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
As technology filters down from professional models, some pretty stunning features can appear in a consumer-level camera. This seems to be the case with the D5100, and although on the outside it appears to be a camera for the less-advanced snapper, it possesses some of the technology seen in higher models and is capable of matching the results of these models too.
The Expeed 2 processor and 16.2-million-pixel sensor perform just as well in the D5100 as they do in the D7000. The D5100 might not be the fastest focusing or have such an array of focus points, but it still performs well in low light.
The viewfinder may be small and not offer full coverage, but the live view display is available for critical framing and the vari-angle screen makes low angle and tripod work more pleasant.
As a second camera, the D5100 makes sense, especially for existing Nikon users with a range of lenses; even if it is not as pocketable as a compact system camera. Those looking to upgrade their current model should seriously consider the D5100, and for many users it offers enough without spending the extra money on the D7000.
Nikon D5100: Focal points
The hotshoe allows the attachment of the full range of Nikon flashguns and compatible models. It also allows wireless flash, if a control module is fitted, such as the SB-700 or SU-800
The high-resolution, 3in, 921,000-dot screen is mounted on a side bracket, allowing it to be angled both vertically and horizontally
Live view/movie button
Switching to live view is now achieved via a switch on the top of the camera and the movie record is started with a button next to the shutter
This button is used to gain access to all the functions displayed on the shooting menu
The guide mode works like a built-in instruction manual. By pressing the question mark button at any time, it will give you info on the current setting
The EN-EL14 battery is the same slim rechargeable Li-Ion unit as featured on the D3100. This lasts for roughly 300 shots, which can be a little short for heavy users
With a coverage of just 95% of the image and a magnification of 0.78x, the viewfinder isn’t the largest on the market but is more than adequate for most people
Camera Raw support
The D5100 comes with View NX software for basic conversion. Alternatively, Nikon Capture NX2 can be bought separately and files can be converted with ACR 6.4.