First DSLR Purchase, Considering Nikon D5100

gaven555

Novice Member
Hello,

I am an amature photographer looking to make my first DSLR purchase and am considering a used Nikon D5100 since there are several of these listed on ebay for less than $150 for the body only. My question is, is this a good purchase for a beginner? I usually take photos from my phone (Galaxy S10+) but I find the photos to lack contrast, have unnatural colors, and also lack detail if the lighting isn't ideal. My main uses will be photographing nature scenery while hiking and portraits of people. Also for any camera recommendations I would really appreciate opinions on what would be some good lenses to go with the camera.

What I'm looking for in a camera:
1. Accurate color.
2. High detail.
3. Easy to edit photos should I want to boost colors or contrast.
4. Durable and water resistant if possible should I accidently drop it in the ocean on my paddleboarding trips.
 

snerkler

Member
Hello,

I am an amature photographer looking to make my first DSLR purchase and am considering a used Nikon D5100 since there are several of these listed on ebay for less than $150 for the body only. My question is, is this a good purchase for a beginner? I usually take photos from my phone (Galaxy S10+) but I find the photos to lack contrast, have unnatural colors, and also lack detail if the lighting isn't ideal. My main uses will be photographing nature scenery while hiking and portraits of people. Also for any camera recommendations I would really appreciate opinions on what would be some good lenses to go with the camera.

What I'm looking for in a camera:
1. Accurate color.
2. High detail.
3. Easy to edit photos should I want to boost colors or contrast.
4. Durable and water resistant if possible should I accidently drop it in the ocean on my paddleboarding trips.
The D5100 is a very good choice for beginners, however when you move away from phones and point and shoot cameras you should really at least learn some of the basics to get the best from it. Don't expect to buy a good camera and automatically get great photos from it.

IMO Nikon tend to have some of the most accurate colour which is why I like them, although many people like more aesthetically pleasing colours which is why many people like Canon.

The D5100 is capable of very high detail, but there are many factors in obtaining detail such as light, technique and lens.

In terms of editing, most cameras allow you to tweak things such as saturation and contrast in camera so that your shots look more like you want them to. Also, you can edit on the computer using software such as Lightroom which can be as easy or complicated as you wish. The D5100 allows you to shoot in raw and JPEG. JPEGs can require no editing at all and is just like you get from your phone (although hopefully with better quality) whereas raw need editing in software. Raw has far more data though and should produce better images, if edited right. You can edit jpeg in software too, but it has far less data and so less information to extract.

There's no DSLRs (or mirrorless) that I'm aware of that will give you weatherproofing like that. If you want a camera that can 'accidentally' go under water you need to look at specific cameras like the GoPro and Olympus tough, however these won't give any better picture quality than your phone. You can get waterproof housings for a lot of cameras though so that's an option, but they are bulky. The D5100 doesn't really have any weather resistance at all, you need to go up in the range such as some of the D7xxx series if you want weather resistance, but even then they won't tolerate being submerged in water, particularly salt water.
 

kenshingintoki

Distinguished Member
Look at the lenses and eco-system of the camera company you're investing in, not the camera.

The glass which you need to buy for the body will essentially tie you into that camera's ecosystem for a long time unless you do the painful process of switching. The glass is what gives you that beautiful bookeh, sharpness and allows you to get images which others can't. Glass also gives you versatility in terms of light needed for detail.


Ideally you'll probably want Canon from what you described. Awesome OOTB pleasing colours which means they're easy to edit, durable bodies etc. Just get a fast lens so that it can work well at night time. There are other options though like Sony and Nikon but you really need to understand each company's direction.

Another good option is a micro 4/3 camera. You are aware right how big and heavy a camera is? M43 negates this by reducing the size of the body but more importantly the lenses. Therefore a big obstructive camera becomes a small easy to pocket camera. This versatility allows you to easily get a camera into a football game for example. An awesome camera which is too heavy or big or unwieldy or makes people uncomfortable is useless if it can't get used for those reasons. My M43 I can have in my bag at any point in time and use it. Its durable, works well in low light with a fast lens, quick, good battery life etc.


Whats your budget? Photography isn't cheap and the 150 for the camera is only the start. If you're not sure you're properly into it and can devote a decent edge of cash to it, now might be the time to turn around.
 
Hi Gaven -
The Nikon D5100 is an excellent camera - back when I was thinking of buying my first DSLR I seriously considered the D5100 but opted for the Nikon D7000 instead .
Not trying to influence your decision here but for the same money [ or a little more perhaps ] I would go for the D7000 . The D7000 can be bought for as little as £150 or less these days - I paid over £900 for mine .
The best overall lens [ in my opinion ] to match up with the D5100 or D7000 is the 16-85mm [ around £150-£200 second hand ] - it's better value than its more expensive brother , 16-80mm .

