Nikon D5100 review

16.2 megapixels, articulated screen, fun Special Effects modes and intuitive controls

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Chroma noise is much less of an issue in high sensitivity images than it used to be, and it's impressive just how little coloured speckling is visible in images captured with the D5100 in its highest ISO setting, ISO 25,600 (equivalent) when noise reduction is set to the default Normal value.

At 100% on screen (or at actual pixels in Photoshop), there is some fairly subtle false colouring visible, and there's an obvious speckled texture of luminance noise, but the images are still usable and many cases would make decent A3 (23.4 x 16.5-inch) prints.

As we would expect, images improve significantly when the sensitivity settings is kept below the expansions settings and while there is a dip in the level of detail resolved at ISO 6400, the results are still very respectable.

Nikon D5100 review

In the past Nikon's auto white balance (AWB) system has been accused of being a little too accurate, so that warm light is rendered neutral and some of the atmosphere of the scene is lost. The Nikon D5100's AWB system seems to fare a little better on this score, but there is a tendency for it to make scenes captured under hazy sunshine look a little too yellow.

This is especially noticeable with landscapes containing lush, green grass, but it is effectively countered by switching from the Standard Picture Control mode to Landscape mode, since this boosts greens and blues.

Nikon has some of the best phase detection AF systems around, and the D5100's doesn't disappoint. Paired with a Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, it proved up to the job of keeping pace with cars moving at 80mph on a race track.

Nikon D5100 review

The contrast detection system available in Live View mode is also good, only struggling to find sharp focus in fairly low light or when the subject is very close. That said, the subject tends to glide into sharp register rather than snapping into focus as it does with the phase detection system.

There's very little to say about the D5100's metering system, apart from it works very well. Although the exposure compensation facility still comes in handy occasionally, in its Matrix mode the system usually takes brighter or darker than average subjects in its stride. The camera's dynamic range is also good, so highlight and shadow detail isn't lost earlier than it should be.

All things considered, the Nikon D5100 is a very capable camera.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital SLR Camera Body Only
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution16.2 Megapixel
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Digital ZoomNo
Brand NameNikon
FeaturesLive View, Continuous Shooting Mode, Manual White Balance, Aperture Priority
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsQuickTime MOV, MPEG-4
Viewfinder TypeSLR
Weight (Approximate)510 g
Image Sensor Size23.60 mm x 15.60 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4928 x 3264
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height97 mm
Width128 mm
Depth79 mm
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerNikon Corporation
Product ModelD5100
Product NameD5100 Digital SLR Camera
Exposure Control
  • Program (P)
  • Shutter Priority Auto (S)
  • Aperture Priority Auto (A)
  • Manual (M)
Manufacturer Part NumberVBA310AE
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

The D5100 is a high-performance D-SLR designed to stimulate your creative side and help you create still images and movies like no other.

The swing-out vari-angle monitor combines with the camera's D-movie function to enable unique shots from any angle. Still images or movies can be shot using a special effect to add a sense of magic.

Package Contents
  • D5100 Digital SLR Camera
  • EN-EL14 Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery (with Terminal Cover)
  • MH-24 Battery Charger
  • AN-DC3 Strap
  • EG-CP14 Audio/Video Cable
  • UC-E6 USB Cable
  • DK-5 Eyepiece Cap
  • BS-1 Accessory Shoe Cover
  • DK-20 Rubber Eyecup
  • BF-1B Body Cap
  • Software CD
  • User's Manual
Limited Warranty1 Year