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on October 12, 2011
I am a photography teacher in NYC and online. (See my Amazon profile for my website.) I teach beginner and intermediate photography students every week. I've also been a professional photographer for the last five years with images published in The New York Times, GQ, New York Magazine, Women's Wear Daily, The New York Observer, The Village Voice and Time Out New York.

(This review is for beginner photographers.)

If you're a beginner, you're most likely asking yourself: Nikon or Canon? Really, I feel confident in saying that you can't go wrong with either. I've used both brand's cameras extensively and find that they both offer amazing image quality with well-built, solid cameras that, if taken care of, will last decades. There are two differences between the cameras, though, that can be taken into consideration.

The user-interface: If cameras were computers, Nikons would be PCs and Canons would be MACs. PCs are built for people not afraid of technology whereas Macs are built for people who want things super-easy. Nikons excel at customization options which means you'll see so many more options with the Advanced features of a Nikon than you will with a Canon. Canons, on the other hand, excel at ease-of-use for beginners. Canons offer less advanced options and can be easier to learn on. This can be frustrating down the line, though, once you've learned a lot about photography. At that point you may want all of the options that Nikon offers and be frustrated with your Canon. If you're someone who really likes to delve deep into your hobbies or if you're intent on becoming a professional photographer, I'd say a Nikon would be your best bet. If you're someone who wants to learn the basics of photography and only imagine yourself being a hobbyist, Canon would be a better option for you.

Where Nikon excels: Flash photography. I often find myself in situations where I'm shooting event photography (weddings, movie premiers, benefits and galas) where I need to use a lot of flash. For this kind of photography, I'll always prefer to be shooting with a Nikon. Nikon's flash metering (how the camera magically decides how much light to fire out of the flash) is much more consistent than Canon's. You can take a Canon and shoot the same scene three times in a row with flash and all three images will be at different brightness levels. You can do the same thing with a Nikon and all three images will be wonderfully the same. If you're somebody who plans on shooting a lot with flash (indoor photography, event photography, etc.) you'll want to consider going with Nikon.

Where Canon excels: Richness of colors. I've been in numerous situations where I've been on the red carpet taking the exact same picture as the photographer next to me. I'll have a Canon and the person next to me will have a Nikon. This has provided quite a few opportunities to compare the images side-by-side. What I've found is that the colors on the Canon's images look richer and make the image pop more. If I'm doing fine art photography (anything I'd like to someday hang in a gallery), I'll always want to be shooting with a Canon for this reason.

If you're set on Nikon, there are three cameras you should be considering and it all comes down to what your budget is:

D7000 $1,400 without lens
D5100 $750 without lens
D3100 $600 only available with lens
(current prices as of 2/19/11)

Here's what you get for spending extra money (each camera compared to the one below it):

D3100 vs. D5100:

The D3100 is an EXCELLENT camera so if you only have $550 to spend total on camera and lens then go out and buy this camera. You won't regret it. If you're considering spending more money, here's what you'll get from the D5100 in comparison:

-Better performance in low light situations.
-A higher resolution screen on the back of the camera so you can see your images more clearly and make out if they actually turned out well.
-An external mic jack. (If you're planning on shooting video with an external mic, you'll want the D5100 over the D3100.)
-A flip out screen (handy if you want to put your camera anywhere but at your eye level and be able to see what your camera is about to capture before you shoot it)
-Faster continuous shooting. If you're often shooting sports or any fast moving subject, continuous shooting allows you to capture multiple images in a single second. The D3100 shoots at three frames per second whereas the D5100 shoots at four frames per second.
-Higher ISO options. The D5100 offers one more stop of ISO than the D3100 does. If you don't know what ISO means (or what a stop is) just know that this allows you to more easily shoot images in low-light situations.
-Longer battery life. The D5100's battery will last 20% longer than the D3100

The two advantages of the D3100 over the D5100 are: less expensive and less weight. Whenever a camera is less expensive, it means you'll have more in your budget for the lens. The D3100 weighs 10% lighter and is 10% smaller than the D5100.

