Review of Nikon D5100

“Are you a Photography enthusiast and love taking memorable pictures? But at the same time you believe that it’s time to move beyond the limitations of a digi-cam and get an upgrade.”

So now that you have made up your mind, comes the real question-“what kind of camera to buy and more importantly which camera should you buy?”

The answer to the first part is rather simple a DSLR! However, it’s the second part that people find quite challenging; especially with so many different manufacturers launching such varied range of products.

But if you want a DSLR which gets everything right but at the same time doesn’t burn a big hole in your pocket, Nikon D5100 is the choice to go for.

The Nikon D5100, launched in May 2011, enters the competition in the Entry-level DSLR category; and quite frankly shines through. Its set of features and pricing clearly puts it right in the middle of the beginner’s Nikon D3100 and the higher-end semi-pro Nikon D7000. Let’s look into some of its features and specifications.

Specifications

The Nikon D5100 has a 16.2 MP CMOS sensor, quite similar to the one found in Nikon D7000, but unlike the D7000 with a 39-point AF system; it has an 11-point AF system. Also, it doesn’t have the magnesium alloy body like the D7000. However, it inherits from its elder brother the EXPEED 2 processor, the ISO range [100-6400, 12500, 25600] and the 14-bit Raw shooting; which were previously found in only higher end Nikon models.

The D5100 offers shooting in 3 different image sizes: L(4928×3264), M(3696×2448) and S(2464×1632). Video can be recorded at maximum Full HD widescreen resolution of 1920×1280 pixels at 30 fps.

Shutter speeds can be varied from 1/4000 sec to 30 sec and Bulb. Continuous shooting gives a maximum of 4 fps.

The 3” swivel screen is an added advantage especially for videographers and to photographers who go for some difficult angle shots.

The body weight is around 509 gm (without lens, battery and card) which makes it highly portable. The D5100 is also provided with the standard F type mount with AF contacts.

Lens compatibility can be an issue because; like other entry level DSLRs and unlike the D7000 or even D90, it has no internal autofocus motor. So for the AF type lenses, the focusing ring has to be turned manually. However, with the AF-S type lenses, the D5100 gives a flawless performance every time.

The D5100 uses a standard rechargeable EN-EL 14 Li-ion battery and has only one SD card slot (SDHC and SDXC compatible) and has an in-built flash.

In-built exposure modes, both scene and creative, work just fine.

Viewfinder uses a penta-prism and gives approx. 95% frame coverage.

Performance

Let’s start with the design aspect.

The presence of the swivel screen means that all the buttons had to be shifted to the right side of the screen; which is good in a way as the “play” button finally come to a much more user friendly location. The absence of a heads-up LCD display means that the mode dial is now on the right side alongside the scroll dial; and all the buttons can be accessed with convenience.

The D5100 gives superb colors and image quality even at very high ISO or even the basic JPEG. It also has an impressive low light performance thanks to its D7000 pedigree. And to top it all off…the HDR mode actually works, both while hand-held and on a tripod. Hand-held gives you 2 shots in quick succession to make an HDR image. However, on a tripod, it gives 2 shots in quick succession and a slightly delayed third shot. So you need to be careful while shooting HDR; so as not to get any unintentional motion blurs.

Conclusion

The D5100 offers the perfect blend of entry-level and semi-pro level DSLR’s. Although it loses out on some factors like AF points, lens compatibility and build quality; it more than makes up for it with its ergonomics, stunning image quality and low light performance. The price tag is also reasonable.

Overall, the Nikon D5100 is a very satisfying camera. And given its price tag, as compared to its highly capable sensor and AF system; it’s more than a good bargain and undoubtedly the best in its category.

In India, the Nikon D5100 is priced at:-

Rs.29,450 – Body (only)

Rs.34,950 – Body wit AF-S 18-55 mm VR Kit lens

Guest post by: Saptarshi Chatterjee