Nikon D5100 Digital Camera Review$799.00
Speed and Timing
The D5100 has a shutter speed range of 30 seconds up to 1/4000 second, in 1/3 EV stops. There is also a bulb mode that can be activated when in manual shooting mode. When in manual mode the rear control dial controls shutter speed. In order to adjust aperture, users must hold down the exposure compensation button while turning the wheel.
There are several drive modes available on the Nikon D5100. The default mode is a single release, with options for continuous shooting, quick response remote, quiet shutter release, and a self-timer. The quiet shutter release reduces some of the shutter noise, but still leaves an audible click when the release is pressed.
The D5100 shoots full-resolution still images at up to four frames per second, right in line with Nikon’s claims about the camera. This puts it just above the Canon T3i, though slower than the heavier and more expensive D7000 and Pentax K-5 models.
The D5100 has a variety of self-timer modes, with options that incorporate a two, five, ten, or twenty second delay, as well as the ability for up to 9 shots to be fired off when the initial timer is up. If you need to shoot multiple shots with a set interval between them, that option is also available through the menu, allowing for up to 999 shots taken at an interval as large as 24 hours between shots. So if you’d like to do a timelapse of one shot per day for almost three years, the D5100 can do that with one menu setting. This is an especially good setting to have, as once the self-timer is activated and the shots taken, the camera reverts to whatever previous drive setting it was in.
The D5100 does trail its big brother, the D7000, in one key area for Nikon enthusiasts: the lack of an internal focus motor. As a result, the D5100 will have to make use of AF-I or AF-S lenses if users wish to take advantage of autofocus. Nikon has continued this trend with their entry-level cameras since the D40, and it looks to continue. The lack of a motor helps reduce weight, of course, but it does limit the number of fully-functional Nikkor lenses available. When an AF-S lens is attached, however, the focus is quite snappy, with full-time autofocus during video recording a welcome addition from older models.
The D5100 allows users to select from a number of focus area settings. There are options for single-point autofocus, dynamic-area autofocus, 3D-tracking using all 11 AF points, and auto-area AF. Single point focuses on one point in the frame, while dynamic area will use information surrounding that point should the subject leave that era. 3D tracking will actually choose a new focus point should the subject move, and auto area chooses an area where the camera believes the subject is. When in live view, these options are limited to face-priority AF, wide-area AF, subject tracking, and normal-area AF.