D5100 vs. D7000:

The D5100 is Nikon's latest and greatest and is even newer than the D7000. Phenomenal camera! If you're stuck, though, between the D5100 and the D7000, here's what you'll get by spending more money on the D7000:

-More focus points. When using auto-focus, the D7000 will have an easier time focusing on what you want it to focus on.
-60% longer lasting batteries.
-Faster continuous shooting. If you're often shooting sports or any fast moving subject, continuous shooting allows you to capture multiple images in a single second. The D5100 shoots at four frames per second whereas the D7000 shoots at six frames per second.
-Weather sealed. This means you can shoot with the D7000 in the rain.
-Two memory card slots. This is really a cool feature. The D7000 has two memory card slots which means you'll be less likely to find yourself standing in front of a gorgeous scene with no more memory left.
-Faster shutter speed. The fastest shutter speed on the D5100 is 1/4000th of a second; on the D7000: 1/8000th of a second. To be honest, I can't think of any practical reason why this would benefit you unless you're planning on shooting some really bright scenes like directly into the sun.

Advantages of the D5100 over the D7000:

-A flip out screen (handy if you want to put your camera anywhere but at your eye level and be able to see what your camera is about to capture before you shoot it)
-Smaller and lighter: The D5100 is 10% smaller and 30% lighter than the D7000. This is something to consider if you plan on carrying your camera around with you a lot.
-Less expensive so you can spend more on your lens!

If I can clarify any of this, please email me!

-JP Pullos, photography teacher, NYC and online (see my Amazon profile for my website)
5150+ comments| 4,497 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
VINE VOICEon April 22, 2011
As a long-time owner of the Nikon D5000, and former owner of the Nikon D60, I was eager to purchase the D5100 after seeing the announcements and pre-reviews. Being one of the lucky ones to buy the D5100 with 18-55VR kit earlier this week, I've had a few days to play with this camera and can honestly say it's a solid upgrade to the D5000 I'm replacing, and should be on the short list of consideration for any "prosumer" looking to purchase a D-SLR with outstanding image quality, performance, and low-light capability in a lightweight, compact (for an SLR) body. And, unlike the D5000, this D-SLR finally has a usable Live View and HD video capabilities both with continuous autofocus.

First of all, it's important to understand where the D5100 fits in Nikon's capabilities. It is considered a "high-end enthusiast" D-SLR which means that it shares the same image sensor as the high-end D7000 without some of the higher-end features. If you're like me, very few of the D7000's features justify its extra cost and weight. The D5100 offers nearly the same image quality as its bigger brother in a less-expensive, smaller package, while adding a few tricks the D7000 doesn't have including an articulating display that helps you frame hard-to-reach spots.

Compared to its lesser-priced but still excellent brother the D3100, the D5100 offers improved image quality, speed, and resolution, along with a higher-resolution articulating display. For me, this is the sweet spot in Nikon's consumer D-SLR offerings.

The 18-55VR (3x) f3.5-f5.6 kit lens provides surprisingly good performance and image quality, although you'll likely outgrow it quickly. I have uploaded a few sample images taken with the D5100 and 18-55VR to show its performance and surprisingly good bokeh (pattern of blurred background) in large-aperture and macro shots.

For lens upgrades that include an AF-S autofocus motor, if you don't mind changing lenses, the Nikon 55-200VR is an outstanding value with excellent image quality, or consider the Nikon 18-105VR (5.8x) lens included with the D7000. If you don't mind some distortion and image softness, the 18-200 VRII (18x) lens may be your perfect "walkabout" lens. For me, I bought the pricey but outstanding Nikon 16-85mm VRII. Don't forget the Nikon AF-S 35mm f1.8 (if you can find it).

