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D3100 to D5200 - Upgrade worth it for amateur?

Discussion in 'Photography & Video' started by Acme, Apr 25, 2018.

  1. Acme

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jul 29, 2011

    Posts: 28,024

    Location: Acme's chair

    Hi guys,

    I have a D3100 at the moment with the standard 18 - 55 DX VR kit lens and I am looking to upgrade it. The 18 - 55 works fine for most of the photography I do (close proximity, car shows, etc etc)

    I have found a D5200 which is a decent price and will mean the upgrade will cost me about £150 after selling my D3100 body.

    The tech specs look much better but I know that isn't everything! - http://cameradecision.com/compare/Nikon-D3100-vs-Nikon-D5200

    My decision to upgrade to be honest is because a friend of mine bought a Canon 200D and his shots in full auto mode with no experience whatsoever are so much crisper and clearer than mine straight off the camera, even if I spend ages tweaking settings before I take a shot... He's also able to use clarity filters in Photoshop without the picture going grainy like they do for me.

    My main complaints about the 3100 are extremely poor low light performance, temperamental auto-focus, low resolution screen making it impossible to review shots, and a general lack of detail/graininess to my pictures even if I shoot on a low ISO. The colour depth also seems quite 'flat' if that is the right word?

    It is entirely possible that I am just completely hopeless and using it wrong which is why I'm asking if the upgrade is worth it. :p

    A couple of landscapes I took ages ago which kinda show the lack of fine detail captured in the field etc:
    https://imgur.com/a/nlxkAdx

    And a random triplet from car shows:
    https://imgur.com/a/xHM2Sog

    Whereas this is these are the pictures my mate took with his 200D the other day which make me feel decidedly inadequate... They just 'pop' more and seem far more vibrant and detailed!
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/95237721@N04/sets/72157692800126082/

    He uses a clarity filter in Photoshop on his RAW files to make them look like this, but when I do that to mine the image becomes grainy... So I'm thinking the 10 extra megapixels would help if I wanted to edit mine in this way?

    Thoughts... :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
  2. EGuitarStar

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Dec 23, 2009

    Posts: 2,292

    Location: Earth

    I'd suggest trying the D5200 with your lens if possible, as it may be your lens that is giving you the soft results rather than the camera body.

    Have you also tried different focal lengths and apertures to eliminate the lens being softer at certain values than others?
     
  3. Acme

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jul 29, 2011

    Posts: 28,024

    Location: Acme's chair

    I would have to buy it first :( Unless i manage to find someone with one I can try.

    Its exactly the same lens the D5200 came bundled with when new.

    I usually shoot with the aperture wide open so i can use a low ISO and a fast shutter speed. Might that be my error?
     
  4. Spacedeck

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 14, 2007

    Posts: 2,587

    Location: West Yorkshire, England

    Have you also tried shooting in full auto to see if the results are different/better? If shooting full auto gives you better results, I think it would just be a case of just learning.
     
  5. Acme

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jul 29, 2011

    Posts: 28,024

    Location: Acme's chair

    Full auto gives worse results. Mainly because the shots are hideously over-exposed. :(
     
  6. EGuitarStar

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Dec 23, 2009

    Posts: 2,292

    Location: Earth

    The fast shutter and low ISO should not be an issue but if you are shooting mainly in day light why do you shoot wide open? I would try a few test shoots with different aperture values to see if the results are any different. Some lens can be soft wide open.

    Do you shoot with a tripod or handheld?
     
  7. Acme

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jul 29, 2011

    Posts: 28,024

    Location: Acme's chair

    Mainly handheld. I suppose shooting wide open is just habit.
     
  8. GamingDaddy

    Gangster

    Joined: Apr 12, 2018

    Posts: 107

    Location: England

    You can tell there's a more experienced photographer behind the shots with the nikon, but I do agree the canon shots are sharper and clearer.

    The Canon does have an advantage in ISO, dynamic range and colour depth so that would already make a clear difference but that extra 10 megapixels means if there was any noise it may be harder to see.

    The d5200 would be a good choice to jump to IMO
     
  9. Energize

    Caporegime

    Joined: Mar 12, 2004

    Posts: 27,327

    The problem here is the kit lens you are using, it quite simply is crap. It is going to give you soft images that lack detail on any body you buy. I would suggest buying a 35mm f/1.8 if you want sharp images and good low light performance.