As for dropping it in the ocean - DON'T do it !! And do not take any DSLR out on your paddle board unless it's one of those expensive underwater cameras [ another topic altogether ] .
There's a HUGE difference between ' Waterproof ' and ' Underwater ' camera .

Best of luck and have FUN with your new camera .
 

snerkler

Member
Look at the lenses and eco-system of the camera company you're investing in, not the camera.

The glass which you need to buy for the body will essentially tie you into that camera's ecosystem for a long time unless you do the painful process of switching. The glass is what gives you that beautiful bookeh, sharpness and allows you to get images which others can't. Glass also gives you versatility in terms of light needed for detail.


Ideally you'll probably want Canon from what you described. Awesome OOTB pleasing colours which means they're easy to edit, durable bodies etc. Just get a fast lens so that it can work well at night time. There are other options though like Sony and Nikon but you really need to understand each company's direction.

Another good option is a micro 4/3 camera. You are aware right how big and heavy a camera is? M43 negates this by reducing the size of the body but more importantly the lenses. Therefore a big obstructive camera becomes a small easy to pocket camera. This versatility allows you to easily get a camera into a football game for example. An awesome camera which is too heavy or big or unwieldy or makes people uncomfortable is useless if it can't get used for those reasons. My M43 I can have in my bag at any point in time and use it. Its durable, works well in low light with a fast lens, quick, good battery life etc.


Whats your budget? Photography isn't cheap and the 150 for the camera is only the start. If you're not sure you're properly into it and can devote a decent edge of cash to it, now might be the time to turn around.
He said he wanted natural colours, which is why I made my point in my original post. Everyone has their own opinion on this, but for me Canon aren't the most "natural" imo. Judging on Canon's share of the market you could argue that the masses prefer Canon colours though :smashin:
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
I moved on from a DSLR camera to a micro 4/3rds system a long time ago because I didn't enjoy carrying a heavy body and lenses.

Based on the comments about hiking and the budget I'd consider the original Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the 12-50 f3.5-6.3 lens. The combination is small and light and weather resistant and should be in a similar budget range used.
Assuming $ is US then MPB have a US online store and offer warranty.
There are good deals on eBay but there are also lots of potential pitfalls buying used electronics with no warranty.

If you want to take a camera paddle boarding then you're going to need to substantially increase the budget to include a full waterproof casing or look at a dedicated sports camera.
I've had a couple of Fuji ones which are good - the image quality isn't on a par with a DSLR or mirrorless but they make up for that with being able to go in the water, put up with being dropped and frozen on a ski slope.
Olympus also make a Tough range which will put up with going underwater etc. too. My friend in the building trade gives them to his boys to document jobs safe in the knowledge he can wash them clean when they're dropped in the mud!

Camera size comparisons for the Nikon, EM5 and Tough
 

paulyoung666

Distinguished Member
has anyone mentioned try different ones out to see how they are to handle , controls in different places etc , you may be surprised or not at the differences between them .....
 

edward

Active Member
I went Canon only because it was what the specialists in the camera shops were recommending at the time because I then started seeing far more sports and press photographers using them. It was years ago but, as has already been pointed out, you’re buying into an ecosystem and you soon find you’ll have to drop a lot to swap bodies (OK, Sony et al accept Canon lenses).

Its all very well having a camera that can capture raws, but you need to get on board with the idea of processing them. I’ve got an old perpetual Lightroom licence so its cheaper to process them but start early; I’ve got .jpgs of some amazing scenes that I could make amazing images from, if I’d had the raws.

If cost and weight are factors, think twice about Nikon. I carried a mate’s camera bag of Nikon and was surprised how much heavier it was, especially when he was carrying less kit than I was. He got burgled and lost all his kit just before we went on another overseas trip. He decided he wanted something lighter (this is a guy who represented UK in martial arts so a big strong guy). He went Fuji mirrorless. Mirrorless still eats battery so he was out of the game several times before the end of the day.

Lenses… my 16-35 does a lot. Its good for wide landscapes and also for urban work where you’re always very close to buildings, as is the case in Amsterdam, for example. Canon’s 100-400 II is rated by many as the best telephoto zoom in the world. I use mine a lot in the countryside and with people at parties… put a camera in someone’s face and things change. With that lens, I can get shots at a wedding from 25+ yards away. That brings me to another point: get lenses with stablisation. Canon marks these lenses as IS, Nikon marks them as VR. If you’re hiking, within limits, stabilisation will let you get shots that you’d otherwise need a tripod for. The lens I use most is a 24-105. There is a big difference between 24 and 35 and wider is so much more useful.

