Updated (April 2011): Compare the Nikon D5100 vs Nikon D3100

Nikon D5100 vs Nikon D3100

Nikon D5100


Nikon D3100



Reasons to buy the Nikon D5100

Great image quality
Overall image quality
Full HD
Movie format
1080p @ 30fps
Wide dynamic range
Dynamic range
13.6 EV
Flip-out screen
Screen flips out
Great for movies

Reasons to buy the Nikon D3100

Really small
Prosumer size (124×97×74 mm)
Movie format
Full HD
1080p @ 24fps
Autofocuses shooting video
Contrast detection


Explore our gallery of 50 sample photos taken by the Nikon D5100.
Explore our gallery of 49 sample photos taken by the Nikon D3100.


Nikon D5100 Competitors

Nikon D3200

Nikon D3200

Entry-level DSLR

$289 body only

$382 - $447 with 18-55mm lens

True resolution Much higher true resolution
Color depth Better color depth
HDR Lacks in-camera HDR
Nikon D5200

Nikon D5200

Entry-level DSLR

$378 body only

$479 - $597 with 18-55mm lens

Movie format Lower frame rate movies
True resolution Much higher true resolution
Battery life Shorter battery life
Nikon D3300

Nikon D3300

Entry-level DSLR

$400 - $497 with 18-55mm lens

Movie format Lower frame rate movies
Low light performance Lower noise at high ISO
HDR Lacks in-camera HDR

Nikon D3100 Competitors

Nikon D3200

Nikon D3200

Entry-level DSLR

$289 body only

$382 - $447 with 18-55mm lens

Screen resolution Much higher resolution screen
Overall image quality Significantly better image quality
Thickness Thicker
Canon EOS Rebel T5

Canon EOS Rebel T5

Entry-level DSLR

$399 body only

$360 - $399 with 18-55mm lens

Screen resolution Higher resolution screen
True resolution Significantly higher true resolution
Low light performance More noise at high ISO
Nikon D3300

Nikon D3300

Entry-level DSLR

$400 - $497 with 18-55mm lens

Low light performance Significantly lower noise at high ISO
Screen resolution Much higher resolution screen
Size Slightly larger


Advantages of the Nikon D5100

Report a correction
Screen resolution
Much higher resolution screen
920k dots vs 230k dots
4x higher resolution screen
Dynamic range
More dynamic range
13.6 EV vs 11.3 EV
1.9 f-stops more dynamic range
Overall image quality
Significantly better image quality
80.0 vs 67.0
Around 20% better image quality
Low light performance
Lower noise at high ISO
1,183 ISO vs 919 ISO
The D5100 has a slight edge (0.4 f-stops) in low-noise, high-ISO performance
Has in-camera HDR
Yes vs No
Combines multiple exposures to capture high dynamic range
External mic jack
Has an external mic jack
Yes vs No
Record high quality audio with an external microphone
Screen flips out
Has a flip-out screen
Yes vs No
Flip-out screens can be helpful when composing tricky shots or taking movies
Color depth
Better color depth
23.5 bits vs 22.5 bits
Distinguishes 1 more bits of color
Movie format
Lower frame rate movies
1080p @ 30fps vs 1080p @ 24fps
Both shoot Full HD (1080p) video, but D5100 does so at a higher frame rate
Continuous shooting
Shoots faster
4 fps vs 3 fps
More than 30% faster continuous shooting
True resolution
Higher true resolution
16.1 MP vs 14.2 MP
Capture more than 10% more detail in your photos
Battery life
Longer battery life
660 shots vs 550 shots
20% more shots per battery charge
Light sensitivity (boost)
Better boost ISO
25,600 ISO vs 12,800 ISO
The D5100's boost ISO is 2 f-stops better
Light sensitivity
Better maximum light sensitivity
6,400 ISO vs 3,200 ISO
The D5100's maximum light sensitivity is 2 f-stops better
Nikon D5100 Learn more about
the Nikon D5100

Advantages of the Nikon D3100

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124×97×74 mm vs 127×97×79 mm
Around 10% smaller
Significantly thinner
2.9" vs 3.1"
Around 10% thinner
Startup delay
Slightly less startup delay
400 ms vs 500 ms
20% less delay when turning on
Lowest price
$259.89 vs $399.95
The best price we've seen is $140 cheaper (around 40% less)
505 g vs 560 g
Around 10% lighter
Nikon D3100 Learn more about
the Nikon D3100


Which camera do we recommend? Relative to the best recent entry-level DSLRs, and ignoring price

Snapsort Recommends
Nikon D5100 Nikon D5100 71
        You save
        53 Nikon D3100 Nikon D3100
              You save