Low-light performance is outstanding with this camera, and the level of detail captured by the D5100 is excellent, even at higher ISOs. You're best capturing in RAW or RAW+JPEG mode (three different JPEG compression levels are offered) if you need to go back and fine-tune exposure or other settings after the shot. Nikon also offers "Active D-Lighting" which is a highly effective method for improving dynamic range of a photo to equalize the difference between high and low-light areas of a photo.

Interestingly, the improvement in image quality compared to my D5000 isn't dramatic. Given the incredible improvement I saw when upgrading from my Nikon D60 to the D5000 perhaps I had unrealistic expectations for this new sensor. But in most image settings, even low light, the improvement is noticeable but subtle. That speaks more for the outstanding quality and low-light sensitivity of the D5000 sensor (which is shared with the D90) than it speaks against the D5100. With the D5100 you get higher resolution for improved cropping, and the 14-bit RAW images offer greater dynamic range for more flexibility after the shot is taken.

Speaking of RAW format, as with any new camera, there is a bit of a wait until updates are available for your favorite camera software. As of May 18th, Adobe, Apple, and Nikon have added support for the D5100 RAW files, so you can use Aperture, iPhoto, Nikon View NX2 (v2.1.1 and later), Nikon Capture NX2 (v2.2.7 and later), Lightroom 3 or Photoshop CS5 (via Adobe Camera RAW 6.4 or later). If you use other photo software or another platform, you may want to verify RAW support for the D5100.

Compared to my D5000, Nikon has gone back and addressed most of my concerns on ergonomics and performance:
- camera body is roughly 10% smaller and 10% lighter
- 16.2 megapixel CMOS DX-format image sensor (shared with D7000) captures 14-bit RAW images and offers +1fs greater low-light sensitivity
- ISO 100-6400 range with expansion to 25,600 ISO (D5000 minimum is 200 and expansion to 12,300)
- high resolution (920k pixel) display for greater detail in image previews (although I had to bump up the default brightness one notch for accuracy)
- side-mounted articulating display no longer interferes with tripod (the D5000 display is inconveniently hinged at the bottom)
- dramatically improved (now usable!) LiveView mode with continuous autofocus even in HD video mode (more on that later)
- full HD 1080p movie capture without the "jelly effect" (unless you move VERY quickly from side-to-side), in more standard H.264 mode up to 22 min (D5000 is AVI format 720p up to 5min)
- slightly better control position (LiveView is now a rocker switch on the mode dial, Video Record is just behind and to the left of the shutter release)
- significantly quieter shutter release (plus, a "Quiet Mode" is available although hardly necessary)
- faster performance (4 frames per second)
- SDXC compliant supports higher capacity cards
- remote control sensor on rear now in addition to front-mounted sensor
- improved battery life, and an improved battery release
- battery charger now has built-in collapsable plug instead of requiring separate power cord
- MUCH better eyecap design no longer comes off in my small Nikon camera bag; also an improved diopter (eyeglass) control
- additional in-camera editing capabilities, including ability to trim video
- new "gimmick" special effects: in-camera HDR, selective color, night vision, etc

Let's start with the display - moving the hinge to the side not only makes the articulating display usable with a tripod, it makes the camera body shorter, so that it matches the height of most popular Nikon DX-format lenses and no longer leans forward when set down on a table as the D5000 did. It makes a surprising improvement in shooting comfort also. Nikon has improved the rubberized grip of the body and the thumb rest in the rear, although some have said that the grip is a bit shallow for larger hands. For my average-sized hands it is very comfortable.

The improved control placement is mostly welcome as well. LiveView is now a spring-release rocker on the side of the Mode Dial (VERY handy) and the video record button is also now on the top of the body, in front of the mode dial and behind the shutter release. What I didn't care for is the placement of the rear camera buttons, which now all shift above and to the right of the display to accommodate the left-mount hinge. What I don't like is that the "i" button (used to display and change shooting info) is too far away from the 4-way mode switch, so changing default shooting settings is a bit more of a stretch on my thumb. On playback, the delete button is just to the right of the Zoom buttons, instead of being far away like it should be. I didn't find myself accidentally deleting photos, but I'd rather have had a button closer by that I use more frequently (like the Menu button?) With these two buttons near each other, I always found myself accidentally hitting the "I" button instead of RECORD to capture video. So watch your screen and make sure you actually are recording when you think you are!

