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Camera advice - Nikon D90 vs D5100?

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  • Camera advice - Nikon D90 vs D5100?

    I'm thinking of getting a new camera (upgrading from a very old D40) and considering either the Nikon D90 or D5100. I'm an avid photographer (although not expert) and want to focus on the functionality of the camera and capabilities rather than having a load of gimmicks with the camera.

    Does anyone have any thoughts about the 2 or can advise on the better camera?

  • #2
    Well, the D90 is a fine camera. The D5100 has the movable LCD screen which can come in handy once in a while, but it's also prone to snapping if not handled carefully (keep kids away from it). Also I think the D90 will allow a wider range of lens (those with and without focussing motor). I believe the D5100 has no internal focus drive.
    Nikon D810, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, Nikon AF-S 16-35 f/4G ED, Nikon AF-S 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VRll, Nikon AF-S 105mm Micro f/2.8 if-ED, Nikon 300mm f/4eG PF VR IF ED, SB-600, SB-910, Nikon T14E and 17E teleconverters, Fujifilm XT-1, XF 50-140 F/2.8, XF18-135 F/3.5-5.6, XF56 F1.2, XF10-24 f4.0.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Bruce A View Post
      Well, the D90 is a fine camera. The D5100 has the movable LCD screen which can come in handy once in a while, but it's also prone to snapping if not handled carefully (keep kids away from it). Also I think the D90 will allow a wider range of lens (those with and without focussing motor). I believe the D5100 has no internal focus drive.
      +1 on what he says. I had the same decision to make a while back and opted for the D90 because half of my lenses wouldn't autofocus on the D5100.
      I must say that I'm very happy with my choice. The D90 is a great camera.
      Marc B. equipped with:
      Nikon D50 and D90, Nikkor 18-55, Nikkor 70-300, Nikkor 55-200VR, Nikkor 50 1.8, SB700 (2), Vivitar 4000 and a bunch of knick-knacks.
      Still learning...

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      • #4
        A great site I found for comparing cameras (as I'm in the same boat as you. It's upgrade time) is Snapsort.com

        Here's a link to the comparison between the two cameras you asked about
        Nikon D5100 vs D90
        Here are the more in-depth specs, compared
        Specifications - Nikon D5100 vs Nikon D90

        I'd suggest figuring out what you want to do most with your camera and trying to decide which is more capable of it. I was originally looking at the Sony a65 because of all the amazing features but I think I've settled with the Nikon D7000 because it will perform better for what I need it to do. Look up reviews on multiple websites, watch reviews on Youtube, and learn everything you can about the two cameras. Once you figure out all the differences your choice will probably become pretty clear.
        Remember that numbers and specs DON'T always mean a big difference. Look at sample pictures and compare those. Decide which ones you think look the best.

        As for the D5100, it does NOT have a built-in focus motor, so older-style AF lenses will not be compatible with it.

        If you're willing to spend $900 on the D90, you may consider slightly more for the D7000, which in my extensive research over the last week or two has shown that it has much better quality than both camera you're looking at, with much more options for customization. It's been rated as on of the best DSLR cameras to be released. Ever. (I assume this doesn't include the pro cameras though haha)

        Here are comparisons from the same site between the...
        D90 and D7000
        Nikon D7000 vs D90
        D5100 and D7000
        Nikon D5100 vs D7000
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        • #5
          I've used the D5100 and own a D90. If you are choosing between the two, go with the D90. It is a far better camera. Or spend the extra cash and go up to the D7000. Newer technology and everything. I just got one and the leap from the D90 to the D7000 was amazing! Going form your old D40 to the D7000 may make you weep with joy.
          Nikon D800 (x2), Nikon D7000, Nikon D300s, Nikon D90
          ----------
          "The Key to immortality is to first live a life worth remembering."
          Bruce Lee

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          • #6
            Originally posted by DanielLane View Post
            I just got one and the leap from the D90 to the D7000 was amazing!
            Me too and I agree!

