When DSLRs are this small, do you really need a compact system camera? We put the diminutive Nikon D5100 through its paces in our comprehensive AP test

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Nikon D5100

Build/Handling:
Autofocus:
Noise/resolution:
Metering:
Features:
AWB Colour:
LCD viewfinder:
Dynamic Range:

Product:

Nikon D5100 review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£669.99

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Nikon D5100 at a glance:

  • 16.2-million-pixel, DX-format CMOS sensor
  • Expeed 2 processor
  • Nikon F mount
  • Special effects modes
  • 3in, 921,000-dot LCD screen
  • 420-pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering II
  • Full HD (1080p) video capture
  • Street price around £670 (body only)

Nikon D5100 review – Introduction

The position of a mid-range consumer camera can be hard to get excited about; it’s not the cheapest, nor is it the most advanced in its range, and yet it fills a useful role. Rather than just slotting in quietly between the entry-level D3100 and the more advanced D7000, the new Nikon D5100 offers some unique features that make it worthy of extra attention.

Taking over from the D5000, the D5100 remains the only DSLR in Nikon’s range with a vari-angle LCD screen, although this time it is more usefully mounted to the side. It boasts the same impressive 16.2-million-pixel CMOS sensor that we’ve seen in the D7000 and shares this camera’s full HD (1080p) video-shooting capabilities.

As well as the normal array of manual shooting modes and scene modes, the camera includes a new ‘special effects’ series accessed via the mode dial. These are a mixture of easy-to-use creative effects and more advanced, powerful controls such as the night vision mode, which extends the ISO way beyond the normal Hi2 setting (ISO 25,600 equivalent) up to a Hi4 setting (ISO 102,400 equivalent), currently seen only on Nikon’s professional D3S model.

The Nikon D5100 also has a new more compact and curvier shape, making it 10% smaller than the previous D5000 and a serious competitor to the wave of compact system cameras hitting the shelves. The Nikon D5100’s price and specification, however, are more likely to pitch it directly against the Canon EOS 600D, which also offers a high-resolution sensor and a vari-angle screen.

With so much potential in the specification, many owners of more advanced DSLRs should be watching the Nikon D5100 closely, as not only does it offer an improved feature set for those upgrading but it may also make a great second camera for those users looking to lighten their camera bag.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Build and Handling
  4. 4. White balance and Colour
  5. 5. Metering
  6. 6. Autofocus
  7. 7. Noise, Resolution and Sensitivity
  8. 8. Dynamic range
  9. 9. Viewfinder, LCD, Live View and Video
  10. 10. Our verdict
  11. 11. The competition
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