Nikon D5100 review

The arrival of the D5100 appears to signal the completion of updating its line of Nikon digital SLR unprofessional. Its feature set and prices means that sits comfortably between the beginner-friendly D3100 and D7000 high level - which is clearly the aim of attracting the attention of amateur photographers without cannibalizing sales of the models is his sister. A camera manufacturer can judge the success of its position in the market to see how many people are asking "what model is right for me?" In the discussion forums - and we believe progression minimize D3100/D5100/D7000 doubts. The official line is that the D90 holds its position in the range, but both the appointment and overlap
with other models suggest that its role has now become a major historical interest in the future.

The D5100 has a very similar 16. 2MP CMOS sensor to the excellent view of the D7000, but, understandably, lost the top of the chamber to build and feature set. So no wireless flash control, magnesium alloy construction or 39-point AF system, but the quality of the background image is almost identical.

As has become standard for a Nikon at this price, the D5100 provides a single control dial, the display pentamirror and no built-in AF motor. However, gains 1080p video capability (at 30, 25 or 24 fps), except with the H.264/AVC codec efficient, fully articulated 920,000 dot LCD panel to help shoot. These are significant advances over its predecessor the D5000, and improvements are extended to the D5100 have smaller building cleaner and more conventional side mounted hinge for the LCD screen.

These changes solve two most difficult aspects of Nikon's current lineup: if D5100 and D7000 to be model neighbors to avoid awkward overlap that existed between the D5000 and D90. It also ensures a more elegant appearance of the models themselves (the D5000 was many things, but pretty was not one of them.)

Although the D5100 is listed as having an EXPEED processor 2, it is worth remembering that Nikon does not use this system of nomenclature to describe the specific components, so the actual pieces of silicon and capabilities are not necessarily the same as in D3100 or D7000. However, in addition to a similar specced 16.2MP sensor, the D5100 offers ISO settings like his brother - which extends to an equivalent of ISO 25600. Shooting RAW also inherits a 14-bit - one of the factors that helps give the D7000 an impressive dynamic range - it is something that Nikon used to offer only in their more expensive models.

Side by side

The D5100 is slightly smaller than the Rebel 600D T3i/EOS - probably its nearest competitor. Both are somewhat larger than the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2, which is based on a smaller sensor, and of course lacks an optical viewfinder assembly (instead of using a pager bond). Ergonomically, the G2 is the most "involved", and has most of the points of physical control and LCD touch screen, but in general the three cameras are physically very similar.

Nikon D5100 Features
  • 16.2 megapixel DX format CMOS sensor
  • Secondary articulated 3.0 "LCD (920,000 dots)
  • 11 AF points (with 3D tracking)
  • IS0 100-6400 range (up to 25,600 equivalent when expanded)
  • HD movies (1080p, 720p or WVGA)
  • 4 fps continuous shooting
  • in-camera effects, filters, both still and video modes

Compared with D5000

The D5100 is a small and (we think) the camera more attractive than its predecessor, the D5000. It is less bulbous, and closer to the D3100 and D7000 in terms of style. The most important design difference is the addition of a side-hinged LCD screen on the D5100, compared with the more cumbersome (and more awkward) LCD on the bottom hinge used in the D5000.

Key Differences
  • a higher resolution sensor (14MP vs. 16.2MP)
  • 1080p video mode
  • Great ISO range (from 100 to 25.600 equivalent)
  • Full-Time AF (AF-F in live view)
  • Dual IR receivers (front and rear)
  • Side hinged LCD screen (as opposed to the bottom articles)
  • 921K dots LCD
  • 14-bit NEF (RAW) mode
  • Effect modes
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