Nikon D5100 Comparison Review
The Nikon D5100 is a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that was revealed to the public in April 2011 and is equipped with an APS-C sensor. It offers a resolution of 16.1 megapixel.
Is the Nikon D5100 a good camera? The D5100 has a Camera Elo of 1942. This rating puts the D5100 among the top 50 percent of all digital single lens reflex cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (APS cameras), the D5100 ranks below average. Based on its within category standings, the camera earns a 3-star performance rating.
|Digital single lens reflex|
|Nikon F mount lenses|
|16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|ISO 100 - 6 400 (100 - 25 600)|
|3.0 LCD, 921k dots|
|Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|4 shutter flaps per second|
|660 shots per battery charge|
|128 x 97 x 79 mm, 560 g|
Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.
Body comparison with a credit card
An illustration of the physical dimensions of the Nikon D5100 vis-à-vis a credit card is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Nikon D5100 alongside a set of comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side 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 comparisons there.
|Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|Canon G1 X||117 mm||81 mm||65 mm||534 g||250||n||Jan 2012||799|
|Canon 550D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|Nikon D5200||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||n||Nov 2012||749|
|Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Nikon D5100 was launched in the US market at a price of $749. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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 with a 35mm slide
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
The Nikon D5100 features an APS-C sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Nikon D5100 among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most 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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|Canon G1 X||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D5100 indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the D5100 can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the D5100 has an optical viewfinder that provides a field of view of 95% and a magnification of 0.51x. The adjacent tables list some of the other core features of the Nikon D5100 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0||922||Swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9||Y||Y|
One convenient feature of the D5100 is the presence of an on-board flash. While this built-in flash is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light to brighten deep shadow areas.
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 D5100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|Canon G1 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the D5100 has a microphone port. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
While the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D5100 handle or perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).
|Nikon D5100||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|Canon G1 X||+||76/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||799|
|Canon 550D||+ +||77/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|Nikon D5600||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|Nikon D5500||+||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|Nikon D5300||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|Nikon D3200||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|Nikon D5200||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749|
|Nikon D7000||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|Nikon D3100||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|Nikon D5000||+ +||75/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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 D5100 FAQ
Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the D5100.
What technology is the imaging sensor in the D5100 based on?
The camera features a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor.
Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?
Nikon equipped the D5100 with the EXPEED 2 image processor.
What is the ISO sensitivity range of the D5100?
The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400.
Does the camera have a selfie-friendly screen?
Yes, the LCD-screen of the D5100 is flexible and can be turned to be front-facing for capturing selfies.
What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Nikon D5100?
Nikon mentions a shutter rating of 100 000 actuations for the D5100. This number represents a Mean Time before Failure, that is an average value. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust the expected shutter life of the D5100 over, say, three years, one would have to take about 100 pictures each and every day.
How do I find the shutter count on my Nikon D5100?
Nikon embeds the number of shutter actuations in image metadata. You can check the number of shots that your D5100 has taken up to now by uploading a recent image to the online shutter count app.
Do I need to purchase an external camera trigger to shoot time-lapse sequences?
No, the Nikon D5100 has an intervalometer built-in, so that low frequency shooting (for example, flower blooming, sunset, moon rise) can be undertaken without the need to purchase a separate external intervalometer and related software.
Does the Nikon D5100 feature an autofocus assist light?
Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.
What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?
The D5100's flash sync speed is 1/200 sec.
Does the Nikon D5100 support the Ultra High Speed (UHS) bus interface for SD cards?
Yes, the camera can indeed use UHS-I cards (data transfer speed of up to 104 MB/s).
Which battery does the D5100 use?
The camera gets its power from the EN-EL14 (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.
Is there a vertical grip available for the D5100?
Nikon does not offer an optional battery grip, but third party suppliers do (see here on eBay).
Camera to camera comparisons
In case you are interested in seeing how this camera compares to another one, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
|Camera Model||Nikon D5100|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||April 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 749|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||371 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4 928 x 3 264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.80 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.34 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6 400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25 600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 2|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||80|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1183|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|LCD Size||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations|
|Silent Shooting||no E-Shutter|
|Time Lapse Photography||Intervalometer Built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi|
|Battery Type||EN-EL14 power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||660 shots per charge|
128 x 97 x 79 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||560 g (19.8 oz)|
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