Nikon D5100 Digital Camera Review$799.00
If you’ve held a D5000, D3100, or D3000 from Nikon, then you’ve basically held the Nikon D5100. The weight is slightly different, and the improved hinge for the LCD screen definitely provides more balance to the back of the camera, but it’s largely the same design. The camera is just small enough to feel compact compared to a larger prosumer DSLR, but big enough to feel very substantial when shooting by hand.
Buttons & Dials
With an LCD screen that now swivels out to the side of the body, Nikon has had to redesign the button layout to accommodate the necessary hinge. As a result things have been moved about a bit, with the playback, zoom in/out, and menu button moved to the right side of the camera back. Live view is now activated with a lever on the mode dial, and the redesign now puts most controls conveniently within a thumb’s reach.
When quickly listing the difference between the D5100 and the previous D5000, the LCD is top of the list. While the D5000 featured an articulating LCD, it swung away from the body vertically, interfering with most tripod designs. The D5100 remedies this by borrowing inspiration from the Canon 60D/T3i and having the LCD swing to the side of the body. This not only prevents the screen from hitting the tripod, it also allows the screen to face forward, toward the subject.
The display itself is a 3-inch LCD display with a 921k-dot resolution. With the screen’s ability to swing away from the body, the screen’s 170-degree angle of view really allows users to get a shot from just about any angle. This is especially a boon to the camera’s video functionality, as it allows framing from some rather extreme angles.
Whether clicking the LCD into the body or into its fully-out position, the screen clicks confidently into place. The hinge does not feel cheap or loose in any way. There are tabs on the top and bottom of the LCD to provide a finger-hold for when drawing the screen away from the body.
There are few surprises with the viewfinder on the D5100, as it is a fairly typical eye-level pentamirror viewfinder, with 95% coverage and a 0.78x magnification. It’s got a very comfortable rubber eyecup and is pleasant to shoot with. The main drawback of the viewfinder is its relatively limited diopter adjustment range of -1.7 to +0.7 m1, but Nikon sells nine different adjusters that can be used in place of the stock eyepiece.
As with other Nikon DSLRs, the D5100 does not feature any optical stabilization in the body. Instead, Nikon uses its Vibration Reduction technology in some of its lenses, including the 18-55mm kit lens available with the D5100. VR works by altering the position of a lens element in order to counteract any camera shake.