Nikon D5100 Review

April 26, 2011 | Mark Goldstein | |

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#1 Shaun David

Looks like a good contender for the t3i

1:23 pm - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

#2 Jim McDermott

Curious. I’ve noticed before that Pentax, not being one of your sponsors, gets consistently downgraded reviews compared to comparable Nikon products. So, the 5100 has ‘outstanding’ image quality, while that of the superlative Pentax K5 is merely ‘excellent’. Are you really claiming that the image quality of the Nikon is superior to a camera that uses the same sensor as (and even gets slightly more out of it than) the D7000?

1:31 pm - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

#3 Mark Goldstein

Hi Jim.

We gave the K-5 and the D5100 the same score for image quality.

Let me assure you that our reviews and ratings are in no way influenced by our advertisers.

1:56 pm - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

#4 zebarnabe

I would really love if pentax or nikon started to make sensors for micro four thirds based on crops of these 16MP ones (10MP is enough for me as long as they deliver such results at high ISOs) xD

2:25 pm - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

#5 Steve Solomon

Greetings! I read all your DSLR reviews, and they are generally accurate. However, in this review, in the “Noise” section, you refer to the Nikon D7000, rather than the D5100. Which is it? I realize they use thesame sensor, but is the noise THAT identical that you can call it either? Thank you.

2:27 pm - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

#6 marnix claus

All I can say I have the D90 and D70s
Nikon is one of the best camera makers on earth.
and it show in the pictures.
Nice and clear review.
I sold the 5000 I while ago,and I still regret it.
It was also an excellent camera.
Keep up the good work.

10:30 pm - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

#7 Zoltan

A few weaker points stand out no DOF preview the VF is smaller than most rivals (0.78x smaller than D3100) Pentax quite a bit bigger at 0.85x. Cannot do HSS with dedicated flash, metering limitations with many older lenses no in body AF motor. Cannot do wireless flash via onboard

Not saying it’s bad merely nowhere near as well featured as it’s made out to be there are a lot of limitations with Nikon bodies below the D7000 some might not care fair enough but it should get a mention.

12:55 pm - Wednesday, April 27, 2011

#8 Babar

Zoltan, Zoltan, Zoltan…....

but this thing has a SWIVEL screen, dude! You don’t need a large VF when you’ve got a cool side-swinging swivel screen that shows you Live View too.
Of course it’s not as full featured - if it was, we’d call it D7100 instead.

7:40 am - Thursday, April 28, 2011

#9 snowman

The one point on this review I disagree with is that I find the live view switch well positioned - intuitive and easy to hit and use.  The 4-way could have been doubled up to provide more direct access to features, I agree but the more important controls fall to hand.  It is rather slow in LV.  Fortunately I much prefer the vf which is clear with a very good focus point display.  AF is fast and accurate, picking the points I want just about all the time so far.

I am finding it an excellent camera, and well suited to my needs (of course it would be, that’s why I bought it!).  I particularly like the solid feel and quiet shutter.  (cf the shutter on a borrowed D90 - felt like it was trying jump out of the camera)

I bought body only and a s/h 18-135 (this lens is out of production) and the light weight and useful zoom range make it a great walk-round combo.  (I used it on a 7 mile walk in the Welsh hills last weekend)

Very very pleased with it.  Like all cameras it has compromises and you need to buy the set of compromises that suits your needs.

11:08 pm - Monday, May 23, 2011

#10 ojaswi

plz advice me i am amature and want to have hands on DSLR is it okay for me or i buy high optical zoom camreras .my usages is for famly photos and vacation photos

8:13 pm - Sunday, June 5, 2011

#11 Smithy

This is a briliant camera with some awesome features and the best part is that the price for this camera has now come down! -

8:32 am - Thursday, June 9, 2011

#12 rgmaldita

im begginer,i would like to get nikon d5100.but since i have no idea about dslr im confused about the suggestions ive heard from my friends.could you pls help me choose which is better nikon d5100 or nikon d3100?they have suggested me also nikon d90 and canon eos 600d?
i like the rotating lcd,convenient to use and light weight if going to use for my travels and families.

8:05 pm - Monday, June 13, 2011

#13 rgmaldita

which is better nikon d3100 or nikon d 5100

8:08 pm - Monday, June 13, 2011

#14 Low Budget Dave

I do wonder about the price.  The price of the d3100 jumped about $100 after the tsunami.  The d5100 pricing was not really set at that point, so there is no way to tell.

Are the prices for these two cameras going to come back down?  At $550, the d3100 was a steal.  At $650, it is only about average for the course.

