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Nikon D5100 review
The Nikon D5100 is the company's latest 'upper-entry-level' DSLR aimed at beginners or those wanting a step-up from a basic budget model. Announced in April 2011, it comes exactly two years after its predecessor, the popular D5000. The new D5100 is positioned between the entry-level D3100 and the mid-range D7000, and goes head-to-head against Canon's EOS 600D / Rebel T3i.
Externally the Nikon D5100 enjoys a redesigned shape that's noticeably shorter than its predecessor and a little lighter too. Physically the biggest difference though concerns the screen round the back: it's still articulated, but taking a leaf from Canon and Panasonic, it's now hinged at the side rather than the bottom. Nikon's also upgraded the screen from the basic 2.7in / 230k panel of the D5000 to a larger and much more detailed 3in / 921k panel here.
Inside, the D5100 inherits the 16.2 Megapixel sensor of the D7000, giving it four Megapixels more than its predecessor. It also unsurprisingly now offers Full HD 1080p movie recording, although unlike the D7000 this is offered at 24, 25 or 30fps. The D5100 also offers the Full-time continuous autofocus during movies of the D3100 and D7000 before it, along with an external microphone input. Completing the headline upgrades is a new EFFECTS position on the dial which presents a variety of special effects including miniature, sketch and selective colour, along with a Night Vision option working at up to 102,400 ISO. Let's now look at the camera in more detail.
So the Nikon D5100 essentially offers three major upgrades over its predecessor: it inherits the excellent sensor of the D7000, upgrades the screen size, resolution and hinge mounting, and borrows the core movie capabilities of the D3100 and D7000, while also offering a broader selection of frame rates at 1080p and a mic input. The much preferable side-hinging for the screen has also eliminated the D5000's disproportionately tall viewfinder head, allowing Nikon to design a shorter and curvier body for the new model. In addition to this you also get the new EFFECTS mode which can be applied to some movies as well as stills, along with an HDR option.
While the viewfinder, AF system and continuous shooting remain essentially unchanged from its predecessor, the upgrades described above add up to a much improved camera experience. Revealingly most of the core improvements are focused around the Live View and movie modes, with little other than an improved sensor to tempt traditional photographers, but that's par for the course for most new entry-level DSLRs. Canon employs exactly the same strategy, essentially leaving Sony to innovate at this price point.
If you were hoping for faster continuous shooting, improved AF or a bigger viewfinder, you'll be disappointed, but by offering the D7000's quality at a lower price point with an excellent flip-out screen and a broader selection of 1080p frame rates, there's a great deal to like here. The D5100 is destined to become another big seller for Nikon, although its rival from Canon has never been closer.
I bought a Nikon D5100 with these TWO "kit" lenses: 18-55 and 55-200mm. As background, I have 45 years "serious amateur" experience in photography, but little in digital photography. My first "serious" digital SLR was a SONY A100 that I bought so I could use my Minolta AF lenses. I wanted to update my camera because technology has advanced so much! It was a major decision to change camera brands because of my investment over the years in Minolta AF mount lenses. BUT, I wanted something lighter than the SONY "professional" cameras, and something with a better imaging reputation.
I shot approximately 90 test images with each of the lenses. After carefully reviewing them at 100% magnification in Photoshop, I can honestly say that only 1 of the 180 photos was genuinely sharp.
The 55-200 had trouble focusing under certain circumstances even in mid-day on a mostly cloudy day. Either the lenses, the sensor or the in camera software did a poor job with contrast and color rendition, in addition to the lack of sharpness. Neither zoom ring moved "smoothly." Both felt "rough." I understand that they are relatively cheap "kit" lenses, but I expect better from a lens with the Nikkor name!
The mirror in the SLR body did something indicative of poor design, poor quality and/or poor manufacturing. It shifted at the last moment as it seated itself. It was not aligned properly for its travel and seating.
There is something about the design of the D5100 body front where it is supposed to fit your right hand that was VERY uncomfortable for me. This could be a personal issue since hand sizes vary.
Fortunately, I was able to return the camera for a full refund!
Overall, I was EXTREMELY disappointed! I expected MUCH better from Nikon. I then bought a Canon T3i with 18-55 and 55-250mm "kit" lenses, which is roughly equivalent to the Nikon D5100 package but $100 more. I had read MANY reviews, both professional and user. They almost unanimously favored the Nikon which is why I first tried the Nikon. I have now had the Canon for about a week and shot perhaps 80 test images. Out of the 80 images, most are extremely sharp even magnified to 200% in Photoshop. While both lenses appear to focus quickly and properly in all lighting conditions, I had trouble at the 250mm end. In defense of the lens, I do NOT yet know how to change the focusing parameters and I was trying to capture either a distant deer or bird both partly hidden in a mess of branches or trees. The camera did not know what I wanted to focus on. Exposure, color and contrast rendition are excellent!
