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

AWB Colour:
LCD viewfinder:
Dynamic Range:


Nikon D5100 review


Price as reviewed:


The competition

Canon 600DThe D5100’s positioning and current pricing gives it two main competitors: the Canon EOS 600D and the Sony Alpha 55.

Canon’s EOS 600D currently sells for around £50 less than the D5100 and has a very similar specification, even offering a 3in vari-angle screen.

Its sensor is a more populated 18-million-pixel unit, but it offers a slightly slower 3.7fps burst rate and just nine AF points.

It also misses out on the top Hi2 ISO setting of 25,600.

Sony A55Sony’s Alpha 55 is just £20 less than the D5100 and uses the same 16-million-pixel sensor as the Nikon model.

However it features a translucent mirror and electronic viewfinder that allow fast burst rates of up to 10fps, plus 15 AF points with three cross-type points.




Video:Full HD, 1080p, 30/25/24fps, MOV (H.264)
External mic:Yes
White Balance:Auto, 6 presets, manual with fine-tuning
Dioptre Adjustment:-1.7 to +0.7 dioptre
Built-in Flash:Yes, GN 13m @ ISO 100
Shutter Type:Focal-plane shutter
Memory Card:SD/SDHC/SDXC
Viewfinder Type:Pentaprism mirror
Output Size:4928x3264 pixels
LCD:3in, 921,000-dot vari-angle LCD
Field of View:95% coverage
AF Points:11-point system
White Balance Bracket:Yes
Sensor:16.2-million-effective pixel CMOS
Max Flash Sync:1/200sec
Exposure Modes:PASM, auto, 16 scene modes, 7 special effects modes
Connectivity / Interface:USB, HDMI
Weight:560g (with battery and card)
Power:Rechargeable EN-EL 14 Li-Ion battery
File Format:JPEG, NEF (raw), MOV
Shutter Speeds:30-1/4000sec plus bulb
Drive Mode:4fps
Colour Space:Adobe RGB, sRGB
Lens Mount:Nikon F
ISO:100-6400 (25,600 expanded setting)
Focusing Modes:Single, continuous, manual
DoF Preview:Yes
Compression:3-stage JPEG
Metering System:420-pixel TTL 3D Color Matrix Metering II, spot, centreweighted
Exposure Comp:±5EV
Tested as:Enthusiast DSLR
  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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