At $750, the d5100 would be the best camera for the money.  At $850, it is middle-of-the-pack. 

What happened Nikon?  Are you trying to get us to give Pentax a fair shot?

11:37 am - Thursday, June 16, 2011

#15 Peter Bower

Good review for a world class camera, but I can’t help feeling that many magazine editors and reviewers hold the view “If it aint a Nikon it must be crap”. They are also mesmorised by the pixel race which if they stopped to think for a moment, its the 10 - 12 MP that tends to give the best pictures not trillions.


5:02 pm - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

#16 Nico'n

Well rgmaldita.
Dollar by dollar I don’t now this.
But in total the D5100 is better than its little brother. But the you have to ask yourself wich camera do you need:-)

11:26 pm - Saturday, June 25, 2011

#17 kevin jacob

anyone please kindly give me the shutter speed information about nikon D5100. what is the range of shutter speed in this DSLR ? drawbacks of this camera??

5:17 pm - Wednesday, June 29, 2011

#18 ...

Kevin, did you think of looking at the specifications section of this review?

8:58 pm - Monday, July 4, 2011

#19 Chez

Would like to know if the 3x Zoom lens works
during full HD video recording?


10:45 pm - Tuesday, July 5, 2011

#20 Chez

Could someone please advise me as to whether the
3x Zoom lens can be used during full HD movie

10:58 pm - Tuesday, July 5, 2011

#21 jeeson joseph

Great news. I am gonna buy this….!!

6:00 am - Tuesday, July 12, 2011

#22 Ice

To low budget Dave,

I just ordered the Nikon D5100 with the 18-55mm kit lens from Amazon for $798.00 with a free Nikon bag and starter kit $70.00 value, free Tiffen 52mm UV filter $16.49 value, Nikon Ml-13 wireless remote paid $13.91, and $100.00 off Nikkor 55-200mm ED IF AF-S DX VR Zoom Lens paid $97.00).  Total package with no tax and free shipping $909.00.
That seems like a good deal to me.

6:06 am - Sunday, July 31, 2011

#23 Low Budget Dave

It is certainly getting closer to the right price.  Not a “deal of the day”, but then selling cameras at bargain-basement prices is not usually a good business plan.

At that price, it is a pretty similar to the Panasonic G3.  The Nikon gives up touchscreen, but offers slightly less noise and better depth of field.

All told, it is enough camera for the money that some people will buy it, and some people will wait.  As for me, I’ll wait.

11:58 am - Monday, August 1, 2011

#24 ???

and, pray, what are you waiting for?

9:47 pm - Wednesday, August 3, 2011

#25 i AM no.4

I have the same problem here :) I dont no as to what dslr camera im goin’ to buy.. Im really having a tough time… Im new in this camera world stuff…:)which one should I buy.. is it canon 600d or nikon d5100… or canon 60d or nikon d90…. I really need some advice :) thanks so much :)

5:54 am - Friday, August 5, 2011

#26 Ice

I’ll choose for you no.4…..go with the Nikon D5100, I’ve had mine for a week now and I absolutely love it.  It’s really hard to take a bad picture and the effects are a riot.  You can control every aspect of the picture or you can put it on auto and point and shoot.  I have zero buyers remorse.

5:05 am - Saturday, August 6, 2011

#27 Tousif Hoque

what do you guys think d5100 will be a good camera for landscape ,portait and street photography? For the first time I am buying a DSLR! Suggest me a lens which is capable to do this.

9:33 am - Saturday, August 6, 2011

#28 Ice

Read the Ken Rockwell review of the D5100 at

You can capture 90% of your photo needs with the 18-55mm kit lens.  If you want to expand from there, then he suggests the 55-200mm for zoom and the 10-24mm for wide angle.  If you need a low light lens for indoor, then get a prime 35mm lens.  You really only need one lens; you can always zoom with your feet.

2:48 pm - Saturday, August 6, 2011

#29 Low Budget Dave

Not sure what I am waiting for.  On my last vacation, I brought along the D70, and my only real limitation was the photographer.  The D70 lacks video, but every cell-phone has video.

Tousif; You can’t really go wrong with any of the new Nikons, Canons, Panasonic or Olympus.  Read the reviews, but don’t worry.  The problems they are pointing out don’t apply to most users.  The D3100 does not do exposure bracketing, for example, but I know very good photographers who don’t use that function anyway.

I have not purchased the D5100 because I don’t have the cash right now, but it is a great all-around camera that will do all the things you want and more.  In my case, I am also looking at the new Olympus, but it is a specialty camera.

The kit lens that comes with the D5100 is slightly higher quality than similar priced cameras, but really, the Canon and Nikon are pretty similar.

6:24 pm - Sunday, August 7, 2011

#30 steve

‘zoltan’ stated that there were metering limitations with older lenses. can anyone be more specific about this issue please. i have nikon 28 & 50mm AF lenses that I used with a F301. I tried them on a 5100 body but they didn’t AF. I can cope with manual focus but I am concerned about the metering limitations comment. The guy at Jessops seemed to know less than me - he was ‘a Canon man’. Thanks

6:39 pm - Friday, August 12, 2011

#31 Snaps

It was obvious when the D3100 came out the days of the D5000 were numbered as it’s “little brother” surpassed it in many areas. Of course like many I aspired to the D7000, but my pockets didn’t. So I waited patiently for the D5100, but when it came out I was disapointed. It feels “light weight” in more ways than one, plasticky and gimmicky. Not a serious camera at all and very over-priced. The D90 by contrast is a solid serious peace of equipment but very out of date, again over-priced and it’s days I’m sure are numbered.So I turned my attention to other manufacturers. For the Canon 600D read my comments about the D5100, only more so. Then I discovered the Pentax K-r. If you have read any of the Nikon D5100 v Canon 600D reviews, you will know where one was o.k the other failed. The Pentax K-r succeeds where either of those cameras fail. It does everything you would want and then some. It is solidly built and a delight to handle with a very “unfussy” layout yet costs just over half of what either the Nikon or Canon cost. There is life beyond Nikon and Canon folks.

11:04 pm - Monday, August 15, 2011

#32 Tina

Nikon D5100 sounds great - will be buying soon but shame Jessops in their new “Image” magasine are doing a competition you can’t access!

8:17 pm - Wednesday, August 17, 2011

#33 Randy

I shot some identical scenes with a Nikon D40x and D5100, and the D5100 had much lower noise in low-light situations.  Great camera.

One gripe I have is that I can’t find a way to reliably focus the video.  Pushing the shutter release button does get it to attempt to auto-focus during recording, but it plain doesn’t work—my videos still end up blurry most of the time.  When I do luck out and get it in focus, the video is beautiful, but since that is very rare, it’s almost worthless for video.  Anyone know a solution?

Also, the EXIF timestamps on the video seem to be wrong or missing, so when I auto-rename my photos by EXIF timestamp, the videos are in the wrong place.

11:14 pm - Saturday, November 12, 2011

#34 Xhelo

Can i use the built in flash in video mode for nikon d5100?

12:25 am - Monday, November 21, 2011

#35 bobush

for those of you thinking of a d90. I’m a 35 year pro photographer and have had one as a back up for the last 2 years. A good camera 2 years ago but totally outclassed by the d3100 I took on my holidays this year. The d5100 is much better than both the D90 and d3100 image wise and the D3100 suffers quite badly from banding at high iso. The d5100 is used as a back up now with a 14-20 lens on it and it is very good but totally outclassed image wise by the 2 D700s I use. For the money the d5100 is an amazing DSLR. Buy one ASAP!

8:17 am - Saturday, November 26, 2011

#36 sadeesh

Thanks bobush, your comment is very crisp and just what i was looking for. I am happy, considering to buy 5100 asap :)

11:21 am - Saturday, December 3, 2011

#37 Tousif Hoque

Finally bought Nikon D5100 and I am loving it. You can check my photostream on flickr!

3:37 pm - Friday, January 20, 2012

#38 Gmay2

D5100 or a Sony A65???  It seems that the processing of the 24MP in the sony creates some noise even at lowish ISO with a lack of sharpness. It also seems the Nikon does the same thing (or similar).  Various reviews have suggested that a programme like Photoshop will improve sharpness.  My reall question is should I buy the Sony with its extra features and potentially have a lower quality photo that gets corrected on photoshop OR buy the nikon d5100 and get a sharper photo from the camera but may also benefit from photoshop?  Can someone answer this for me please?

5:36 am - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

#39 Greg May

Nikon d5100 or Sony A65???  I’ve looked at reviews and the Nikon and Sony seem to experience some softening and noise at higher ISOs It seems that the 24MP of the Sony causes some problems when processing such detail.  The reviews have been slightly harsher on the Sony then the Nikon but reviews also highlight that both can benefit from Photoshop type applications being applied to the finished phot.  My real question is should I buy the Sony with more features but slightly lower quality photo from the camera that can be improved with photoshop or should I buy the Nikon with a better quality photo from the camera which can also benefit from photoshop?  Has anyone got any advice?

5:51 am - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

#40 Ron

I currently own a Nikon D40X. I like the camera, but I would like to upgrade. I like the D90 and I am not sure if I want to buy the D5100 as I am not sure that it would be a vast improvement over my D40X. In talking with photographers the D90 seems to be more of a photographers camera while the 5100 is more of a beginner camera. My experience is intermediate, but I still need to learn the ins and outs of photography. Should I buy the D5100 learn more about how to use all of the features of a DSLR, and then move to a better camera? Or should I buy a D90 as my experience might require this camera instead. HELP?

1:00 am - Friday, March 30, 2012

#41 Bob

HI Ron
As a busy photographic studio we buy some of the lower level Nikon Bodies as backups to the D700 and now D800 we use. The D90 in its day” about 2 years ago” was a good camera. Its not good shooting at ISO above about 600 as it starts to get a little grainy. I have both the D90 and D5100 and think the 5100 is much better. The sensor is the same as the D7000. The D90 will let you use pretty much any of the Nikon lenses yet the 5100 is restricted to lenses with built in focusing. I would go for the 5100. I will be taking one on my hols in june as its very small but has more features than the D90. I will have a TINY but fantastic Nikon 28-200g lens fitted which will only work in Manual focus but is a fantastic lens. If you want to go for something special go for the D700 which totally outclasses the D90 and D5100. Mine has over 190,000 actuations and still going strong. It will now be a backup due to the arrival of my D800.

8:52 am - Friday, March 30, 2012

#42 Marlyn

I have my nikon D5100 just last week.. how can or what kind of zoom lens should I buy. I want to buy 55-200 mm..please help

10:42 am - Tuesday, April 10, 2012

#43 ilovemacro

how much today the nikon d5100?

10:06 am - Thursday, April 19, 2012

#44 Zua

So I wrote up a long and thoughtful comment about my months with the D5100 only to have it disappear when I submitted without my email in… There goes that, so, in tl;dr form, here is a quick summary. Do not buy this camera if you are interested in film. The camera does not have an exposure lock function. Without this, every new shot you take, whether for film or timelapse photography, will have a different exposure level. You’d also get red eyes if you did a timelapse in RAW format and edited every single one… Plus (or minus), this camera doesn’t have Canon’s famous third party Magic Lantern firmware mod, which gives a ton of new features to the filming camera aspects.

4:02 am - Monday, July 30, 2012

#45 Bob

What are you talking about? Are you drunk. Film? Timelapse? Are you reviewing the wrong camera?????

8:09 am - Monday, July 30, 2012

#46 liezl bedua

paano kumuha ng magandang picture gamit ang camera ko na d5100nikon

8:00 am - Friday, September 14, 2012

#47 nikon en-el15 battery

good content,This is the sort of lighting kit used in professional studios throughout the country. It is very sturdy and well made.

2:44 am - Friday, November 16, 2012

#48 unaisc

i had a plan to buy canon 560D…mow i understand Nikon D5100 is far better than that. i will definitely buy this awesome D5100.. thanks for this detailed review..

10:14 am - Friday, December 14, 2012

#49 Ella

Hey guys bought this camera a couple of months ago and I really like the swivel lense the decider between the nikon and the canon was how it held in my hand. It is my first dslr and I love it. :D

7:34 am - Friday, January 11, 2013

#50 Randy S.

I am thinking about using my 10% Walmart discount and get this camera with the 18-55 kit lens for about 549.00 with tax.  I also have been considering the Panasonic FZ200, however the main thing that is holding me back is the video quality of the D5100, I heard that the video wasn’t up to par with the Pansonic.  Any advise would be appreciated.

5:44 pm - Tuesday, February 12, 2013

#51 Tousif Hoque

Go for D5100 :) you will love it

5:54 pm - Tuesday, February 12, 2013

#52 randy

What’s the best memory card for the D5100, I’ve heard class 10 was the best?, so should I get a PNY or SanDisk?  Also should I get a 16 or 32 gb for video’s, thought I’d get either 2 4’s or 1 8 gb for photo’s.

12:33 am - Wednesday, February 13, 2013

#53 ???????

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??????? ?? ????????.

10:19 am - Friday, March 8, 2013

#54 julie McNally

this was my very first dslr. i love the specs of the camera,. i can flip the camera in any angle i want. it is good for a beginner like me :)

5:53 am - Friday, May 3, 2013

#55 Agnes

Which camera is better for a beginner? Nikon D90, D3200 or D5100? I am a photography student btw.

2:07 pm - Monday, June 17, 2013



6:34 pm - Monday, June 17, 2013

#57 asish

which is better for beginners sony a58 or nikon d5100???? pls suggest me as fast as possible…..

