While Nikon's D5100 and D5200 are both "prosumer" DSLR cameras, the D5200 is a newer model that has improved features, like a higher image resolution, more autofocus points, and the ability to film videos at 60 frames per second. With both camera bodies priced within $100-$150 of each other, most photographers will likely want to purchase the newer model.

Comparison chart

Nikon D5100 versus Nikon D5200 comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartNikon D5100Nikon D5200
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About Prosumer DSLR camera that is much better than simple point-and-shoot cameras. Very similar to its successo, the D5200, but lacks some of the newer model's features (e.g., more autofocus points, stereo audio). Pro-amateur camera. Much better than simple point-and-shoot cameras and at times comparable to the Nikon D7100, but ultimately lacks some of the more professional features of the D7100.
Price About $380 USD for the camera body. About $500 USD for the camera body.
Maximum Resolution 4,928 x 3,264 pixels (16.2 effective megapixels). 6,000 × 4,000 pixels (24.1 effective megapixels).
Autofocus Selection 11-point system. 39-point system.
Video Recording Supports full HD movies of 1920 x 1080 at standard rates of 30 frames for second (fps). Supports full HD movies of 1920 x 1080 at standard rates of 30 frames for second (fps) or 24 fps and at faster rates of 60 fps or 50 fps.
LCD Monitor 3-inch flip-out, variable angle monitor that can be tilted and swiveled. 3-inch flip-out, variable angle monitor that can be tilted and swiveled.
File Formats RAW, JPEG, RAW+JPEG. RAW, JPEG, RAW+JPEG.
Storage Secure Digital, SDHC, SDXC compatible. Secure Digital, SDHC, SDXC compatible. Supports Ultra-High Speed (UHS-I) class cards.
Continuous Shooting Up to 4 frames per second. 5 frames per second.
Battery Life Up to 660 shots with the Nikon EN-EL14 Lithium-Ion battery. Up to 500 shots with the Nikon EN-EL14 Lithium-Ion battery.
ISO Sensitivity 100 to 6400 (extendable to 25600). 100 to 6400 (extendable to 25600).
Weight Approximately 510 g (1 lb. 2 oz.), camera body only. Approximately 505 g (1 lb. 1.8 oz.), camera body only.
Memory Card Slots 1. 1.
Wi-Fi Support No built-in support and no support for a Wi-Fi adapter. Yes, with adapter.
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.
Shutter Speed Range 1/4000 to 30 sec. in steps of 1/3 EV. 30 s to 1/4000 s in 1/2 or 1/3 stops and Bulb, 1/200 s X-sync.
Sensor 23.6 mm x 15.6 mm Nikon DX format RGB CMOS sensor, 1.5 × FOV crop. 23.5 mm × 15.6 mm Nikon DX format RGB CMOS sensor, 1.5 × FOV crop.
Body Colors Black only. Black, bronze, red.

Picture Quality

Resolution

One of the most significant differences between the D5100 and the D5200 is the resolution. The D5100 has a maximum resolution of 4,928 x 3,264 pixels (16.2 megapixels) compared to the D5200's 6000 x 4000 pixels (24.1 megapixels). This quality difference will be most noticeable when printing large photographic prints, not when viewing photos at smaller resolutions on a computer.

Autofocus System

The D5200's 39-point autofocus system.
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The D5200's 39-point autofocus system.

A second significant difference is the autofocus (AF) system. An AF system offers a number of points that the photographer can use to automatically focus the camera. The more AF points there are, the more variety and control offered to the photographer. The user can select one point to really focus on a particular part of a scene or select all of the points to increase overall clarity.

Like Nikon's D3200, the D5100 has a basic 11-point AF system, while the D5200 has a more advanced 39-point AF system, which is not far off from Nikon’s more professional cameras that sport 51-point systems. (For a prosumer camera with a 51-point system, see the Nikon D7100.) With 39 points, there is minimal space between each point bringing action shots into greater focus.

Moreover, the D5200 offers a 3D-tracking mode which uses all 39 points to focus on an object and then follow that object to keep it in focus while filming a movie. The user can also display grid lines in the viewfinder to more accurately track the object.

Movie Mode

Both cameras can film full HD movies at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and at 30 frames per second (standard rates). The D5200 has the added ability to shoot at twice the standard speed, at 60 frames per second, but only in interlaced mode. The more frames per second, the smoother the video looks, especially for fast-paced videos. Having the extra frames per second allows for slow-motion capture, which is particularly useful for those filming sports.

Scene Modes

Scene modes allow a camera to automatically choose the best settings for a particular subject. This frees the user to focus on taking pictures, rather than plan difficult shots. The D5100 and D5200 offer seven image effects (including night vision and color selection), six types of picture control (including monochrome and landscape), and 19 in-camera editing functions (including fish eye and filters). The D5200 also offers 16 scene mode options (including food, close-up, and night).

Hardware

Processor

The D5200 has a faster processor that enables it to continuously shoot at a rate of five frames per second (fps), up from 4 fps in the D5100. This additional frame per second will be noticeable during action shooting like sports photography.

LCD Screen

The D5100's flip-out display looks identical to the one found in the D5200.
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The D5100's flip-out display looks identical to the one found in the D5200.

Both cameras have a 3-inch, flip-out, vari-angle display that allows photographers to view an image while holding the camera at a distance or to flip and rotate the display to take self-portraits or images from extreme angles. The LCD is not a touch-screen in either camera, so menus need to be navigated with buttons instead of with on-screen touch.

Battery Life

Nikon determines the battery life of a camera by the number of shots it can take before the battery needs to be recharged. Both the D5100 and D5200 have the same rechargeable li-ion battery; however, the D5100 is slightly more energy efficient since it takes lower resolution shots. The D5100 can take up to 660 shots per battery charge, while the D5200 can only take 500 shots.

Audio Input

While both cameras have adjustable sensitivity levels on their microphones, the D5200's built-in stereo microphone is superior to the D5100's built-in monoaural microphone and offers more options for adjustment. However, both cameras also feature a 3.5 mm jack to add an external microphone for sound recording. A good external microphone will produce superior sound quality compared to built-in microphones which can pick up the sounds of the camera itself.

Body Color

The D5100 is only available in black, but the D5200 can be purchased in black, red, or bronze.

Usability

User Interface

Nikon D5200 user interface
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Nikon D5200 user interface

Another important difference between the D5100 and D5200 is the user interface. The D5200 offers a more intuitive interface that reacts a little faster thanks to its improved processor. For both cameras the user can select from one of two display modes (Classic or Graphic) and one of three colors (black, blue/green, brown/orange) to further customize the camera interface.

Remote Control

The D5200 features an accessory terminal where a wireless remote control adapter can be added to take remote shots. The Nikon WR-R10/WR-T10 wireless remote controllers can control one or more cameras and can even work with an obstacle between the remote control and the camera. The D5100 does not offer this functionality.

Connectivity

Wi-Fi and GPS

The D5100 does not have any wi-fi capabilities. Likewise, the D5200 does not have built-in wi-fi capabilities; however, an adapter can be purchased to transfer images wirelessly to a smart device. This adapter is not available for the D5100. An additional adapter can be purchased to add GPS capabilities to either camera.

Image Storage

Both cameras offer USB connectivity to transfer images and both can store images on SD, SDHC, or SDXC memory cards.

References

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