We pit the D3300 vs the Nikon D5100 to see which DSLR model comes out on top.
If you’re looking for an exceptional entry-level camera, then look no further: Nikon’s offerings have wowed us with their eye-popping color and jaw-dropping ease of use features. These cameras are a one-stop-shop for beautiful photography.
But which model will suit you: the more fully featured Nikon D5100 or the sprightly and lightweight D3300? Read on for our analysis!
Nikon D3300 Advantages
- Lighter weight
- Higher resolution images
- Panorama function
- Can shoot 1080p video at 60 fps
- Better low-light performance
- Higher color range
The D3300 is a beginner DSLR offering from Nikon that holds its own in our comparison.
This camera ships with a 24-megapixel sensor, and Nikon felt no need to include an anti-aliasing filter as a result. This means that, in combination with the much higher maximum resolution, you will enjoy even sharper images.
The D3300 offers its users the ability to shoot full 1080p videos at 60fps, which is better than the D5100’s available options, and only allows access to the higher framerate at a reduced resolution.
This affords you the ability to play back footage in slow motion or enjoy the lifelike smoothness of the increased framerate.
The D3300 also boasts a built-in panorama function, allowing you to stitch together multiple high-resolution shots into a beautiful 180- or 360-degree scene.
Features like this may not see regular use, but this camera actually outperforms the D5100 in many aspects of day-to-day shooting. Its low-light performance is better than the D5100, and its color depth is deeper as well.
On top of all of this, the D3300 is lighter-weight than the D5100—about 20% lighter, in fact. This 430g camera is actually one of the lightest DSLRs available, and that makes it all the more tempting to bring along on a hike or throw in your backpack without a second thought.
Portraits look stunning on this camera, with crisp colors and details sharp enough to win me over entirely. The D3300 presents a solid alternative to the D5100: a lightweight camera that still packs a punch.
Nikon D3300 Disadvantages
- Fixed screen
- Slow max shutter speed
- No touchscreen
- Slow autofocus
- No W-Fi
This cute little camera does have its downsides.
The screen on the D3300 is fixed in place, sadly. That’s the price you pay for such a light camera, I suppose, but I do appreciate the adjustable screen that the D5100 offers. Articulating screens are incredibly useful for shooting video, so despite its better framerate offerings the D3300 loses points in that department with this omission.
Unlike the D5100, the D3300 doesn’t offer exposure bracketing of any sort. You’ll need to be more careful about under- or over-exposing your shots with this camera.
It must be mentioned that the lack of an anti-aliasing filter means there is more of a potential for moiré to occur with the D3300 than with the D5100. However, its sensor resolution is high enough that it should not be a frequent occurrence.
Just like the D5100, the D3300 lacks any sort of wireless capabilities. Its more recent release date makes this exclusion all the more disappointing.
The D3300 also has the same autofocus array and lack of higher shutter speed options that limit its potential for capturing sports or nature photography.
Nikon D5100 Advantages
- Articulating screen
- Built-in time-lapse recording
- Anti-aliasing filter
- Bracketed exposures
- Bigger photo buffer
- Higher dynamic range
The 16 megapixel Nikon D5100 fits somewhere into the middle of Nikon’s offerings, presenting us with a camera that is easy to learn yet offers a taste of what their more expensive models have to offer.
It comes with a handful of features that the D3300 lacks, such as a built-in time lapse function, an HDR option, and an articulating screen to help you set up tough shots. The swiveling screen is hinged at the side so that you can shoot from nearly any angle, or even set up a shot with the camera facing you.
The D5100 also allows you to take bracketed exposures in situations where you can’t seem to expose the entire scene properly with just one shot. This is an incredibly handy camera function to have at your fingertips.
If you’re taking action shots, the D5100 holds the clear advantage. It can capture 13 RAW photos continuously before slowing down, as opposed to 7 for the D3300. Nikon claims both cameras are capable of a burst of up to 100 JPEGs.
The D5100 also holds the advantage in dynamic range—the measure of the whitest whites and the blackest blacks that can be captured—although the differences between the two cameras are otherwise quite slim.
ISO offerings range from 100 to 6400, with two additional stops available with ISO expansion turned on and an upper ceiling of 102400 in Night Vision mode. This lets you capture images with almost no light present, though these shots will be in greyscale.
The D5100 comes equipped with an anti-aliasing filter (also known as a low pass filter) to help reduce moiré, the interference pattern that can occur when shooting patterns that are too fine for the sensor to pick up.
There are a lot of options and menus packed into this camera but the control layout and UI are straightforward and don’t take long to learn. Nikon has included a wide variety of presets and color settings to help you capture the shot just as you see it.
Nikon D5100 Disadvantages
- Heftier body
- Lower resolution
- Anti-aliasing filter
- Underwhelming performance
- No Wi-Fi
The D5100 loses a bit of ground to the D3300 when it comes to performance.
The inclusion of an anti-aliasing filter is a good choice to enhance this camera’s 16-megapixel sensor, but it does sacrifice a bit of clarity and sharpness in the process.
The D5100’s much lower sensor resolution means that the pixel area is almost 50% larger than on the D3300. This means, all else equal, the D5100 should excel in low-light conditions, as the larger pixels should be able to gather more information from the limited light.
However, this is not the case. The D3300 outperforms it rather handily in darker settings—neither excels, but the D5100 is certainly left wanting. Colors were also a little flatter on the D5100 than on its competitor.
The D5100 only has one cross-type autofocus point in its array of 11. Combined with a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000, this camera is not a great choice for the sports photographer. Its autofocus array may struggle to keep up with moving subjects, and it does not offer a 1/8000 option for capturing movement on bright days.
If you enjoy being able to bracket your shots for exposure or use the articulating screen to set up unusual angles, the D5100 is the way to go. Short of these options, however, this older model is certainly showing its age when stacked up against its newer and lighter competition.
Despite being an entry-level model, the D3300’s performance shone in this comparison, and its nimbler software and slightly longer battery life only tip the scales further in its favor.
If you’re looking for a casual camera that you can carry around effortlessly, then look no further than the Nikon D3300.Back to Top