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Nikon D5100 digital camera view

Nikon D5100 Camera Review

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Nikon D5100 is a very talked-about single-lens reflex digital camera – a perfect blend of beginner-friendly aspects with several high-end camera features.

Released in 2011, it still falls in the category of reliable cameras regarding performance and features.

Nikon D5100 Review

D5100 specifications combine entry-level DSLR D5000 and very advanced D7000 by Nikon. It is mainly targeting photography enthusiasts who are looking forward to a step up from beginners’ level DSLR.

Multiple advanced features, i.e., 16.2-megapixel, DX-format CMOS sensor, picture control system, 11 points AF area modes, hi-resolution articulated monitor, high-quality 1080p videos at 30fps, flip LCD, etc., still make D5100 relevant.

Here are some of the details about the core aspects of Nikon’s D5100

Salient Features of D5100:

Design and Built

Compared to its rivals, D5100 is pretty compact and slightly smaller. The core reason behind being compact and weighing less than average cameras of the ‘D’ series is plastic built.

Nikon D5100 camera view

With the physical dimensions of 12.8 x 7.9 x 9.7 centimeters, it weighs around 508 grams. D5100 doesn’t fall in low weighing DSLR still a great option to carry around, especially for outdoor shooting, because of its user-friendly ergonomic design and new rounded grip, which fits perfectly in hands.

There are significant changes in the design of D5100 compared to the previous generations. D5100 seems more sophisticated and taller than D5000.

The camera’s backside features a 3 inches articulated flip LCD screen with 16.2 million effective pixels to preview footage and settings. There are a few buttons on both sides of the screen to change the settings and start/stop shooting.

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There is a switch to enable and disable the Live View Feature using one click just beneath the Mode Dial. Other dedicated buttons are the movie record button, info button, shutter-release button, AE-L / AF-L button, Delete, Playback Zoom In/out, and exposure compensation button.

To improve the video-shooting experience, Nikon added a microphone jack beside the built-in monaural microphone. You can attach any 3.5mm stereo microphone to capture better audio.

Overall, user-friendly design with easy operability aspects.

Nikon D5100 digital single reflex camera

Image Quality

DX-format CMOS sensor and Image processing engine “EXPEED 2” offer 16.2 megapixels resolution for still images. For the price of D5100, there are cameras available that offer much higher resolution, but the quality of images, reliable results, and performance somehow make up for this drawback.

Nikon D5100 was primarily aimed at casual photography enthusiasts or beginners looking for a good quality camera, so in our opinion, the resolution of 16.2 of D5100 is sufficient to fulfill the needs of its targeted market.

If you are into manual or semi-manual settings, using D5100, you can do wonders in still photography without any post-production work.  It has a built-in mechanism to adjust the saturation, hue, and skin tones as per exposure settings and shooting circumstances.

Using ‘Picture Control’ options, one can modify 7 shooting modes by adjusting Sharpening, Contrast, Brightness, Saturation, and Hue to make personalized effects and filters.

In terms of footage, camera performance is better outdoors compared to indoors. Colors produced outdoors are more visibly vibrant than indoors. For better results in indoor shooting, we recommend adjusting white balance and exposure settings manually.

You can capture images in both RAW and JPEG formats.

Video Performance

For videos, resolutions offered by Nikon D5100 are:

  • 1080 24/25/30p.
  • 720 24/25/30p.
  • Non-standard (cropped) 640×424 25/30p mode.

The video quality is sharp, with very minimal loss of details. This version got a visible boost in the video compared to previous generations. Multiple dedicated video modes are added to deliver user-friendly performance.

Videos are captured in MPEG-4 / H.264 AVC compression. For all three resolutions, recording time is limited to 20 minutes.

Besides the 11 points auto-focus, D5100 offers additional live autofocus for video recording for better subject tracking and face detection.

You can also use Single-servo auto and manual focus from settings to manually adjust 11 focus points.

One significant aspect of video shooting is Live View with magnification displayed in 5 steps. This feature is considered relatively new in DSLR, but Nikon offered it 10 years ago in D5100. It allows using the viewfinder instead of the monitor to compose the footage.

You can still use a monitor while shooting, but you must turn on Live View for movie recording. Video results are good, but not using the viewfinder for video recording, even when the camera has one, limits the user’s experience.

Nikon D5100 camera screen overview

Nikon D5100 ISO Range

The ISO range offered by Nikon D5100 is 100-25600. There is no prominent upgrade in this feature than the D5000, but the quality, especially Auto-ISO settings, makes it worth talking about.

