I'm about to get off my wallet and get a DSLR. Does anyone have advice on which camera is a better fit for taking pictures on the water/ landscape photos/ low light situations. I've used the D5100 to take pics of tailing bones. Good pics, but not great. More than likely user error though. Does anyone out there have a D7000 that they use in similar situations to what I've mentioned above? If so what do you think? Is it worth the extra money?
Appreciate any advice I can get!
A few things to consider in favor of the D7K:
1. it is almost two years old, D7K's are getting more inexpensive be cause we are now waiting for the D7100 and the D400 (and some of us are waiting for the D600)
2. the D7K has a camera top LCD. Handy.
3. When I bought my D7K I bought it for the improved Video (compared to the D90). It does video very well, but use an external mic.
4. Better dynamic range than the D5100.
5. The D7K has a built in interval timer for time lapst that I use all the time.
6. The D7K has an in-body lens auto-focus motor. The D5100 does not. This may not be a big deal to you if you are a new user. If you use the D5100 you will have to use lenses with the focus motor in the lens.
7. The D7K has a faster shutter speed 1/8000 vs. 1/4000. Important if you like actions shooting.
8. The D7K has two custom user setting functions where you can "bank" custom settings into the memory: U1 for low light and U2 for birds-in-flight, for example.
9. The D7K has a higher burst rate and a deeper buffer to hold shots while they process onto the memory card.
10. The D7K has two continuous shooting burst rates: Low and High.
11. The D7K has two card slots. I don't think the D5100 has that.
12.ore focus points in the D5100 IIRC, 51 points vs. 11 points.
I have used the 5100 for video and to shoot a few (perhaps 100 images) at a street painting festival. It belonged to one of Jennifer's friends who wanted some shots of the other art that she couldn't get because she was completing her own art. Anyway, my point is the D5100 feels like a toy to me. However, if I did a lot of video I would own one because of the tilt out screen that make shooting handy.
Clearly, I don't know you and I don't know how you will use the camera. Also, I am clearly bias towards the D7K but for me it is so much more camera. In fact at this writing, it is the highest level DX format camera Nikon makes. Some would argue for the D300s, but I would argue for the D7K. I have had mine for 15 months and have had no problems and I have nearly 35K shutter releases.
On another but closely related note: are you serious about photography, or do you even know?
You may want to consider one of the "newish" smaller format systems that would be easier to haul around, in a smaller space. Something like one of the m4/3 cameras (Olympus OMD for example) or the Nikon V1 or the soon to be released Canon interchangable small camera or a the newly released Sony RX100. all of these are highly competent cameras.
X2 everything he said.
Your D5100 is more of an entry level/starter DSLR as you surmised, while the D7000 is a high end prosumer camera - a step up from their D90. You'll be happy with the added features/enhancements of the D7000. You can buy used D7000's with an 18-105mm kit lens on eBay for +/- $950, and the 18-105mm lens is fine for what you are doing with your D5100.
Appreciate all the help!
Yes. The Nikon 18-200mm f3.5/5.6 has become their most popular lens of all time.
Sony lenses are not up to the task, if you are an IQ freak. Don't believe me, go look at DxO.
The lens you cite is a good kit lens and may be the only lens you ever want or need. A very good vacation lens. Most landscapers like wide primes and super wides, though.