Nikon D5100 – an Enthusiast Review

Nikon D5100 – An Enthusiast Review

A short review on what the new D5100 offers and my thoughts on what it is set to change.

D5100 is the latest budger DSLR from Nikon which features the much awaited articulating screen. With its DSLRsensor matching to that of D7000, it surely is a deal maker for any photography enthusiast. This is anotherDSLR which falls under the $1000 range and is well worth its price.

Whats the Buzz?

The features which captivate each buyer is its amazing sensor and the 16.2MP resolution which is much superior compared with the D5000 which had a similar sensor to that of D90, a predecessor to D7000. Another superb from this camera is its FULL HD 1920 x 1280 pixel HD recording with continuous autofocus feature. Coupled with the articulating screen, the camera is far more superior than D5000 and also makes a closer contest with Canon’s T3i. Nikon has further increased the size of the live view screen to 3 inches compared to D5000 and also provides a 11 point autofocus system with a 14 bit color depth. Which is superior to the D90 and is much closer to what you will get from much expensive D7000.

The ISO range is also at the usual standards of ISO100 to 1SO6400 but with the Hi1 and Hi2 features, one can increase the range to 25,600which is another feature from D7000 and also matches to that of D90. It shoots at a speed of 4 frames per second a bit slower than D90 which does 4.5 frames and the D7000 is far more superior in this context with a 7 frames per second. The viewfinder for this camera provides 95% coverage. The shutter speed for this camera is set equal to its predecessor and its 1/4000. The plus about D5100 is the various scene modes and its interactive buttons for changing modes from live view and viewfinder. Plus now, there is an additional record button added. This is quite interesting, but I find it rather trouble, as its much closer with the shutter button and those with bigger fingers might break the shot quite easily.

With all the video bling that you view for the advertisement it does makes for a very good video camera but still fails to get the color depth that Canon provides for its movies. But again, you dont want a DSLR as your camcoder. But again the detail this provides for movies is commendable.

Now you will be wondering if this is the ultimate budget DSLR, I wish it were but it isn’t. The D5100 is missing a focusing motor, which means that you wont be able to use any of the old lenses with AF feature, but if you have the option to go for the newer nikor lenses then great this is never a disadvantage. The ability to go to an ISO 25,600 is great but the images are less usable when compared to that produced by D7000, which maintains a similar sensor. The deal maker for D5100 can be the ability to shoot 14-bit RAW images, which should help you produce a potentially bigger TIFF file for larger area printing. From my tests, the quality of images on screen did not yeild a impressive result when compared to my D90 shot at the same conditions.
Unfortunately I am missing the shots with D5100 as the store wont let me take it home.

D5100 also helps you add filter like effects to photographs and videos. You will find the selective color option highlighted on the Adverstisements. There are other options like the Night Vision, Colour Sketch, Miniature,

Selective Colour, Silhouette, High Key and Low Key. Also it comes with the legendary HDR or multiple shots on the menu’s. The flash button on the camera is also useful for flash compensation which is pretty much a standard for all DSLR’s from Nikon.

The Full HD video can be shot at 24, 25 or 30fps, which is a great option considering the D7000 or D3100 or D5000. But the lack of manual controls in video is a negative to the side. The menu button is on the top left side of the camera which is quite bad according to my liking.

The swivel screen of the D5100 unlike the expectations shouldn’t hinder the usage with tripod and you will find it effective in shooting movies and also grab in a better video shot. The trouble when it comes to this design is that the buttons are moved towards the right which is quite bad. The change of AF modes is a common complaint you will find in most reviews further, you will have to have to be careful not to be touching the buttons while handling the camera.

The camera has a usable range of ISO much less than 12,800ISO, so unless you are a master with RAW processing do not attempt this shot! The handling is quite easily done. The trouble is that this is yet another entry level camera. It works OK for people who just drop in from their point and shoot option, otherwise, you will have tough time figuring and composing the shot.

For each change in white balance, aperture, ISO you will still have to go through the menu’s. Which can be quite a trouble when you are shooting wild life or a street photography. Your subject will be long gone when you get the shot!

The flash is carefully placed high and the camera does well as in D5000 to deliver the best of effects. The manipulations are quite simpler and gives in no complaint whatsoever.

The Nikon developers have brought in theoptionof stereo microphone in option again this is a plus for movie recording, you wont need the usual mono audio for all your wonderfully shot movies!

There is still the customizable function button which you can set via the menu which is another characteristic from Nikon. I am missing the number of buttons here which might help me manipulate other various options including the ISO and F values which I almost try to change on each shot!
The Verdict!


My Verdict, its a great camera for movies, you will love the quality of movies you will receive and the filter effects are outstanding. You will also have lot of .NEF processing or the RAW processing. But if you are to get the older D90 which might be priced at a $100 more or go ahead with the D3100 and better lenses then you shouldn’t find it a bad deal. The flaw I find about this camera is that its basically concentrating on movies and less option for an photographer, the options have to be gone through menu each times. The scene modes are still basic and should help only the novice to DSLR. The movement of record button away from live view still makes little sense. The buttons have been cut short, the camera in a whole has gone smaller toaccommodatethe cost of the larger sensor. This is certainly no cool deal, although I feel that sensor is the brain I am disappointed how a good sensor is packed so badly.

No issues with the pictures developed, they are quite crisp but the color depth seems to be a trouble. From experts I learn that this is due to the emphasis of red on the color grid. This is again quite bad!

So my vote is still with D3100 as your first DSLR. You will still be receiving a full autofocus videos with a lower sensor size. But you could well use the 70-200 f2.8 lens for the remaining amount you spend on D5100 and bit more I guess. So I wish all the best, to the enthusiasts, who will love the magic of a larger sensor. But for D3100 owners, you can wait another release as you already have a powerful machine in hand :)