              Compared to recent entry-level DSLRs

              Common Strengths
              Movie continuous focus Focus continuously recording movies Help
              Makes it easy to get in-focus movies
              Lens availability Many lenses available Help
              230 lenses
              Lowest price Inexpensive Help
              Common Weaknesses
              Fastest shutter speed Slow max shutter speed Help
              1/4000 of a second
              Built-in focus motor No focus motor Help
              Won't autofocus with all lenses
              Viewfinder coverage Below average viewfinder coverage Help
              True resolution Capture low resolution images Help
              D510016.1 MP
              D310014.2 MP
              Cross type focus points Few cross-type focus points Help
              Light sensitivity Poor maximum light sensitivity Help
              D51006,400 ISO
              D31003,200 ISO
              Shutter lag Significant shutter lag Help
              D5100273 ms
              D3100279 ms
              Continuous shooting Slow continuous shooting Help
              D51004 fps
              D31003 fps
              Viewfinder size Below average viewfinder size Help
              Focus points Few focus points Help
              Weather sealed Neither is weather sealed Help
              Need to shelter it from weather
              Image stabilization No image stabilization Help
              Risk of blur
              Touch screen No touchscreens Help
              More buttons
              Movie format Full HD (1080p) video Help
              D51001080p @ 30fps
              D31001080p @ 24fps




              Nikon D5100 Nikon D3100
              Nikon D5100 Nikon D3100
              Nikon D5100 Nikon D3100


              Nikon D5100

              Report a correction
              Nikon D3100

              Report a correction

              Showing 25 comments

              Avatar for faybe44 faybe44 (2:43 PM, October 16, 2013)
              I need help looking to buy my first DSLR and i am torn between the D3100, the D5100 and the D5200 i mainly want to use it for family shots and wildlife any advice on which is better and which lenses would be much appriciated
              Avatar for Ishu Shab Ishu Shab (8:03 AM, September 23, 2013)
              Which is more better nikon d5100 or d 3200 or canon 1100d wth 55mm-105mm lens. ...
              Please suggest a better one
              irish (2:26 AM, July 03, 2013)
              very nice shot
              TeachingMama (4:23 AM, August 17, 2012)
              Trying to decide which would be the best camera for my needs. I have only used simple point and shoot cameras thus far. The majority of my pictures are of children, pets, family gatherings, etc. Between the D3100 and the D5100, Costco is offering decent packages for either camera. Which camera would you recommend for my needs? Thanks!
              Avatar for Snapsort Snapsort (9:35 PM, July 05, 2012)
              Snapsort recommends the D5100 or D3200, both are good cameras, the D3200 is more beginner friendly. 

              Stick with the kit lens to start, and then look to upgrade using our sister site LensHero.com.
              Mb (9:22 PM, July 05, 2012)
              Hii Snapsort....i want 2 buy DSLR.. as beginrs wht will u suggest D3100 or D5100? also suggest what kind of lense shall i buy wth camera? my photography based on nature ! kindly sugst me as early as possible......rgds......mb
              moloy (9:10 PM, July 05, 2012)
              werner hiii.....i am willingly to buy DSLR..what will u suggest D3100 or D5100?
              Anupamr48 (10:01 AM, April 26, 2012)
              Finally got my D5100 last week!! Superb camera! Thank you Snapsort for all the help.
              Your comparisons and detailing helped me a lot during my camera research.

              For those who are stuck between D3100 and D5100, here's what i have to say:

              Buy the D5100. You'll outgrow D3100 faster + 1 reason that says all- Better picture quality!
              Patrick (5:19 AM, March 30, 2012)
              I was a complete novice to photography but chose the D5100. Absolutely awesome camera, auto mode is great for starting and then just fiddle around until you're happy. I love it!!
              Anupamr48 (6:11 AM, March 29, 2012)
              Till yesterday, i was quite sure to buy d3100. Then came into picture this d5100 which seemingly is better of the two. I have the budget to buy d5100. All i want to know is that, is d5100 worth the extra Rs. 10k ill put into it? Also for a complete begineer Guide Mode of d3100 is an attractive thing.
              agrawalbharat87 (7:01 AM, February 27, 2012)
              have been using the D3100 for more than 6 months..have also used a D5100..

              i find the interface of d3100 as compared to d5100..it makes my image clicking experience so awesome, which d5100 comes no where close to..

              and i would anyday choose the better interface over "slight" improvement in image quality, iso et al..

