I want to buy a DSLR - either a Nikon D3200 or D5100. But I'm confused which is the best option for me. I mostly take pictures of birds, landscapes, abstract & portraits. Would appreciate any advice.

  • 1
    possible duplicate of Do megapixels matter with modern sensor technology?
    – mattdm
    Feb 15 '14 at 18:44
  • 3
    The significant differences between the D3200 and D5100 (or more generally, between any two adjacent models from the same manufacturer) are in the features and the ergonomics, not the sensor.
    – Philip Kendall
    Feb 15 '14 at 19:23
  • 1
    Is your question about the sensor and IQ, or general advice about which camera to buy?
    – MikeW
    Feb 15 '14 at 19:54
  • Hmm... not convinced on the duplication front. The suggested duplicate is about number of pixels, not the size of them. These are not the same, so the OP may want to clarify this.
    – Joanne C
    Feb 15 '14 at 22:09
  • @John For a given sensor size, they are the same. Or, at least, the inverse.
    – mattdm
    Feb 15 '14 at 23:22

It's easier to make a larger pixel more sensitive than a small one, so there's a somewhat of a correlation between larger sensors and greater sensitivity, which sometimes translates into greater dynamic range. But not always, and there's also benefits to having more pixels as well. In other words, in some ways bigger pixels is better, in other ways more pixels is better.

DXOMark ranks the D3200 sensor slightly ahead of the D5100, 81 vs. 80. Note the Nikon D3, top of the line 5 years ago, gets an 81. So the D3 has pixels much bigger than the D3200 but their sensors get the same ranking in DXO's system. Also note all Nikon's modern SLR sensors are extremely good.

So don't worry about the sensor, they're all very good. If you're comparing D3200 vs. D5100, the D5100 has the tilt-able screen and more autofocus points, but they both have to great sensors.

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