Whatever you choose, get into processing raws as soon as you can. For me, that was a big regret.
 

snerkler

Member
I went Canon only because it was what the specialists in the camera shops were recommending at the time because I then started seeing far more sports and press photographers using them. It was years ago but, as has already been pointed out, you’re buying into an ecosystem and you soon find you’ll have to drop a lot to swap bodies (OK, Sony et al accept Canon lenses).

Its all very well having a camera that can capture raws, but you need to get on board with the idea of processing them. I’ve got an old perpetual Lightroom licence so its cheaper to process them but start early; I’ve got .jpgs of some amazing scenes that I could make amazing images from, if I’d had the raws.

If cost and weight are factors, think twice about Nikon. I carried a mate’s camera bag of Nikon and was surprised how much heavier it was, especially when he was carrying less kit than I was. He got burgled and lost all his kit just before we went on another overseas trip. He decided he wanted something lighter (this is a guy who represented UK in martial arts so a big strong guy). He went Fuji mirrorless. Mirrorless still eats battery so he was out of the game several times before the end of the day.

Lenses… my 16-35 does a lot. Its good for wide landscapes and also for urban work where you’re always very close to buildings, as is the case in Amsterdam, for example. Canon’s 100-400 II is rated by many as the best telephoto zoom in the world. I use mine a lot in the countryside and with people at parties… put a camera in someone’s face and things change. With that lens, I can get shots at a wedding from 25+ yards away. That brings me to another point: get lenses with stablisation. Canon marks these lenses as IS, Nikon marks them as VR. If you’re hiking, within limits, stabilisation will let you get shots that you’d otherwise need a tripod for. The lens I use most is a 24-105. There is a big difference between 24 and 35 and wider is so much more useful.

Whatever you choose, get into processing raws as soon as you can. For me, that was a big regret.
I'm glad you're happy with your choice, however there is some misleading information here that I think needs addressing in case anyone reads it.

The first, and arguably more important thing is that Nikon kit absolutely DOES NOT weigh more, if you compare like for like bodies and like for like lenses they will weigh pretty much the same. I can only assume your mate has heavy lenses, for example lenses like the 70-200mm f2.8 weigh twice as much as the 70-200mm f4 etc etc.

Secondly cost, quite often Nikon are better value for money, especially when we're talking bodies (again comparing like for like)

Also, your post 'suggests' that Canon are easier to process in Lightroom, which they're absolutely not. The only manufacturer that requires different processing workflow is Fuji due to the x-trans processor.

Lastly, sometimes you have to be wary of what you are recommended by stores. Sometimes they have incentives to push certain models or brands, and sometimes someone just has a general bias towards a brand, maybe they're invested in that system themselves.

It is true that you see more Canon cameras at events than other makes but there is one very good reason for this, and it is NOT that Canon is the best. Many moons ago Nikon was the choice of professionals, but then autofocus systems came onto the market and Nikon were slow to develop it and Canon were light years ahead and it saw a mass move from Nikon to Canon for professionals. These people then became heavily invested in Canon equipment and so it's now too expensive to change. Also they're used to the handling of their bodies and built up memory systems. Lastly, and very importantly, Canon have a much better pro support which is vitally important to professionals. However, the last point does not matter for hobbyists, and the first two points don't matter if you're just starting out.

I'm in no way saying you shouldn't get Canon if that's what you prefer, but I just thought these points needed addressing so that people weren't mislead :smashin:
 
Last edited:

edward

Active Member
I'm glad you're happy with your choice, however there is some misleading information here that I think needs addressing in case anyone reads it.

The first, and arguably more important thing is that Nikon kit absolutely DOES NOT weigh more, if you compare like for like bodies and like for like lenses they will weigh pretty much the same. I can only assume your mate has heavy lenses, for example lenses like the 70-200mm f2.8 weigh twice as much as the 70-200mm f4 etc etc.

Secondly cost, quite often Nikon are better value for money, especially when we're talking bodies (again comparing like for like)

Also, your post 'suggests' that Canon are easier to process in Lightroom, which they're absolutely not. The only manufacturer that requires different processing workflow is Fuji due to the x-trans processor.

Lastly, sometimes you have to be wary of what you are recommended by stores. Sometimes they have incentives to push certain models or brands, and sometimes someone just has a general bias towards a brand, maybe they're invested in that system themselves.

