Fast Forward to the Nikon D5500 from the D3100

Fast Forward to the Nikon D5500 from the D3100

Part I - The Nikon D3100


A little more than a year ago, I took the leap back into serious photography, and starting doing business at http://wrightrocket.smugmug.com.  With a very limited budget, I started with the entry-level Nikon D3100, which provides beginning users with a guide mode, but intermediate or advanced users the basics of a DSLR with the sophistication and quality of Nikon.  At the time, I really wanted the Nikon D5300, but didn't have the budget for it, so I settled for a little less than I wanted to get what I really needed.

Here are the technical specifications of the D3100:
  • Expeed 3 Processor
  • 14.2 Megapixels
  • DX Sensor 23.1mm x 15.4mm
  • 3 Frames per second continuous
  • ISO 100 to 12800
  • HD 1920x1080 at 24 frames per second
  • 3.0 inch diagonal non-touchscreen monitor
  • 16.0 ounces weight for camera body

The kit that I bought included a 18-55mm and 55-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S Nikkor VR lenses.  Over time, I have enjoyed using the camera very much taking over 6,000 photographs in about a year. Here's a couple of my favorites:

I added a Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.8G prime VR lens and a 55-300mm AF-S f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II lens, and lots of other stuff.  Here's one of my favorites from the 300mm, which has VR II so taking hand-held photos like this are possible:

After exploring more advanced photography techniques through reading and experimentation, I found several features which I wished were built-in to the camera, but were not. Here's a short list of features I wish that the Nikon D3100 had:
  • Bracketing of Exposure and Shutter Speed
  • Wireless remote control
  • Intervalometer
  • Advanced Flash integration
  • GPS
  • Wi-Fi
Prior to upgrading, the following explains how I dealt with these short-comings of the D3100.


It was not much of a problem to overcome the lack of bracketing controls by simply varying the exposure or shutter speed manually, but to do it effectively required a tripod to keep the camera at the same view.  For the outdoor photography that I tend to do, I usually would set up the camera on the tripod and set it to the aperture (A) mode. Then, I would simply turn the adjustment knob for the aperture between each frame.  Otherwise, I might set it up with the camera set to shutter speed mode (S) and adjust the shutter speed as shown below.

1/15th of a second, f10, ISO 100

1/20th of a second

1/25th of a second

1/30th of a second

1/40th of a second

1/50th of a second

Wireless Remote Control

I bought a wired intervalometer for taking time-lapse photography, and it also served as a way to release the shutter remotely, at a shorter distance, but like a wireless remote control.  It's also nice because in manual mode (M), if I set the shutter speed to Bulb, then I can hold the release button for as long as I would like to create long exposures like these:

Advanced Flash Integration

The small built-in flash is only adequate for up-close or very small room photography.  Any outdoor or large space photography required more.  By going with the Nikon SB-700 Speedlight flash, I was able to get an integrated flash that could provide Commander capabilities for the Nikon Creative Lighting System.  This flash isn't quite as large or as powerful as the SB-910, but is more than adequate even for outdoor or photos taken in moderate to large rooms.


There is a GPS port on the D3100, but I never acquired the Nikon GP-1A module which lists for $312 as of today at www.nikonusa.com. Within Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, as well as other tools, there are ways to embed location information, although I never bothered.


There is no Wi-Fi on the Nikon D3100, so you have to wait until you can get to a computer and import them.  There is also no Eye-Fi support built-in, although I didn't explore this option, I should note that there is some option for Eye-Fi support built-in on the Nikon D5500.  Eye-Fi allow you to have the SDcard in the camera connect to upload to a Wi-Fi access point.

Current Offerings

Nikon no longer offers the D3100, except possibly as refurbished, which I saw one today at their site for $749, which made me smile.  The kit for the D5500 which I purchased with the 18-140mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR is listed at $1,049,95 after a $350 instant savings, but lacks many of the extras that I got in my kit, which you can read about in my next part of this post.

A much improved entry-level cameras can be found in the D3200 and D3300 still offered at $449.95 and $499.95, respectively.  They now feature 24.2 megapixels.  The D3200 still has the same Expeed 3 processor as the D3100, but the D3300 now has the Expeed 4 processor. With an extra WU-1a Mobile Adapter module for $59.95 you can connect to both of these cameras through Wi-Fi on your smartphone.

Part II - Fast Forward to the Nikon D5500 from the D3100 - The D5500

The second part to this post will be upcoming soon! I plan to share the benefits and downsides to the Nikon D5500 in comparison to the D3100, as well as a few new photos!

1 comment:

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About Me - WrightRocket

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I've worked with computers for over 30 years, programming, administering, using and building them from scratch.

I'm an instructor for technical computer courses, an editor and developer of training manuals, and an Android developer.