What has dramatically improved from the D5000 is LiveView performance and HD video capture. Neither are perfect, but compared to my D5000 both are quite usable in the D5100. In LiveView mode, the D5100 tracks faces and subjects quickly and accurately, although still nowhere near fast enough for sports events or that "quick shot" like you might be used to with a compact camera. On my D5100, LiveView autofocus typically took half a second in lower-light conditions, which is no match for the viewfinder, but a huge improvement from the D5000.

Video capture is another notable improvement in the D5100, capturing single videos up to 22 minutes of 1080p HD (if you have the SD card capacity), in H.264 format, with continuous autofocus. Nearly gone is the "jelly effect" of the D5000 when you panned horizontally and the video appeared to bend. Compared to video captured on the D5000 which almost always exhibited this "jelly effect", I have seen none of these artifacts except in the most extreme fast horizontal pans. In theory, the continuous autofocus sounds like a great improvement for video capture, but in practice I found it slow to react (especially in low-light situations). Too often I found the camera "searching" for the correct focus, even with the (optional) Nikon 35mm F1.8 AF-S lens. It was so distracting that I ended up disabling autofocus and learning how to manually adjust focus as I moved from subject to subject. Also disappointing is that like the D5000, the built-in microphone is monoral. For stereo sound, I highly recommend the Nikon ME-1 external microphone (which doesn't require batteries and mounts in the hot shoe). Overall, the video capabilities are promising, especially at 1080p, but I am more satisfied with the native 720pHD stereo video captured from my Canon S95.

Rounding out the list of improvements and new features of the D5100 are the new "special effects", including the first in-camera HDR mode for any Nikon D-SLR. In practice, while there may be edge cases for these effects, I am not particularly impressed with any of them, including HDR. First of all, you cannot capture RAW with any of the effects. For HDR, there are further limitations (can only be used in P-S-A-M modes, not auto, no flash, etc). When you can get HDR mode to work, it can only be enabled one shot at a time, and then you have to go back to the menus to turn it on. Luckily, you can assign HDR mode to the Fn menu button. HDR mode takes two quick shots for each shutter press and then combines them in-camera to create a single JPEG. You can specify the exposure difference (Auto, 1EV, 2EV, 3EV) and level of "smoothing" (Low, Normal, High) between the captured images. I took a number of high-contrast shots with HDR enabled and honestly couldn't see a difference, although I'm still going to try. If there is any good news, it's that Nikon has chosen a fairly conservative / realistic HDR algorithm as opposed to an "eye-popping" but over-processed result.

In summary, I'm quite happy with the D5100. It provides the optimal balance of top image quality (even in low light), lightweight and compact (for a D-SLR) body, articulating display (the only D-SLR from Nikon to have this), and HD video (not perfect) that can leverage the outstanding collection of Nikon lenses (understanding that only AF-S lenses will autofocus).

Notable comparison with the higher-end D7000:
- same 16.2megapixel image sensor with 14-bit RAW image capture for outstanding dynamic range, low-light performance, and detail
- ruggedized plastic body lacks weather seal (it's also smaller and lighter weight)
- no builtin focus motor for older lenses (you'll need to buy an AF-S lens if you want autofocus)
- fewer autofocus zones (11 vs 39) and lower-resolution matrix meter
- pentamirror viewfinder (smaller, not as bright, 95% coverage) vs pentaprism viewfinder (100% coverage)
- no flash commander mode (unless you buy an external flash with TTL triggering)
- slower continuous performance (4 vs 6fps)
- 1 SD card slot instead of 2
- no top-mounted LCD display
- fewer dedicated controls for advanced settings (you must use the menu system more frequently)