It is true that you see more Canon cameras at events than other makes but there is one very good reason for this, and it is NOT that Canon is the best. Many moons ago Nikon was the choice of professionals, but then autofocus systems came onto the market and Nikon were slow to develop it and Canon were light years ahead and it saw a mass move from Nikon to Canon for professionals. These people then became heavily invested in Canon equipment and so it's now too expensive to change. Also they're used to the handling of their bodies and built up memory systems. Lastly, and very importantly, Canon have a much better pro support which is vitally important to professionals. However, the last point does not matter for hobbyists, and the first two points don't matter if you're just starting out.

I'm in no way saying you shouldn't get Canon if that's what you prefer, but I just thought these points needed addressing so that people weren't mislead :smashin:

I just did a quick check on current Canon vs Nikon kit and you’re right; comparing bodies, the Nikon 850 is only a few ounces heavier than the 5D IV and costs less, which also surprised me. 100-400 lenses, as you can see here: Best 80-400mm and 100-400mm Lenses Compared there isn’t much in it. In fact, the Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S is actually lighter than the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III, as is shown here: Ultrawide Lenses Compared

At the time of the previous comparison, I was using a lighter body and lenses. I don’t recall what body he was using and he suppressed EXIF so I can’t tell what lenses he had but both were comparable to mine at the time.

That was an interesting update, Snerkler. Thanks for the nudge into seeing what has happened in the market. Agreed, neither price nor weight are the differentiators they were.

But, seeing the direction of all the big players are heading, if I was starting with a DSLR now that I didn't want to outgrow too soon, I’d probably go mirrorless and just buy more batteries. All my current lenses still work with Canon's new mirrorless bodies, so I'm still stuck with that ecosystem.
 

snerkler

Member
I just did a quick check on current Canon vs Nikon kit and you’re right; comparing bodies, the Nikon 850 is only a few ounces heavier than the 5D IV and costs less, which also surprised me. 100-400 lenses, as you can see here: Best 80-400mm and 100-400mm Lenses Compared there isn’t much in it. In fact, the Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S is actually lighter than the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III, as is shown here: Ultrawide Lenses Compared

At the time of the previous comparison, I was using a lighter body and lenses. I don’t recall what body he was using and he suppressed EXIF so I can’t tell what lenses he had but both were comparable to mine at the time.

That was an interesting update, Snerkler. Thanks for the nudge into seeing what has happened in the market. Agreed, neither price nor weight are the differentiators they were.

But, seeing the direction of all the big players are heading, if I was starting with a DSLR now that I didn't want to outgrow too soon, I’d probably go mirrorless and just buy more batteries. All my current lenses still work with Canon's new mirrorless bodies, so I'm still stuck with that ecosystem.
To be fair the D850 and 5D4 aren’t direct comparisons. The D750 was pretty much Nikon’s equivalent of the 5D3 and was actually noticeably lighter. Nikon’s belated D780 is Nikon’s answer to the 5D4, but I’m just getting pedantic now ;) :p

TBH the Canon ecosystem isn’t a bad system to be in. The new EOS R5 looks excellent, Canon are definitely moving in the right direction with that. They need to focus on some more reasonably priced lenses rather than concentrating on high end expensive ones, but when the system matures I can see it being top of the pile, at least when it comes to the market share anyway :smashin:
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
I've been shooting Olympus mirrorless since April 2013 in all that time I've never completely depleted a battery in a single day even when I've shot several hundred frames over a 10-12 hour trip.
I have carried a spare when travelling but I charge every evening and I've never needed to swap it out.
I turn my camera on, take a shot and turn it off - just like I did with my DSLR.
At events like motorsport I leave the camera on for longer periods but if I haven't shot anything for a few minutes then it goes into standby and wakes when you interact with it preserving the battery.

I'm sure there are ways to shoot mirrorless that mean you need to buy a fistful of batteries but it's not a fact that everyone will need spares from day 1.
 

snerkler

Member
I've been shooting Olympus mirrorless since April 2013 in all that time I've never completely depleted a battery in a single day even when I've shot several hundred frames over a 10-12 hour trip.
I have carried a spare when travelling but I charge every evening and I've never needed to swap it out.
I turn my camera on, take a shot and turn it off - just like I did with my DSLR.
At events like motorsport I leave the camera on for longer periods but if I haven't shot anything for a few minutes then it goes into standby and wakes when you interact with it preserving the battery.

