How well does the Nikon D5100 walk the line between beginner and mid-level enthusiasts? The What Digital Camera Nikon D5100 review finds out…

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Nikon D5100

Overall score:89%
Image Quality:90%


  • Good image quality, improved live view mode, responsive AF, impressive movie options


  • Non-customiseable Effects, no AF-point lock, no remote commander, no DoF preview


Nikon D5100 Review


Price as reviewed:


Value & Verdict

Nikon D5100 review – Value

Nikon D5100 product image rear screen swivel demoWith a £780 launch price, the D5100’s basic kit lens option is pitched squarely at taking on the Canon EOS 600D. The two models are very similar in specification, with particular focus on each of the vari-angle screens and 1080p HD movie modes. However Nikon seems to be playing the more user-accessible and ‘fun’ hand due to its Effects modes. The 600D on the other hand does offer a wireless flash commander built into the body which may appeal to those more advanced users, plus the 1040k-dot LCD is the current highest resolution 3in LCD on the market. On the flip side though the Nikon D5100 does offer a wider 11-point AF system, faster live view and a larger-buffer-capacity 4fps burst rate for a similar price. Picking between the two will depend on exactly which feature is most vital to you – but there’s no doubting the extremely competitive head-to-head pricing.

Nikon D5100 review – Verdict

The D5100 succeeds in delivering top image quality from an affordable mid-level body, married with ease of use and a series of improvements over other Nikon DSLR cameras. Nikon D7000-like quality for less cash and a more advanced live view focusing mode than seen before from the brand are big plus points, as is the high quality movie mode.

It’s tricky to pick holes as to where the camera comes up short, but it’s in what’s missing that more advanced users may feel let down: no remote commander in the body holds the camera just shy of its full potential; no Depth of Field Preview button and an LCD screen that doesn’t top the competition are all relatively minor quibbles depending on what’s most important to your photography. The Effects modes certainly have a place, but they’re not entirely unique and lack a fully-adjustable series of options that would set them apart from the competition.

As a D5000 upgrade the D5100 is on the money – just don’t misplace it as a D90 replacement as that it isn’t.

All in all the D5100 is well-priced, strongly-specified and decent performing bit of kit that delivers great quality pictures.


ISO:100-6400 (25,600 extended)
White Balance:Auto, incandescent, fluorescent (7 types), direct sunlight, flash, cloudy, shade, preset manual, all except preset manual with fine tuning
Lens Mount:Nikon F-mount
Built-in Flash:Yes, GN 12 (ISO 100)
Memory Card:SD/SDHC/SDXC
PC Socket:No
Viewfinder Type:Optical Pentamirror
Compression:Fine/Normal/Low | Large/Medium/Small
Cable Release:Yes
Exposure Comp:-5 to +5 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps
Output Size:4928x3264px
LCD:3in, 921k-dot, vari-angle LCD
Field of View:95% approx (0.78x magnification)
Colour Temp Control:2000-10,000K
AF Points:11-point AF system
White Balance Bracket:3 frames in steps of 1
Sensor:16.2MP APS-C CMOS
Max Flash Sync:1/200th sec
Focal Length Mag:1.5x
DoF Prview:No
Dust Reduction:Image sensor cleaning, Image Dust Off reference data (optional Capture NX 2 software required)
Other:Effects modes, EXPEED 2 image processing engine
Built-in Image Stabilisation:No, lens-based where applicable
Exposure Modes:Auto modes, P, S, A, M, Scene, Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Macro, Effects
Movie Mode:1080p HD; 30, 25 or 24fps, H.264 (MOV format)
Metering System:TTL using 420-pixel RGB sensor
Live Mode:Yes
Connectivity:HDMI, GPS, USB 2.0, 3.5mm mic jack
Power:Rechargeable Li-ion EN-EL14 battery
File Format:Raw (NEF), JPEG, Raw + JPEG
Dimensions:128 x 97 x 79 mm
Shutter Speeds:30-1/4000th sec (plus Bulb)
Focusing Modes:Single-servo AF (AF-S); continuous-servo AF (AF-C); auto AF-S/AF-C selection (AF-A); predictive focus tracking activated automatically according to subject status Manual focus (MF)
Drive Mode:Single, Continuous, Self-timer, Remote (Delayed/Quick Response), Quiet Shutter
Colour Space:Adobe RGB, sRGB
  1. 1. Nikon D5100 review - Features
  2. 2. Design
  3. 3. Performance
  4. 4. Image Quality
  5. 5. Value & Verdict
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