I am not sure if this was asked here before.

My friend bought a Nikon D5100 camera, and I am really curious to know which camera should I buy to start learning photography and also working with it. The idea is of course make money with my work. I have some ideas but I need to study more about techniques.

In my country, due to taxes, cameras are really expensive, so we have to buy abroad. Since I have no knowledge on what model to buy, I would like to know which cameras do you recommend, and what are the major difference between the D series (D3100, D5100, D7000, and so on).


For specification differences, the comment you got probably refers to this comparison.

If you are a complete beginner and this does not mean anything to you, then you will need to understand more general concepts about digital cameras and DSLRs as described in my camera and DSLR guides.

In brief, specifically about Nikon DSLRs:

  • The D3X, D3S and D700 are all full-frame models which are known the the utmost image quality. The compromise is that the D3X has high-resolution to make larger prints while the D3S and D700 have better sensitivity to shoot in lower-light conditions, so you have to make a compromise depending on the type of photography you intend to do. The same will be true when you choose lenses.

  • The D7000 and below are cropped sensor models. They are somewhat smaller and require smaller lenses and are less expensive. While in absolute terms you will hear image quality to be lower than full-frame models, they are still very good.

  • Among cropped sensor the D7000 (and D300S & D90 before it) are considered professional models and give direct and efficient access to photographic controls. This is absolutely essential to work fast. Of course, whether to work fast is important depends on the type of photography you intend to do. If you shoot weddings and events, consider this essential. The D7000 and full-frame models are also weather-sealed which lets you use them in rain, snow, sandstorms, etc.

  • Finally the D5100 and D3100 are low-end models and cheaper but this does not mean less quality images, only lesser quality camera (not at solid, not weather-resistant) and less controls (more often you have to go into the menu). If you shoot a lot of images, then these models become very frustration (D5100 particularly) because they slow you down.

There are lots more differences obviously but this should cover the major ones for beginners.

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