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Nikon D5000 vs D5100

The Nikon D5000 and the Nikon D5100 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2009 and April 2011. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The D5000 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the D5100 provides 16.1 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D5000 versus Nikon D5100
Nikon D5000 Nikon D5100
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
720/24p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 200-3,200 (200 - 6,400) ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 25,600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.7 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
4 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
510 shots per battery charge660 shots per battery charge
127 x 104 x 80 mm, 590 g 128 x 97 x 79 mm, 560 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D5000 and the Nikon D5100? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D5000 and the Nikon D5100 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Nikon D5000 vs Nikon D5100
Compare D5000 versus D5100 top
Comparison D5000 or D5100 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D5100 is notably smaller (6 percent) than the Nikon D5000. Moreover, the D5100 is markedly lighter (5 percent) than the D5000. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D5000 nor the D5100 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the D5000 gets 510 shots out of its EN-EL9a battery, while the D5100 can take 660 images on a single charge of its EN-EL14 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D5100 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 n Apr 2011 749i
 
Canon 450D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
 
Nikon D5600 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 465 g 970 n Nov 2016 699 i
 
Nikon D5300 125 mm 98 mm 76 mm 480 g 600 n Oct 2013 799i
 
Nikon D5200 129 mm 98 mm 78 mm 555 g 500 n Nov 2012 749i
 
Nikon D3100 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 n Aug 2010 599i
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599i
 
Nikon D60 126 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 500 n Jan 2008 629i
 
Nikon D90 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729i
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D5100 is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, the D5100 uses a more advanced image processing engine (EXPEED 2) than the D5000 (EXPEED), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Nikon D5000 and Nikon D5100 sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the D5100 offers a higher resolution of 16.1 megapixels, compared with 12.2 MP of the D5000. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.80μm versus 5.53μm for the D5000). However, it should be noted that the D5100 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 11 months) than the D5000, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D5100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D5100 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D5000 are 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D5000 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 200-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D5100 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.

D5000 versus D5100 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D5100 has a markedly higher DXO score than the D5000 (overall score 8 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 1.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380
 
Canon 450D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
 
Nikon D5600 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883
 
Nikon D5200 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.213.9128484
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the D5100 provides a better video resolution than the D5000. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/30p, while the D5000 is limited to 720/24p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D5000 and the D5100 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), as well as the same magnification (0.51x). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D5000 and Nikon D5100 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5100optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Canon 450Doptical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
 
Nikon D5600optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5300optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5200optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D60optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D90optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.

The Nikon D5000 and the Nikon D5100 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

The D5000 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the D5100 uses SDXC cards. The D5100 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D5000 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D5000 and Nikon D5100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5100YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon 450DY----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5600YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Nikon D5300YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Nikon D5200YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3000Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D60Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D90Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D40XY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---

It is notable that the D5100 has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The D5000 does not feature such a mic input.

Both the D5000 and the D5100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D5000 was replaced by the Nikon D5100, while the D5100 was followed by the Nikon D5200. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D5000 and the Nikon D5100? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Nikon D5000:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2009).


Advantages of the Nikon D5100:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (16.1 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 15%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (EXPEED 2 vs EXPEED).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/30p vs 720/24p).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (660 versus 510) out of a single battery charge.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 11 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D5100 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 1 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D5000 01:12 D5100

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D5000 and the Nikon D5100 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D5000 or the D5100 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D5000+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D5100+ +76/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749i
 
Canon 450D+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
 
Nikon D5600..79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i
 
Nikon D5300+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799i
 
Nikon D5200+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2012 749i
 
Nikon D3100+ +72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599i
 
Nikon D3000+72/1004/53.5/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599i
 
Nikon D6080/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Jan 2008 629i
 
Nikon D90+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Nikon D40X79/100+ +4/5o4/5 Mar 2007 729i
 
Nikon D80++ +o4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Nikon D5000:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D5100:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Nikon D5000 vs Nikon D5100

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon D5000 Nikon D5100
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date April 2009 April 2011
    Launch Price USD 749 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Nikon D5000 Nikon D5100
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.8 mm 23.6 x 15.7 mm
    Sensor Area 372.88 mm2 370.52 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 28.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 16.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4288 x 2848 pixels 4928 x 3264 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.53 μm 4.80 μm
    Pixel Density 3.28 MP/cm2 4.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/24p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost 200 - 6,400 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    Image Processor EXPEED EXPEED 2
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 72 80
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.7 23.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.5 13.6
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 868 1183
    Screen Specs Nikon D5000 Nikon D5100
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.51x 0.51x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fully flexible screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D5000 Nikon D5100
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 4 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D5000 Nikon D5100
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D5000 Nikon D5100
    Battery Type EN-EL9a EN-EL14
    Battery Life (CIPA)510 shots per charge660 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 127 x 104 x 80 mm
    (5.0 x 4.1 x 3.1 in)
    128 x 97 x 79 mm
    (5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 590 g (20.8 oz) 560 g (19.8 oz)

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