Notable comparison with the lower-end D3100:
- higher resolution 16.2megapixel sensor with 14-bit depth
- high resolution (920k pixel vs 230k) display, articulating for hard- to-view shots
- higher low-light sensitivity
- faster performance (4fps vs 3fps)
- better battery performance (660 vs 550 images on the same EN-EL14 battery
- slightly larger and heavier body
review image review image review image
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on May 23, 2011
This is a fantastic new offering from Nikon. You get most of the best parts of the D7000 for 1/3 cheaper. If you are looking for a starter camera or a back up body to the D7000 this is it.

Here are the major differences between the D5100 and D7000.

Exact same sensor and processing abilities as the D7000. Some of the best Image Quality available in any DSLR. ISO 3200 is very usable with low noise.

- Swivel screen while the D7000 is fixed -- Since the contrast autofocus (ie Live View) is not very good on either of these cameras this is not really a player unless you are using a tripod. Then the swivel screen is very useful.

- 4 fps vs 6 fps for D7000 - No big deal 4 fps is plenty fast to fill your card with similar looking pictures. Also, in RAW D7000 buffers out pretty fast and then slows down anyway.
- 11 focus points vs 39 for D7000 - Most of the time not really a big deal. Sometimes all those extra points get in the way and slow you down.

No internal auto focus motor while the D7000 has one -- If you don't have any D series or older lenses this is not an issue. If you do, they will not autofocus on this camera.

- Only one SD slot vs 2 for the D7000 -- A big difference when getting paid to shoot. Otherwise, always format your cards in your camera and not on the computer. Doing that I have never had a failure. (Jinxed myself now)

Not weather sealed vs D7000 partially weather sealed - Don't drop either one in the water and keep both out of dust.

- Has less external switches than the D7000 - This means you need to go to the menus more often which slows things down. This can be severely annoying or not depending on your shooting style. The D7000 handles better but this is not a deal breaker on the D5100.

Built in flash is not a commander for Nikon Creative Light System while D7000 is -- If you don't use off camera flash or you use radio triggers this is not a big deal.

1.2 lbs vs 1.7 lbs for D7000.

Overall the D5100 is a great camera. The D7000 have some extra features that make it worth the extra money but if you don't need them you get all the fantastic D7000 IQ for 2/3rd the price.
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on April 25, 2011
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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on May 25, 2013
I've always been interested in photography as a hobby but I've never had more than a compact point-n-shoot and usually resorted to using my iPhone 4s, which only produces decent images up close and in good lighting. I primarily enjoy landscape photography, especially sunrises and sunsets, as well as photographing nature in general (storms, animals, plants), all of which the iPhone is awful for.

So I decided to get a DSLR and I knew that Nikons were pretty good. After much research I decided on this one and so far I love it.

The D5100 has incredible value and bang for your buck. It's somewhere in between the D3100 and D7100 in terms of quality, but it's only a little bit more expensive than the D3100 (while offering a lot more, including significantly higher picture quality) and MUCH less expensive than the D7100, which is only slightly better. If you're looking for a high quality, non-professional camera at a reasonable price, this is the one to get. Canons are great as well, but a Nikon of equal quality tends to be a bit less pricey.

I really have no complaints about this camera. The grip is nice, the design is intuitive, and it feels very sturdy and of high quality. The interface is fairly easy to pickup, with the question mark button available to anyone who isn't sure what something means (though it's not always the greatest description). My pictures almost always turn out sharp and colorful and if they don't it's usually because of user error (i.e. I didn't use the best settings for the occasion). The battery lasts surprisingly long if you turn it off when you're not using it (I've been on 5-6 hour hikes and taken over 1500 pictures with the battery still going at 2/3 bars, though I am not using the flash).