              Avatar for The Badger The Badger (4:39 AM, February 02, 2012)
              I feel soo retarded! I bought the D3100 5 months ago. Not very long ago the prices dropped. Now I can get a D5100 for the price of a D3100 at that time.
              Ebpaul23 (1:47 AM, January 10, 2012)
              Hi Snapsort! I have heard nothing but great things about the D3100 but after reading a number of reviews on multiple sites regarding shutter issues I am a little worried. Is this a common problem in Nikons?
              Usmankhalids (7:20 AM, December 19, 2011)
              i bought the same in 899 from best buy
              Avatar for ant.con ant.con (9:52 AM, December 12, 2011)
              5100 o 3100 questo il dilemma elp me

              Avatar for avi chatterjee avi chatterjee (1:39 PM, November 24, 2011)
              Hi Smithson,

              Please can u put some more light on the issue as I am bit confused in buying 3100 and put the xtra bucks on glass.
              Kflucker (7:14 PM, November 17, 2011)
              First off, this website is exactly what I needed.  Great site.

              Good point!  Initally I had my heart on the D3100 but did more research on the D5100 and confused myself (so to speak).  So my question is, if money wasn't a factor which camera should one purchase? 

              I ask that because I found that Costco has the D3100 with 18-55mm VR Lens + 55-200mm VR Lens, Training Pack Bundle, Two Training DVDs, Case and 4GB SD Card for $699.  Like I said, I was set on that until I researched the D5100 and found out that Costco also has for the D5100 with 18-55mm and 55-300mm VR lenses, case, 4G 30MB SD card, dvd and guide for $950 which seems to be a GREAT deal given that 300mm is almost $400 by itself. 

              So for the $250 extra is it no question that I should get the D5100 package as described above?

              Do any cameras come close to the D5100?  I saw the D7000 but that is out of my price range right now.  Hell the D5100 is pushing it but seems worth it from a value perspective.

              Hopefully with classes, perfect practice and skill, the camera will pay for itself down the line regardless of which I get. 

              Thank so much to all that reply. 

              PS.  Sweet pic!

              Jassy (2:42 PM, November 07, 2011)
              I love taking beach,sunset photos which when is better I saw some comments and the said d3100 had better quality is this true?
              Werner (4:47 PM, October 18, 2011)
              I recently got the D3100... My opinion is that: 1. the most expensive part is and always will be the Lens you use. 2. The price vs photo quality ration between entry level and mid range is not enough to spend the money...(save your money for a decent lens)
              unless you are comparing between entry and pro then (well you would not be here looking for info).

              Conclusion: Today's entry level Nikon's are way better than 3 year old (or even less) pro level body's. So if you buy the best (expensive) today how long will it be that you see a new entry level at half the price that out performs yours!! 

              Buy entry level and IF (and when) you become a better photographer then what your camera can offer...(by better I mean you are very comfortable to shoot your DSLR in manual and know what to expect)

              This was shot with a D3100 and the kit lens 18-55mm (5 pics stitched) 
              Avatar for Snapsort Snapsort (11:51 PM, October 11, 2011)
              Hi Gilgapro, the pixel sizes for the D5100 and D3100 are 22.9 microns and 25.1 microns, see our specs page
              Gilgapro (11:49 PM, October 11, 2011)
              and the d5100 sensor is larger than the d3100 take a look at the specs.
              Gilgapro (11:48 PM, October 11, 2011)
              what are you talking about the d5100 sensor and pixel size is 16.1 and the d3100 is 14.2
              Avatar for marquitablogs marquitablogs (6:55 PM, October 04, 2011)
              so how is this debate coming along? iam also confused about this. i will be getting a dslr soon. and i am set to get a nikon but now choosing between

              d3100 - i like the price and sample photos tried it at the shop and feel happy with it.
              d5100- at the middle, not entry level and said to have room for upgrades. i am doubtful about image quality, is it far better than d3100??
              d90- so costly but will then have more flexibility when i want to upgrade lens.

              help me! i just really want to take photos for product shots such as bags, shoes and clothes in white bg and probably with a model or two. i do not plan to upgrade someday i just need decent pix clear enough to sell my items and also be good enough for our tarpaulin advertisement printing.
              Reem (0:33 PM, October 03, 2011)
              Hello Franz,

              I noticed you mentioned you had both a D3100 and a D5100! I am new to digital SLR photography and decided to buy my
              very first camera.


              I’m aware of the differences between the D3100 and the
              D5100 that sites and reviews are listing, but actually I’m a little confused which one I should start with! And since
              you have both, I believe you’ll know better what obvious differences are really there, and maybe you're the best to advise me! I also thougt about the D90 and got myself even more confused!!!

              I had an idea that maybe I can go with the
              D3100 if there are no REAL differences, and invest more in lenses? What do you

              Franz (0:08 AM, September 20, 2011)
              Hi John
              I use the Nikon Nikkor AF-S 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR on both my nikon d3100 and d5100 and use mainly for action shots of aircraft and find it very good and very stable even at 300

              cheers Franz (Australia)