With the recent launch of Nikon's D5200 (an upgrade of 18 months old D5100), Nikon introduced its 5th D-SLR in 2012. Though it is difficult to understand Nikon's aggressive business strategy but it was a big year for them.
Anyways, when I wrote My first D-SLR back in September-2012, I left D3200 out of my discussion. D5200 being introduced, I thought it would be wise to update my article up-to-date. Here it goes:
Read the introduction here: How I concluded to buy D5100.
When I finished My first D-SLR Nikon's D3200 was already in the market and on 06-November-2012 Nikon (Europe and Asia, not US!) introduced D5200 - as an advancement of D5100.
These 2 models were not discussed earlier in my article, here I would like to share what I feel about them. Please note that, this article is not a lab test report of all these camera bodies - whole and sole my personal opinions only.
I asked myself a question: Given a chance, would I like to have either of these 2 (D3200 or D5200) as my first D-SLR ahead of D5100 or D7000? The answer was a straight and big NO. Obviously the next question: Why?
Let's keep D7000 out of this for the sake of simplicity, till date D7000 is the numero uno advanced entry-level DX camera and stands ahead of all these kids in many regards (D90 falls short to D7000 - refer to any pro sites like DP Review and you will get the same conclusion; D300S is not an entry level camera - though DX but it is a dedicated advanced camera).
So, it is about the superiority of 18 months old D5100, 6 months old D3200 and just born D5200.
What advancement does D3200 and D5200 have over D5100?
- D3200 and D5200 deliver 24 megapixel image whereas D5100 delivers 16 megapixel image,
- D3200 and D5200 equipped with EXPEED 3 processor whereas D5100 is equipped with EXPEED 2,
- D5200 (not D3200) has 39 focus points whereas D5100 (also D3200) has 11 focus points,
- D5200 offers 5 fps (frames per second) against 4 fps by D5100 (D3200 also offers 4 fps).
These are the three major features where these three cameras differ with each other.
Are these differences substantial?
Theoretically YES but practically NO. Please note that, I'm not trying to defend my purchase of D5100. Anyone would like to defend his/her purchase, no one will admit that it was a mistake. But I'm not trying to do anything like that.
24 megapixel vs 16 megapixel
If you lured just by megapixel count of your camera and you have an opinion like more the pixel count better the picture then you will definitely argue with me. But do you really need that 1.5 times more megapixel count? Do you really have any business with that? Did you already realized that your each RAW file will be of 24 MB if you shoot with D3200/D5200?
Let's come to the points. We (you and me) do not need a 24 megapixel image. Where are we going to post our images OR how we are going to use our images? Mainly we will post our images on web and for that 24 megapixels is a waste. Even if you print your image then it is never bigger than A3 or A2 size - 16 megapixel image is completely perfect for that size. When I do my image processing, I connect my laptop with a 21" monitor - there it looks perfect. In no web services you are going to view your image in bigger scale than that. Let'c consider that, you are going to use the camera in a (bit) professional way - for event or wedding photography, there also your client do not want an image bigger than A2 size (if printed) and in majority cases it will be for web and will remain in soft form only.
The pain lies somewhere else, apart from eating your disk space at a monster rate with 24 MB image each, there is another concern. Just for your information: at present moment, only my RAW files captured a space of 65 GB (since August-2011) - mine is 16 MB RAW image each with D5100, the JPEGs and TIFFs sizes are additional. Now the concern, do you understand the fact that bigger your RAW file size - slower the process of your engine will be! Your computer will take lot of time to load each image and also to load your customized changes - Photoshop/Lightroom will cry! My engine is a vaio i5 with 4 Gb RAM - it is just OK for me but not enough. It makes a sound like crazy while image processing - I'm considering to upgrade the RAM to 8 GB just because of this issue. Now imagine, how it will behave with 24 MB RAWs!
To get more clear views, I recommend you to read some more on the web about practical life experience with Nikon's D800 which captures at whooping 36 megapixel. Seriously you have to upgrade then your engine - a SSD drive will be compulsory (an expensive affair). Are you ready to invest so much when it is about your first time?
Remember, D7000 captures at 16 megapixel only - no one complains about the pixel count of it.
EXPEED 3 vs EXPEED 2
EXPEED 3 is the upgraded version of EXPEED 2 (it is the image processor of the camera) - definitely must be better than EXPEED 2. But D7000 and D5100 have EXPEED 2 inside them - there is nothing to complain about their image quality.
What I'm trying to say here is, may be EXPEED 3 is better than its older counter part but does it compulsorily required to possess? Here I do not have much to say - you better think and decide.
39 focus points vs 11 focus points
Ofcourse this is a major advancement of D5200 (same as in D7000) and a good feature - good to have. If you start as a beginner then my words: less is good. with 11 focus points (in D5100 also in D3200) you learn better composition and better focus techniques for still photographs (there is a custom setting option in D5200 to shoot with old 11 focus points). As you do not have plenty of resources, gradually you learn to master the trick of using your limited resources smartly. But you will feel the limit of less focus points while doing sports or bird (dynamic wildlife) photography.
5 fps vs 4 fps
Seriously, there is no defense of D5100 (4 fps) here. The advancement is really great - particularly when you are in sports or in wildlife. Actually the more fps count along with a better AF system is the only criteria where D5200 outperforms its predecessor.
D3200 or D5100?
D3200 does not have anything interesting to offer above D5100. 24 megapixel image is of very limited use (or of no use!) and the EXPEED 3 engine is as good as EXPEED 2 (I believe). On the other hand D5100 have many advantages over D3200 like it can do bracketing (compulsory for making HDR images), it has articulated LCD which is a handy feature, etc. Also the D5100 comes with a little bit less cost tag than D3200 (after price revision).
D5100 or D5200?
Nikon took D5100, added the megapixel count and processor of D3200 and the focus points of D7000 - result is D5200. We (you and me) do not need that 24 megapixel count and EXPEED 3 (as I mentioned above). Therefor, its all about having 39 focus points along-with 5 fps - this might prove like substantial but remember only one feature will cost you substantially. Is it wise to pay only for single useful feature?
I would have appreciated the D5200 if it has inherited some the very useful feature of D7000 like an in-built focus motor which could have open a wide range of compatible lenses, or may be a weather seal which would have made it less vulnerable to dust/rain/snow, etc.
Less you invest - less you regret! As I already mentioned that, it is hard to understand Nikon's marketing strategy, but it is not so difficult to see that Nikon reduced the prices of DX cameras (D3100, D5100, etc.) substantially. Over a year or two, expect the same with the newly launched models too. That will be the moment, when you will feel the punch. After playing 2 years with a D-SLR, you will be at an advance stage - may feel an urge to upgrade. Then the obvious thing will come in your mind is to sell your previous one, but as the price of the model dropped - you will hardly get anything from selling. You will be in dilemma - whether to sell your first (beloved) D-SLR at a cheap price or to keep it. Better to invest as less as possible in the beginning and mastering it first, rather than investing big.
I will save the extra money with D5100 and will buy a 18-105 lens instead of the 18-55 kit lens. If I have money then I will buy D7000 not D5200. Or, after mastering the first D-SLR if an upgrade is required then FX like D600 can be taken into consideration (if budget permits).
Wish you good luck with your first D-SLR. It's not the camera which captures a great picture - it's you who makes it great. Wish you all Happy Photographing :)