    However if we want to talk about bodies...

    The D5200 is a worthwhile upgrade, but I would suggest the D7000 or the D7100 if budget allows, you can pick one up for <£250 on ebay. It features the same sensor performance as the D5200 (albeit at 16mp), but it has a much better AF system, far superior viewfinder and continuous shooting performance, and twice the battery life. It handles a lot better in general and is just a much more professional level body that's easier to use and weather sealed which is great when your at a show and it's raining. Not to mention the AF motor opens up a much larger range of lenses that you can use with the camera giving you more flexibility for the future.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2018
  10. Armageus

    Don

    Joined: May 19, 2012

    Posts: 8,680

    Location: Spalding, Lincolnshire

    I'm definitely no expert, but I have got a D3200. Upgrading to a better lens made no end of difference - I have a 1.8 50mm and it has almost incredible low light performance compared to the kit lens, and AF is considerably better. (and usable bokeh! :))

    You would probably be better off with a 35mm lens I would think but they are still pretty cheap and can be carried up to a better body later.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2018
  11. Energize

    Caporegime

    Joined: Mar 12, 2004

    Posts: 27,327

    I definitely agree he would be better off spending money on a faster lens if he wants low light performance, the 18-55mm kit lenses are crap for low light, at f/5.6 they let in about 10x less light than a cheap f/1.8 prime lens.

    That's the difference between a grainy POS image at ISO 6400 vs a usable image @ ISO 600.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2018
  12. GamingDaddy

    Gangster

    Joined: Apr 12, 2018

    Posts: 107

    Location: England

    Even if he's stuck on cost, Yongnuo have phenomenal lenses (obviously don't match up with the originals they attempt to copy) for the price.
    My 50mm f1.8 was just under £60, if I'd have bought a nikon it would have been about double that and only seen marginal differences in sharpness etc
     
  13. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 28,371


    Yes, lack of depth of focus, plus lenses wont be at their best wide open.

    Before buying a camera you need to learn photography.
     
  14. GamingDaddy

    Gangster

    Joined: Apr 12, 2018

    Posts: 107

    Location: England

    You learn photography with a camera.
     
  15. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 28,371

    The OP has a perfectly functional camera that exceed is abilities. A new lens or camera wont make as big a difference as learning to use the cameras he has.
     
  16. Spacedeck

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 14, 2007

    Posts: 2,587

    Location: West Yorkshire, England

    Very true.

    One thing I've done in the past is search Flickr for people using my exact camera and looking in awe at all those great shots I'm mostly unable to get. Along with checking their lens / settings. Could be worth a look and see if the same kit on someone else performs to your expectations or better, could just be down to technique
     
  17. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 28,371

    Definitely not equipment. You only have to go back a few years an Pros would be dreaming of a camera as capable of the D3100.
    And the kit lens when used as appropriate apertures for landscape photography will be hard to distinguish from a 2K professional lens.
     
  18. doodah

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 17,557

    Location: London

    Have a 5200 and love it. Couple it with a Sigma 18-35 1.8 and you're sorted :cool:, though the 35mm and 50mm 1.8s are also decent and a lot cheaper.
     
  19. Acme

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jul 29, 2011

    Posts: 28,024

    Location: Acme's chair

    I like the idea of checking the results others can get with my camera, ill try that. :)

    Lots of conflicting opinions in here!
     
  20. Armageus

    Don

    Joined: May 19, 2012

    Posts: 8,680

    Location: Spalding, Lincolnshire

    I don't think it's so much conflicting opinions, they are all largely right to some degree and I think you need to follow them in this sort of order:
    1. Compare photos others have taken with D3100
    2. Get better at photography through practice (I still need to do this, and I guess even professionals are still continually improving)
    3. Buy better lens (e.g. if low light/dull days are your biggest issue, then a f1.8 prime will improve the auto focus, and allow lower ISO, reducing grainy-ness)
    4. Upgrade to better body later (and still get benefits of all of the above)


    Whilst I'm sure some of the more "Pro" photographers here would have a better idea than me, reading opinions and comparisons between "entry-level" kit like the D3x00 and some of the "Pro" kit e.g. Dx00 e.g. https://petapixel.com/2016/04/21/d3100-vs-d800-can-actually-tell-difference/ it sounds like there isn't a huge gulf between what is possible, just that the "Pro" level bodies offer more flexibility and different/easier ways to get the results you want consistently