy! I bought it for 649.99 and then went in to a local shop here to purchase the lowepro 200 bag I wanted. I even asked if they would/could honor the lens rebate even though I didn’t purchase the camera from them. They accepted!! I purchased the 55-200 zoom lens from them and a bag. I would have done the 55-300 but that extra 100 didn’t seem to make that big of a difference. So I’m set for awhile. Now just to take some photos and classes! :) thanks again!!

    Lorri

  39. Ashley,

    The guys at your local shops were right, there really isn’t much difference between the lower end Nikons and Canons. If I was just starting out in the DSLR arena there are a few things that would make me lean towards Nikon: the 35mm f/1.8 and a slightly better flash system. I’ve also preferred the build quality and materials of the Nikons I’ve held. The 35mm reproduces the focal length of the classic 50mm f/1.8 after you include crop factor (focal lengths are still stated in 35mm terms but these sensors are smaller which introduces a 1.5x crop factor). The 50mm becomes a 75mm which is just a tad too long for everyday use.

    I would recommend the D3100 over the D5000. The D5000 can shoot 1 FPS faster but sounds like you don’t really need that.

    Between the D3100 and the 500D (T1i) it really comes down to preference and which is more intuitive to use. Specification wise they are practically equivalent cameras. Were you able to hold and try out both cameras? Get any impressions on each?

  40. Thanks for your replies Andrew. I have one more question. These two models i.e d3100 and d5000 doesn’t have built in auto focus motors right? we may need to buy focus motor lenses right? I am also thinking about d90. How about d90? i think d90 have built in auto focus motor and also it has superior picture quality than these two models.

  41. Nurul,

    You are correct on the D3100 and D5000 lacking a built in autofocus motor and the D90 including one. Autofocus on these bodies is limited to Nikon AF-S lenses and any third party lenses with a motor. If you have plans to get a lens without a motor then the D90 would be a better choice. The vast majority of people buying the lower end DSLR’s are never going to take the kit lens off, let alone spend enough money to get a lens that doesn’t have a motor.

    I doubt you’d see much difference in picture quality. What you get with the D90 is the ability to get your picture and adjust settings a little faster. The D90, D5000 and D3100 are way too close in terms of price and features. The D7000 replaces the D90 and moves the top of the consumer DSLRs to $1200. The D5000 is due up for the next upgrade and I’d expect to see a D5100 kit priced around $900 to fill in the middle spot.

    It’s just kind of strange that Nikon has 3 bodies crammed in a $400 range.

  42. Andrew
    Thanks for the reply. I think Nikon is manufacturing all AF-S lenses only (with motor). Are they manufacturing lenses with out motor? And also lenses with out motor are chepaer right?

  43. Nurul,

    Most newer lenses are being made with motors built in, but there are always exceptions like the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. Older AF lenses were originally designed for film. The Nikon 50mm f/1.8 doesn’t have a motor, but the DX replacement, 35mm f/1.8 AF-S, does. Lenses without the motor probably tend to be more expensive because they were designed for full frame FX or film cameras. Nikon’s DX lenses are designed for cheaper consumer DSLR bodies which need less glass and AF-S. Besides the 50mm f/1.8, all of Nikon’s cheapest lenses are DX and AF-S.

  44. Hi

    I didn’t read all comments. But I just wanna say, that I have the Nikon 3100, and my best friend has the Nikon 5000. And always I get feeling, that 3100 is a little bit better. Not because of it’s mine. I guess so because of quality of photos, and of course, because of video. There are so many things, which are similar, or which are better or worse. I think, that these two models aren’t able to compete between each other… This is just my own opinion.

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