            Nikon D810, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, Nikon AF-S 16-35 f/4G ED, Nikon AF-S 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VRll, Nikon AF-S 105mm Micro f/2.8 if-ED, Nikon 300mm f/4eG PF VR IF ED, SB-600, SB-910, Nikon T14E and 17E teleconverters, Fujifilm XT-1, XF 50-140 F/2.8, XF18-135 F/3.5-5.6, XF56 F1.2, XF10-24 f4.0.
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            • #7
              Get the 90 - I got the D5000 and wish I'd known a teensy bit more before I bought it - like just how limiting it is to have to stick with focusing lenses. In the long run, I think you'll be happier and can grow more with the D90 or D7000. Otherwise, tho - the 5000 is great (I don't know what they upgraded when they went with the 5100 other than video and I've yet to shoot video, but that's me).

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              • #8
                D90 would be the better between the two, if you plan to buy new I would consider a 7k.
                FWIW I couldn't see spending $900 on a D90 when you could get the 7k for a few hundred more. With that said, I wouldn't be above sourcing a good used D90 from one of the many who upgraded to a 7K.
                (I don't know what they upgraded when they went with the 5100 other than video and I've yet to shoot video, but that's me)
                The sensor from the 7K, and moved the hinge for the lcd to the side (like it should have been to start with), also a higher rez lcd I believe. The 5100 shares the multicam 1000 AF module with the D90, 5100, 5k. I also wish I knew more before getting the 5K, but mostly for the pentaprism viewfinder, and the higher rez lcd.
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                • #9
                  This is my favourite topic.. LOL

                  I hate my D5100 so much because of the below reason:
                  a) Need external flash commander USD 330
                  b) Can't support AA battery grip
                  c) Camera battery 4 times price of D5000 battery, around USD60-70
                  d) Cannot do flash channeling
                  f) Cannot support portrait style shooting with 2nd aperture, shutter speed adjustment
                  g) can't do flash channeling
                  h) Battery life 1/2 of D7000's or perhaps D90, video last for about 1 hour
                  i) shutter lifespan 1/2 D7000, and perhaps D90
                  j) Do dust protection
                  k) Don't have motor, you need USD 400 extra for 85mm len. Same for other lenses
                  l) 75% viewfinder (practical)
                  m) no PC sync port
                  n) flash sync 1/200s too low
                  o) not much equipments support
                  p) only 11 multicam point / autofocus point
                  q) Plastic made, dropped then bye bye
                  etc etc a lot more

                  I am thinking of trade in my D5100 for D90, or even D7000
                  Last edited by ccting; 11-22-2011, 07:21 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ccting View Post
                    This is my favourite topic.. LOL

                    I hate my D5100 so much because of the below reason:
                    a) Need external flash commander USD 330
                    b) Can't support AA battery grip
                    c) Camera battery 4 times price of D5000 battery, around USD60-70
                    d) Cannot do flash channeling
                    f) Cannot support portrait style shooting with 2nd aperture, shutter speed adjustment
                    g) can't do flash channeling
                    h) Battery life 1/2 of D7000's or perhaps D90, video last for about 1 hour
                    i) shutter lifespan 1/2 D7000, and perhaps D90
                    j) Do dust protection
                    k) Don't have motor, you need USD 400 extra for 85mm len. Same for other lenses
                    l) 75% viewfinder (practical)
                    m) no PC sync port
                    n) flash sync 1/200s too low
                    o) not much equipments support
                    p) only 11 multicam point / autofocus point
                    q) Plastic made, dropped then bye bye
                    etc etc a lot more

                    I am thinking of trade in my D5100 for D90, or even D7000
                    a) or a trigger system. If you don't plan on using flashes, this is meaningless
                    b) It CAN, you just have to find one
                    c) D5100, EN-EL14: $40. D90, EN-EL3e: $40. (The D7000, EN-EL15: $48)
                    d) Doesn't have built-in CLS control, which I'll grant you. But using any current-model flash (SB700 or SB900) or the older SB800 allows for full control. Refer to a).
                    e) You missed this letter
                    f) Can, you just need a vertical grip. Nikon does not make their own, but they are available.
                    g) Same point as d)
                    h) D5100 is CIPA rated to 660 shots per charge, the D90 to 850. Sorry, not half.
                    i) D5100 is 100k, D90 is 100k. both are rated the same, though that's always an estimate that doesn't really matter.
                    j) Neither of the D5100 or D90 has dust or environmental sealing. That's one of the reasons to go to the D300s level.
                    k) While the D5100 does not have a built-in AF motor, the need for it is dwindling dramatically. There are only a very few lenses that are still AF-D (or at least non-AF-S), and those that are are specialized lenses. The 85mm f/1.8D is one of them. The difference between it and the 85mm f/1.4G (which is AF-S) is more than $400; more like $1k. But there are other significant differences between the two, and, as mentioned, they're considerably more specialized lenses.
                    l) Neither camera has a 75% viewfinder. The D5100 is 95%, 0.78x magnification. The D90 is 96%, 0.96x magnification. The magnification is different, but in practical terms this makes little difference unless you're manually focusing.
                    m) Neither has a PC sync port. Again, a reason to go up from the D90/D7000 level.
                    n) Both cameras are at 1/200s: most are, regardless of brand. It's not as big of a limitation, unless youre using a lot of flash outdoors.
                    o) What does this mean?
                    p) Both cameras share the same AF system. Moot point.
                    q) Both cameras are polycarbonate bodies with metal chassis. Moot point.

