the 12-megapixel Nikon Coolpix P5100 succeeds the P5000 with Nikon's EXPEED image processor, a larger pixel count and a wide focal range.
Upgraded Sensor and Processing Engine
The Nikon P5100’s sensor has seen an upgrade to 12.1 megapixels, and is backed by Nikon’s EXPEED processing engine. The 3.5x optical zoom lens gives an effective focal length of 35-123mm and is accompanied by lens-based Vibration Reduction.
One useful feature is the Distortion Control, which corrects distortion in real-time and displays the amended image as it’s being composed. The other main improvements centre on the camera’s interface and Face Detection, the latter of which is now a supposed ten times faster and capable of detecting up to 12 images per shot and exposing accordingly.
With the P5100, the grip is decidedly shallow and may frustrate people with large hands, but, as with the thumb pad, its rubber finish provides a secure hold. Both left- and right-hand sides of the rear have been utilised with a DSLR-style button arrangement on the left and a menu pad on the right while a hotshoe, mode dial and additional selection dial sit on the top of the camera. The magnesium alloy construction of the body is solid, though the plastic zoom ring around the shutter sometimes feels a little flimsy – something also true of the battery cover.
It takes a comparatively long time for the P5100 to power up but shut down speed is more rapid. Focusing is generally admirable and while reviewing images isn’t slow in itself, for each frame’s full detail to resolve it can take around a second, which is rather slow. The LCD screen itself isn’t bad but not as good as the Canon G9, despite the pixel count being the same on both models. Other than this, zooming is done at a good pace and using the menu system is friendly.
Despite barrel distortion being present at the wideangle end, the Distortion Control feature does a fantastic job at straightening the image out. In so far as noise is concerned there’s a rapid shift for the worse at ISO 400 as chroma noise is introduced, with images shot at 1600 and upwards plagued by noise. Otherwise, images are packed full of detail with shadow areas in particular retaining a good amount, while the metering system isn’t fooled easily and consistently produced accurate exposures. Fringing isn’t too much of a problem, again only being visible under close inspection.
Value For Money
The P5100, meanwhile, can already be found for as little as £250 which puts it in a very competitive position – especially as its predecessor isn’t priced too far from that figure.
If Raw capture or the extended focal length isn’t an issue for you, then the P5100 would certainly serve as a more-than-capable compact – even more so if you’re nimble-fingered.