A few suggestions to someone who was new to DSLR. First, the manual is your friend. I suggest learning to use M/A/S modes, as the auto modes on this can be pretty awful (e.g. the sunset one, which tends to mess up the colors). I also suggest buying a few accessories if you don't have them - obviously a memory card, a lens cleaner and cloth (really a must), a lens hood if you photograph outdoors, and possibly an inexpensive UV filter to protect the lens.

In conclusion, I've had a lot of fun with this camera and it takes fantastic pictures. It's even more amazing with a higher quality lens (I suggest trying a 55-200 or 55-300 to complement the lens that the camera came with).
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on August 16, 2013
Let me start by saying: I have no training whatsoever in photography. I purchased this camera solely to take pictures of my children. I was so tired of missing moments with my Nikon point and shoot. I debated between this camera and the Sony NEX5 for a long time. The size of the Sony was much more appealing, and I still question my decision because of that factor. I went with the Nikon because my husband has an older (very heavy) Nikon DSLR and he has several lenses that would be compatible with this camera. So far, I've only used the kit lens and I've been very happy with it. I also think that the viewfinder on this camera allows me to take better pictures than I could take with the Sony, which does not have a viewfinder. I have managed to capture some amazing pictures of my kids. I bought a small case so that the camera will fit in my diaper bag. The camera is very responsive and has some great settings for someone like me that has no background in photography. It was easy to pick up and use immediately out of the box.
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on March 29, 2012
This is a simple review and the D5100 is simply amazing! I visited many stores to try different brands and models, including its closest competitor Canon Rebel T3i. I also borrowed from friends to try as well. In the end, D5100 was the winner based on my hands-on experience. You probably have read numerous reviews and got more confused. I was one of you. My advice: visit a store and try cameras yourself.

I like the way D5100 fits in my hands (good ergonomics); it is lighter and smaller to carry around (in comparison with other DSLRs); though it is made of plastic (most entry- and mid- level DSLRs are) yet very solid and well- built; its shutter sound is music to my ear; its menu is instinctive and thus easy to get used to; the swivel 3" LCD screen is very convenient; its battery life is relatively long, especially if you use viewfinder instead of live-view most of the time (you should try to do so, as most pros do); its auto-focus is swift and accurate, no "hunting" most of the time; it takes sharp and beautiful pictures, thanks to its newly updated software and hardware; lastly, I like the silver shutter button (I am vain)!

However, if you have a smaller budget, the D3100 is the next best thing, and it produce wonderful pictures, too. If you can afford, of course get the D7000 with more buttons to play with and a heavier body to carry around, though the picture quality is about the same as D5100 (same sensor and pixel count) in most shooting conditions.
In addition, the kit lens (18mm - 55mm) it comes with is surprisingly good and sharp (tested by "professionals"), which means that you don't need to upgrade your lens gears right away until you are ready to (or your finance allows you to). Believe me, the camera body may become the cheapest asset once you get into serious photography. The lenses are expensive, but they do keep their values. On the other hand, camera body, like cars, depreciates.

I am not bias towards Nikon and against others. In fact, I have Sony and Canon, and still own 35mm film Nikon and Pentax. From my experience, D5100 is the best in its class that fits all my needs and most requirements. At the beginning of my search, I charted pros and cons of all possible candidates and ended without conclusions. Then, I realized that, just like buying a car, I needed to "test drive" the cameras also! After all, buying a DSLR is not an easy decision, because it is not a cheap toy (for me anyway) and may accompany for years to come.

Furthermore, D5100 can dress-up or dress-down. For a professional, it offers most functions (and some more) that you can fine tune and adjust. However, if you just want an upgrade from a point-n-shoot, it has AUTO and SCENES that you don't need to fiddle anything yet take amazing pictures. Just practice and familiarize with the camera's buttons and functions, you will be very happy with it.

