Nikon D5100 Review

The Nikon D5100 is a DSLR camera whose pricing and feature set make it a winner among beginners. Almost ten years after its release, this DSLR continues to impress many photography enthusiasts. This is the camera you want to purchase if you want to save on the high cost of the D7000 and benefit from the beginner-friendliness of the D3100. If you are ready to venture into professional photography, make sure you explore its pros and cons in this Nikon D5100 review.

nikon d5100 dslr camera

General Specifications

What makes the Nikon D5100 a favorite DSLR for many? In this section of the Nikon D5100 review, we look at the technical specifications and features that the camera offers.

Type: Digital single-lens flex
Resolution: 16.2 MP, 1080p

  • Native ISO: 100 – 6400
  • Extended ISO: 12,800 – 25,600

Shutter speed: 1/4000 to 30 sec.
Continuous shooting rate: 4 fps at full resolution
Viewfinder: Optical 0.78x, 95% Pentamirror
Image processing engine: Expeed 2 14-bit
Sensor: 23.6 x 15.6 mm CMOS
Lens: Interchangeable, Nikon F-Mount
Size: 3.82″ x 3.11″ x 5.04″,
Weight: 509 grams
Media storage: SDXC and SDHC compatible, supports UHS-I
Weight: 560 grams with battery
Pricing options:

  • New on Amazon: $507.95
  • Body only: 209.90

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Key Features

The Nikon D5100 was probably the most awaited Nikon DSLR in 2011. It replaced the D5000 and was only replaced by the D5200. Compared to the previous Nikon DSLRs that only recorded 1080p footage at 24fps, the D5100 was the first in the company’s lineup to offer a variety of frame rates to choose from. With a 4fos burst shooting mode, Active D-lighting and 11-point autofocus system; there is a lot to love about this camera.

Image Quality and Performance

This Nikon D5100 review wouldn’t be complete without looking at the DSLR’s image quality and performance. The image quality improves considerably when the expansion settings remain above the sensitivity settings. There is significant improvement in the auto white balance compared to previous Nikon cameras, although there’s a tendency for images to look a little yellow when shot in sunlight.

The Nikon D5100 is fitted with a Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED that allows you to take quality photos of moving subjects. You don’t have to worry about crappy night shots thanks to a bulb mode and a maximum shutter speed. There are nine ISO settings and you can adjust the ISO speed in increments of 1/3 EV to achieve the desired noise levels. You can also activate the ISO Sensitivity Auto Control from the menu if the proper exposure cannot be achieved at the chosen value.

Design and Controls

The D5100 is very well built and designed to last. With a weight of 509 grams and measurements of 3.82″ x 3.11″ x 5.04″, this camera is 10% lighter and smaller than the preceding D5000. The LCD screen is also 17% thinner. There is a significant difference in the control layout compared to other Nikon DSLRs. Perhaps the most significant one is that the Live View button on the D5000 has been replaced by a sprung lever switch in the newer model. The articulated screen and top-plate controls offer added convenience.

Other notable features of the Nikon D5100 include a popup flash, an EOS 600/T3i HDMI for transmitting 1080i data during Live View, rechargeable 1030mAh Lithium Ion battery as well as combined USB and AV output. It comes with an F-mount and a DX format sensor that reduces the field of view by 1.5 times. You can capture movies and still photos from unique viewpoints thanks to the 3.0″, 921000-dot Vari-angle LCD monitor. Whether you are exploring with overhead shots, fun self portraits or ground level candids, you will love the level of creativity that the LCD monitor offers.


A Nikon D5100 review wouldn’t be one if we didn’t look at its strengths and weaknesses. This camera offers everything an amateur and beginner photographer would want in their equipment.

  • Produces quality 16.2 megapixel imagery;
  • High continuous shooting speed ensures you don’t miss a moment;
  • Large optical viewfinder provides realistic and accurate composition;
  • 11-point autofocus system and Scene Recognition System provide much needed stability and keep subject in focus;
  • Low light performance is incredible;
  • Supports optional geotagging;
  • Excellent color reproduction;
  • Offers several focus points to choose from;
  • You can get the optional Nikon ME-1 Stereo Microphone to get stereo sound when shooting videos;
  • Vari-angle LCD monitor is a welcome feature for creative individuals.


Some of the weaknesses of the Nikon D5100 include:

  • The control system is a little awkward;
  • One needs to spend extra on AFS lens with inbuilt AF motor;
  • The on-board microphone picks up everything;
  • A dedicated ISO button would be a nice bonus;
  • Doesn’t come with live histogram;
  • Control layout is poor;
  • Continuous autofocus in Live View Mode is a little slow;
  • Lacks 720p60 video recording;
  • Produces some lens noise when recording videos.


Continuing this Nikon D5100 review, it’s important to note that the DSLR bridges the gap between the enthusiast-oriented D7000 and the beginner-friendly D3100. It marries the image quality of the D7000 with the ease of use D3100. There is plenty of room for customization and the video-articulated high resolution screen sweetens the deal. And while it only has a single control dial and plastic body shell, you benefit from an extensive range of ISO. Complete professionals may gravitate towards the feature-filled Nikon D7100 while the complete beginner may prefer the simpler D3100 or D3300. However, individuals who want the best of both will find the Nikon D5100 a satisfying investment.


As we conclude the Nikon D5100 review, it’s safe to safe to say that this is one of the best DSLRs in its price range. The well-targeted features, excellent still image and video quality as well as straightforward handling are testimony to that. Even with a few concerns, the extremely capable sensor, autofocus and pocket-friendly asking price are a good trade-off. What’s your stance on the Nikon D5100?

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