Nikon D5100 review

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

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Nikon is aiming the D5100 at relatively novice photographers who want to take their hobby more seriously and want a versatile camera that will enable them to take more creative images.

The Nikon D5100 is a great choice for these users, but it is worthy of consideration by more experienced photographers as well. There's plenty of control available over the appearance of images and the 16.2MP sensor is a higher performer in average low lighting conditions.

We liked

Having a high resolution articulated LCD screen is a bonus, because it actively encourages shooting from unusual angles, which makes for more interesting pictures. Those who rubbish the idea of such a device on a DSLR should try using one for a few hours while taking macro or still life images.

We disliked

Although the Special Effects are fun, and in some cases very effective, it's a shame that you don't have the opportunity to take some control over the exposure or record simultaneous raw files without the effects.

Final verdict

The only real downside for enthusiast photographers is that there are few direct controls over image parameters. However, most features such as the white balance, drive mode and sensitivity settings are just a couple of clicks away via the Information Display system.

Great for both enthusiasts and novices looking to take the next step forward, the Nikon D5100 offers a lot of versatility, opportunity for creativity and quality results. However, the bar appears to have been raised by the Canon 650D which has a touch-sensitive articulated screen, 18-million effective pixels and a new hybrid AF system that enables faster focusing in Live View and Video mode.


Head of Testing, Cameras

Angela (Twitter, Google+, website) is head of testing for Future's photography portfolio, writing and overseeing reviews of photographic equipment for Digital Camera, Photography Week, PhotoPlus, NPhoto and Practical Photoshop as well as TechRadar's cameras channel. Angela has a degree in photography and multimedia and prior to joining Future in October 2010 was Amateur Photographer magazine's technical editor.