Oddly, in the full automatic setting, the camera wants to use the flash in situations that I do NOT believe call for flash. Interestingly, and useful for idiot-proof photography, in full automatic the camera's brain alters the ISO setting to afford "optimum" settings for a decent photo. They may not be the settings a knowledgeable photographer would choose, but they work!
The camera body appears to be solid, properly designed, engineered and manufactured. Unfortunately, it is slightly heavier than the Nikon, which is a major factor for me.
So far, I am very pleased with the Canon T3i. I am only pondering TWO "walk around" lenses versus buying the Tamron 18-270.
I got this camera in May shortly after it was released. There hasn't been a whole lot user reviews but overall it seemed to have been a good model. I this is my first DSLR so I don't have much as of comparing it to over models or brands. I got mine at Best But as at that point they were selling them for the same price everywhere. Added extended warranty on it as I have a tendency to be clumsy with my things. However I have been very very careful with this camera so far, not dropping or banging it against anything. I used it for the first two months or so with no problem. Then it sat around the house for about a month, and when I went to use it again I noticed that the auto focus was not working. The manual focus was still working fine however. I thought it was the lens, so I took it to Inkley's and they tried another lens on it, same problem. They established that it was the body that was having the problem. The camera was still under manufacture warranty so I took it to Best Buy and they told me it'd be 4-6 weeks till I get it back. I needed it well before then, so I've been using it on manual focus for a few months now, it's a pain at times, others it does give better flexibility to the image, however I wanted all functions of this pricy toy of my to work, so finally I took it back in. It's out being fixed now, hope it'll come back as good as new. Oh another thing I noticed with the camera (also started to happen the same time the auto focus went out) was when I took pictures vertically if I was using the screen instead of the view finder the screen would go almost black and I couldn't see the image. I mostly had to switch back to view finder to frame and focus my vertical shots. I hope that gets fixed as well, as I forgot to mention it to the guy at Best Buy. I'm hoping this is a fluke and is not a re-accruing issue, as I haven't read other reviews with similar problem since this happened.
Assuming this is an isolated incident, otherwise the camera has been very easy to learn the settings and to make good pictures. For a starter DLSR is' for the most part a good camera. I haven't tried out much of the video yet, I'm more into stills, but once the baby comes I'm sure I'll make a use of that function as well.
The camera is great. I would start off by saying that having the same sensor as the D7000, which costs considerably more, is a big plus. You will, indeed, see very similar picture quality.
The D5100 is loaded with nice features for all types of users. If you are just starting with photography you will certainly enjoy the automatic modes as well as all the scene and effects available. The camera also shines in manual mode, the built in light meter works wonders.
Another thing that usually goes unnoticed but that can make big difference is the fact that this model has 2 infra-red receivers, which makes perfect sense. That way you can release the shutter from both the front and the back of the camera using a remote.
Just to list a couple of "cons"... if you are into video, definitely go with the Canon T3i and you will see much better quality. Another thing are the lenses that come in this kit. I expected them to be much more sturdy. After using the camera for a couple of weeks, they started making some squeaky noise. But well, they are cheap kit lenses anyway.
This is my first DSLR..I own Nikon SLR products and was looking for one that would work with them..can be done, but in Manual mode only - no prob - used to that with the SLR's.
I read many reviews before choosing this model which was near the pricing range I wanted to spend.
So far, I'm ecstatic with the results using my old lenses - not so happy with the stock kit lense. The details, color, and depth of field is much better with the old Nikkor's. The 18-55 can give good results and in the auto modes it is fairly predictable, but I find the images a bit snapshot-ish.
The AF is slow and not always accurate, and I mainly use it in manual focus mode. The presets are great for a fast setup and the in-camera editing features are fun to experiment with.
The camera itself is loaded with features and I found it helpful to print the user manual that comes on the disk. Yes, it's alot of pages..but totally worth it!
My only real complaint so far is there seems to be an amount of shutter lag regardless of what speed you set it on. Probably something I need to get used to, but definetly not
as quick as I would expect from an electronic device. Maybe this is something that will be fixed with a firmware update? If not, I'm learning to lead my moving subjects...
I'm having fun experimenting in different lighting using different combos of shutter speed and ISO and instantly seeing the result. Interestingly, I took some shots of a hummingbird that came out almost pitch black on the view screen, but with some exposure correction came out great..well, atleast viewable!
For my own personal case, I do loose alot of the features available on this camera using it with the old lenses and Manual mode. But as an old Nikon user there is an amount of "expectation" from each image that this method seems to satisfy best. Maybe with some better AF DX lenses..I don't know...
I've had a basic digital camera for years. I probably "outgrew" that camera in six months but kept telling myself that the camera was fine. I wanted to be able to take better pictures for my eBay business and that basic camera just wasn't getting the job done so this year, I finally decided to pony up the $$$'s and get a "real" digital camera.