I'm sure there are ways to shoot mirrorless that mean you need to buy a fistful of batteries but it's not a fact that everyone will need spares from day 1.
My experience is different, I’ve regularly depleted my Olly batteries on a day out, it it’s absolutely not a hassle carrying a spare. I always carried at least one spare with DSLR too. I’ve even managed to deplete one and a half Nikon en-el18c batteries in a day, and they’re huge :eek: I did come home with over 4000 shots though:rotfl:
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
Just goes to show that not everyone works in the same way :)
I read a lot that "mirrorless have poor battery life" as a fact and you must spend £££ on a bag full of spares so you might as well carry a bigger camera. For some it's true, for others it's not.
Just like "You need a good tripod" something I've almost never felt the need for.
:thumbsup:
 

Faldrax

Well-known Member
What I'm looking for in a camera:
1. Accurate color.
2. High detail.
3. Easy to edit photos should I want to boost colors or contrast.
4. Durable and water resistant if possible should I accidently drop it in the ocean on my paddleboarding trips.

1) There is a variation in the way different cameras render colours in the JPegs they produce, but which is the 'best' is somewhat subjective - different people preferring one brand or another.
However, many people don't actually use the JPegs the camera produces, but instead shoot 'RAW' images, as this gives most options for post processing, and at that point the colour is down to the profile / software / edits you use, rather than the brand of camera.

2) Almost any DSLR or Mirrorless will be 20+ meapixels, which is plenty of detail - and it's lenses that make the difference here again. Not that the 'kit' lenses that are typically bundled with cameras are low quality these days, just that you can 'easily' spend an extra £2k on a lens that is better!

3) Editing is down to the software, rather than the camera. The long standing 'standard' is to shoot 'RAW' and edit in Adobe Lightroom - but Adobe switched to a subscription model a few years back, and now their base bundle of Lightroom + Photoshop is £10/month - but you get a lot of capability for that.
If you prefer to buy outright, then there are a range of other products which do a similar job available, and again it's often personal preference which is 'best'.

4) As others have mentioned, salt water and cameras don't mix well!
On the other hand, if you simply want to transport the camera with you on the paddleboard, so you have it when you go to an isolated beach, etc, then it shoudl be fine kept in a properly secured drybag.
 

snerkler

Member
1) There is a variation in the way different cameras render colours in the JPegs they produce, but which is the 'best' is somewhat subjective - different people preferring one brand or another.
However, many people don't actually use the JPegs the camera produces, but instead shoot 'RAW' images, as this gives most options for post processing, and at that point the colour is down to the profile / software / edits you use, rather than the brand of camera.

2) Almost any DSLR or Mirrorless will be 20+ meapixels, which is plenty of detail - and it's lenses that make the difference here again. Not that the 'kit' lenses that are typically bundled with cameras are low quality these days, just that you can 'easily' spend an extra £2k on a lens that is better!

3) Editing is down to the software, rather than the camera. The long standing 'standard' is to shoot 'RAW' and edit in Adobe Lightroom - but Adobe switched to a subscription model a few years back, and now their base bundle of Lightroom + Photoshop is £10/month - but you get a lot of capability for that.
If you prefer to buy outright, then there are a range of other products which do a similar job available, and again it's often personal preference which is 'best'.

4) As others have mentioned, salt water and cameras don't mix well!
On the other hand, if you simply want to transport the camera with you on the paddleboard, so you have it when you go to an isolated beach, etc, then it shoudl be fine kept in a properly secured drybag.
Agree with all this apart from a couple of points in 2). 20mp may or may not be plenty, it depends on the user and usage, but yes in most situations it’s more than enough. Lenses do make a big difference as you say, but it is the combination of camera and lens which makes the biggest difference :smashin:
 

snerkler

Member
Just goes to show that not everyone works in the same way :)
I read a lot that "mirrorless have poor battery life" as a fact and you must spend £££ on a bag full of spares so you might as well carry a bigger camera. For some it's true, for others it's not.
Just like "You need a good tripod" something I've almost never felt the need for.
:thumbsup:
I‘m like you I do turn the camera off when not in use, but on the whole find mirror less do drain the battery SLIGHTLY faster than DSLRs. Despite CIPA only rating a lot of mirrorless batteries to 300-400 shots I’ve easily got over 1000 shots, and that’s shooting single shots not burst.
 

Faldrax

Well-known Member
I have an A6000 as my travel camera, which uses the older Sony FW50 battery - it's not fantastic for capacity, but it is small and light, so carrying a couple of spares is not a problem (bundle of 3rd party batteries, and a stand alone charger {which Sony helpfully didn't provide with the A6000} was a little over £20 from Amazon). I'll often need to switch to the second battery, only occasionally need the 3rd.

The latest Sony mirrorless use a significantly higher capacity battery, which would be a big plus point if it were my main camera.
 

The latest video from AVForums

Podcast: The Best TVs of 2021, plus our favourite & memorable reviews of the year
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom