Reviewed by rnaoncfixd (Currently owns)
Coming off of a Pentax K200, I found the Nikon D5100 to be pretty tiny and light. I only bought the body and got a Sigma 18-50 instead. My uses for the Nikon D5100 were to use it as my main shooter and video camera.
The physical body of the camera is kind of tiny. The original lens I had intended to use it with, came off of a Red Rock rig and was meant for film. It was a 50mm Carl Zeiss lens which had metal casing. Those metal edges were pretty sharp and because of the compact body of the D5100, my knuckles kept rubbing against those edges – quite uncomfortably, I might add. The 18-50 worked out much nicer as it was not only more comfortable, but it was more compatible; it also has a stabilizer in it, which is much needed because of the camera's light weight.
What I like most about the camera is the photo and video quality that it gives. The .DNG Raw format is compatible with Aperture and I'm able to really pull the information that's captured, into very compelling photos. The video looks incredible... if you can get its settings right (more on that later). It's pretty compact and has a wide selection of lenses (at least more than Pentax had). It's a very good step up from "My First DSLR" and treads on intermediate territory. The fold out screen is also an excellent tool when in video mode. The low light ability of the D5100 is outstanding in comparison to what I've seen from the K200 and a friend's Canon Mark III.
My biggest beef with it is the steep learning curve of the software interface and the controls while in video mode. I shouldn't have to dig through menus to customize a white balance setting. There's also some funky automatic controls (and very few manual controls) during live view and video mode that make it somewhat unappealing for video use. I have used it as a video camera and it works pretty solidly as a B camera, not as your primary.
Overall it's an incredibly solid camera for beginners – intermediate users may want something a little more advanced. The image quality is superb for the price, though the menu system is cumbersome and the video options leave a lot left to be desired.
- Hardware / design 6
- Image quality 9
- Video quality 8
- Interface / controls 4
- Features 5
- Performance 7
- Lens ecosystem 8