The Nikon D5100 is absolutely fantastic and exceeded my expectations. Set-up is a breeze if you just follow the owner's manual directions which are very concise and easy to follow. The only downside that I have found is that pictures can only be deleted one at a time which is a hassle. There is a workaround though. When uploading to you pc, you can set your default to automatically delete pictures after uploading and that takes care of an otherwise cumbersome task.
Picture quality is fabulous. I was in Row 6, South endzone at a Nebraska football game and quickly snapped over 700 pictures. Even those taken on the opposite side of the stadium are fabulous. I used the zoom feature and cut-off the extraneous stuff and every shot lookes like I was on the field! The Nikon D5100 did an incredible job of keeping the action shots from being blurry. Tackles, passes, band marches, cheerleader and mascot stunts are all clear.
If you remember that old watch commercial "Takes a licking, keeps on ticking", that certainly holds true for this fabulous camera. On the same Nebraska football outing, I lost my grip on the shoulder strap (I know that's why they call it a shoulder strap) and my brand new camera hit the street 3 times before I could catch it. I just new that it was toast. Not even so much as a scratch on it anywhere. No damage to the lens, viewfinder or any of the mechanical parts. I don't recommend trying this but in my experience all ended well.
You can spend much more for a DSLR camera but in my opinion, you won't find a better camera for your buck. I highly recommend the Nikon D5100 to those who don't know a lot about digital cameras and are looking to upgrade their camera without spending an arm and a leg.
The D5100 turned out to be the perfect camera choice for photographing my telekinetically gifted housecat. It captures macro shots of Dr. G.M. Fussywinkle in all of his up close psychic feline glory beautifully. The minimum focus distance is a bit long with the kit lens, but the high resolution and excellent vibration reduction allow for a good level of post shot magnification without loss of sharpness. When G.M. last used his gifts to move a piece of catfood slightly closer to his mouth while eating from a bowl I didn't miss a moment. It's clear as day in the cameras excellent HD movie mode which has a high frame rate for smoothness and 1080p resolution. No one will disbelieve me now. The multi-axis mounted lcd screen provides easy positioning while framing an off-balance shot or getting down low for that perfect cat's eye shot of the litter box. Use the surprisingly effective in camera HDR mode to even out the tones and brighten colors in any shot of your own kitty.....that is, if he has supernatural stillness powers like Dr.G.M.F does. Ya, right, you wish. All in all This camera has enough features to keep you and your lesser-abled feline companion happy. It's about as good as you're going to get without coughing up the big bucks for a pro-grade rig. Save that money to buy a better cat.
Bought this camera to move up in picture quality and performance from my last digital camera. Did a lot of research on cameras in this catagory and from what I found this was certainly the best I could choose. The picture quality is great and the performance and features are great as well. Also very easy to find additional accessories to help with taking whatever types of pictures you might want to take. I have two very goood friends that are both very good photographers and they both use Nikon products and I now know why.
At first I was not as impressed as I thought I would be. I saved for a year to purchase this camera. My thought was to replace my Sony A300K. I spent a lot of time reviewing this camera and thought this was the one I had to have. One of the first things I noticed when I started unpacking everything was that the Nikon was not as heavy as the Sony. The Nikon felt cheap to me. As far as the picture quality, I went with a Tamron lens, 18 - 200. The kit lens isn't all that bad either. At first I thought I should have saved a lot of money and just purchased a good video recorder, as this is one of the reasons I purchased the D5100. It took me a few months to get comfortable with this camera, but now I find myself grabbing the Nikon over the Sony. The shutter speed is quick and the pictures are clear and crisp. I didn't give this camera a good review at first but as I became more familiar with it, it has become a good purchase. There are a lot of options built right into the camera. I haven't experimented with all of them yet but I am excited about learning all the features. Since buying this camera, I have decided to invest in some photo backdrops and props as the pictures are that good. This was a really good investment.
i decided that nikon or pentax k - mount was the way to go since cannon gives such poor parts support after the warrantee is done.
this model has many features that remind me of the old film slr days and yet it also encompasses the newer digital era technology as well. it fits comfortably in the hand with a good placement of the shutter release. angled so as not to cause jiggling upon releasing of the shutter. i like the option of the angle adjustment of the screen but i prefer the view finder since it is a slr.
the only neg thought i can see so far is i'd prefer a shutter speed number dial instead of symbols. and true the 18-55 kit lens is not as smooth as the older slr lenses i am used to but it is not bad.
also i can't believe cannon choose to use the rebel body for their basis for their dlsr. that poorly made plastic body had more problems than their old AE1 body had. the AE1 was very popular with many lenses still available but when they went to the eos rebel they orphaned all of those users (instead of bridging them as ongoing buyers))
i used to buy only cannon products but since they seem to have abandon their products and loyal customers i don't buy cannon products anymore.
at least nikon and pentax only make cameras (not printers, printer ink , or copiers ect. hence they are not going to make up the lost camera sale when they sell you a new printer with a tiny ink tank ) .
dollar for dollar the nikon has the edge over the cannon since it has a bit more pixels for almost the same and if not sometimes a slightly lower price.