11:33 am - Thursday, July 18, 2013

#58 Dave

Asish, The two cameras are very similar, and you can’t really go wrong with either one.  The screen on the Nikon is slightly better.  Not only does it have more resolution, but most people like the way it flips out and swivels better than the Sony (tilt-only).  I am not sure, but I think you can turn the Nikon screen all the way around and close it against the camera for protection, whcih you cannot with the Sony.  (Check the review of the 5100, just to make sure I am not remembering it incorrectly)

The Nikon 5100 these days is also slightly cheaper.  Since it uses a wider variety of lenses, you will most likely be able to upgrade lenses (when you choose to do so), for less money.  The 50mm 1.8 primes, for example are most people’s first upgrade, and the two are very similar.  Nikon might have the slight edge here, but it is a matter of opinion.

Many people like the color of the Nikon better, but again that is just a matter of opinion.  I shoot with the Sony A58, and it is very nearly the same for most purposes.

I chose the A58 for two reasons.  First, it offers in-body stabilization.  Since I shoot hand-held in many situations, the Sony saves a shot for me every now and then.  The Nikon kit lens is stabilized, though, so if that is all you ever use, then it will work as well or better.

The other reason is that I like the way the Sony video works.  Even then, it is a minor difference, but the Sony video autofocus works faster than any of the Nikons except for the little V1 and J1 (which use a very good hybrid autofocus) or the big full-frame cameras (which will set you back an extra $1,000, and still might not keep up with the Sony during most video.)

The Nikon, on the other hand, offers 24p video at full resolution..  The Sony, I think, does not, but it does have built-in stereo mikes, so pick your favorite.  (Also, I might be wrong about the Sony.  It might offer 24p at full HD, and I might just not be using it.)

The translucent mirror, and the extra pixels, hurt the Sony image quality in low light, so if you really hate color noise, then you might notice a bit more noise on the Sony than on the Nikon.  Only in low light, though.  And you have to look for it to notice it.

The Sony has a built-in HDR mode, but I have never used it.

These are all minor details, though.  For almost all purposes, the Nikon 5100 and Sony 58 are very similar.  They are about the same size, about the same weight, and neither offers built in wi-fi. 

You can’t go wrong with either one, unless you want waterproofing, wi-fi, or full pentaprism vf (in which case, look to Pentax).

5:11 pm - Thursday, July 18, 2013

#59 Monika

I have nikon D5100 and I think its very good choice for all beginners, Im happy with this camera :)

4:32 pm - Monday, July 22, 2013

#60 shawna

I am trying to decide between the nikon D1500 and the Fujifilm FinePix SL1000. I am not a professional photographer and this is my first SLR camera but I am pretty good with cameras. Any suggestions?

9:47 pm - Wednesday, July 24, 2013

#61 peter

Is it just me or the samples photos are soft? I noticed the same softness in photos of presented in other reviews.

6:08 am - Monday, July 29, 2013

#62 peter

Is it just me or the sample photos are soft? I noticed the same softness in photos presented in other reviews.

6:11 am - Monday, July 29, 2013

#63 RockyM

The Nikon D5100 produced images of outstanding quality, both JPEGs and RAW files.
It produces noise-free JPEG images at ISO 100-1600, with ISO 3200 also looks pretty good. ISO 6400 only shows a little noise.

The Full HD video quality is also quite good, though the results can be tarnished by a finicky and noisy autofocus. It has a tendency to search too long, which is accentuated by the noise of the servo motor.

Shutter speeds is up to 30 seconds and has a Bulb mode as well for exposure times of practically any length, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography.

Go to following link to see some great photos captured by this awesome DSLR.

6:22 pm - Wednesday, December 25, 2013

#64 Tegan

Well written review! It has really helped me think about the different aspects of each camera I could possibly own. Although you went into great detail I am still left to wonder whether i should buy myself a Nikon or Canon! I’m just not sure if I could work out how to use a Nikon, but i have been told by a few people they are better! Thank you in advance for helping me!

4:07 am - Wednesday, March 18, 2015

#65 Cody

I’ve ha this camera (D5100) for about 6 months now and I love it!

3:17 am - Friday, January 1, 2016

#66 Justin

I made the switched from a pretty basic sony to one of these and I absolutely love it! I got a handful of lens’ that all make it even better.

8:53 pm - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, 1080p, 16 megapixel, video, beginner, dslr, tilting, prosumer, tilt, digital slr, movies, vari-angle, lcd, 4fps, Nikon, screen, articulated, folding, free angle, fold, d-5100, d5100

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