                    What you've ignored, though, is the change in sensor, especially in terms of higher-iso noise levels and dynamic range. You're also ignoring the D5100's swivel screen, which the D90 doesn't have.

                    ccting: if you're going to give advice, at least give accurate advice. Of your 16 points, 1 was a repeat, 1 didn't make sense, and 11 were wildly factually inaccurate. That's 13/16. Of the 3 remaining, a) depends on usage and d) depends on a), and while k) is accurate, it's qualified by Nikon's updates.
                    Last edited by OsmosisStudios; 11-22-2011, 01:30 PM.
                    I am responsible for what I say; not what you understand.
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                    • #11
                      I've seen this question many times before. OsmosisStudios' response to uber-noob ccting covers most of the salient points.

                      1. The D90 has an in-built focus motor, so it will drive non AF-S lenses.
                      2. It also has a built-in flash commander mode (only really an issue if you have a bunch of Speedlights).
                      3. It also has easier adjustment of some settings via switches rather than via the menu in the D5100.

                      The D5100, however has the 16.2 MP sensor of the D7000 and the EXPEED2 processor, which produces far better quality images, especially at higher ISO settings.

                      1. Given that there are few non AF-S lenses around (the good ones still cost $$$$$$$$$$), this isn't really an issue.
                      2. If you can afford a bunch of Speedlights, your main body is unlikely to be a D5100. 'nuff said.
                      3. Mere ergonomics. You can learn your way around it.

                      Whilst it's a well built full-featured body, the D90 is old hat compared to the D5100. If you can learn the controls properly, the D51000 will produce better images in nearly all circumstances than the D90.

                      I bought a D5100 as a present for my father rather than a (cheaper) D90. 'nuff said.
                      Nikon D7000, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, Samyang 35mm f/1.4, Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-S, Nikon 85mm f/1.8 AF-D, Tamron 180mm f/3.5 Macro, Sigma 500mm f/4.5, SB-800 x 3.

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                      • #12
                        One thing I really miss from the D5100 is the built-in 2 shot HDR mode. Can't do that with any other cameras. I know some guys that only shoot HDR, and have to carry a tripod to do them properly. With the D5100, set it and do handheld, get home and your shots are downloaded directly ready made in 1 fell swoop like this one below:

                        DSC_4596 D5100 HDR
                        Nikon D7000-AA filter removed, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, Sigma 50-150 OS f/2.8, Nikkor 300mm f/4, 2x SB600, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye.

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                        • #13
                          Can't do that with any other cameras.
                          Nikon dlsr's, Pentax K-5, and Sony A580 do and with the same sensor as well
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Madog View Post
                            Nikon dlsr's, Pentax K-5, and Sony A580 do and with the same sensor as well
                            As well as all the SLT Sonys. I believe the a65 and a77 have 6 shot HDR
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Madog View Post
                              Nikon dlsr's, Pentax K-5, and Sony A580 do and with the same sensor as well
                              1. I meant in the Nikon line.

                              2. What other Nikon has the actual HDR mode built-in? I have owned a D80, D200, D3100, D5100, and D7000 and from what I know only the D5100 has it.

                              You can always do bracketing shots, but its not an actual Mode to shoot.

                              Correct me if I am wrong.......
                              Nikon D7000-AA filter removed, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, Sigma 50-150 OS f/2.8, Nikkor 300mm f/4, 2x SB600, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye.

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