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On a wedding occasion, I learned the photographer was using D200. I have D5100. I quickly jumped in and checked the prices on Amazon (it was 2.5x expensive) and then compared it on snapsort. Now the site says D5100 is winner. The votes on the site also favor D5100 vs D200.

Should I be convinced that although the photographer was using a nearly $3000 camera but mine is better? In other words a newer lower-model camera is better than an older, higher-end one?

I would also ask this: I know price is the big difference so let's ignore the price. Let's say you are are paying $1000 for either of the cameras — which one will you buy?

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Keep in mind the D200 is 5 years older than the D5100 –  DHall Dec 4 '11 at 16:03
    
In a larger sense, the question here is: "Is a newer lower-model camera better than an older, higher-end one?" –  mattdm Dec 4 '11 at 16:04
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And key to that answer is "Better for what?" –  mattdm Dec 4 '11 at 16:04
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For example, DxOMark says their color depth measurement _correlates with color sensitivity, and that 1 bit of difference is barely noticeable. Snapsort turns this into the dramatic-sounding "Significantly better color depth" and "Distinguishes around 2x more colors". This is clearly ridiculous. –  mattdm Dec 4 '11 at 17:07
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As someone who has owned a wide range of gear, I'd encourage you to just not worry about the question. If you are happy with your D5100, its okay to be happy with it and not have to worry about its relative value compared to other cameras. There are plenty of well paid pros that work with much less capable cameras and plenty of people (including me) who have taken dumb, ineffective, improperly exposed images with "pro" equipment. –  David Rouse Dec 5 '11 at 1:05

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I have owned both the d200 and the d3000 (very similar body to the d5100).

The d5100 has a better sensor and a better LCD but the d200 has a much better body.

The d200 is more durable, has a ton of body controls, and has a 2nd display. You can change all of the important exposure settings very quickly with just a glance down at the body. This can't be said for the d5100, where you have to enter the menu to change settings.

This is not a trivial difference, if you are used to a higher end Nikon body you will feel crippled trying to shoot with a d5100.

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Imagine you do not have to use video on D5100 and Imagine you do not need the weather proof feature of D200, what will you buy? D3100 feels much better in hands than D5100. I know it is its drawback. But apart from that what I got from answers so far is D5100 is not inferior to D200 and I can proudly say my camera is as good as your. Obviously I know the controls on D5100 are not quickly accessible, and that takes a lot from camera perhaps. But I should be totally satisfied with the picture quality and compare it with D200? –  photo101 Dec 4 '11 at 23:21
    
For the wedding photographer, time is of the essence. Moments are fleeting and a mist shot is lost forever. No doubt the D200 is superior for that use. The dual control dials and external controls are along enough to justify its superiority under pressure. When it comes to image quality at higher sensitivities, the D5100 is noticeable better. –  Itai Dec 5 '11 at 1:09
    
@enthusiast for any serious ((semi)pro, serious amateur) work, the D200 will be preferable for all the reasons Chandler mentions. The D200 takes excellent pictures, far superior to what you need for most anything. But you will need to apply a bit more care in post processing as the camera is brutally honest, doesn't try to apply any filtering, white balance correction, contrast enhancements, etc. and thus the raw camera output may appear a bit flat compared to that of consumer bodies. –  jwenting Dec 5 '11 at 12:00

I shoot sports and recently (today, actually, which is why I'm researching why there is a such a drastic difference between the two cameras for next time) got my daughter to assist me, and rather than giving her my spare D200 — which she is unfamiliar with — I let her use her own D5100, which I wrongly thought would be adequste (going by reviews).

The technical aspects of the D5100 may be better, but the proof is in the pudding. My photos, when enlarged to full size, look like crisp sharp photos, whereas hers look like they are drawn in chalk. They'll be fine as facebook freebies but I would die before I put her photos up for sale as prints. The D5100 photos simply suck as far as a professional crisp finish goes.

Is it better for everyday facebook shots? probably.

For sports or pro level, or prints? Bah, ha, ha, no!

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Was the lens in each camera equal in quality? –  Esa Paulasto Apr 6 at 17:37
    
@EsaPaulasto the D200 has very good high speed and low light performance, far superior to entry level cameras like the D5100 (and even newer entry level cameras). That's part of what you pay for in a professional grade camera. The main (maybe only) benefit of the D5100 next to its low weight and small size (which to serious photographers are drawbacks) is that you get "more megapixels" and maybe need less post processing to make your images "pop". And that's relative. Those "more megapixels" do nothing unless your pixel peeping. –  jwenting Apr 7 at 10:47
    
I hear you @jwenting but to justify the rather brutal tone considering image quality I'd be willing to hear about the lenses used in each camera in this answer. –  Esa Paulasto Apr 7 at 11:51

I really think the http://snapsort.com/compare/Nikon-D5100-vs-Nikon_D200 comparison is a good representation of the thing that you are asking..

You can see a head-up-comparison of both and compare. In the end the result will be.. D200 has better body and external features and D5100 is more dependent on internal menu settings and the fact that all features are newer.. It's more a matter of tast and the fact that the one is much newer than the other one..

Good luck with the Camera choise.. personally i really like the D5100.

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I barely know anything about the two cameras, but what you should consider here is that the D200 has features not available in the D5100. If these features are important to you, and you are good with the (supposedly) lower image quality, then you may be willing to pay the price difference.

For example - if the D200 is considered a "semipro" camera, you can expect to have bigger and sturdier body, superior controls, (according to the link you provided) support for older lenses (w/o internal motor), pentaprism over a pentamirror and faster response.

The form factor alone is a great deal for me. Today when using a Rebel class camera, I feel like holding a toy. Once you get used to a bigger body and pro controls, it is hard to go back.

That said, I'm pretty sure that for its price, you can find a more modern camera to better serve you while overcoming the limitations of the D5100.

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