Creatives and the Law

Friday, December 4, 2015

Camera Gift Giving Guide: Nikon 3300, 5500, and 7200 DSLR

In light of the holiday season, I thought I would write a couple articles on camera gift giving. You might want to begin by reviewing my previous post on what you should think about when buying a new camera. The post will help you think about the type of features you need (or want) and will help you understand terms like "megapixels" and "sensor size" that are often throw around.

One thing to note, in this post, I will only touch upon entry-level DSLR cameras. All of these cameras have a cropped sensor meaning if you have old lenses from an old film camera, those lenses will produce a different sized image when used on any cropped sensor camera. Nikon uses the letters "DX" to identify a camera with a cropped sensor. I will write another post on full frame cameras, but be aware, full frame cameras are really geared more towards the semi-professional to professional photographer. In the meantime, check out this article if you are interested in learning more about the differences between a crop sensor and a full frame sensor.

DSLR - Nikon D3300, D5500, D7200

Now, let us begin this gift-giving guide by thinking about entry-level DSLR cameras. I am a Nikon girl -- always have been. I love the quality of the cameras, the lenses are amazing and I believe they offer a good value for the money.

Nikon offers 3 entry-level and mid-range DSLRs that should definitely be on your DSLR wishlist -- Nikon D3300 (previous version D3200), D5500 (previous version D5300) and D7200 (previous version D7100). I decided to include the previous versions because you can still purchase the previous versions and there are usually very few changes between the newest version and the previous version of the camera.

Links to purchase any of these items are included below.

Differences and Similarities Between D3300, D5500 and D7200

If I had to explain the differences between these three cameras in the simplest of terms I would say that the D3300 is the baby bear, D5500 is the middle sister bear, and D7200 is the big brother bear. (Mama bear and papa bear are FX cameras, but I will go into that in another post). All three cameras offer the big ticket items important to most users: 24.2 megapixels, DX format, video, live view, and built-in flash. Therefore, when deciding what camera is right for your needs, you really only need to pay attention to the subtle differences between the cameras.

Why Choose the D3300 

If you are brand new to photography and only intend to use the camera in auto mode, then the D3300 will probably suit your needs. This is the camera to choose if you are just looking for a camera that will operate well in nearly every circumstance without the more intricate features you might use if you decide to start shooting in manual mode. Generally, I do not recommend buying the most entry-level camera, however, I also do not believe you should pay for features that you will not use. Therefore, if you simply do not intend to use the more advanced options offered in the D5500 or D7200, then stick with the D3300.

Why Choose the D5500

Now, if you know at the outset that you want to take up photography as a serious hobby and you desire to really invest in photography -- getting to the point where you work in manual mode and own more than just a telephoto zoom lens, then you will want to opt for the D5500 or D7200. Why? The features! Both the D5500 and the D7200 have features that you can really grow into, including, built-in Wi-Fi, more playback options, live view in both movie and still, more shots per battery charge, and white balance bracketing.

In my opinion, the D5500 is the best camera at the best price point for those entering the DSLR market who know they want to really develop their photography skills. You have the opportunity to really grow into the features, plus, learning how to use this camera will position you well should you decide to invest in a full frame camera down the line.

Why Choose the D7200 

The D7200 has even more features than the D5500, however, it also has a pretty decent price bump so only choose this camera if you really believe you will need those features. For example, the D7200 offers more flash sync options, more exposure compensation options, multiple SD card slots, flash bracketing, more AF points, and both lossless compressed and compressed options when shooting in RAW. (I know I am throwing a lot of terms at you right now so definitely take the time to read some of the articles included in my previous post to learn the terminology.)

In my opinion, the truly differentiating feature between the D7200 and the D5500 are the multiple SD card slots. So, if you know that you NEED multiple SD slots, then upgrade to the D7200, otherwise, just stick with the D5500. With that said, if you know you need multiple SD slots, you should be purchasing a full frame camera (more on that in the next post).

Deciding between the D5500 and the D7200 will really depend upon your needs. If you do not see yourself investing the time and energy into learning about AND using all of those features, then please, please do not spend money on features you simply will not use.

Purchase Options

I purchase all of my gear from either Amazon or Adorama as both companies offer products at the best prices with fast shipping. Adorama also has great customer service and you earn rewards in the form of a gift card that can be used on future purchases.

If you intend to purchase any of the cameras in this post (or any other DSLR), you should purchase the camera body and the kit lens. Usually, the kit lens is 18-55mm; it will suit all of your needs. Only after you have been using your camera for awhile should you begin investing in multiple lenses and the first one will likely be a telephoto zoom.

Camera + Lens


Available Bundles or Alternate Lenses (only invest in a bundle or alternate lens if you will actually use the equipment)


Additional Reading

Below are a few additional articles comparing the D3300, D5500 and D7200. While these articles are the standard "let me include charts and graphs and list all the features" (an approach that I specifically try to avoid in my posts), I believe you should conduct as much research as possible when shopping for the right DSLR for the holiday season. Additionally, some of the articles also compare the Nikon models to other camera models, which might be useful if you are trying to decide between a Nikon and another brand you heard about.

Comparison D3300 vs D5500 and D5500 vs D7200

Reviews and Comparisons of D3300, D5500, and D7200

Stay Tuned

My next post in this series will focus on point and shoot and mirrorless cameras.

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