Remember, a camera is only a tool. YOU, the photographer, are the one that takes good (or bad) pictures, not the camera. In this modern era, most DSLRs are capable of producing sharp and colorful pictures. The pixel counts, sensors, noises, abrasions, or distortions, etc. can be meaningless, if you don't know how to take good pictures. My conclusion: D5100 is an excellent tool to practice and explore your artistic skills.
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on June 5, 2012
I've been shooting with my D80 for the last 4 years now and have been very happy with it, but was bothered by the high ISO quality and the lack of video. Read a lot of the reviews on Amazon and agree w/ most of them. Just wanted to toss out my experience with my Sigma 18-250 HSM lens that I paired up with this camera, since there doesn't seem to be any of those experiences on the internet right now. Overall, I think that the lens combination really seems to be working well. The lens of big and heavy, disproportionally more than the camera which is lighter than the D80 that I had. I am purchasing the battery grip to give it a little more balance, just like I did with my D80. Shooting-wise, it does great. Love the clean pics up to ISO 3200, unheard of on my D80. Using the Liveview is a little but more annoying. It seems to struggle to autofocus when the lens is zoomed out. I read that it needs a fast aperture to be able to do live view, and the Sigma for all of its benefits is really slow. So, consider that if you're planning doing a lot of liveview, which I don't. Love the articulating screen. Don't really miss the second screen on the top of the camera. It's not too annoying to just hit the "info" button if I want to know more data. Also, the live view was really helpful for using a manual focus f/1.4 85 mm lens that I had. I couldn't focus on anything accurately enough through the viewfinder.

Anyways, just wanted to toss my data out there. Love this camera.
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on February 10, 2017
Being a camera hobbyist and owning all point and shoot cameras i decided to buy the D5100 for night shooting during the holidays. The camera came with all accessories and in great shape...thanks amazon! It did just what i wanted the D5100 to do- take great night shots of Christmas lights.

Then the camera started to surprise me with a 55 mm x 200m lens set to AF-C and Dynamic focus modes the D5100 is lighting fast to focus and shoot. Also the dslr seems to take photos that can be touched up in Apple photos enhancement with unlimited color and light adjustments.

I have found this camera to be quite fun simple to run, tons of internet backup with suggestions, affordable light weight lenses and a very interesting up side.
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on November 19, 2012
I'm brand new to photography. I've been wanting to learn for years rather than to keep shelling out money for someone else to take mediocre pictures of my children. I did a lot of research and spoke with a lot of people before deciding on this. My total budget was $1000 for camera, lenses, case, cards, and software. I picked Nikon over Canon after trying them out in the store solely based on how it felt in my hand. The menu on the Nikon felt more intuitive as did the button placement. I also tend to think of Nikon as "The" camera people. The package I put together was this camera body with the 55-200mm kit lens, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens, 1 Transcend 16 GB Class 6 SDHC Flash Memory Card, BUILT Cargo Camera Bag- Fiery Orange, Medium, and photoshop CS5 free trial then CS6 free trial then monthly. I also spend a lot of time online learning how to use my camera and how to edit my photos. What I love about this camera: It's easy to use, all the lenses I have hold their value and can be resold or move with me to my next camera. This camera takes beautiful photos and is fairly forgiving as I play around with the settings. I've been taking it everywhere and have loved the pictures I have been able to take. My oldest graduated from high school this year and there was a photographer hired to get photos of the kids crossing the stage. The one taken of my son was awful. I had my camera with the 55-200mm lens on and got great shots of him and his friends from across the stadium. I've even had people ask me to take pictures of events for my kids school! That's more likely because I alwasy have my camera but nonetheless, I'm finding this camera an excellent camera to learn on. I can see using this for years before I would feel the need to upgrade. There is so much to learn and enough manual settings to really be able to play around and figure out what I like. If I had a larger budget, I would have gone for the D7000 just because that seems to be a level I could stay with indefinitely but on my budget, I'm very happy with my purchase! It also takes very nice video which is fun to play around with although, I'm primarily using this for photography.
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse