Nikon Coolpix S5100 review

A tiny compact that's ideal for snapping on the fly

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  • Simple to use
  • Neat design
  • Great value


  • Uninspiring movie mode
  • Chromatic aberration a recurring problem

The compact camera market shows no sign of becoming less cutthroat. No sooner has Nikon announced the high-end P7000, designed to go head-to-head with the Canon G12, than the company unleashes an assault on the low-end of the market, with the 12.2 megapixel S5100.

With few manual features, an all-plastic body and comparatively modest specifications elsewhere, this isn't a camera for aspiring pros. But with its price likely to come in under £150, this could be perfectly suited for those who simply want a decent value point-and-shoot.

The all-plastic shell might not feel as rugged as some of Canon's more luxurious-feeling Ixus models, but the S5100 is nevertheless comfortable in the hand, and survived an accidental drop with no apparent ill-effects.

nikon s5100 review

More irritating are the buttons on the back. They aren't cramped together, but they feel a little clicky, underlining the S5100's status as a comparatively low-end compact. The reasonable layout is helped by the 2.7in, 230k-pixel screen.

While not exactly lavish, it's nonetheless sharp and bright, and generally visible in good daylight. It does, however, suffer slightly from restricted vertical viewing angles: a problem if you want to shoot from a very low angle without lying on the ground.

nikon s5100 review

Elsewhere, the lens is a 28-140mm f/2.7-6.6 number. That's rather slow when zoomed in, but the optical stabilisation works terrifically.

The S5100 doesn't exactly include the kitchen sink, but the features included work well. For instance, its face detection handled portraits well, and the smile detecting self-timer is nifty, although it could have been usefully expanded to work with larger groups.

nikon s5100 review

Unsurprisingly, there's no Manual mode to get to grips with, leaving you with precious few options if you want to customise your exposures. Exposure compensation is left in, allowing you to under- or over-expose your shots by plus or minus two stops, while manual white balance could prove useful to those who want to get their JPEGs perfect in-camera.

There is a Manual autofocus mode, however, which allows you to use the D-pad to help the S5100 determine exactly where you want the focus point to fall. In practice this makes a relatively small difference, although careful macro photographers might appreciate it.

nikon s5100 review

One thing more advanced photographers will appreciate is the semi-automatic ISO settings. Although the S5100's ISO features don't run anywhere near as long as they do on the company's DSLRs, you can nevertheless set the camera to restrict itself to ISO settings from 100-400, or to 100-800 – handy if you'd rather use the flash than have the S5100 bump up its sensitivity.

Fully automatic and fully manual modes also make appearances.

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Effective Camera Resolution12.2 Megapixel
Wide AngleNo
Product FamilyCoolpix S
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom5x
Digital Zoom2x
Brand NameNikon
FeaturesFace Detection
Screen Size6.9 cm (2.7")
Video FormatsAVI
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)115 g
Image Sensor Size1/2.3" (6.16 mm x 4.62 mm)
Maximum Image Resolution4000 x 3000
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height56.9 mm
Width97.1 mm
Depth21.6 mm
Product SeriesS
Focal Length5 mm to 25 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
Focus ModesAuto
ManufacturerNikon Corporation
Product ModelS5100
Product NameCoolpix S5100 Point & Shoot Digital Camera
Product LineCoolpix
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberVMA641E1
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Vibrant-looking, pocket-size camera that helps you capture the night in style and the day with ease. Whether you want to shoot the action on the dance floor or take romantic shots of candlelit dinners, this camera's great low-light capabilities and precision NIKKOR wide angle 5x zoom lens deliver consistently sharp results. Nikon's Smart portrait system helps you capture every face at its best, while the 12.2 megapixel resolution lets you make impressive enlargements of your favorite photos to hang on the wall. The COOLPIX S5100 - the perfect companion on a fun weekend away.

Package Contents
  • Coolpix S5100 Point & Shoot Digital Camera
  • Strap AN-CP19
  • Audio Video Cable EG-CP14
  • AC Adapter EH-68P
  • Battery EN-EL10
  • USB Cable UC-E6
  • CD-ROM
Limited Warranty1 Year