85 of 89 people found the following review helpful
Nice DSLR! Great images!,
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This review is from: Nikon D5100 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lens (OLD MODEL) (Camera)
I have been a retired SLR photographer for several years so the D5100 is my re-entry into DSLR. Previously, I had an N90s and one of the first digital Nikons; the D20. I have been shooting a Canon G10 for several years even doing some HDR with it. I've had the D5100 about a week and have shot a 100 photos on a variety of subjects - family, landscape, sunset, and macro - all with the 18-55 kit lens.
It shoots great! Detail is way better than I expected for a "consumer" model. Actually, I chose the D5100 because the quality of the pics was my foremost goal. It comes with the same 16mp chip as the D7000 for $400 less. I wanted to spend that money on glass. I've had almost no trouble figuring out how to set the manual controls and have had good luck with the SCENES modes for most shooting. (I haven't tried the EFFECTS and I'm not sure that I will - more of a Photoshop processing kind of guy). My biggest challenge has been getting correct focus as the camera tries to do way more than I'm used to and, if I have it in the wrong SCENE mode, there's no telling what might happen. The dancing yellow squares on the face recognition function is a little disconcerting. I have also had to learn patience as the VR function is nice but a little slow when handheld. I have learned to leave it off until I really need it.
I think that most of the professional reviewers overstate the weaknesses of many of the products out there and the D5100 is no exception, maybe because it's hard to difference a crowded competitive product line. At any rate, here is my take on some of the deficiencies. First, the location of the LiveView button work great for me. Because it is a lever rather than a button it is easy to locate and use without moving my hand on the grip. Another complaint has been the lack of an ISO button. I do prefer buttons over menus but there are too many functions which I would like to have on a button that there wouldn't be room for all of them. I programmed the fn button (which is done easily in the menus) to allow me to control the ISO. It works well both when I'm working through the viewer or the display screen. I will agree with complaints that the fn button is too close to the flash button. I've inadvertently mixed them up and it cost me a pic or two. However, I only need to make that kind of mistake a couple of times before learn to avoid the problem.
The rear screen is great...very high resolution. The zooming function works well and I have been able to check image focus easily. The side tilt is very elegant and I like that if flips to protect the screen when not in use.
I'm not much of a videographer but I did shoot some video and the image quality if fantastic. I put it on my TV and the quality was great. The focus works pretty well although you can see it occasionally get behind for a few seconds for quick moving subjects - like cars and kids. The microphone isn't worth much so it may be worth investing in the add-on microphone for more serious video projects.
All in all, the quality and fit of the camera is very good in spite of being made from plastic. i wouldn't want to drop it or the lens for that matter - they are not made like my old N90s or my 70-200 f2.8 but, on the other hand, I won't won't miss the extra 5 lbs. of weight because this camera is LIGHT! It is small but fits the hand well and is joy to carry around.
To summarize: As you would expect from a Nikon, great photos; as good as the D7000 (according to dpreview) and $400 less. Easy to use, light, good manual control, and good assisted control through scenes. The D5100 is a good choice if you are looking for high quality images without all the bells and whistles of the D7000.
No "cons" except don't drop it...probably won't survive! Battery life isn't great either (I tend to use the display and LiveView a lot) so I've already invested in a backup battery.
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Initial post: Jun 28, 2011 2:07:34 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 28, 2011 2:08:53 PM PDT
Rachel Barr says:
Thanks! Yours is the review I've been looking for. I've been a Canon pro-SLR shooter for over 30 years. It's time to upgrade my SLR (just a matter of time before something wears out), but I'm not impressed with the dynamic range of Canon's current lineup. The images are plenty detailed, but there are far too many blown highlights, and ISO performance isn't as good beyond 3200 as the Nikon cameras.
The two models I've been considering are D7000 and D5100, but it's been an impossible decision to make because, while I'm accustomed pro and semi-pro features, the D5100 has some qualities that make it more suited for my needs.
I'm disabled and growing more so all the time, so for the first time in shopping for a new body, size and weight are primary considerations. I'm willing to trade off some of the dedicated controls for the ability still to have a good camera handy wherever I go. I've read a lot of picky stuff about this camera's lack of external controls, and it's good to hear from someone regarding real world application who USES manual controls. The SCENE modes are something I'd probably never use. ISO, exposure compensation, aperture and shutter speed, white balance and/or metering, on the other hand, are things I adjust with nearly every shot setup.
Based on all the other information I've gathered regarding this model, the D7000, the Canon EOS 7D, 60D and Rebel T3i, I think I'll sell my Canon equipment and go with the D5100, the kit lens for starters and the 70-300mm IF lens.
Now's a good time to be buying Nikon at amazon.com!
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