Usually, the DSLR manufacturer deals with Auto-ISO as a feature that automatically increases at a shutter speed determined by the focal length of the lens whenever there is a camera shake (a common issue when using high shutter speed).

Nikon changed this approach for the D-series and tended more towards user-selected low shutter speed, determined solely depending upon shooting circumstances and focal length being used for the shot. It comes in handy when shooting fast-moving objects and avoiding blurs.

The increased sensitivity also showed excellent results for low-light shooting and reduced background noise in footage.

If you don’t find even the highest number of ISO settings sufficient, using the ‘Night Vision’ option, you can take the sensor sensitivity up to ISO 102,400. Sensitivity increases, but the results are grainy and disappointing for a brand as big as Nikon.

You can change ISO via the menu or the ‘Fn’ button. Honestly, this dedicated button isn’t very impressive. It is very close and identical to the flash button, which is confusing.

Nikon D5100 back overview


A rechargeable Nikon EN-EL14 Lithium-Ion battery powers D5100.

Battery life mainly depends upon shooting circumstances, shooting modes, camera settings, et cetera, but on average (CIPA-rating), the Nikon D5100 can take 660 images on a single charge.

This battery life is one of the best compared to the rival cameras of D5100.

Supported Connections

Nikon D5100 supports a Wi-Fi feature for wireless connectivity and USB and HDMI connection for easy and fast data sharing.

Nikon D5100 Specifications:

  • Type: Single-lens reflex digital camera
  • Video: 1,920 x 1,080, 30p/25p/24p, 1,280 x 720, 30p/25p/24p, 640 x 424, 30p/25p
  • Effective still resolution: 16.2 MP (RAW + JPEG)
  • Lens mount: Nikon F mount (with AF contacts)
  • Effective angle of view: Approx. 1.5 x lens focal length (Nikon DX format)
  • Effective pixels: 16.2 million
  • Image sensor: 23.6 x 15.6 mm CMOS sensor
  • Picture Control System: Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape; selected Picture Control can be modified; storage for custom Picture Controls
  • Media: SD (Secure Digital), SDHC, and SDXC memory cards
  • Viewfinder: Eye-level pentamirror single-lens reflex viewfinder
  • Frame coverage: Approx. 95% horizontal and 95% vertical
  • Magnification: Approx. 0.78 x (50 mm f/1.4 lens at infinity, -1.0 m-1)
  • Eyepoint: 17.9 mm (-1.0 m-1)
  • Diopter adjustment: -1.7 to +0.7 m-1
  • Focusing screen: Type B BriteView Clear Matte Mark VII screen
  • Lens aperture: Instant return, electronically controlled
  • Shutter Speed: 1/4000 to 30 s in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV, Bulb; Time (requires optional Remote Control ML-L3)
  • Self-timer: 2 s, 5 s, 10 s, 20 s; 1 to 9 exposures
  • Exposure Metering: TTL exposure metering using a 420-pixel RGB sensor
  • Range: ISO 100, f/1.4 lens, 20°C/68°F
  • Exposure compensation: -5 to +5 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV
  • AF-area mode: Single-point AF, dynamic-area AF, auto-area AF, 3D-tracking (11 points)
  • White balance: Auto, incandescent, fluorescent (7 types), direct sunlight, flash, cloudy, shade, preset manual, all except preset manual with fine-tuning
  • Battery: One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL14


  • 1080p high-quality video
  • Very balanced features between beginner’s friendly aspects and features of high-end DSLR
  • DX-format CMOS sensor from D7000
  • EXPEED 2 image processor. Faster
  • Long-lasting battery
  • 3D tracking 11 points AF


  • It falls in high-end DSLR cameras in terms of price, but it is a mid-level DSLR in terms of features.

Our Verdict

Nikon is known for addressing the needs of all segments of photographers. D5100 targeted people who want to step up from beginners level cameras but are still not ready for complicated or professional DSLRs.

Released in 2011, Nikon D5100 is still the best option for its targeted segment.

D5100 has very worthy upgrades compared to its predecessor D5000. It also has many features from the much more costly D7000, i.e., the DX-CMOS sensor.

Physically, this camera is designed to fit well in the photographer’s hand to support long shootings. Other new and welcoming features are a tilting screen, multiple autofocus modes to enhance sharpness, extended ISO range, increased fps for video shooting, and HDR.

Overall, performance and build both are durable. Get it now <-Affiliate Link 🙂 if you are looking for an advanced entry-level DSLR with some modern features. Recommended!

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