Nikon's D3200 is an introductory DSLR camera intended for beginners, while the D5100 is a "prosumer" DSLR designed for users who want more functionality without the high price of a professional-level camera. The D5100 offers advanced features like High Dynamic Range (HDR) shooting, in-camera editing, a flip-out and vari-angle LCD, and a higher ISO sensitivity than the D3200. Both cameras are high quality DSLRs, but the D5100 offers advanced features that some beginners may never use. The D3200 can be found for around $330 (body only), while the D5100 body is approximately $350.

Comparison chart

Nikon D3200 versus Nikon D5100 comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartNikon D3200Nikon D5100
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Nikon D3200Nikon D5100
Maximum resolution 6,016 × 4,000 (24.2 effective megapixels) 4,928 x 3,264 pixels (16.2 effective megapixels).
Sensor 23.1 mm × 15.4 mm Nikon DX format RGB CMOS sensor, 1.5 × FOV crop, 3.85µm pixel size 23.6 mm x 15.6 mm Nikon DX format RGB CMOS sensor, 1.5 × FOV crop.
Flash Built in Pop-up, Guide number 13m at ISO 100, Standard ISO hotshoe, Compatible with the Nikon Creative Lighting System Built in Pop-up, Guide number 13m at ISO 100, Standard ISO hotshoe. Compatible with the Nikon Creative Lighting System.
Continuous shooting 4 frame/s Up to 4 frames per second.
Shutter speed range 30 s to 1/4000 s in 1/2 or 1/3 stops and Bulb, 1/200 s X-sync 1/4000 to 30 sec. in steps of 1/3 EV.
Storage Secure Digital, SDHC and SDXC compatible Secure Digital, SDHC, SDXC compatible.
Weight Approx. 455 g (1.00 lb) without battery, memory card or body cap Approximately 510 g (1 lb. 2 oz.), camera body only.
Battery Nikon EN-EL14 rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery Nikon EN-EL14 Lithium-Ion battery
Metering modes 3D Color Matrix Metering II, Center-weighted and Spot Center weighted, Matrix, Spot
Exposure modes Auto modes (auto, auto [flash off]), Guide Mode, Advanced Scene Modes (Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Close-up, Night Portrait), programmed auto with flexible program (P), shutter-priority auto (S), aperture-priority auto (A), manual (M), (Q) quiet mod Auto, advanced scene, shutter-priority auto, aperture-priority auto, manual, quiet mode

Picture Quality


One of the most significant differences between the D3200 to the D5100 is the resolution, a.k.a., number of megapixels. The D3200 has a sizable advantage with 24.2 megapixels versus the 16.2 megapixels of the D5100. Many beginner photographers assume that more megapixels means the camera takes better pictures, but that is not always the case. For DSLR cameras, the composition, lighting, and lens make some of the biggest differences in photo quality.

ISO Sensitivity

Another significant difference between the D3200 and the D5100 is the ISO sensitivity. ISO sensitivity is the ability of the camera to use the available light for an image. The bigger the ISO sensitivity number, the clearer pictures the camera can take in low light without a flash. However, this higher sensitivity can also add grain or noise to an image, making ISO sensitivity a difficult balance for many new photographers.

The D5100 can reach an extended ISO sensitivity of 25600 while the D3200 has a maximum ISO sensitivity of 128000. The difference is extreme; however, if the user does not know how to balance the larger ISO sensitivity with the shutter speed, the images of the D5100 will not necessarily look better.

Image Sensor

The larger the image sensor, the more information the camera perceives in creating an image. The D5100 has a slightly larger image sensor than the D3200. The difference is so small that most users will not find it is noticeable.

High Dynamic Range (HDR)

The D5100 offers High Dynamic Range (HDR) shooting. This allows a user to take two multi-exposure images with one shutter release; these images are combined to create one picture. With this feature, the user can create higher contrast photos with more details, less noise, and more vibrant tones. The edges of the two images can be smoothed to create one fluid image.

Picture Control

The D5100 has seven image effect modes, including night vision and color selection modes; six types of picture control; and 19 in-camera editing capabilities. The D3200 offers the same six types of picture control, but does not have any image effects or in-camera editing functions.


LCD Screen

The D5100 has a flip-out, vari-angle display.
The D5100 has a flip-out, vari-angle display.

A significant difference between the D3200 and D5100 is the LCD screen. Both cameras have a 3-inch LCD; however, the D5100 offers a flip-out, variable-angle display, while the D3200 display can only be viewed from directly behind the camera. With the D5100, the user can flip and rotate the LCD, which allows for greater versatility while shooting.

Battery Life

The D3200 and D5100 both use the same type of rechargeable li-ion battery, but the D5100 is a little more energy efficient. Whereas the D5100 can take up to 660 shots per battery charge, the D3200 can only take up to 540 shots.

Startup Delay

The D3200 takes approximately 400 milliseconds to turn on and become fully functional. The D5100 takes 500 milliseconds. This means the D3200 has about a 20% faster startup time than the D5100.

Body Color

The D3200 can be purchased in black or red. Black is the only color available for the D5100 model.


Example of one interface theme seen in the D3200's red body.
Example of one interface theme seen in the D3200's red body.

User Interface

The user interfaces of the D3200 and the D5100 are very similar. The menus are intuitive and easy to navigate. Both cameras support "classic" and "graphic" displays and allow users to choose between color themes (black, blue/green/white, brown/orange).

Body Size

The D3200 weighs slightly less than the D5100. The D3200 weighs 505 grams, and the D5100 weighs 560 grams. Both cameras measure approximately 5.0”W x 3.8”H x 3.1”D.


Wi-Fi and GPS

The D3200 has no wi-fi support by default, but an adapter can be purchased to transfer images wirelessly. The D5100 has no such adapter, so all images must be transferred via USB or memory card. For GPS capabilities, a different adapter can be purchase for either camera.

Image Storage

Images can be transferred from both cameras via USB. Storage support includes SD, SDHC, and/or SDXC memory cards.


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