D3200 Kit vs. D5100 Kit for 15 Year Old

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I've narrowed down to these 2 cameras on BH Photo for my daughter's birthday. It's mainly due to price and the fact that I'm not sure if she will make good use of a DSLR right now, even though she wants one big time. I'm leaning towards the D3200 but want to get the opinions of you good folks on the Cafe before I pull the trigger today or tomorrow. I know the difference in specs between the 2 models but what would you think would be the best fit for a 15 year old girl who loves to take pictures with dear old dad?
 
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First question I have is how big are her hands? The D5100 is decent size, is the D3200 smaller? If her hands are smaller then a smaller camera would possibly be in order.
Next question is does she already know how to use a camera? Does she use yours with you or are yours off limits? If she already knows how to use a DSLR perhaps the D5100 would be a better choice as it seems to me to be able to easier access settings and make changes.
Really though, if she's just looking for a camera to take snaps with I'd go with the smaller of the 2 (if she has small hands) or the less costly one if the size of the camera isn't an issue.
 
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Her hands are quite average and I've thought about that as well. She uses my D300 with really no issues so I know the D5200 would be fine. She wants to do more than just snapshots. She has a pretty good eye and loves to exploit it in her images. I like the specs on the D3200 but I don't know if she would be missing anything on the D5100 that would make much difference to her.
 
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Other than MP's I think the cameras should be pretty equal except for changing settings. I remember it being "fairly" straight forward on the D5100 but have never even looked at the D3100/3200 due to it being not enough camera for me. I do know the more basic the camera the more hidden the controls seem to be. I'm sure she'd do just fine with a D5100 since she uses your D300.
 
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I honestly wouldn't have a clue. D5100 has a 16.2MP sensor which I think is the same as the D7000. If it is the same it's excellent for low light assuming the software allows it to be the same as the D7000. D3200 is 24.2MP which complicates things... higher res, bigger files, glass makes more of a difference, focus accuracy makes a bigger difference. I'm sure I could go on. As far as low light capabilities go I can't comment on the D3200. The D7000 was VERY good in low light. The D7000 was a little too much camera for me/my computer. My D300 at 12MP is just about perfect. Files are plenty big to crop if necessary but small enough that my computer could handle post (if I did it).
Choosing one of these cameras over the other takes a lot of other things into consideration. If I had kept my D7000 I'd have HAD to get a new computer, mine just couldn't handle the file size. D3200 files would be about half again bigger based on the MP's. Does she have a computer that she can do post on files of this size? How about storage? My 80G HDD would fill up FAST with a couple hundred D7000 images downloaded. I think there are a couple questions that you still need to answer before you decide on which camera would be best for her.

Back in the old days if you wanted low light capability you bought Fuji 1600 ASA or Kodak B&W 3200 ASA and shot that and expected grainy prints or you did long exposures on better film that didn't necessarily show grain BUT did have other problems such as color shift. Nowadays any "grain" (noise) in images isn't acceptable. My theory is you just do the best you can with what you have. Grain in old Kodak 3200 added to the image, noise can do the same thing too.
 
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The 5100 has lower per-pixel noise, but the 3200 has more pixels to reduce to picture size, which reduces noise, so they basically equal in practice.

If she can handle a D300 okay, I'd go with the 5100. It gives her a bit more room to grow.
 
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Excellent info Steve and Harry. Thanks for the input. I think I am now leaning towards the D5100. Let's see if I can follow through with that now.....
 
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Jan 17, 2013
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www.snapsort.com has a very good comparison between the two cameras. I use a D3200 and apart from the difference in MP I see don't see a lot of difference. The D5100 does have a swing out screen. Something I didn't want on a camera. Being something of a klutz I am sure I would knock it off on the first day. Good luck on your choice. Either one will be a delight to use.
 
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I ended up going with the D5100. Yesterday was her birthday and she was 9 kinds of excited. I'm sure the D3200 would have been a hit as well, but I am comfortable that the D5100 will serve her well for a time to come. Thanks all for the input.
 

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